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Nine Arrests in an Alleged Crime Ring

What started as a fuel theft investigation turned into a variety of charges for numerous suspects in the Miami area. According to a report by NBC Miami, seven men and two women recently appeared in court on accusations of involvement in an expansive crime ring.

Details of the Investigation

The investigation started more than eight months ago, as detectives looked into several credit card scanning devices installed at local gas stations. These “skimmers”, as they are commonly called, allegedly illegally captured more than 500 credit card numbers. Authorities allege that the offenders also stole gasoline and resold it for money.

While investigating the credit card thefts, authorities report that they found a grow house with more than 30 pounds of marijuana inside. Upon investigation of the alleged grow house, authorities claim to have discovered more than 100 caged roosters, indicating a cock fighting ring. All nine defendants are facing various charges depending on their alleged participation. According to reports, upon seeing a judge, they each received considerably high bonds.

The Detailed Allegations

Organized Fraud

Under Florida law, “Any person who engages in a scheme to defraud and obtains property thereby is guilty of organized fraud.” The intention of the organized fraud statute is to prevent the use of communications technology in fraud schemes. In prosecuting these cases, the state must prove your knowledge and participation in the scheme. An experienced attorney can create doubt about both of these elements, possibly leading to acquittal.

Animal Cruelty

The Florida legislature has criminalized animal cruelty. The statute defines the crime in several ways, including:

  • Unnecessarily depriving, tormenting or killing any animal is classified as a first degree misdemeanor. The maximum penalty is one year in jail.
  • Intentionally committing an act that results in the death or infliction of pain on an animal is a third degree felony, with a possible incarceration up to five years.
  • Intentionally tripping, or lassoing the legs of a horse for the purpose of sport or entertainment is a third degree felony, with a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment.
  • Subsequent convictions result in a mandatory six-month jail sentence and a minimum fine of $5,000.
  • The state may charge multiple acts towards the same animal as separate offenses.

Pre-trial motions are essential to the successful defense of an animal cruelty case. A motion to suppress evidence or dismiss the charges may ensure that you avoid conviction.

Cultivating Marijuana

The cultivation of marijuana refers to the illegal growing of marijuana plants under Florida law. While it is typically classified as a third degree felony, with a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment, certain circumstances can result in a more serious first or second degree classification.

Possible defenses to this charge include attacking the legality of the search that produced the marijuana or, if applicable, a medical necessity defense. Your attorney may also argue that the plants were grown solely for personal use in an effort to reduce the severity of the offense.

Any criminal charge is stressful, but facing a variety charges can prove particularly challenging. Contact Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC in Miami for a free consultation about your case. Time is of the essence, so call today at (305) 330-3905 for experienced representation.

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