Former Palm Beach County Employee Faces Grand Theft Charge

Gas prices are high and they don’t appear to be dropping any time soon.

But authorities allege that a one-time Palm Beach County employee went a step too far when he used his county-issued gas card to fill up his own car, WPBF reports.

Everyone learns at a young age what stealing means. In Florida, the crime can be punishable as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Either way, the charges should be fought aggressively by an experienced West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney.

Grand theft in Fort Lauderdale is a serious criminal charge that carries the real threat of prison time. And a criminal conviction can lead to job loss, disqualification of government-based benefits and loss of other liberties. Even if a person faces a misdemeanor charge, they shouldn’t think they can face the charge alone.

According to the news station, the worker was a storekeeper for the Palm Beach County Purchasing Department from 2008 until earlier this year. The state alleges the man filled his personal vehicle with gas on the county taxpayer dime 40 times, costing more than $3,000.

The news station alleges that the man told authorities his county vehicle would nearly run out of gas several times, so he used his own money to fill that vehicle and, in turn, used his gas card for his own vehicle to make up the difference.

Charges of grand theft in Fort Lauderdale are defined under Florida Statutes 812.014. Under that set of laws, theft means knowingly taking or using the property of another to deprive the other person of the property or using the property without having a right to do so.

The penalties for these theft charges range, depending on the alleged value of the amount stolen. In this case, the value of the alleged stolen gas money is set at around $3,000, meaning the former worker is charged with third-degree grand theft, which is punishable with up to five years in prison, if convicted. For third-degree grand theft, a person must have taken something valued at up to $20,000, a gun, vehicle, a person’s will or other specific things.

The higher the value of what is alleged to have been stolen, the more serious the charge. A second-degree felony in Florida can be punished with a 15-year prison sentence, while a first-degree felony can result in up to 30 years in prison for a person who is convicted.

Obviously, the charges are serious, but sometimes the prosecution has a difficult time proving the value of what is said to be stolen. And if the defense can disprove certain things were stolen, the value can drop and so can the possible penalties.

Also in theft cases, the state can seek restitution, which means money that must be paid back to the victim. So, if the state secures a conviction against a person who steals $10,000 from a company or another person, they may be sent to prison and then once they serve their prison sentence have to pay back $10,000. That can be a large burden for a person who is fresh out of prison and has to find work to get back on their feet. That’s just another reason why fighting these charges is necessary.
(more…)

VA Medical Center Raid Nets 17 Arrests for Drugs in Riviera Beach

Seventeen people were arrested recently after authorities raided the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Riviera Beach, The Palm Beach Post reports.

The newspaper says that the arrest of a man for conspiracy to distribute oxycodone led to detectives working on a 7-month investigation. The investigation resulted in a dozen arrests and charges of unlawful drug distribution based out of the clinic.

Drug charges in West Palm Beach and throughout South Florida can range from minor possession cases to large-scale distribution and conspiracy cases. Likewise is the possible range of penalty. The sanctions can be as simple as a few months in jail if convicted to decades in prison. The type of charge depends on the type of drug, the quantity and where it is being sold.

An experienced Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney will be able to look at all aspects of the evidence and challenge all aspects of the case. With decades of experience as a prosecutor, our West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyers understand how these cases are handled and what tactics the state uses in prosecuting them.

According to the news report, agents found 5,000 oxycodone pills in a safe at a 52-year-old Jupiter woman’s house. She was a controlled substance technician at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, according to an arrest affidavit.

Authorities allege that the woman was ordering the pills and allowing her son to sell them. Sixteen other people were also arrested as part of the undercover investigation into illegal drug sales. Warrants were also issued for four other people.

Those in custody are medical center employees, veterans and associates, authorities said. Most arrested face charges of sale of oxycodone or sale of marijuana. In some cases, veterans are charged with selling drugs to make money. More than 6,000 oxycodone pills were seized, along with $200,000 in cash and two vehicles.

What must be considered in cases like this is how credible the information gained from potential co-defendants is. When several people are charged with a crime, many will jump to make a deal with the state in exchange for a lesser prison sentence or sometimes no charges at all. This also goes for people whom the state doesn’t charge and agrees to not charge if they testify for the prosecution.

In either of these cases, people are being given a benefit to tell a story that is pleasing to the prosecution. If they vary at all, even if it’s not 100 percent truthful, they can see the consequences — a lost plea deal or charges being filed. For this reason, their testimony should be seen as questionable.

In Fort Lauderdale drug cases, in particular, police officers will use confidential informants to try to nab other people. Informants are former drug dealers or buyers who agree with police to work with them to net arrests for the department. But in many cases, these people set up drug deals, which can lead to entrapment. That means a person wouldn’t normally have committed a crime if not enticed, or trapped, by law enforcement.

There are many factors to take into consideration in cases like this and the complexity requires the experience of a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney, who can work to uphold the rights of the accused.
(more…)

Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer

Florida Criminal Lawyers

1200 S Pine Island Rd #220 Plantation, FL 33324
(954) 424-7433 954-424-2200
2160 W Atlantic Ave 2nd Floor Delray Beach, FL 33445
(561) 922-8103 561-988-8100