Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution today secured the sentencing of a Florida man convicted of heroin trafficking. The Honorable Steven B. Whittington, Circuit Judge for the Fourth Judicial Circuit, sentenced defendant Joseph Walker to 25 years on trafficking in heroin 28 grams or more and 10 years concurrent on the sale or delivery of heroin. [Read more…] about Multi-State Heroin Trafficker Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison
Office of Statewide Prosecution
Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution today secured a prison sentence for a man convicted of human trafficking and branding a victim. Friday, a Marion County Judge sentenced Ryan Gemelle Poole, 33, to 30 years in state prison. The sentence comes after the jury found Poole guilty of human trafficking, deriving support from prostitution, unlawful use of a two-way communications device to facilitate a felony, sexual battery and branding. This is Florida’s first conviction under the state’s branding statute.
“This disgusting human trafficker branded his victim, raped and forced her to perform sex acts. We will not allow this evil to persist in Florida, and today’s sentencing serves as a strong warning to anyone trying to enslave and traffic people in our state,” said Attorney General Pam Bondi. “I want to thank my Statewide Prosecutors Julie Sercus and Rita Peters for their resolve and determination to ensure this monster did not escape justice.”
The Marion County Sheriff’s Office began investigating Poole in 2016. The investigation revealed that Poole met the victim on a dating website and started a romantic relationship. Poole then began grooming the victim for prostitution by giving the victim cocaine and coercing the victim to work as a stripper. Soon Poole began selling the victim for sex, advertising on the now defunct Backpage.com website.
Poole forced the victim to travel from Marion County to Alachua, Charlotte, Hillsborough and Orange counties for the purposes of prostitution for personal financial gain. In addition, Poole forced the victim to have his initials tattooed on the victim’s body—to signify the victim as property. In August 2016, the victim tried to escape and Poole raped the victim as punishment.
The trial commenced on April 23, before the Honorable Anthony Tatti in Marion County. After four days of testimony, including that of the victim and Poole, the jury found the defendant guilty on all charges.
Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested Jesus Riol, 45, of 8619 Cottonway Lane, Tampa, on 100 counts of child pornography and 5 counts of transmission of child pornography.
During an investigation launched in the Fall of 2017, agents identified a residence in Tampa suspected of distributing child pornography. A subpoena was issued for the account and further investigation showed several file names consistent with child pornography. Upon executing a search warrant at the home, investigators conducted a forensic analysis of several electronic devices and found more than 1,100 files containing images or videos with child pornography. Most of the files were of infants and toddlers being sexually abused by adults.
Riol was taken to the Hillsborough County Jail on a $787,500 bond. He will be prosecuted by Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution.
Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office today announced the conviction of Hasan Nguyen, 25, for trafficking thousands of dollars’ worth of deadly heroin.
“We are in the midst of a national opioid crisis claiming lives in Florida, and we will not tolerate anyone trafficking heroin or any other deadly opioids in our state,” said Attorney General Bondi. “I want to thank the DEA for their great investigative work and my statewide prosecutors Mary Sammon and David Gillespie for the strong prison sentence they secured in this case.”
The investigation into Nguyen began in 2015 and covered crimes in Orange and Seminole counties. Investigators captured audio and video recordings of Nguyen selling trafficking amounts of heroin on three separate occasions to undercover officers. Nguyen preferred to sell amounts of heroin more than 30-50 grams so that substantial profits could be made. Investigators paid Nguyen more than $2,000 in undercover drug deals through the course of the investigation. In total, authorities seized more than 45 grams of heroin with a street value of approximately $10,000.
An Orange County jury found Nguyen guilty of four counts, including trafficking in heroin 20 grams or more, conspiracy to traffic heroin 28 grams or more, trafficking in heroin 14 grams or more and unlawful use of a two-way communication device. The Honorable Leticia Marques sentenced Nguyen to a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in the Florida Department of Corrections. Assistant Statewide Prosecutors Mary Sammon and David Gillespie prosecuted the case.
The Office of Statewide Prosecution prosecutes multi-circuit organized crime while working regularly with federal and state counterparts to coordinate efforts against criminal activity. The office provides proactive partnership to law enforcement and is not limited to geographic or judicial boundaries.
Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement today announced the arrest of four men relating to more than 150 stolen firearms. The guns were stolen from stores in and around the Central Florida area. Authorities arrested, Richard Jernigan, 30, Robert Tilmon, 31, Raymond Williams, 28, and Jermeil Williams, 28, in connection to the burglaries. These men were allegedly involved in numerous armed burglaries of firearms and other valuable items for several years. Authorities are still searching for Kentric Collier, 28, in connection to the case.
“The ATF and the FDLE did a tremendous job in stopping a dangerous gun burglary ring targeting firearms dealers. The charges against these individuals are alarming—stealing guns to sell on our streets. My Office of Statewide Prosecution will aggressively prosecute this case to ensure justice is done,” said Attorney General Bondi.
“ATF’s primary focus is protecting the public by reducing violent crime”, said Special Agent in Charge Daryl McCrary. “ATF continues to aggressively pursue violent offenders and will continue to protect and serve communities with our law enforcement partners.”
Beginning in late 2016 and into 2017, ATF began investigating burglaries of Federal Firearms Licensees stores in and around the Central Florida area. A review of intelligence aided in determining some of the burglaries had similar distinguishing characteristics, such as the use of sledgehammers and pry bars to gain entry. The men are believed to be involved in more than five burglaries of FFLs that resulted in the loss of more than 150 firearms.
The investigation found that the suspects allegedly sold many of the firearms in the Orlando area within days of the burglaries. According to ATF, law enforcement has recovered approximately 35 of the 156 stolen firearms, most seized from prohibited individuals involved in previous violent criminal acts. These suspects are also allegedly involved in numerous burglaries targeting cash, electronics, firearm stores, jewelry, safes, and other valuable items in Orange, Polk, and Seminole counties
All five suspects face separate charges in connection to burglaries, grand theft of a firearm, grand theft and racketeering. The Altamonte Springs Police Department, the Longwood Police Department, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the Orlando Police Department and the Winter Park Police Department assisted in this investigation.
The Attorney General Office of Statewide Prosecution will prosecute the case.
Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement today arrested 18-year-old Kyrston Jackson, of 12512 Kings Crossing Dr., Gibsonton, on 10 counts of possession of child pornography.
The investigation was launched after FDLE agents received a cyber tip about more than 150 videos being uploaded to a file hosting service on the Internet. The cyber tip revealed that the videos depicted child pornography. The videos were of children under the age of 12. After several subpoenas and search warrants, agents determined Jackson was the user of the account. He was arrested at his home.
Jackson was transported to the Hillsborough County Jail on a $75,000 bond. The Office of Statewide Prosecution will prosecute the case.
Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution today secured the conviction and sentencing of Keith Hamlet, 47, and Edward Redmond, 32, for drug trafficking and racketeering. A jury convicted the defendants on charges related to trafficking large quantities of heroin and cocaine. At one point during the investigation, the defendants trafficked more than 100 grams of heroin weekly.
“These two monsters were involved in a massive drug and human trafficking ring that saturated Central Florida streets with heroin and cocaine, and even fed these addictive drugs to young trafficking victims to further coerce and exploit them for sex,” said Attorney General Bondi. “I applaud my Statewide Prosecutors Matthew Davenport and Gary Malak for a great job at trial and obtaining 25-year sentences to ensure these traffickers stay behind bars.”
The investigation uncovered both criminals trafficked these addictive drugs from suppliers to street level addicts, prostitutes and users. The investigation revealed that Hamlet threatened violence to force several women into prostitution and encouraged the prostitution of a 17-year-old girl.
The Orange County jury found the two men guilty of multiple charges including racketeering, conspiracy to engage in a pattern of racketeering activity and conspiracy to traffic in heroin, 28 grams or more. Following this 10-day trial, the Honorable A. James Craner, Circuit Judge for the Ninth Judicial Circuit, sentenced both Hamlet and Redmond to 25 years as a minimum mandatory sentence in the Department of Corrections.
Attorney General Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution worked with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the Orlando Police Department and other agencies throughout Florida.
Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution joined the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Secret Service, and other federal authorities in announcing the end of a lengthy investigation involving five million dollars in benefits fraud.
“Food stamp trafficking steals from Florida’s hardworking taxpayers,” said Attorney General Pam Bondi. “The SNAP/EBT program is designed to provide services to the most vulnerable among us and for anyone to take advantage of this system is shameful. I want to thank local and federal authorities for putting an end to this scheme and look forward to my Office of Statewide Prosecution holding these defendants accountable in a court of law.”
The investigation focused on fraudulent transactions involving the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program and Electronic Benefits Transfer cards, commonly known as the SNAP/EBT throughout the Jacksonville area.
Many of these fraudulent transactions occurred when individuals took advantage of taxpayers and Floridians entitled to benefits offered by SNAP/EBT. The defendants allegedly traded personal benefit cards from beneficiaries to make phony food purchases or went through a middleman ultimately swapping benefits for cash at a rate of 50 cents on the dollar. These fraudulent transactions occurred at fictitious seafood and meat shops established as part of the undercover operation. The Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution will prosecute more than 115 felony cases relating to this massive investigation.
Throughout the investigation, law enforcement conducted multiple undercover operations and created fictitious businesses where the fraudulent transaction took place. During a six-month period, undercover detectives conducted approximately 390 undercover transactions at these business, meeting with more than 130 individuals. SNAP/EBT cards are explicitly required to be used strictly for the purchase of food. The SNAP program is USDA-funded and administered in Florida by the Florida Department of Children and Families. The program provides supplemental nutrition assistance to vulnerable populations, such as seniors, children and families in economic distress.
As a result of this investigation, more than 115 individuals have been charged with felonies and 61 others with misdemeanors. The following agencies also assisted in the investigation: the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Homeland Security Investigators, Florida Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution today announced the arrest of a man wanted in connection to drug diversion schemes after five years on the run. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested Gil Hevia, 47, this week in Orlando.
Hevia is involved in a drug diversion enterprise operating in Florida, Puerto Rico and Texas, involving the buying and selling of more than $40 million in black market pharmaceuticals. These drugs included anti-depressants, anti-psychotics and HIV medications.
Additionally, Hevia is involved in a separate but similar multistate drug diversion ring that orchestrated the purchase of millions of dollars of medications on the black market. This criminal enterprise operated from Florida to Tennessee, Michigan, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey. The defendant purchased the black market drugs primarily from Medicaid recipients in Florida and New Jersey, and then resold the drugs to pharmacies in the Northeastern United States.
Attorney General Bondi’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, with the assistance of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, investigated both cases. For more information about these cases, click here and here.
Between the two cases, Hevia faces several felony charges related to trafficking in contraband prescription drugs, Medicaid fraud, money laundering and organized scheme to defraud. If convicted of all charges, Hevia faces up to 375 years in prison. Attorney General Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution will prosecute these cases.
Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution has secured the conviction of two members of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan for conspiracy to commit first degree murder. A Columbia County jury found David Elliot Moran, 49, and Charles Thomas Newcomb, 45, guilty of one count each for plotting to kill a former inmate.
The convicted were arrested in 2015 along with defendant Thomas Jordan Driver, 27, following an investigation by members of the North Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force, led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security Investigation, with assistance from additional federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The joint investigation revealed that Newcomb, Moran and Driver enlisted an FBI informant to kill a former inmate as retaliation for a fight between the former inmate and Driver. The murder plot was captured on recorded conversations between the three subjects and the FBI informant.
At the time of the murder conspiracy, Driver and Moran were correctional officers for the Florida Department of Corrections, and Newcomb was a former correctional officer. In March 2017, Driver pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit murder and was sentenced to four years in prison.
“These Klansmen plotted to murder a black inmate after he was released from prison, but swift action and clever investigative tactics on behalf of investigators foiled their plot and may have saved a life,” said Attorney General Bondi. “We will continue to work daily to ensure the KKK or any other hate-filled organization is unable to inflict violence on the citizens of our great state.”
“This case would not have been possible without the collaboration of our partnering law enforcement agencies,” said Charles P. Spencer, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Jacksonville Division. “We commend the members of the North Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force (NFJTTF) who combined their talents, skills, and knowledge to work as a cohesive team and successfully disrupt this conspiracy.”
“These men had positions of trust, which they violated when they conspired to kill a former inmate, and we worked closely with our law enforcement partners to ensure they are held accountable for their crimes,” said HSI Tampa Special Agent in Charge James C. Spero.
Attorney General Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution prosecuted the case. Members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force that participated in the investigation include the Federal Bureau of Investigation Jacksonville Division, Homeland Security Investigations, Florida Department of Corrections Office of Inspector General, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Highway Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.