Florida theft crimesTheft can cover just about anything, but as a quick article in the Orlando Sentinel shows, this theft had a distinct Florida flair to it…

In nearby Winter Haven, Florida local resident Brad Reiter is accused of a most unusual crime.  Think of the plot of Ocean’s 11 but with more vitamin C.

State agricultural investigators are claiming that Reiter unlawfully took over 4 million pounds of oranges and other citrus.  These fruits came at an estimated loss of over half a million dollars!

The agricultural commissioner held a press conference in which he explained the details of the grand theft crime.  Brad Reiter entered into at least three contracts to harvest citrus groves back in March, 2014.

The grove owners clearly did not do their research as it turned out that the suspect was not even a licensed citrus dealer!  That didn’t stop him from harvesting all of the oranges and grapefruits from the groves.

The scurvy-resistant thief made off with over 50,000 boxes full of fruit without paying for it.  The estimated amount of the stealing?  Over $530,000!

The unlucky suspect was booked into Polk County Jail on first degree larceny and fraud charges.  At the time of this writing he did not yet have a criminal defense attorney



Grand Theft is found under Florida Statute 812.014.  Because the amount that allegedly was taken was over $100,000, this would be a first degree theft, punishable by up to 30 years in prison!  This does not even take the separate felony fraud cases into consideration.

Common sense will tell you that many times prosecutors are willing to reduce prison time or even agree to probation if the defendant pays back restitution.  In this case what was stolen were perishable items.  These are not stolen goods that can just be returned and almost certainly the defendant did not sell all the citrus.  This means a lot of the fruit he stole became spoiled and worthless.  Any fruit he managed to sell would probably not cover the over half a million dollars in loss.  In other words, unless he happens to have hundreds of thousands of dollars ready for restitution, he is almost certainly looking at a lengthy prison stay.

Finally, if he had attempted to resell any of this fruit, the state can add second degree felony charges of dealing in stolen property to him.

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Florida violent crimes defenseThis blog has previously wrote several articles involving the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case that captivated the country back in 2012 and 2013.  The volunteer neighborhood watchman shot teenage Trayvon Martin.  Prosecutors called it murder, George Zimmerman’s criminal defense attorney called it self defense.  After much media attention, multiple protests and new phrases being introduced into our vocabulary (such as “white hispanic” and “stand your ground”-which was never even used in the trial by either side), the trial ended with a not guilty for Zimmerman.

Now George Zimmerman prepares for ANOTHER trial...but this time he is the alleged victim and the new defendant is charged with his attempted murder!

Same courtroom, same judge; but this time George Zimmerman is back in court as a victim.  Unlike his previous trial in 2013, this time George elected to take the stand and testify.

After hearing testimony, the judge ruled that the attempted murder charge can go to trial.  The allegations are frighting.  On May 11, Winter Park, Florida resident Matthew Apperson fired his .357 revolver at Zimmerman as they drove in separate vehicles.

As a result, Apperson was arrested and charged with attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault and shooting into an occupied vehicle.

On the witness stand George Zimmerman testified that he was driving on a street alone in his car.  Another vehicle, driven by Matt Apperson, approached him rapidly while flashing his lights and honking his horn.  The defendant pulled up next to him and began yelling at George.

trayvon“Do you remember me, you fat f___?  You owe me your life”!  Zimmerman testified that after hearing that, he laughed and called Matthew a clown.

At that time he saw into the defendant’s car, noticed a barrel of a gun and then heard a loud bang.

George continued his testimony, claiming that the gunshot went through his windshield, leaving blood on his face and clothes.  At first he feared he was shot but a trip to the emergency room confirmed that shattered glass caused the minor injury.

Zimmerman further told the judge that he kept driving until he saw a parked sheriff’s deputy whom he flagged down.

Further testimony suggested that this was not the first time that Apperson and Zimmerman had a confrontation.  There were reports back in September 2014 that Matt began taunting and pushing George about his role in the Trayvon Martin shooting.

In an ironic twist, Matthew’s criminal defense lawyer told reporters that his client most likely will claim self defense and may even do a stand-your-ground motion to dismiss. Continue reading

Clearwater marijuana defenseA quick blurb from the Miami Herald about the federal government stepping up their efforts to curb synthetic marijuana.  Also known as “spice”, this drug is potentially deadly.  What makes it so dangerous is the unknown chemical mixtures that are added, sometimes at random.  As there is no purity and no set recipe, “spice” has already been implicated in dozens of hospitalizations and even deaths in Florida.  Now the feds may be striking back…

Last week, ten men were charged with conspiracy for their roles in manufacturing synthetic marijuana, some of it laced with dangerous or deadly chemicals.  Their plan?  To distribute the drug throughout New York City.

Known as “spice” or K2, this drug is smoked like normal pot.  As mentioned above, hospitals nationwide are seeing the results of bad “spice”.  There has been a large uptick in emergency room visits because of bad reactions to this drug.  Victims are suffering from hallucinations, psychotic episodes and even heart problems.

In this case, the federal indictment came from a yearlong investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).  The indictment claims the defendants were importing large amounts of illegal synthetic ingredients from China.  This included a mix of chemicals that are illegal in the United States.  The defendants were mixing the chemicals with tea leaves and selling them for only $5 a packet.  Using brand names such as “Green Giant”, “Psycho” and “AK-47”, the defendants were doing a brisk business, selling them in head shops and convenience stores.

While the men were being arrested, agents were simultaneously raiding businesses and warehouses that were suspected of making and/or selling the “spice”.  Agents seized 275,000 of the K2 packets (valued at $30 million!) and  over 450 pounds of chemicals used to make the product.

Pinellas drug defense lawyers

In New York alone, there were over 1,100 emergency room visits per month as a result of synthetic marijuana.   Poison control centers calls about this drug were up over 225 percent over 2014 calls.  Will this federal crackdown help?  It is a good start.  From the ten defendants named, four are currently fugitives and six have already appeared in a Manhattan federal court.

When marijuana is being decriminalized in so many states, why the uptick in this synthetic drug that is proven to be so dangerous?  Experts don’t know for sure but think that the low price and easy availability in most cities make it a “go to” drug for both poor addicts and bored suburban teens alike. Continue reading

Saint pete violent crimes defenseA major case gets going this week as a man prosecutors accuse of killing not one but two of his wives goes to trial in Colorado.  Did Harold Henthorn murder two of his wives for insurance money or is he a victim of horrible luck?

59-year-old Harold Henthorn went to trial this week, accused of pushing his second wife off a cliff in the Rocky mountains.  Per the federal prosecutor, the suspect might also have killed his first wife in what appeared to be a freak accident almost 20 years earlier!

In both deaths, Harold was both the only witness and made out with large life insurance policies twice.  Harold’s criminal defense lawyer countered the prosecutors arguments, saying these were mere tragic accidents.

Henthorn is charged with first-degree murder Continue reading

Saint pete drug crimes defenseOur fair state and our county gets another national nod as the New York Daily News writes up a brief story about a woman who was arrested for driving under the influence as well as possession of a controlled substance.  Perhaps feeling the alcohol, she soon made an offer to the police that got her in way deeper trouble…


24-year-old Arielle Engert was pulled over by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office early morning on Monday, August 31.  Ironically she was pulled over on 49th street, a few blocks away from the criminal courthouse.  What she later offered to do to the Deputy resulted in multiple felony charges against her!

The Deputy noticed that Ms. Engert seemed drunk and called in a DUI squad for further investigation.  They gave her a series of “field sobriety exercises” and determined she was under the influence of alcohol.  She later blew a .162, an enhanced blow and over twice the legal limit.

Making matters worse, she had marijuana in her purse and at the jail, cocaine was discovered in her bra!  She was then charged with a DUI, possession of marijuana, possession of cocaine and introduction of contraband into a detention facility.

A bad night by any stretch.  Unfortunately she was about to make it worse!  Arielle offered the arresting officer oral sex in exchange for letting her go at the scene, an offer he refused.  Not wanting to quit while she was behind, she then offered sexual favors to two other deputies in exchange for her release!  Her smooth talking was rewarded with three more felony charges added to her impressive stack.  She was then charged with three counts of attempted bribery of a law enforcement official.

Pinellas cocaine possession defenseThe woman was eventually released on bond.  For a woman who had stacked up the criminal charges in a hurry, she doesn’t seem to have much in the way of priors.  It appears that she only has prior DUI arrests.

Because of the nature of the charges, it didn’t take long for reporters to do some background snooping.  Before her facebook page was taken down, she listed herself as a philosophy student at the University of Florida.  If true, she will have plenty to contemplate in the months ahead.  If all the counts are charged, she is looking at two misdemeanors and five third degree felonies!
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pinellas policeOne of the most common mistakes we come across is when people are first arrested.  Many people make the mistake of waiting until their first court date before hiring a criminal defense lawyer.  They figure that once they are arrested, they automatically are charged with a crime so what is the use?  This is not correct and in fact having a lawyer represent you BEFORE your first court date can be extremely beneficial.

In the State of Florida, the vast majority of people who are charged with a crime either receive: (1) a citation or (2) an Information is filed against them.

A citation is typically issued for traffic offenses (such as speeding or running a red light) or a misdemeanor criminal traffic offense such as a DUI. For a citation, the police officer who conducted the investigation will issue a citation to the accused person and file an identical copy with the clerk of court. In this scenario the prosecutor plays no role in the charges being filed. The moment the police file the citation with the clerk, the person is formally charged with the offense for which it was issued.  A criminal defense lawyer is still important at this time.  Even after the citation is filed, your lawyer can still negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce the charges or perhaps have them dismissed completely.

The second and by far the most common type of charging document is called an “Information“. The vast majority of misdemeanor and felony offenses in Florida are charged by information.

While the police make arrests, they do not charge suspects with crimes.   A suspect does not become a Defendant unless and until the prosecutor files an Information with the Court.  In Pinellas County, this can happen in one of two ways. A police officer may investigate an alleged crime but not make a physical arrest.  This may be because the suspect has fled the scene, there is not enough evidence to make an arrest or in the case of fingerprints or DNA, it will take time to identify the suspect. In this example the police meet with the prosecutor and present all the evidence the officer has obtained, including physical evidence, statements from witnesses, and sometimes statements from the accused. The prosecutor has complete discretion to file charges.  If he or she thinks there is enough evidence to proceed, the assistant state attorney drafts an Information and an arrest warrant, filing both with the clerk. Only when the suspect is located by police and taken into custody, the prosecution of that person begins.

In other cases a police officer will make a physical arrest of the accused person and take him or her to jail. The police officer will thereafter meet with the prosecutor and present the evidence.  Just like the first scenario, the prosecutor will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed.  A good prosecutor should determine if he/she will be able to prove the allegations against the defendant “beyond a reasonable doubt”.  If the prosecutor thinks so, he or she will file an Information, and the prosecution of the case starts.

In either scenario, if the prosecutor decides the evidence is not sufficient, or there is not a reasonable likelihood of successful prosecution, the state can file a document called a “No Information”. If a “No Information” is filed, the accused person is not charged and the matter is dropped. If the accused was arrested on the charge and unable to post bond, they would be released upon the filing of a “No Information”.  In Pinellas County, the assigned prosecutor usually needs to provide the reason they elected not to file a case.  There are many reasons such as lack of evidence, conflict in the evidence, and the victim or witnesses declining to press charges among others.

In Pinellas County, the prosecutor who makes the filing decision is typically the prosecutor assigned to the case until it is resolved. This puts more pressure on the prosecutor to make accurate filing decisions.  If they file haphazardly, the prosecutor may be stuck with cases that have potential evidence problems.

This is where having an aggressive criminal defense lawyer on your side can help you.  Instead of waiting for charges to be filed, your lawyer can be meeting with the assigned prosecutor and getting your side of the story out to them.  The prosecutor will almost always be open to hearing and considering additional information about your case from the defendant’s attorney. From the time of the arrest to the filing of an Information, there is usually a four to six week gap.  This time period is when your lawyer can have the most impact on the prosecutor’s decision in your case.  This gap gives your attorney time  to speak with the prosecutor and provide them additional information in an attempt to convince the prosecutor to not file an Information or to reduce the criminal charge.

Once the Information is filed, the case can only be dropped by the filing of a “Nolle Prosequi” by the assigned prosecutor.  This is not common and rarely happens in most counties.  If you or a loved one are arrested, any delay in retaining an attorney to fight on your behalf could put you at a significant disadvantage.

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Tampa DUI defense lawyerWe have previously blogged about the now infamous DUI set-up during a civil trial involving two Tampa Bay area DJ s.  We then blogged about the possible punishment and the aftermath.  Now there is word coming down that the Florida Bar has recommended permanent disbarment for several of the involved.  Is this an unfair punishment or is this justice?  The Supreme Court may have the final word…

Pinellas County senior judge W. Douglas Baird will have some tough decisions in the next few months.  The Florida Bar has asked the judge to disbar three of the lawyers involved in the high profile defamation lawsuit in 2013.

Florida Bar attorneys made a recommendation for Stephen Diaco a partner in a Tampa Bay law firm, to be permanently disbarred for his role in a rival lawyer’s DUI arrest in 2013.  Stephen Diaco’s actions were called “malicious and [done] for personal gain”.  The disciplinary committee went on to mention how his set up arrest and subsequent possible discovery violations disrupted a defamation trial and “tarnished the reputation of the legal profession and the Tampa Police Department”.

Tampa criminal defense attorney

Tampa Bay criminal defense


Stephen’s fellow collaborators were not off the hook.  Based on their lesser actions, the State Bar recommended that both Robert Adams and Adam Filthaut be disbarred for five years (meaning they would be unable to practice law for at least five years, must alert their clients and shut down their firm/make arrangements for an orderly transition).  After this five year “break”, Robert and Adam would be able to reapply to the Florida Bar.  They most likely would have to retake the Florida Bar exam, go through the admission process and have their character questioned.  Additionally, they will forever have an ethics “black mark” next to their name.

Just last month, the Honorable Douglas Baird found all three of the attorneys guilty of unethical actions based on their conduct.  To recap, this was the opposing lawyer (the former 93.3 DJ MJ’s attorney) who was seen drinking at a bar during trial by Diaco’s secretary.  She quickly called him and his colleagues.  They instructed her to keep the attorney there and to keep him drinking.  The secretary kept flirting with the attorney, buying him drinks and lying about where she worked.  Meanwhile, Diaco and the gang were contacting a Tampa police department officer (now fired) who happened to be their friend.

When the time was right, the plan was put into action.  The secretary insisted that the rival attorney move her car, despite him telling her no several times, he eventually relented and was instantly pulled over by the same police officer.  He was arrested for driving under the influence and all his legal briefs and trial preparation  was left in the secretary’s car overnight.

Judge Baird mostly blamed Stephen Diaco for being the ringleader, finding him guilty of twice the violations as either Robert or Adam.  Among the most egregious violations?  Lying to a judge under oath about not knowing who his cellphone provider was!

Diaco’s lawyers defended their client, asking the judge not to destroy his career.  They mentioned his charitable works and his remorse.

Meanwhile, the other attorneys were still begging for a 91 day suspension- a request that has previously been rejected by a judge.  Continue reading

Pinellas sex crimes defense

A local man was arrested for an attempted sex assault and kidnapping of a realtor.  The attack caused plenty of fright and had real estate agents on edge until the suspect was captured…

63-year-old Bruce Kotter was arrested and charged with kidnapping and attempted sexual battery of a realtor that took place Monday afternoon.

Post lunch Monday, deputies responded to an attempted sexual battery of the 69-year-old realtor near Bradenton in Manatee County.

During the showing, deputies claim that Bruce went into a bathroom of the house and flushed the toilet.  He then called out to the realtor and told her that the toilet was leaking.

When the realtor went to check on the bathroom, the suspect tried to force himself on her.  He fled the scene when she told him that the homeowner was on his way and would be there any minute.

Detectives put out an A.P.B.  describing the suspect as a white male, alias of Jim. He was described as middle aged, approximately 6’0”, chunky, bald or balding hair, last seen wearing camo shorts, a grey polo shirt with high socks and white sneakers.

The shook up’ed victim said the suspect reeked of cigarette smoke. He was driving a newer model full size extended cab pick-up truck, either black or navy blue in color.  The truck proved to be his undoing.

Sarasota police officers located his Dark Blue Ford 150 in nearby Sarasota.   It matched the description of the suspect vehicle and Bruce Kotter was found inside a home at the address and was immediately arrested.

Based on more information that came in, the detectives believed the suspect had intentions of doing the same to another realtor about an hour after the first incident.

Connecting the cases, Sheriff Deputies were contacted by another female realtor later that same morning saying she showed a property to a man at approximately 2:35 p.m. Monday who fits the same physical description of the suspect. He was also driving a dark blue or black pick-up truck, possibly a Ford F-150.

The potential victim said she had a weird feeling about him because he seemed creepy and originally told her he was bringing his wife.  He showed up alone Monday afternoon and made statements that made the realtor feel uncomfortable.


At the time of this writing, Mr. Kotter was awaiting to see if charges would be filed.  A look at public records in Manatee county shows that he had a prior felony battery charge that was dismissed and did probation for possession of a controlled substance.

He may have had priors in Sarasota, where he currently resides.

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dui 3A former NFL QB arrested for a DUI is normally not a newsworthy story.  What makes this case interesting is the sheer high number of his B.A.C.

Former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jack Trudeau was arrested last Sunday for driving under the influence, public intoxication and disorderly conduct in Zionsville, Indiana.

The Colts originally picked the now 52-year-old Jack Trudeau in the second round of the 1986 draft out of the University of Illinois. He played reasonably well for Indianapolis until 1993 and then bounced around to  the New York Jets and the Carolina Panthers before retiring in 1995.

A local police report said that Jack was pulled over for erratic driving late at night.  He was questioned and the cops determined a DUI investigation was warranted. During the police investigation he showed signs of impairment and was arrested after failing field sobriety exercises.

The police report further mentioned that Jack Trudeau threatened a police officer during the arrest. It says a portable breath test showed Trudeau had a blood-alcohol content of 0.31 percent, nearly four times the legal limit of 0.08 percent!  At that level, a person is reaching a life-threatening amount of alcohol in the system.


Florida DUI crimesIn Florida, anything at a .15 or above is known as an enhanced blow.  This may result in a larger fine, more jail time and a mandatory  DMV-ordered alcohol ignition interlock to be placed in the suspect’s vehicle before he is allowed to drive again.  You may also be looking at an extended driver’s license suspension.   In addition, extra punishment such as community service hours or talking to schools or groups about your crime is not unusual.

In Pinellas County, a blow above .15 is no exception when it comes to enhanced punishments.  Besides the mandatory penalty of the ignition interlock, an enhanced fine will almost certainly happen.  Additionally, a stint in the Pinellas County jail is not unusual, even if it is a first time offense.

The Florida DUI statute (316.193) explains the range of punishments depending on the number of DUI, injuries, and other circumstances.  While the statute codifies the law and punishment, keep in mind that the ranges vary widely from county to county. Continue reading

ASaint Petersburg theft crimes lawyer breaking story from BayNews9.  The suspect is innocent until proven guilty but if true, this is a horrendous crime.  People in a position of trust need to be held accountable for taking advantage of the elderly and others who can no longer defend themselves.


For the daughter of a patient at Access Adult Family Care Home on 38th avenue in Saint Petersburg, the news went from bad to worse.  She had just found out her elderly mother passed away at the home in late May.  Bedridden, she had spent her last few weeks in the home, never venturing out.  That was the story the daughter believed until she opened her mother’s credit card bill and noticed over 20 charges worth over $2,000 in May.  The credit card was used in restaurants, department stores and gas stations among other places- things that a bedridden woman would not spend money on.

Based on the charges, the daughter went to many of the locations, viewing security footage.  What she found broke her heart.  The videos showed Matos Infante, the owner of the facility, using the stolen credit card!  She reported this to the police who started their own investigation, eventually finding 10 other nursing home victims of either credit card fraud or identity theft.

Based on this investigation, 43-year-old Matos Infante was arrested and charged with 16 counts of fraudulent use of a credit card, eight counts of identity theft and multiple counts of operating an unlicensed assisted living facility (she had let her license lapse in 2013).  The police arrested her at the facility when they were serving a search warrant.

In addition the Florida Department of Health has joined the investigation to ensure the members of the facility were being taken care of.



The charges will depend if and how they charge Ms. Infante.  Most of the theft and fraud she is accused of are felony charges.  They are most likely third degree felonies, with each count being punishable by up to five years in prison!  Additionally, if convicted she will never again be able to own or work at any type of assisted living facility again.

Have you or a loved one been arrested for grand theft or fraudulent use of a credit card?  Then call the Saint Petersburg criminal defense attorneys at Blake & Dorsten, P.A. today!  These former prosecutors are experienced trial lawyers.

Blake & Dorsten, P.A. handles all criminal and personal injury cases along the Gulf Coast including Saint Petersburg, Tampa, Clearwater, Seminole, Feathersound, Largo, Pinellas Park, St. Pete Beach, Safety Harbor, Oldsmar, Palm Harbor, Dade City and Brandon.

To speak directly with your Clearwater theft crimes defense lawyer, click on the contact button or call them at 727.286.6141.  Blake & Dorsten, P.A…when your case matters!