Articles Posted in Firearms and Weapons Offenses

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.
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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.”

I couldn’t agree more.
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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.

Dr. Ciesla eventually returned his souvenir, one week later, after being confronted by University officials. For his part, Dr. Ciesla was charged by the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office with Providing False Information to Law Enforcement and Obstructing or Opposing an Officer without Violence.

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.
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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.
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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.

For the full story, click here:

Police Chief Chuck Harmon has suggested that the rapid rise in crime is due to many factors including the current economic crisis, rising unemployment and home foreclosures.

While Property Crimes like Auto Theft are on the rise, most Crimes of Violence are down this year. Robbery is down 12 percent this year and the number of Homicides have been cut in half.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.
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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.
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