Two stolen prescription pads. That’s all authorities say was needed to forge 140 prescriptions for approximately 17,250 doses of powerful prescription drugs, which were then resold on the streets of South Florida, likely for tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Prescription bottles used to store medicine

Authorities allege the group operated in Boynton Beach throughout 2015. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has filed hundreds of charges in the case – including 112 counts against a single 29-year-old woman from Pompano Beach. She and another woman, 25, of Lake Worth were medical assistants at Bethesda Health who allegedly stole the prescription pads from the office of Dr. Edyta Mularczyk, an internist in Boynton Beach. Investigators are accusing them and four others – ages 52 to 62 – of drug trafficking and RICO conspiracy charges. Warrants have been issued for four other individuals, including three from Fort Lauderdale. (Two of those already arrested are from Fort Lauderdale as well.)

It is alleged the group wrote prescriptions for drugs such as oxycodone and morphine, and then sold those drugs on the black market. Warrants for their arrest say the missing prescription pads was the first red flag, though it’s not clear if that was initially reported to police. What staffers began to notice, however, was that the number of prescriptions filled by certain patients aroused suspicions. For example, in one case, a single patient filled 19 prescriptions for powerful pain medications over the course of just a few months.  Continue reading

U.S. prosecutors were dealt a significant blow recently with a decision by justices with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in their decision regarding 10 consolidated appeals of persons facing federal marijuana charges. What the court ruled was that prosecutors can’t use federal tax dollars to prosecute individuals who were acting in accordance with state-approved marijuana laws. marijuanabuds

The ruling follows a 2014 Congressional amendment that strips the Department of Justice of the right to interfere with the state-level implementation of medical marijuana laws. Prior to this, it was not uncommon for federal prosecutors to aggressively pursue those who operated medical marijuana cultivation operations, medical marijuana dispensaries and manufacturers of certain marijuana-infused products.

When this law was passed, numerous people who were being prosecuted by the federal government on these types of charges asked the courts to dismiss their cases, arguing their actions were in compliance with state law. For example, one group of defendants (there were 10 in all in the consolidated appeal) operated a number of L.A. marijuana dispensaries were criminally charged by the feds with distributing more than 100 marijuana plants. The court remanded those consolidated cases back to the lower court for consideration of whether defendants were in fact in compliance with state statutes. If they were, the charges against them should be dismissed.  Continue reading

A 20-year-old woman reportedly engaged to a 62-year-old man was shot dead, as was a 50-year-old male friend, allegedly by her fiance who police say was jealous. brokenheart

Authorities told the Sun Sentinel that George McCray, who has a long list of prior felony convictions, shot the pair after discovering the two talking outside victim Sania Copeland’s apartment. This was around 8 a.m. McCray allegedly returned five hours later to carry out the shooting.

According to family members, McCray had told Copeland that if he couldn’t have her, no one could.

McCray is now charged with two counts of murder and being a felon in possession of a firearm.  Continue reading

There have been a number of recent high-profile cases of theft of motor vehicles in South Florida in recent weeks, with defendants in each case facing serious penalties.

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Still, it’s important to note that grand theft auto and carjacking, while both major crimes, are inherently different, which means the approach of prosecutors and defense attorneys will be different as well.

Grand theft auto, as codified in F.S. 812.014, is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a maximum five of $5,000. It’s on par with theft of a firearm or commercially-farmed animal or a controlled substance. The offense may be bumped up to a second-degree felony if the vehicle involved costs more than $20,000 (but less than $100,000), in which case the penalty is increased to a possible 15 years maximum in prison. Carjacking, meanwhile, is codified in F.S. 812.133is a life felony if a firearm is used; Otherwise, it’s considered a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Carjacking is the act of taking a motor vehicle either by force, violence, assault or putting in fear.  Continue reading

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that people sentenced to life in prison as minors deserve to have their cases reviewed to determine whether there is any chance they may in fact be eligible for parole. gavel1

Now, the effect of that retroactive split 6-3 decision is that courts are beginning to take on these sentencing reviews of decades-old cases.

Our Fort Lauderdale defense attorneys know this type of situation requires a legal team with extensive experience. Even though the entire case isn’t being retried, many of the considerations that will need to be weighed will involve delving into decades-old circumstances. We would look to see how we might counter any aggravating factors raised by the prosecution and how to effectively present any mitigating circumstances that may serve to lower the final sentencing.  Continue reading

Bank robbery has historically been a man’s game. Even dating back to the days of “Pretty Boy Floyd” and “Baby Face Nelson,” bank robberies generally involved men who organized a hostile takeover of the entire bank, holding up the entire business at gunpoint, forcing managers to open the vaults, taking hostages and engaging in gun battles with police.

Women, if they were ever involved, usually almost always were accomplices, either driving the getaway car or helping out in some other capacity.

But bank robberies today look very different, and increasingly, it is women who are facing down the charges. The Sun-Sentinel reports this is largely due to the fact that these crimes are no longer as violent as they once were. In fact, it often isn’t necessary to wield a gun or to even necessarily have one.  Continue reading

A man arrested for possession of ecstasy in Fort Lauderdale in 2013 has won $30,000 from the city after the nine pills with yellow hearts stamps reportedly turned out to be aspirin.pills12

The 37-year-old sued the city in civil court alleging false arrest, battery and unlawful search following a 2013. According to The Sun Sentinel, plaintiff in the case, Antonio Grant was a passenger in a vehicle that had been pulled over for expired tags.

He was allegedly handcuffed at gunpoint, ordered face-down on the asphalt and forcibly had his shorts searched. The officer also reportedly searched his rectum digitally to look for drugs. Officers did find nine pills, but testing proved the substance was actually generic aspirin.  Continue reading

A U.S. Army sergeant is facing serious felony charges after the 26-year-old reportedly showed up at an agreed-upon location with lubricant, candy, condoms and cash for what he thought would be an encounter with two young girls, ages 12 and 14.computer1

Instead, was greeted by agents with both the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He apparently did not realize he had been communicating with an undercover law enforcement officer.

According to the Sun Sentinel, Alexis Kirk Torres was reportedly in the process of transferring from Hawaii to a new base for a different assignment. However, he now faces charges of soliciting or enticing underage children to engage in a commercial sex act. Continue reading

Unless you seriously injure or kill someone while driving drunk, a DUI conviction probably isn’t going to result in a long-term prison sentence. However, defendants should be aware that the more convictions they rack up, the more likely they are to serve time. And if a judge wants to make an example or send a message, they may have wide discretion to do so.

Leaning against a chain link fence during a sport

This kind of harsh sentence is uncommon for those with drunken driving convictions. Usually, convictions result in temporary license suspensions and perhaps a stint in prison. But in most cases, the defendant is ultimately released and eventually allowed back on the road. This case raises the question of how many times a person has to be caught driving legally drunk before the judge will lock them up for a long time?

Take the recent case of a 56-year-old Houston man with eight prior convictions for DUI. Upon his ninth conviction for DUI – after he pleaded guilty to the charge – the judge sentenced him to life in prison, with the possibility of parole in 30 years. Continue reading

It is common in traffic stops where officers suspect the presence of drugs to search the driver and request a search of the vehicle. If an officer finds a substance he or she suspects to be an illicit drug, they rely on a roadside drug test to make the call. The results of these $2 kits, which have largely remained the same in design and process since they were first released in 1973, can mean the difference between a person being released at the scene or being arrested on felony charges.

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In a troubling expose on these kits, The New York Times delved into the accuracy of these kits and what they have meant to the lives of many of the 1.2 million people who are arrested annually in the U.S. on illegal drug possession charges. While those arrested are presumed innocent until proven guilty, these cheap testing kits are often a key deciding factor in how public defenders fight these cases and how prosecutors pursue them.

One analysis of the accuracy of the kits was conducted by the laboratory system operated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). What they discovered was that more than 20 percent of the evidence police listed as “methamphetamine” in fact was NOT methamphetamine. In fact, half of the false positives weren’t even drugs at all. A tracking by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office revealed 15 false methamphetamine positives just in the first seven months of 2014. Further, in combing through department records, officers had been given ambiguous instructions on how to conduct the tests and some misunderstood which colors indicated a positive and which indicated a negative.  Continue reading