In what is becoming an all-too-familiar story in Pinellas County (and throughout the entire Tampa Bay region), the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office rounded up 21 suspects in a multitiered Oxycodone Trafficking scheme. For the complete story, check out today's St. Petersburg Times article.
Working under the code name "Operation Oxy-Con," several local law enforcement agencies including the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, the Clearwater Police Department and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) started rounding up street level suspects. The operation, which targeted 52 subjects with 122 criminal charges (including Obtaining a Controlled Substance by Fraud and Trafficking in Controlled Substances began in December.
The suspects involved in "Operation Oxy-Con" are part of a Pinellas County prescription drug ring that has obtained over 30,000 pills and made approximately $300,000 since last November.
For those of you that are not yet familiar with the potent pain killer Oxycodone: You will be real soon. As stated by Lt. Robert Alfonso of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, this bust was a huge step in the fight against illegal prescription drug abuse. Alfonso further stated: "This is the new heroin. This is the new cocaine. It really is to that magnitude in Pinellas County."
A recent Bay News 9 story indicates that crime and gun ownership are both up in Manatee County, Florida. Some residents have indicated that it's the large increase in crime that prompted them to buy a gun. Specifically, Manatee County residents have been fighting back against a recent string of Home Invasion Robberys and Murders.
Recent changes in Florida law have made it easier for each of us to defend our own home and property. Expanding the old concept of the "castle doctrine," Florida lawmakers have given individual property owners additional tools to protect themselves from violent and/or gang-related activity.
The Blake & Dorsten, P.A., in Clearwater, is a proud supporter of the Second Amendment and is a firm believer in allowing law-abiding property owners to possess firearms for the protection of their home and family.
After posting a recent blog entry on NFL wide receiver Donte' Stallworth's 30 day jail sentence for the crime of DUI Manslaughter, I feel compelled to discuss the recent plea agreement that was entered into by New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress. Facing a likely 3 1/2 year prison sentence, Burress pled guilty to one count of attempted criminal possession of a weapon, a lesser charge than the one he was facing after accidentally shooting himself in the thigh while inside the Latin Quarter nightclub in Manhattan in late November 2008.
The firearm which Burress was carrying was not registered in the State of New York, or the State of New Jersey (where Burress lives). Burress previously had a Carrying a Concealed Weapon permit in the State of Florida; however, that license expired in May of 2008.
Unlike the favorable treatment that was received by Donte' Stallworth during his DUI Manslaughter case in Miami-Dade County (as previously discussed in this blog on August 4, 2009), Burress certainly was not given any special and/or favorable treatment by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. In fact, his high-profile attorney, Benjamin Brafman stated "If Plaxico Burress were not a high-profile individual, there never would be a case." Brafman also stated that, "If he were just John Q Public, he would have walked out of the club and he never would have been arrested."
When comparing the two cases, it is obvious that Stallworth and Burress were not treated equally. In fact, aside from the fact that both cases involved NFL-star wide receivers, the only commonality between the two cases is that they both prove (once again) just how easy it is to ruin a very successful career, in a matter of seconds, when alcohol is involved and poor choices are made. Attorney Brafman called the case "a perfect example of how bad judgment can have very serious consequences."
For all of you Tampa Bay Buccaneer fans out there.... this story has got to drive you crazy. Last year's first round draft pick, Aqib Talib, who plays cornerback for the Bucs, was arrested early this morning for Battery and Resisting Arrest Without Violence after he allegedly struck a cab driver in the neck and ear while riding from a St. Petersburg club to a Tampa hotel.
This is not the first time that Talib's behavior has been called into question. In May, Talib was involved in a fight during a Bucs practice in which he hit his teammate Torrie Cox, as well as a bystander, with his helmet. Talib was actually trying to hit teammate Donald Penn. Cox, who was attempting to break up the fight, received multiple stiches in his face.
Talib was also involved in a fight with then-teammate Cory Boyd at the NFL's Rookie Symposium last year. Coincidentally, one of the topics discussed at the Symposium was "personal conduct."
In college, at the University of Kansas, Talib reportedly tested positive for marijuana multiple times. This unfortunate news for the Bucs comes just days after Safety Tanard Jackson was suspended by the NFL for four (4) games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
Welcome to the odd world of random crime committed in the Tampa Bay area. As they say on "Law & Order," here's another story that has been "ripped from the headlines." You just can't make this stuff up.
Yesterday, the Chief of Tampa General Hospital's trauma center pleaded "no contest" to two (2) misdemeanor charges and was sentenced to two (2) years of probation and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. For the complete story, check out the full St. Petersburg Times article.
Documents which were released yesterday shed some light on this unusual crime. On April 21, 2009, Dr. Sergio Alvarez, a first year resident in the plastic surgery department of the University of South Florida, was assisting Dr. David J. Ciesla during a surgery when they located a bullet on top of the man's liver. About an hour into the surgery, Dr. Ciesla was relieved by another doctor. However, prior to leaving the operating room, Dr. Ciesla reached into the fugitive's body and removed the bullet. According to Dr. Alvarez, Dr. Ciesla stated "this is what we do with bullets" before placing the bullet inside the rubber glove on his right hand.
Unfortunately for Dr. Ciesla, two (2) agents from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement were sitting inside the operating room waiting to take the bullets into evidence. However, when questioned by the FDLE agents, Dr. Ciesla stated that the bullets were still stuck in the patient's body.
Yesterday, County Court Judge Cheryl Thomas "withheld adjudication," meaning Dr. Ciesla will not receive a conviction on his record (assuming he completes the terms of his probation successfully). He will also be eligible for an Early Termination of Probation, after serving one full year of probation, if all of his terms and conditions have been met.
In one of the more irresponsible cases to catch the media's attention this week, a New Port Richey woman was arrested for Driving Under the Influence. And while that, in-and-of-itself, is not real newsworthy, the fact that she had four (4) children in her car and a blood-alcohol level of .113 (a good bit over the legal limit of .08 in the State of Florida) has turned a normal DUI case into a case of Child Abuse and/or Child Neglect.
For more information on this case, check out the original story on Bay News 9.
While the Blake & Dorsten, P.A. in Clearwater handles many DUI and other Traffic-Related cases throughout the Tampa Bay area, it does not support or condone this type of reckless activity.
A Pinellas County doctor, Kevin Mark Denny, ot Tierra Verde, pleaded guilty to Federal Charges that he illegally sold and/or distributed pain pill prescriptions. For more info, you can check out the full Tampa Bay Online article.
Denny, who also had an office in Tampa on North Dale Mabry Highway, illegally prescribed popular painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone as well as alprazolam (which is the generic form of Xanax). A Federal prosecutor stated that Denny was employed by Shiloh Medical Group to work in a "small, one doctor shop connected to a pharmacy," and was paid to seek patients and write lots of prescriptions. In April alone, Denny wrote $25,000 worth of presciptions for oxycodone at Grace Pharmacy.
The Blake & Dorsten, P.A., in Clearwater, has been seeing many new clients that have been arrested and/or charged with various Drug Offenses like: Sale of Oxycodone, Possession of Oxycodone, Doctor Shopping (formally known as "Withholding Information from a Practitioner," Obtaining Controlled Substances by Fraud and Trafficking in Illegal Drugs (covering the wide spectrum of drugs from painkillers like Oxycodone to hardcore street drugs like Cocaine, Heroin and Methadone). Likewise, clients are coming into the office at an ever-increasing rate with a Violation of Probation on one or many of the above-listed offenses.
It is important to know that there are many different ways in which a drug case can be handled. How YOUR drug case is handled and whether YOUR criminal defense attorney has the training and experience necessary to aggressively fight the State of Florida on your behalf are two questions that YOU should consider very carefully. With the many life-changing consequences associated with a drug conviction, the selection of the right criminal defense attorney is vital.
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office finished up a three-month undercover investigation into street level drug sales in and around the Largo area of Pinellas County. Named "Operation Mid-County Clean-Up, this street level investigation focused on the Sale of various Controlled Substances including Marijuana, Cocaine and Prescription Drugs.
As a general rule, the State of Florida is very tough on drug cases -- especially those involving a Trafficking amount of a controlled substance. Florida law calls for "minimum/mandatory" sentences that can last 3, 7, or 25 years. Unlike other criminal sentences that get imposed, if you are sentenced on a Drug Offense to a "minimum/mandatory" sentence, you will complete that sentence "day-for-day," without the ability to obtain any "good or gain time" or be released early.
In another "what's-wrong-with-the-Tampa-Bay-area" story, a 59 year old Lakeland man was arrested for Lewd Conduct after employees at the Lakeland Public Library reported that a man was acting suspiciously. The police were called out to the library and found Johnney Keen sitting at a table in the libary. A few moments later, officers observed Keen, who was holding a book as a distraction while watching young girls at the library, begin to put his hand inside his shorts and fondle himself.
For the complete story, please read the original Bay News 9 story.
Police then requested permission from Keen to search his home. Note to all current and future clients: DO NOT GIVE LAW ENFORCEMENT CONSENT TO SEARCH YOUR HOME WITHOUT SPEAKING WITH AN EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL ATTORNEY.
After a recent case in which fugitive deadbeat David Earley lived under the radar of law enforcement in New Port Richey for a year and a half, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office has created a searchable database to bring these deadbeat fugitives to justice. For more information on this story, please click on the orange link for the full Tampa Tribune article.
Early has fallen behind on his child support to the tune of $385,000. Florida law makes it a Third Degree Felony to have more than $5,000 in back-due child support AND to avoid making payments despite the present "ability to pay."
The Blake & Dorsten, P.A. In Clearwater has handled numerous cases involving back-pay for Child Support. Most often, we see this issue arise once a client fails to pay his/her child support and the State of Florida suspends that person's driver's license in the State of Florida. Many times, the client doesn't even know that his/her driver's license has been suspended.
When dealing with this type of matter, experience counts.
For a classic "Deadbeat Dad" video courtesy of the Maury Show, see below:
In another one-of-a-kind story that makes us all wonder why we continue to live in the Tampa Bay area, Eddie Lee Burney, 60, of St. Petersburg, was arrested for Aggravated Assault with a Firearm after he jumped out from behind a tree, at 5:25 a.m., and a pointed a loaded, chrome .38 special at his St. Petersburg Times delivery man.
Apparently Burney was known to make frequent complaints that his morning newspaper was being stolen. Taking matters into his own hands, Burney yelled "come get this newspaper" while placing his hand on the weapon and taking an "aggressive stance" towards the victim.
For his part, Burney is being charged with Aggravated Assault with a Firearm, a third degree felony in the State of Florida that is punishable by up to five years in prison. Burney will also have to deal with the three (3) year minimum/mandatory prison sentence that is required under Florida's 10/20/LIFE law.
A recent Tampa Tribune article opined on a very current issue in the State of Florida: "Should Texting While Driving Be Banned?" For the complete article, click on the Tampa Tribune link.
After several recent high-profile Traffic Crimes in the Tampa Bay area (including Nick Hogan, Jennifer Porter and Jordan Valdez), Florida law makers are considering cracking down on driving distractions (in this case, Text Messaging).
Many States have already banned texting while driving. If Florida is next, the Blake & Dorsten, P.A. will be ready, willing and able to assist anyone cited under this new law.
The Blake & Dorsten, P.A., In Clearwater, handles all Traffic Offenses and Violations including: Speeding, DUI, DWLSR, Leaving the Scene of an Accident, Fleeing or Eluding a Law Enforcement Officer, Aggravated Assault with a Motor Vehicle, Reckless Driving, Racing on a Highway, DUI Manslaughter and Vehicular Homicide.
I sincerely hope this guy has NINE lives because this ridiculous defense is going to cost him this one. A Florida man had over 1,000 images of Child Porn on his home computer. When questioned by investigators with the Martin County Sheriff's Office, Keith Griffin of Jensen Beach stated that he was downloading music and that his cat must have jumped on his keyboard when he briefly left the room.
For more information, check out the full USA Today story.
A neighbor is currently taking care of the cat. The Martin County State Attorney's Office has conducted their investigation and determined that no charged will be filed against the cat.
In what has become an all-too-familiar occurrence, a St. Petersburg woman was arrested for DUI Causing Serious Bodily Injury after she ran over a curb and struck the young girl who was riding her bike.
A recent story in the St. Petersburg Times has indicated that crime is on the rise in the City of St. Petersburg, Florida. According to the latest numbers, Burglary
and Theft Crimes are rapidly increasing.
These statistics have lead to a steady increase in business for the Blake & Dorsten, P.A. in Clearwater. Criminal Attorney Nicholas J. Dorsten, of the Blake & Dorsten, P.A., handles all criminal matters arising in the City of St. Petersburg and throughout the Tampa Bay area.
Every once in awhile, I like to chime in on a criminal case that has caught the attention of the media nationwide. Today's question is this: Did Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte' Stallworth receive any special treatment in the handling of his recent DUI Manslaughter case in Miami, Florida?
Dozens of DUI Manslaughter and traffic-related homicides are being handled. In most cases, the Defendant received a prison sentence of anywhere from ten (10) to fifteen (15) years (depending on the specific facts of each case as well as the Defendant's prior criminal record). Looking back on my six (6) years with the State Attorney's Office in Clearwater, it's difficult to recall a DUI Manslaughter case with a similar sentence.
Therefore, we all need to ask ourselves these questions: "Why did this individual (Donte' Stallworth) receive such a lenient sentence?" and "Was his celebrity status influential in obtaining this favorable plea offer?"
Like many other Crimes of Violence, the ultimate resolution of a DUI Manslaughter case can be driven by the victim and/or victim's family or next-of-kin. In this case, the family of the deceased man that was running across the street to catch a bus made a specific request that the State Attorney's Office resolve the criminal case quickly so that the entire family could get some closure.
However, the State of Florida had a very strong case against Stallworth. Stallworth's blood-alcohol level after the crash was a .126, well above the legal limit of .08 in the State of Florida. Stallworth admitted to driving and flashing his lights, while driving in his black 2005 Bentley, at 50 mph in a 40 mph zone.
As for a defense, 59-year old construction crane operator Mario Reyes was not in a crosswalk when he tried to cross the busy MacArthur Causeway in Miami. However, the State doesn't need to prove that Stallworth "caused" the acccident. The State only needs to prove that Stallworth's drinking and driving "contributed" to the accident -- an issue that would be very difficult to rebut based on the evidence that has been made public.
While Donte' Stallworth was the recepient of a very lenient plea bargain and sentence, most people are not that lucky. The Blake & Dorsten, P.A., in Clearwater, aggressively defends those accused of Criminal Traffic Violations and has experience handling the most complicated and serious traffic offenses such as DUI Manslaughter, Vehicular Homicide, Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Death, Reckless Driving Causing Serious Bodily Injury and DUI Causing Serious Bodily Injury.
To view a short video with commentary on this case, check out the following from Newsy.com:
A jury was picked and the Trial has started in one of my all-time favorite cases that I handled while prosecuting in the Pinellas County State Attorney's Office. I can remember the day that one of our local undercover detectives was shot as our Gang Prosecution Unit was already prosecuting several members of St. Petersburg's "Haines Road Cru."
What started as a small "neighborhood group" that bullied people around had turned into a small group of dangerous individuals robbing local pharmacies at gunpoint. Initially, each Robbery was done to get as much Oxycodone and Xanax as possible as the street value of those pills had gone through the roof in Pinellas County.
Soon thereafter, this small group, all clad in black with their faces concealed, robbed a Blockbuster Video in St. Petersburg. Unfortunately, at that time, the St. Petersburg Police Department was doing undercover surveillance on this group.
Once the undercover units noticed that a Robbery was occuring at the Blockbuster, one of the plain-clothes detectives confronted Velislav Matzov. After the detective identified himself as a law enforcement officer, Matzov fired several shot almost killing the detective.
For his part, Matzov was charged with Attempted Murder of a Law Enforcement Officer as well as various other Armed Robbery charges. His co-Defendant, Joseph Hollings is set for Trial next week. The driver of the vehicle, Danielle Karlau, has already entered a plea and is expected to be called as a witness. Matzov is facing Life in prison if he is convicted of the most serious charge: the Attempted Murder of a Law Enforcement Officer.
For more information on this case, including the initial St. Petersburg Times article and the Bond Hearing that I handled for the State of Florida, check out the St. Pete TImes article "Birthday Gift Blamed for Cop Shooting".
In another "only in the Tampa Bay area" type of case, a 29-year old Palm Harbor man was recently arrested for assaulting his 8 1/2 month pregnant wife while aboard an AirTran Airways flight from Baltimore to Tampa.
The Blake & Dorsten, P.A., in Clearwater, handles many Domestic Violence cases throughout the Tampa Bay area.
Its important to remember that the State of Florida has a "pro prosecution" policy when it comes to Domestic Violence cases. That means, even if the victim may not want to press charges, the State of Florida will frequently file charges anyway. In my experience, these cases are best handled when an experienced criminal defense attorney is contacted immediately upon arrest (or even prior to a formal arrest).
If you or a family member has been accused of a Domestic Violence offense, the Blake & Dorsten, P.A. stands ready to assist you. 365/24/7.
The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. This information is also available on our web site. Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.