A Staten Island, New York, man has been sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to drug charges. Eugene Gilmore, who is 33 years old, was arrested just over two years ago after local law enforcement officers spotted him speeding down a highway near Allamuchy Township in New Jersey. Upon approaching Gilmore’s vehicle, officers smelled burned marijuana in the car and a quick search turned up over an ounce of crack cocaine in the trunk of his car in addition to marijuana and packaging materials. Officers at the scene also found Gilmore’s pants pockets stuffed with cash and seized a total of $2,174 during his arrest. Gilmore had pleaded guilty to charges of possession of crack with the intent to distribute in a New Jersey court and was sentenced to nine years in prison at his sentencing hearing just this week. With sentencing guidelines in New Jersey, Gilmore could have been sentenced to as much as 20 years in prison for his guilty plea, but was instead given nine years. The 33-year-old must serve at least three years of his nine-year sentence before he will be eligible for parole. Gilmore had previously been arrested and convicted on felony drug charges in Staten Island in 2007 and had been sentenced to two years in a state prison as a result. He was released on parole in March of 2008. An experienced criminal defense attorney knows that there are many possible outcomes to a drug charge. Every case is different and can be resolved in a number of different ways depending on a number of factors, including the defendant’s prior criminal history, the type of drugs involved and even the skill of the defendant’s attorney. In a worst-case scenario, a prior history of drug arrests or convictions, or overwhelming evidence of guilt, leads to a prison sentence of several years. An experienced attorney, however, knows that for people with multiple drug arrests, drug diversion programs might be a viable alternative to jail or prison time. In drug diversion, or deferred entry of judgmen cases, a defendant who has a history of drug abuse (but not necessarily convictions for selling drugs), is given the opportunity to undergo substance abuse rehabilitation instead of simply being punished for their drug problem. This can, of course, be extremely helpful for a person struggling with addiction. Deferment programs are not typically options, however, for people accused of manufacturing or selling drugs, especially more serious drugs such as crack or heroin. In these cases, your attorney may instead look for instances of police impropriety or illegal search or seizure, which may lead to certain pieces of evidence not being admissible during a trial. In such cases charges against you could be reduced or even dismissed.
Tagged as: drug addiction and treatment, drug crimes defense
Controversial R&B singer Chris Brown has had misdemeanor charges stemming from a May car accident dropped against him. The singer is said to have been involved in an accident near Toluca Lake on May 21st in which he allegedly rear-ended a Mercedes. Brown is accused of refusing to give the other driver a copy of his drivers’ license and is said to have given the driver fake insurance information before leaving the scene of the accident. The 24-year-old singer had been charged with driving without a license, but those charges were dropped Tuesday, but he is still facing misdemeanor hit-and-run charges, to which he has pleaded not guilty. The singer is due to be in court again on August 15th, and must be formally booked by law enforcement officials on the misdemeanor criminal charge by August 6. Brown must provide proof of the booking at his next court appearance. Brown has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the case and has taken to social media platform Twitter several times to comment about the case. What makes matters more complicated in this case is that Brown is currently on probation and must comply with all laws as a result. Brown was previously sentenced to five years of probation after a domestic violence incident with former girlfriend, singer Rihanna, in 2009. In that case, Brown pleaded guilty to felony assault charges after threatening and attacking his then-girlfriend. The incident left Rihanna with visible injuries that required hospitalization. Police photos of her damaged face were leaked all over the internet and news outlets, in spite of laws protecting the privacy of domestic violence victims. In the wake of the incident, several commercials featuring Brown were suspended and his music was banned from several radio stations. In light of his recent fender bender, the presiding judge in Brown’s current case revoked his probation and a hearing may be set in mid-August to determine whether or not Brown did, indeed, violate his probation. As Brown’s case so aptly demonstrates, probation violations are not uncommon, but often require the help of an experienced attorney to deal with. When a person is either convicted of or pleads guilty to certain crimes, he or she may be placed on probation as a result. During the probationary period, a person is expected to obey all laws, as well as any conditions specific to their particular situation. Violating probation in any way could result in probation being revoked and then being sent to jail or prison.
Tagged as: probation and sentencing laws
An Orange County man was granted a release from a state prison where he had been serving 25 years to life after being convicted of a third “strike” offense back in 1999. Robert Rudy Lozano, who is now 48 years old, had previously been convicted of voluntary manslaughter in 1985 after beating a man to death with a baseball bat following an argument, as well as first-degree burglary and second-degree robbery in 1992. Lozano was convicted in 1999 of the unlawful taking of a vehicle, but had been arrested multiple times since 1984, when he was first arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance. Lozano has had multiple misdemeanor convictions for drug offenses, and had also recently tested positive for morphine, in spite of the fact that he is incarcerated. Under the state’s “Three Strikes” legislation, Lozano had been sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison after his 1999 conviction, but Proposition 36, a ballot initiative which was passed in 2012, allows some of the people affected by the three strikes laws to petition for release if their third strikes were not considered a serious or violent crime. Lozano had petitioned for release earlier this year under Proposition 36, but his request had been denied. Lozano petitioned a second time more recently citing poor health as he suffers from hepatitis C and had been diagnosed with end-stage liver disease. Lozano claimed that he had taken the morphine to combat the pain from his illnesses and had been prescribed the drug, which is a powerful pain medication, by doctors while in prison. The approval of Proposition 36 by voters last year is sure to send shockwaves through the California criminal justice world for quite some time. The Orange County District Attorney’s office alone has received more than 100 petitions for the release of prison inmates since it was passed. Tough Three Strikes legislation passed in the mid-1990s allowed for people convicted of three eligible offenses to be punished with life in prison. One of the provisions of Three Strikes laws included enhanced penalties for repeat offenders, meaning that seemingly less significant criminal convictions such as theft that would not normally have been considered a strike offense were bumped up to strike-level offenses for anyone with a prior strike conviction. The overall effect of this is that many, many people ended up being sentenced to life in one of the state’s infamously overcrowded and underserved prison facilities. Proposition 36 seeks to address some of that unfairness and release certain people if their third strike conviction meets certain criteria.
Tagged as: california three strikes law, theft, three strikes laws
An Indiana man was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison after being convicted of tricking dozens of teens into making sexually explicit videos of themselves. Richard Finkbiner, who is 40 years old, has been nicknamed a “sextortionist” and is said to have had over 150 victims. According to federal prosecutors, Finkbiner used an online chat program that allowed users to have anonymous, one-on-one video chats online to meet his victims. Finkbiner is said to have uploaded video of other teens either in sexually explicit situations, or outright performing sex acts in an effort to make new chat companions think they were conversing with other teens. The teens Finkbiner was chatting with would then strip or perform sex acts, which the 40-year-old recorded with his webcam. Finkbiner would then threaten to post the videos online unless the teens agreed to make more sexually explicit videos for his own personal use. Prosecutors alleged that Finkbiner targeted hundreds of teens all around the nation in at least 11 different states. His victims were sometimes said to be as young as 12 years of age. Prosecutors were able to identify just 20 or so victims from the pool of 153 they found while searching more than 22,000 video files on Finkbiner’s computer. Investigators also examined Finkbiner’s personal e-mail accounts and chat logs. Prosecutors claim that more than half of those video files depicted sexual conduct from minors. Finkbiner’s scheme is said to have gone unchecked for nearly two years before he was arrested. Finkbiner in January agreed to a plea bargain in which he was expected to plead guilty to charges of child exploitation, extortion and child pornography in exchange for a prison sentence of between 30 and 50 years, in addition to a $70,000 fine. Whether or not a minor consents to being recorded in a sexually explicit situation or not, child pornography is illegal and punishable by a substantial amount of prison time. In many cases similar to Finkbiner’s, because a computer was used and the victims were from multiple states, child pornography is also often considered a federal crime and a computer crime. Had Finkbiner only tried his scheme once, he could still have been charged with a federal crime, a sex crime and a computer crime, all of which may have carried separate prison sentences or penalties. Those penalties, depending on the case, could have been served concurrently, or back-to-back. The sheer number of Finkbiner’s victims, however, is most likely what ensured a prison sentence of several decades.
Tagged as: federal crimes, internet crimes defense, sex crimes
A Long Beach man has been arrested and charged with child sex trafficking. Forty-year-old Ralph Allen Jackson, Jr., was arrested last Tuesday night by Long Beach Police Department detectives after they responded to a domestic disturbance call at his apartment. The 17-year-old girl that Jackson had been forcing to prostitute herself went to Jackson’s residence to retrieve some of her possessions and an altercation occurred that brought police officers to his door. Investigators eventually found that Jackson had met the unnamed girl in March of this year. The two exchanged several phone calls and text messages until earlier this month when they had dinner together. Because of the age difference, Jackson told the young woman that their relationship would be kept a secret. Jackson then forced the girl into prostitution, allegedly making her walk the streets looking for clients and arranged for her to have sex with dozens of people over the last several weeks. According to a statement from the victim, she was forced to work or look for clients 12 hours at a time and was allowed only one meal per day. Jackson allegedly threatened to beat her if she resisted. In mid-June Jackson is said to have taken the victim to a tattoo shop and forced the girl to get a tattoo labeling her as “Mac Wimp’s Bitch,” again threatening to physically harm her if she did not comply. Jackson is said to have went by the nickname Mac Wimp. The girl reportedly fled Jackson’s residence last week, at which point Jackson allegedly sent her text messages threatening harm to her family if she did not return. Jackson was charged last Friday in a federal court with sex trafficking of a child by force and is facing a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of life in prison if he is convicted. Authorities involved in the case believe Jackson may have had prior victims and have released a statement to the media. Jackson’s case is stunning for many people to think about, mostly because it seems like something that should not happen in this day and age. Experts will tell you, however, that sex trafficking is a very real problem, and not just in poorer nations halfway around the globe. Sex trafficking is often defined as simply forcing another person into prostitution, which is a serious criminal offense all by itself. Forcing a minor into prostitution, however, can be even worse because of the protections that have been given to minors under the law.
Tagged as: federal crimes, sex crimes
Two men have been arrested after local authorities discovered a marijuana growing operation in Palmdale. Edgar Damian and Luis Ascencion were taken into custody after a team of law enforcement agents discovered over 600 marijuana plants growing in a home on East Avenue P-2 shortly before 4 o’clock in the afternoon on Monday. Sheriff’s Deputies first became suspicious when a check into the vehicle license plate of a car parked in front of the home revealed that its owner, 24-year-old Damian, was named in a felony warrant for a narcotics possession case earlier this month. Officers at the scene called for backup and when help arrived, the group went into the home, whose front door is said to have been open at the time. Officers said the home smelled strongly of marijuana and noted that every room of the home, including the garage, had been converted for use as a hydroponic growing operation. Officers eventually found that the operation had been illegally diverting electricity. Damian and Ascension were found in the rear of the home and had not heard the deputies entering the front door because of how loud the ventilation system throughout the home was. Sheriff’s Deputies said the suspects, who are from Mexico, admitted to starting their cultivation operation three months ago when they arrived in the United States. They claimed, however, that they had not yet sold any marijuana. Law enforcement officials estimated that the street value of the marijuana confiscated in the bust would be roughly $1 million. The two men were booked into a local jail on charges of cultivation of marijuana as well as electricity theft. Both men are currently being held in lieu of $30,000 bail and are scheduled to appear in the Antelope Valley Superior courthouse at some point today. Damian had been arrested for an unknown felony narcotics crime on June 1st, but was released after posting $10,000 bail on June 4th. Facing charges of this magnitude is likely to be an uphill battle for both Damian and Ascencion. It is legal, within certain limits, to grow marijuana in the state of California, but to have grown that many plants is likely illegal and may subject both men to some serious legal consequences. Many drug crimes in the state of California are “Strike” offenses under California’s “Three Strikes” laws. Under this “tough on crime” legislation, a person convicted of three eligible felony criminal offenses is sentenced to life in a state prison.
Tagged as: los angeles drug laws, los angeles drug offense, los angeles marijuana laws, medicinal marijuana laws
Former professional basketball player Mookie Blaylock has been charged with several crimes after a car accident on Friday left one woman dead. According to media reports, Blaylock was driving down a city street in Atlanta, Georgia on Friday when he crossed the street’s median and crashed his Cadillac Escalade into a car that had exited a nearby driveway. The head-on collision killed Monica Murphy, who was a passenger in the vehicle, and injured her husband, Frankie, who was driving. Blaylock was also injured in the crash and all three were taken to a local hospital for medical treatment. Monica Murphy immediately underwent surgery for unspecified internal injuries and died within hours of the accident. Frankie Murphy is said to have suffered a broken ankle. Blaylock was unresponsive when he was brought into the hospital and was placed on life support. Sources indicate that the former professional athlete’s condition improved significantly over the weekend. On Monday, local prosecutors charged Blaylock with a number of misdemeanor offenses including second-degree vehicular manslaughter, making an improper lane change, driving on the wrong side of the street, driving on a suspended license and crossing into the median of a street. Officials have indicated, however, that charges could escalate to first-degree homicide as they are awaiting toxicology tests to determine whether or not Blaylock was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash. Authorities have so far maintained that there is no reason to suspect that Blaylock was impaired by either drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash as his family claims that he was being treated for seizures and investigators are so far operating under the assumption that Blaylock suffered a medical emergency that cause him to perhaps lose control of his vehicle. Unfortunately for Blaylock, his prior arrest record includes drug and alcohol abuse. At the time of the crash, Blaylock was facing DUI charges stemming from a March incident in which he allegedly hit a vehicle in a parking lot. Blaylock was seen afterward staggering through the parking lot before falling over. In the mid-1990s, Blaylock was also arrested several times for drug and alcohol-related charges, in addition to speeding. As far back as 1989, Blaylock was arrested while a college basketball star on charges of public intoxication. In that case, Blaylock ended up pleading no contest to charges of disturbing the peace and ended up paying less than $70 in fees, in addition to being suspended from his school’s basketball team during a tournament.
Tagged as: driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), vehicular manslaughter
An Australian man has admitted to setting fire to a retirement home that killed 11 people. Roger Dean, who is 37 years old, pleaded guilty on Monday in an Australian court to 11 counts of murder. Dean had been working as a nurse at the retirement home when he stole hundreds of tablets of oxycodone, which is a rather powerful painkiller. According to police reports, officials at the retirement home notified local authorities the next day when they noticed the tablets missing. Police arrived that evening to investigate and were eventually called away to investigate another case. It was at this point that Dean, who was worried that police would return and figure out who stole the oxycodone tablets, told two junior nurses on duty to take an unscheduled break. Dean then used a borrowed cigarette lighter to set fire to several beds in unoccupied rooms that he knew had no video surveillance. Dean helped evacuate the facility’s elderly residents during the ensuing blaze, but 11 people died as a result of the fire. Dean also persuaded firefighters who were working to extinguish the fire to help him remove drug register books from the building that may have implicated him in the theft. Dean is then said to have taken the register books home, torn them to bits and dumped them in a nearby dumpster. Dean eventually confessed his actions to a group of acquaintances at a Bible study group. Prosecutors claim that when Dean later confessed his crimes to police and told them he had been having nightmares and had even tried to end his life. Prosecutors further claim that Dean told investigators that Satan had told him to commit his crimes. When investigators searched Dean’s residence, they found all of the oxycodone tablets he had taken in containers with labels claiming they were “Roger’s doctor prescribed medication.” An Australian newspaper claimed that all the medication Dean had stolen had a street value of just $85. Dean is scheduled to appear in court again on Thursday of this week to be sentenced. It is not clear what type of sentence Dean may be facing under Australian laws. While Dean’s case occurred far away, here in Los Angeles, a crime of this magnitude would face severe punishments indeed; first-degree murder typically carries a penalty of up to life in prison, and the death penalty is still legal in the state of California. If Dean were to go through sentencing here, he may be facing multiple life sentences for his guilty pleas.
Tagged as: arson pc 451, Murder
A New York man was reportedly shot in the head earlier this month while walking in Manhattan’s Wes Village. Mark Carson, who was 32, was walking the streets of Manhattan when 33-year-old Elliot Morales hurled a series of anti-gay slurs at him and then shot him in the face. Morales fled the scene and was later found and arrested by local law enforcement agents several blocks away. Carson was taken to a nearby hospital where he was later pronounced dead. Investigators involved with the case are said to now be investigating the crime as a hate crime instead of a simple homicide after it was revealed that Morales called Carson and his companion at the time “gay wrestlers” shortly before the shooting, which took place shortly after midnight on May 18th. At least one media outlet claims that roughly 20 minutes before the shooting occurred, Morales was spotted urinating on a wall by a local bartender. Morales asked the bartender if he had heard of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School which had taken place in Newtown, Massachusetts on December 14, 2012. In that instance, a lone gunman shot and killed 20 school children and six adult staff members. It is not clear, however, why Morales may have referenced that incident. Hate crimes can be a frustratingly vague term for a variety of criminal behavior that is motivated by religious, ethnic, social or sexual orientation prejudices. Something as seemingly innocuous as graffiti scrawled on the side of a building can be labeled a hate crime depending on what it says. In this instance, Morales will likely have to face charges of both murder and a hate crime because comments he made seconds before the shooting could be construed as anti-gay. Most states in this country have legislation dealing with hate crimes, though the particular protections it offers to various people can differ widely. In the state of California, laws protect people from being harassed or injured on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, ethnicity, age and disability. Hate crime legislation in itself is something of a debate since it can be construed as offering greater protection from crime to some people or groups over others. Whether or not this is actually the case, being convicted of a hate crime can generally mean being punished for two separate crimes. In Morales’ case, he may find himself with separate punishments for murder as well as committing a hate crime if he is convicted on all charges.
Tagged as: hate crime, Murder
Three college friends of the alleged Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have been arrested and charged with lying to investigators and obstruction of justice. Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadrybayev have formally been charged with conspiring to obstruct justice while Robel Phillipos has been charged with making false statements. The three young men are said to be friends of Tsarnaev and all students at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. Phillipos has reportedly been friends with Tsarnaev since they attended the same high school in Cambridge. Prosecutors claim that the three young men recognized Tsarnaev from video footage of the bombing which was released by the FBI shortly after the incident. Kadrybayev is said to have texted Tsarnaev about it multiple times. At one point, Tsarnaev is said to have texted his friends to come to his dormitory room on campus and take whatever possessions of his they wanted. The three young men were allowed into the room by Tsarnaev’s roommate, whose name has not been released. They allegedly watched a movie, and then found a backpack filled with fireworks that had been emptied of their explosive powder. Along with the backpack, the three friends are said to have taken Tsarnaev’s laptop computer before exiting the building. Investigators claim the three young men then began to get frightened when they realized that Tsarnaev was actually wanted by authorities. Prosecutors claim that the three friends collectively decided to throw away the items they had taken from Tsarnaev’s room so the evidence would not be collected by investigators. Statements from the three young men differ, but the backpack and the laptop were placed in a plastic garbage bag then left in a dumpster outside of Kadrybayev’s off-campus apartment building either the night of April 18th, or the morning of April 19th, before Tsarnaev was formally identified by investigators as the bomber. Investigators stated that there was no indication that any of the three friends had any prior knowledge of Tsarnaev’s bombing plot before it occurred on April 15th, though court documents do indicate that about one month before the bombing, Tsarnaev told Kadrybayev and Tazhayakov that he knew how to make a bomb. If convicted, both Kadrybayev and Tazhayakov are facing up to five years in prison while Phillipos faces up to eight years in prison. The two Tsarnaev brothers, who are ethnic Chechens and have been legal residents in the United States for over ten years, are said to have planted two homemade bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The resulting blasts killed three people and injured over 200 more.
Tagged as: federal crimes, making false statments, obstruction of justice
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