Articles Posted in Firearms and Weapons Offenses

Earlier this week, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (a Federal appeals Court) issued a landmark opinion in the criminal case of United States v. Warshak, finding that individuals have “a reasonable expectation of privacy in their email” and that the Fourth Amendment protects email held by an Internet Service Provider (ISP).In other words, “[t]he government may not compel a commercial ISP to turn over the contents of a subscriber’s emails without first obtaining a warrant based on probable cause.” United States v. Warshak, et al., No. 08-3997, Slip Op. at 23 (6th Cir. Dec. 14, 2010).

As a criminal defense attorney, I’ve been asked the following question many times: To what extent can the police secretly view/obtain your private email? This core question, namely – what are the limits of police surveillance – was answered this week by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in a lengthy opinion (that is hyperlinked above).

On one side of the issue, privacy advocates are pleased as punch with the opinion which holds that the government/police must obtain a search warrant based on “probable cause” before it can search emails stored by Internet Service Providers (ISP’s).The case involved a Federal Fraud prosecution of Steven Warshak, an Ohio executive, whose company sold an herbal supplement which was touted for its purported ability to increase a man’s, um, physical attributes. Perhaps you’ve seen a commercial or two for this product?As part of its Fraud investigation, the United States government obtained about 27,000 private emails from Warshak’s Internet Service Providers. Warshak moved to suppress/exclude the emails as evidence, contending that the U.S. government obtained them through an unreasonable search and seizure, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

People have a “reasonable expectation” that emails will remain private, the Sixth Circuit stated, using some colorful language. “Lovers exchange sweet nothings” and “businessmen swap ambitious plans” all with the click of a mouse button, the Court said. By obtaining access to someone’s email, law enforcement agents gain the ability to peer deeply into his activities. . . the Fourth Amendment must keep pace with the inexorable march of technological progress, or its guarantees will wither and perish.”

The Sixth Circuit held that Warshak’s constitutional rights were violated when investigators obtained his e-mails without a search warrant.

In a minor side note, the Court upheld his convictions. One of Warshak’s attorneys, Martin Weinberg, told the Associated Press that the Court’s ruling on email-privacy was helpful to his client; however, the Court should have also overturned his convictions.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation hailed the recent Sixth Circuit ruling, saying in a statement that it is the “only federal appellate decision currently on the books that squarely rules on this critically important privacy issue.”

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers also weighed in with praise. “Americans expect and deserve protection from government agents who would snoop into their private communications without probable cause and a court order,” the group said in a statement.Please remember, this opinion only applies to “government agents.” This opinion will not prevent your wife or girlfriend from snooping into your private email account.

Continue reading

According to a breaking story on, a 28-year-old Tampa man was confronted by two (2) teenagers as he was jogging after midnight in Town ‘n Country and (following a physical altercation) he shot one of them to death, said Larry McKinnon, a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) spokesman.

The shooting happened after 1:00 a.m., near Pinehurst Drive and Hickory Circle. The teens were dressed in black and wearing hooded jackets, McKinnon said. No further information was given as to why two (2) teenagers would be out at 1:00 a.m., dressed in all black and wearing hoodies. However, its doubtful that they were also “out for a jog.”

Thomas Baker, of 9015 Hickory Circle, fired multiple rounds with a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun, McKinnon said. According to the online story, he was cooperative with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) investigation.

It also appears that Mr. Baker will have a solid defense under Florida’s relatively-new “Stand Your Ground” law.Carlos Musteliel, 18, of 8921 Camino Villa Boulevard in Tampa, died from a gunshot to the chest. Deputies found him dead in a roadway at 1:24 a.m.

Five (5) houses away from where the shooting happened, Baker stood outside his home Wednesday morning smoking a cigarette. “I don’t want to talk,” he said. “It was a terrible thing.”

Here’s what deputies said happened:

The two (2) teens started talking to Baker. The conversation escalated into an altercation and Musteliel punched him. Baker said he thought one of the teens had a weapon and that a Robbery was about to take place. Baker pulled his gun and shot Musteliel multiple times in the upper torso. The other teen was uninjured, ran away and may have hidden behind a nearby house and discarded his jacket in the yard.The 16-year-old returned when deputies arrived and was being questioned as a witness. He will not be identified by authorities (presumably because he is a Juvenile).

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s detectives were conferring with Tampa prosecutors, who will determine if any criminal charges will be filed (and who they will be filed against).

Neighbor William McVey, 63, said he awoke to the sound of five (5) gunshots. “Somebody getting killed like that is awful,” he said. “What an awful way to start the Thanksgiving weekend.”

He said the neighborhood is pretty quiet with a lot of children.

Baker and the teenagers live in the neighborhood but don’t know each other, sheriff’s detectives said.

Baker has a concealed weapons permit and said he routinely jogs late at night, McKinnon said.
Continue reading

Two stories on today addressed the fate of Jennifer Mee, otherwise known around the world as the “Hiccup Girl.”

At her “First Appearance” or “Advisory Hearing” in Clearwater this afternoon, bond was been denied for Jennifer Mee and two (2) other men, who are facing First Degree Felony Murder charges in connection with a Robbery that left a 22-year-old St. Pete man dead.Mee first made news after a fight with the hiccups that lasted for six (6) weeks. During that time she was asked to leave school because she was considered a distraction to other students.

Doctors finally got the hiccups to stop.

LOS ANGELES – According to a breaking story published by the Associated Press, Grammy-winning rapper T.I., who has a history of Drug Offenses and is on Federal Probation after spending time behind bars on Gun Charges, was arrested along with his wife after police smelled marijuana coming from their car, authorities said.The rapper was arrested Wednesday night in West Hollywood during a traffic stop, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy Mark Pope told The Associated Press. Authorities said they smelled a strong marijuana odor but would not say if any other drugs were found in the car.

The 29-year-old rapper and his wife, Tameka Cottle, were released from jail at about 4 a.m. Thursday after posting $10,000 bail each, sheriff’s Deputy Luis Castro said.

T.I.’s publicist declined to comment.

The arrests follow last week’s detention of socialite Paris Hilton, who is being investigated for Felony Cocaine Possession after a motorcycle officer smelled pot wafting from her car.

The Atlanta-based rapper, whose real name is Clifford Harris Jr., is a multiplatinum hitmaker. Known as the “King of the South,” he has emerged one of music’s most profitable stars.He also has a key role in the current top box office movie “Takers.” The shoot-’em-up about an armored truck Robbery that goes bad was released last week and topped the box-office chart.

T.I. served seven (7) months in an Arkansas Federal prison and three (3) months in a Georgia halfway house on Federal Weapons Charges and was released in March. He was sentenced to serve three (3) years of supervised release after his prison sentence ended.

He was ordered not to commit another Federal, State or local crime while on supervised release, and also ordered not to illegally possess a controlled substance. He was also told to take at least three (3) drug tests after his release and to participate in a drug and alcohol treatment program.

Patrick Crosby, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney in Atlanta, had no immediate comment Thursday on whether Harris violated the terms of the judge’s order.

Since his release, the rapper, who previously spent time behind bars for Drug Offenses, has vowed to live a better life. He spoke to children about the dangers of drugs and guns, and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young was one of his supporters. As he prepared for his most recent sentence, he starred in the MTV reality show “T.I.’s Road to Redemption: 45 Days to Go.”

In a recent interview with The Associated Press, T.I. talked about living a more positive life.

“Right now, it’s all about moving forward and just acknowledging the blessing that are here today. … Just moving past the regrets of yesterday — the things that could’ve been done better,” T.I. said in a July interview.

Unfortunately, at this point in time, it looks like the only forward moving for T.I. is that he is one step closer to going back to Federal prison.
Continue reading

A 26-year-old man is accused of Stalking a woman and making threats against her life, according to a story in today’s St. Pete Times. The stalker has been using his cell phone to leave the victim disturbing voice mail and text messages.

Texts such as “I’ll kill you” and “take ’em to your grave” were sent to the victim, according to the St. Petersburg Police Department.

The woman and her mother may have even been the target of a “drive-by shooting” last month, though no one has been arrested in connection with that.

Jared Borgesto Murray was arrested and charged Monday with Aggravated Stalking (a very serious Felony).According to his arrest warrant, Murray is accused of harassing the victim between November 20th and December 20th. The victim and her mother called the police in November and told them that Murray had been calling both of them and leaving threatening messages.

As they spoke to an officer the morning of Nov. 20th, the arrest warrant said, the victim’s cell phone received two (2) text messages from Murray threatening to hurt her and the police if they “get in my way.”

On Dec. 15th, according to the arrest warrant, the woman told the police that she was still receiving threats even after changing her cell phone number. That month, she also obtained a Domestic Violence Injunction (DVI) against Murray.

Two (2) days later, the woman’s mother told the police that she heard a “loud bang” around 12:25 a.m. Police found bullet holes in the Mazda parked outside and a hole in the front of their house. Fortunately, no one was injured.

The arrest warrant also detailed a number of threatening text messages:

“Immna kill you. An then I’m gonna kill myself.”

“U hurt me now its time for u to hurt exclusively lol watch thank god.”

“Anybody … even look at me crazy your jeopardizing ya whole family an dats on my life.”Sprint was able to connect the two (2) cell phone numbers that the police said were being used to harass the victim to Murray. Murray was also arrested last year in a separate Domestic Battery incident involving the same victim, according to the police.Murray, of 2500 14th Street South, posted $100,000 bail and was released from the Pinellas County Jail on Monday.
Continue reading

A Tampa Bay area teenager, convicted of a violent rape, has been sentenced to 27 years in the Florida State prison system.

Jose Walle, 15, was one of three men accused in a string of attacks throughout the Bay area in the summer of 2008.He and two others are facing charges in connection with an Armed Robbery and Armed Sexual Battery at The Table in downtown St. Petersburg. Investigators said the trio also attacked women in Gibsonton and Apollo Beach.

Investigators said that, while Walle himself did not commit any of the rapes, he helped make the crimes happen. In one case, investigators said he pointed a gun at a duct-taped kitchen worker while one of the other, Rigoberto Moron Martinez, raped another employee on the kitchen floor.

According to the St. Pete Times, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Joseph A. Bulone remarked at Walle’s sentencing that: “Quite frankly, the facts of this case are amazingly aggravated; they are very, very serious.”
Continue reading

A scheme to rob a man of his prescription painkillers “backfired” Tuesday, police said, leading to the arrests of three (3) men — one accused of shooting the victim in the leg.

The trio planned to rob Gordon Kendrick, 28, right after he went into a pharmacy to have an Oxycodone prescription filled, police said. Tampa Bay criminal defense attorney Nicholas J. Dorsten, Esq. of the Clearwater-based Blake & Dorsten, P.A., has seen a sharp increase in the number of Oxycodone cases that his office has retained. These cases range from simple Possession of Oxycodone and/or Trafficking in Oxycodone to Obtaining a Controlled Substance by Fraud and/or Doctor Shopping cases (as Oxycodone as certainly become “the clear drug of choice” among residents in the Tampa Bay area.

Ryan L. Holmberg (below/center), 23, of 1320 14th St. in Palm Harbor is accused of shooting Kendrick. He was charged with Robbery with a Deadly Weapon, Aggravated Battery, Throwing a Deadly Missile into a building and being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm.Also arrested, police said, were Sean M. Perry (below/left), 25, of Clearwater, who drove the getaway car, and Daniel C. Kane (below/right), 31, of Tampa, who helped coordinate the robbery.At least one of the men knew Kendrick, said Clearwater police spokeswoman Beth Watts.

Arrest reports show Kane communicated with Holmberg by telephone to let him know when to go to the pharmacy.

Perry then drove Holmberg to Trinity Pharmacy at 1474 S Belcher Road. Holmberg approached Kendrick and demanded the pills when Kendrick left the store.

When Kendrick said he didn’t have anything, Holmberg shot him in the right thigh with a semi-automatic handgun, according to a St. Pete Times article. The bullet passed through Kendrick’s thigh and went into the occupied pharmacy. No one else was injured.

The incident happened around 4:45 p.m.

Kendrick was treated at Morton Plant Hospital and released later Tuesday, a hospital spokesman said. Kendrick was able to identify at least one of the men, arrest reports show.

All three men were taken to the Pinellas County Jail.
Continue reading

“The madness must stop,” according to Circuit Court Judge Joseph A. Bulone. On Friday, Judge Bulone provided one victim’s family with a sense of closure when he sentenced Allan Burney (below), 21, to life in prison for his role in the October 8th, 2007 shooting of Michael Scott, 23, in Clearwater’s North Greenwood community. For the complete story, check out Saturday’s St. Pete Times article.”

Burney, who co-created the underground DVD series “Da Hood Gone Wild,” was convicted following a three-day trial that ended on August 27th. A Pinellas County jury found Burney guilty of Second Degree Murder along with three additional counts on Attempted Second Degree Murder and Shooting at, within or into a Vehicle for the shooting that killed Michael Scott and seriously injured his brother, Antonio Scott.

“Da Hood Gone Wild” infamously depicted violence in Clearwater’s North Greenwood neighborhood. Burney developed the controversial DVD series with his childhood friend Cortez Hearns. The videos chronicled street life in the North Greenwood community including: fights in the middle of the street, gyrating women in G-strings and the Clearwater Police Department trying to control the pandemonium.

At trial, state prosecutors were able to convince a jury of four women and two men that Burney fired a Mac-11 into the car that Michael Scott was driving on October 8, 2007 in the area of North Betty Lane and Springdale Street in Clearwater.As shown above, the Ingram Mac11 (officially known as the “Military Armament Corporation Model 11”) has a very high rate of fire: about 1,000 rounds a minute — allowing a 32 round magazine to be emptied in just a few seconds.
Continue reading

A laser-sighted 9mm Glock Firearm, which was stolen several months ago from a Tarpon Springs State Representative, was recovered in the waistband of a convicted felon yesterday during a traffic stop in St. Pete, Florida. For more information on this odd story, check out today’s St. Pete Times for more details.So far, this is what the Tarpon Springs Police Department knows: State Representative Peter Nehr’s 9mm Glock handgun (with an extended magazine) was stolen from his car on May 13, 2009.

4 1/2 months later, Elvis Leon Weaver, 20, of 3800 12th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, was wanted by law enforcement for several outstanding warrants (for previously committed offenses) when a “tipster” told police where they could find him. Soon thereafter, an unmarked police car conducted a traffic stop on a 2009 Chevy Impala, which Weaver was driving on 34th Street South in St. Pete. During this traffic stop, law enforcement found Drugs in the car and the gun in Weaver’s waistband. The serial number on the gun matched the one that was reported stolen, months earlier, by Nehr.

Ultimately, Weaver was arrested on charges of Dealing in Stolen Property, Carrying a Concealed Firearm, Failure to Appear and three (3) counts of Possession of a Controlled Substance. After being booked into the Pinellas County Jail, Weaver posted a $24,663 bond and is back on the streets (this time without Representative Nehr’s firearm).
Continue reading

An interesting story in today’s St. Pete Times highlights the life, or lack thereof, of Teddy Braden, the former gang member turned blogger that blogs from the Pinellas County Jail.

Braden, who is in the Pinellas County Jail on Drug Charges, blogs with the help of his mother — who takes his notes and letters and posts them online at: teeninjail.blogspot.comBraden, who was arrested for the first time at age 13, has a Juvenile record consisting of various Drug Charges and a Residential Burglary. As an adult, he has been locked up for doing drugs, selling drugs, Grand Theft, Burglary and now Drug Trafficking.

In one of Braden’s blog posts he states that “One of my biggest regrets is joining a gang.” The quote sits below a picture of Braden, wearing a red t-shirt, hat and bandana, while throwing up a “B” (a noted gang hand sign for the Bloods). However, something about this photo tells me that Braden would not survive, on the streets, for very long.
Continue reading

Contact Information