Posted On: August 29, 2012

Absolutely Horrific Florida Cyber Crime Allegations – International Network of Men Accused of Raping 19-Day Old, among Other Unspeakable Acts

If you’ve been arrested for a cyber crime in Florida or some other crime, like vandalism or burglary, you may recognize that you’ve committed bad and potentially horrific actions.

But odds are that what you did pales in comparison to the allegations against 43 men in Florida and around the world who've been netted in international operation, code named Holitna. These men stand accused of passing around very explicit and deranged child pornography – including pictures of dead children – and also of committing practically unspeakable acts of barbarism, such as the rape of a 19 day-old baby. (That’s right – "day")

Investigators managed to connect the dots on the horror show by tracking down a stuffed bunny that had been seen in the picture of one of the kids photographed being abused. Like a Ruth Goldberg trap unfurling, investigators leveraged this clue to “work backwards” and unravel the international child pornography network. Normally, this blog likes to recount aspects of cases or arrests to flush out the story. But the allegations against these men are actually so disturbing that it’s unstomachable to talk about them in detail.

What you might learn if you’ve recently been arrested for a crime in Florida…

Not all criminal defendants are equal – not by long shot.

Even if you did something wrong – violated the rule of law or at least moral or ethical code – the law still affords you a panolpy of rights; and you can also use your arrest (and possible conviction) as a wake-up call or even as a guide to help you improve your life, make reparations or amends, and generally become a better human being.

Unfortunately, many people around you – even those who are close to you – may not understand what you’ve been going through and may rush to judgment. This can be particularly painful if you are innocent of the charges or if the charges are trumped up or overinflated and don’t paint the full picture.

What’s past is past.

You need to figure out how to effectively, compassionately, and methodically deal not only with the charges against you but also with all the other “stuff” that the arrest and threat of jail have surfaced for you. The team here at Seltzer Law, PA, can get you on the right track. Call us any time of day or night for a free consultation at 1-888-843-3333 (1-888-THE-DEFENSE).

Posted On: August 27, 2012

South Florida "Felony Lane" Gangs Have Expanded Across the Nation, Say Authorities

South Florida “felony lane” gangs have notoriously terrorized victims in Sunshine State for years by using so-called “smash and grab” tactics to steal checks, credit cards, and driver’s licenses. They then use this “stuff” to rob victims in myriad ways.

According to authorities, these thieves are called “felony lane” operators because, when they rob victims of ATM cards, they typically use the outside lane (a.k.a. the “felony lane”) at drive in banks to avoid security camera detection. Investigators believe that many of the criminals have been coming from the Lauderhill and Ft. Lauderdale area, but their smash-and-grab crime spree has now extended well beyond Florida to places as far as away as Wisconsin.

The felony lane criminals are not a gang, per se – they’re just leveraging an organized, tested set of criminal tactics. Authorities believe that many of the robbers are lifetime thieves who use sophisticated methods to avoid detection – such as hiring prostitutes and homeless people to pose for fake driver’s license pictures, so that they can take out credit cards in the names of victims.

The criminals may be diversifying, geographically, to avoid major sentences.

If you're busted and convicted for one minor burglary out of state, you might not face the same draconian charges that you would if you were caught, charged and convicted here in Florida. As one article documented, getting convicted for crimes like burglary in South Florida can lead to massive punishments. For instance, Samuel Jones, a 31-year-old recently convicted of identity theft, got sentenced to 12 years in incarceration… and he still has additional cases pending!

If you’ve been arrested and recently charged…

Perhaps you had a relatively sophisticated scheme running with some trusted associates, or maybe you accidently got dragged into something that escalated quickly beyond your control or understanding. In either case, you need to apply disciplined thought and perspective to your defense strategy to maximize results.

The team here at Seltzer Law, PA, has a wealth of experience representing clients like you. Our goal is not to simply help to you reduce your sentence but rather to give you the tools and resources you need to understand what went wrong in your life, so you can improve your lot and hopefully rebuild your life and career.

Get in touch with us today at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333) for effective, seasoned guidance about your South Florida defense strategy.

Posted On: August 22, 2012

Disturbing Possible Florida Criminal Charges Against Dr. Michael Berkland

Florida State attorney’s office may file criminal charges against Dr. Michael Berkland, an associated medical examiner who had stored massive amounts of human remains in a storage unit at Uncle Bob’s storage on East Fairfield Drive.

Dr. Berkland alleged conducted autopsies privately for about a decade – from 1997 to 2007 – at Florida funeral homes and other places in Panama City. Like something out of a bad episode of American Pickers, Dr. Berkland’s grisly storage surprise was discovered when a buyer purchased the storage unit in question at an auction. After discovering the remains of over 100 people, including 10 brains and remains of tissues like hearts and lungs, the buyer alerted the Pensacola Police Department.

Dr. Andi Minyard, a medical examiner working with police investigators to try to clean up the mess and understand what happened, said that “it’s a horrible thing to know that your uncle’s brain is sitting in some storage shed that got sold at an auction.”

Dr. Berkland was fired from the medical examiner’s office in 2003 for failing to fill out autopsy reports and for maintaining a big backlog of cases. Minyard said that the reconstructing what happened might be difficult, since “several of the tissue buckets and several of the brains don’t have any labels on them at all, so we have no idea who they would have belonged to.”

The incident highlights how “quirky stuff” can go wrong in your Florida criminal investigation.

Most people – and definitely most defendants – assume that Florida investigators and police and others involved in the system are capable of exhibiting a degree of competency. But as this situation illustrates, strange “stuff” can throw off any investigation and potentially complicate your case in multiple, diverse, and difficult to detect ways.

For instance, if you can show how bad police impacted your case, you might be able to get exonerated or at least reduce your charges… just on the basis of the incompetent police work itself. On the other hand, police or investigatory errors can make your life more complicated and potentially inadvertently lead to unfairly harsh sentences.

To understand your rights and potential leverage, connect with the team at Seltzer Law at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE -- 1-888-843-3333 -- for sound, effective, and clearheaded defense thinking. Call us any time of day or night to schedule your free case evaluation.

Posted On: August 20, 2012

Important Information about Deferred Action for Youth Policy -- If You're an Immigrant Who Has Been Arrested for a Crime in Florida

The Department of Homeland Security has started to accept applications for an intriguing program for young immigrants called Deferred Action for Youth. The program offers exciting opportunities to young immigrants who want to extend their stay in the U.S. But if you're an immigrant who has been charged with a crime in Florida or elsewhere, you need to be very careful about how/whether you try to participate, even if you were never legally convicted of robbery, assault, or any other felony or misdemeanor.

Deferred Action For Youth: NOT the Same Thing as The DREAM Act

The new DHS program is substantially different from a piece of prospective legislation you may have read about called the DREAM Act. Congress has yet to pass the DREAM Act, which would provide green card, visa, and citizenship status to immigrants who meet certain criteria.

Deferred Action is a more limited program that provides people who came to the United States as kids with a buffer period of two years, during which time they cannot be removed from the U.S. or deported. You can get authorization to work, but you cannot get a green card or visa or naturalization status through this program.

Eligibility Requirements: Pretty Strict

The program is available to young people who are less than 31-years-old, as of June 15th 2012, and who arrived in the United States before their 16th birthday. There are also eligibility restrictions with respect to how long you’ve been in the United States, whether or not you're currently in school, and whether or not you’ve ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony.

For a detailed list of requirements, see the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' official website on the program.

Important Caveat, If You’ve Ever Been Arrested for a Florida Crime

Even if you were never convicted of your crime, your applying for the Deferred Action program could inadvertently result in your deportation!

Your immigration case may be highly complicated and nuanced, even if you were only arrested and convicted for a minor problem, such as shoplifting or some other form of petty theft. To that end, it behooves you to connect with a Florida criminal defense attorney, such as a member of the team here at Seltzer Law, PA, to get an informed perspective about your rights and potential responsibilities/obstacles.

Call the team today at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-333) any time, 24/7, for fast and compassionate assistance.

Posted On: August 15, 2012

Jim Greer Versus The Republican Party of Florida and John Thrasher: A Florida Criminal Case That Has the Whole State (Indeed, the Whole Nation) Watching

As the clock ticks down to the Presidential election in November – which will no doubt pivot on the choices of swing state voters in the Sunshine State – a divisive Florida criminal case has sparked intense interest among politicos. The case concerns former GOP State Party Chairman, Jim Greer, who got hit with criminal charges back in 2010. Prosecutors alleged that he worked out a secret fundraising contract -- a contract that his fellow state Republicans had no knowledge of. Greer lashed back at his party, accusing the FL GOP of being in state of "turmoil" and alleging that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's investigation had been orchestrated by rival GOP officials.

Greer’s most inflammatory remarks had to do with his allegation that state party leaders suppressed black votes. He also said that “there was a feeling within the [GOP] that the Tea Party [which has had profound influence over the GOP recently] was just a bunch of whack-a-dos.” John Thrasher, who took over as GOP chairman after Greer resigned, lashed back, calling Greer's accusations “absurd, absolutely absurd” and suggesting that Greer made them only “in an effort to divert attention from himself”.

In response to his own Florida criminal charges -- and battle with the state’s GOP muckety mucks -- Greer filed a lawsuit against his party and Senator John Thrasher. He wants $130,000 that he said he was told he would be able to collect after he resigned.

Lessons from This Big Political Mess, If You or a Loved One Faces Florida Criminal Charges

Whether you were caught shoplifting at a 7-Eleven, or you stand accused of a far more serious crime, like burglary, assault, homicide, or a multi-million dollar computer crime involving a constellation of operatives from around the world, the team here at Seltzer Law, PA, can help you make sense of your situation and build a powerful response.

The infighting among Greer, Thrasher, and other big political honchos effectively illustrates the challenges that almost all defendants face, irrespective of their stature, connections, or understanding of the law.

The reality is that your life gets destabilized on multiple fronts, almost instantly, when you face a criminal charge – even if you're innocent or if you have a powerful defense “at the ready.”

Regaining control and clarity cannot happen overnight. But the team here at Seltzer Law, PA, has resources and skills to help you deal with even the most complicated and “politically electric” situations. Attorney Seltzer and his team have cultivated a reputation for being level-headed, compassionate, and strategic. They can help you figure out the appropriate next steps to best meet your charges. Call the firm today at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333).

Posted On: August 13, 2012

Have You Recently Been Accused of a Florida Computer Crime? Watch Out – It Could Be The Reveton Virus At Work!

There is a vicious type of “drive-by” virus going around that may lead you to believe that you’ve committed a Florida computer crime.

The FBI and the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) are on the case, but many unsuspecting people in Florida and elsewhere are still being conned out of money and potentially and unwittingly putting their credit card information and other personal information assets at risk.

According to FBI reports, the so-called Reveton ransomware locks up users’ computers and then intimidates computer owners by accusing them of committing a violation of federal computer law. The virus then orders the user to pay a fine through special card service.

Similar types of ransomware and malware abound out there, but they usually behave in more sneaky fashion. For instance, you might not notice that you’ve contracted malware -- it can essentially hatch and wreak havoc on your computer (and your nerves) days or even weeks later.

The Reveton ransomware, however, is about as subtle as the grunts of an Olympic shot putter.

It hits the computer immediately. Once computer locks up, a message comes on saying that you’ve violated federal computer law -- possibly with respect to child pornography.

Reveton has been operating since 2011 via a malware platform known as Citadel. Despite IC3 warnings, the malware has spread both here in the United States and internationally.

The Internet Crime Compliant Center tells virus victims to avoid paying the alleged fine. Instead, you should contact a trustworthy IT professional at your office/organization or go to a respectable company, such as F-Secure, for a detailed help on what to do to extract the virus from your computer.

What if you or someone you care about stands accused of a Florida computer crime?

Defending against a cyber crime charge can be even more complicated than defending against the consequences of being victimized by such a crime. Even if your operation was controlled -- you knew everyone involved and kept meticulous records -- criminal enterprises have a curious way of spiraling well beyond their scope. You can thus potentially get you into far more trouble than you realized you could.

For instance, say you trusted an operative to extract Social Security numbers or login information from users online. That operative went onto commit other crimes while working under your aegis. In this case, you could face charges based on his/her ancillary activities, even if you didn’t know about them or support them.

Likewise, you may not be fully aware of how many laws you violated -- or what the consequences might be for violating those laws -- even if you did know that you were engaging in something illegal or, at the very least, ethically dicey.

Getting organized for your defense

The team here at Seltzer Law, PA, can help you understand your Florida criminal charges and prepare you effectively and strategically for your legal challenges. Connect with us at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333), any time of day or night, for a compassionate and thorough free consultation.

Posted On: August 8, 2012

Florida Cyber Crime News Alert: Court of Appeals Rejects Text Messaging Argument in Case of State V. Cassano; Defendant Will Serve 19 Years in Prison

Whether you committed a violent crime or cyber crime in Florida, you might be able to leverage an array of defense arguments to clear your name or at least get a more lenient punishment.

But understand that, even if the evidence connecting to you to the crime is only circumstantial, you can still be convicted, if the evidence proves your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Consider, for example, the case of State v. Cassano, in which an Ohio Court of Appeals recently rejected to hear an appeal to overturn a conviction of “four counts of felonious assault, two counts of aggravated robbery, and two counts of having a weapon while under disability.”

Adam Cassano and codefendant Gerrell Glenn were charged with robbing several victims and shooting two of them, one in the neck. The victim survived but could not identify Cassano directly as the shooter. To build their case, prosecutors used compelling circumstantial evidence. A critical element of the circumstantial case was the “nature of text messages” passed between Glenn and Cassano prior to, during, and after the shootings.

Without getting into too many details, the text messages established pretty compelling evidence that the recipient of the messages got directed to the parking lot where the robbery occurred. For instance, one message on Cassano’s phone was “we are on our way.”

In appeal, Cassano argued that prosecutors should not have been allowed to build a case that the defendant had received Glenn’s text messages. The Court of Appeals said that, while the texts “did not directly identify Cassano…the circumstantial evidence allowed the court to infer reasonably that Cassano was in possession of the telephone at the time of robbery.”

Furthermore, the Court of Appeals said that "even if the trial judge had taken exception to the hearsay rule in error, this would not have been necessarily relevant because the implications of any error would not have helped Cassano’s defense." Ultimately, the court rejected the text messaging argument as well as the other appellate arguments and affirmed Cassano’s 19-year prison sentence.

Potential lessons for your Florida cyber crime defense

The arguments governing what evidence can be admitted, when, and how can be profoundly complicated – and often require a deep knowledge of Florida law and relevant case history. Both the nature and structure of the defense that your Florida cyber crime attorney develops can have a major influence on whether you will achieve your goals… or whether you wind up facing heartbreak at trial and a long jail sentence.

The team here at the Seltzer Law, PA, has the tenacity, knowledge, and knowhow to develop your cyber crime defense strategy. Connect with the team today at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333) for confidential help, any time of day or night.

Posted On: August 6, 2012

Gruesome Florida Crime: Two Teenagers Shot in the Back of Their Head, Their Bodies Burned with Gasoline

Execution style killings of two teenagers, Jeremy Stewart and Nicholas Presha, have sparked massive discussions on Florida crime blogs. This terrifying and sad case illustrates how and when the justice system can fail – and the case may have implications for you, if you are trying to figure out what to do about your Florida criminal charges.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, teenagers Stewart and Presha had been best friends… friends who had a taste for skirting the law. They had been once caught stealing a car, and they also broke into vehicles and stole objects, including guns.

On the night of their deaths, Presha and Stewart met up with two men, Hector Rodriguez and Jessie Davis, at a gas station. Authorities believe that Davis and Rodriguez had never met the teens before. The four men got something to eat together at Steak 'n Shake, during which time Stewart and Presha may have tried to sell recently stolen weapons to the men. They all then headed to Stewart's house, perhaps to close the deal.

Could have been a routine sale of illegal arms… but something went terribly wrong.

According to a witness, the two men took the guns from the teenagers, then pointed the weapons at them. They pistol-whipped Stewart, before tying both teens up and tossing them into the back of a car. Surveillance footage shows Davis filling up his tank at a CITGO station (with the boys presumably in his trunk).

20 minutes later, bicyclists discovered the teenagers’ burning bodies near a trail.

Prosecutors tried Davis last year in connections with road rage charges – he allegedly beat a man with a stick after the man honked at him in traffic. But Davis was ultimately allowed probation instead of jail time, in spite of compelling evidence that the man had serious mental instability and delusional schizophrenia.

Currently, Davis and Rodriguez are being held without bond, awaiting charges.

If you or someone you care about faces Florida criminal charges – whether something serious like homicide or assault – or something more minor but also serious, such as misdemeanor theft or possession of narcotics or weapons – the team at Seltzer Law, PA, can help you understand what options might be available to you.

Connect with the team now at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333) for a free consultation.

Posted On: August 1, 2012

There Will Be No Case of Florida v. Samuel Williams: 71-Year-Old Shot Two Men Perpetrating a Crime in a Florida Internet Café

It started off as a routine Florida crime. Two teenagers, Duwayne Henderson and Davis Dawkins, stormed into the Palms Internet Cafe in Ocala last Friday with a gun and a baseball bat. One of the 19-year-olds told the patrons “None of you [expletives] move!” and then smashed a $1,200 computer screen with the baseball bat.

Most of the patrons froze. But not 71-year-old Samuel Williams.

Surveillance footage reveals that Williams leapt to his feet, accessed a .380-caliber handgun that he had concealed on his person, and fired at the teenagers. He hit both of them (not fatally), causing them to abandon their robbery attempt and flee in panic out the front door. Fortunately, no patrons were hurt during the commission of the crime.

Henderson and Dawkins were arrested shortly thereafter and hit with charges of attempted armed robbery with a firearm in Florida and felony criminal mischief. Dawkins posted a $11,000 bond and was released from jail. As of this report, Henderson remained in jail due to the fact that he had failed to post a $31,000 bond.

One witness, Mary Beach, praised Williams for his fast action: “I think he is wonderful. If he would haven’t been there, there could have been some innocent people shot…I heard pop, pop; then pop pop pop, all at once.”

Williams had a concealed weapons permit, which in Florida allows someone to engage in deadly force if he or she has a reason to believe that someone will be seriously injured or killed – as long as that person is not committing a crime and is allowed to be in the vicinity.

An official from the state attorney’s office said as much: “Based on what I have seen what I know at this time, I don’t anticipate filing any charges [against Williams].”

Henderson and Dawkins might not be so lucky.

If convicted of attempted armed robbery and felony criminal mischief, both teenagers could spend several years behind bars, be stripped forever of their right to vote in elections, and suffer numerous indirect consequences of their behavior.

If either teenager had a prior criminal record, the situation could be even more complicated.

What should you do, if you or someone you love has been accused of a serious Florida crime, like robbery or attempted robbery?

Investigating your case – and constructing an appropriate defense – can be a delicate business. Even subtle mistakes made in preparation can drastically complicate your legal situation. Connect immediately with the Seltzer Law, PA, team, by calling us toll-free at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333), any time, 24/7, to get answers to your urgent questions and to begin a strategic path to your defense.