Recently in Drug Offenses Category

October 11, 2013

Victoria Thomason, Martin County, Florida Teacher, and Son Russell Thomason Arrested for Growing Marijuana

Victoria Thomason, a Martin County, Florida teacher, and her son, Russell Thomason, were arrested after they were accused of growing cannabis at their home, news sources report. Victoria, 55, and Russell, 25, were booked into police custody on charges stemming from the cultivation of marijuana. It is unclear whether they qualified for bail. So far, a criminal defense lawyer does not appear to have spoken on either of the defendants' behalf.

According to reports, Victoria teaches social studies to middle school students in the Martin County school district. Sources say she has been with the district for nearly a decade. Based on reports, Victoria and her son share a home in Martin County.

It is not presently clear what led police to the home, but reports say that the Martin County Sheriff obtained a search warrant for Victoria and Russell's home recently. During a search, officers found 58 cannabis plants growing inside Victoria and Russell's residence. The press did not say what stage of growth the plants had reached. It is also unclear whether officers found paraphernalia at the home.

Victoria reportedly told the officers that she grows the marijuana as a medical aid for Russell. "My sense would be that there's more marijuana growing there than somebody would need for personal use," a police spokesperson reportedly countered. "My impression and belief is that it was being sold."

Following her arrest, Victoria has been suspended without pay from her teaching duties. "It is, I think, a little more onerous because we see a teacher doing it, somebody in a position of trust," a police spokesperson reportedly told the press of the offense. "Parents are sending their students to her classroom in good faith, wanting the right message. And this is certainly not the right message."

Over the years, marijuana has been legalized in several states on a prescription level. The drug, which can be smoked or reduced and eaten, has purportedly been shown to treat a number of chronic conditions, including anxiety, depression, anorexia, and persistent pain. While not addictive in nature, users may habitually use marijuana for its euphoric effects. It is unclear whether Russell suffers from any medical ailments that would require its use. Medical marijuana is not yet legal in Florida.

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October 11, 2013

Julio Cesar Luna, Oscar Segura, Jonna Leigh Kimla, Adolfo Ayala Jr., Raul Aaron Rios, Edgar Sanchez Segura, and Mike Lewis Ramirez Arrested in Okeechobee County, Florida Methamphetamine Bust

Julio Cesar Luna, Oscar Segura, Jonna Leigh Kimla, Adolfo Ayala Jr., Raul Aaron Rios, Edgar Sanchez Segura, and Mike Lewis Ramirez were arrested in an Okeechobee County, Florida methamphetamine bust on Monday, news sources report. Facing charges of possessing and trafficking methamphetamines are Luna, 28; Oscar Segura, 21; Kimla, 25; Ayala Jr., 22; Rios, 26; Edgar Segura, 26; and Ramirez, 26. Luna's bail was set at $1.4 million, Oscar Seguar's at $950,000, and Kimla's at $65,000. The remaining defendants are being held on $750,000 bail bond each. The press did not say whether the defendants have hired criminal defense attorneys.

Very little information regarding the defendants' arrests were made available at current press time. According to reports, the federal government, the Drug Enforcment Administration, the Okeechobee County Narcotics Task Force, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement contributed to the investigation that led to the arrests. The agents executed a DEA search warrant at 2828 Northwest 46 Avenue and 3573 Northwest 24 Avenue in Okeechobee as a result of the investigation.

The detectives allegedly seized an unspecified amount of methamphetamines at the two properties. In all, the drugs were purportedly worth $258,000. Luna, Segura, Kimla, Ayala Jr., Rios, Segura, and Ramirez appear to have been arrested at the locations were the drugs were found. Reports say an investigation is still open; it is too early to tell whether there will be more arrests.

"I'm very proud of the Narcotics Task Force, Special Response Team (SRT), and the many deputies that helped with this investigation," an Okeechobee County Sheriff spokesperson reportedly stated. "We intercepted this shipment before it could be distributed to our citizens. All the officers on this case did an outstanding job."

Methamphetamine is a crystalized and highly addictive drug that is made using a variety of chemicals, sometimes including that medicine pseudoephedrine. Side effects of the drug include weight loss, acne, sleeplessness, and, in some cases, death. Addicts will often go to great lengths, such as thefts, to feed their drug habit.

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September 26, 2013

Scott Shaw and Lindsey Chum of Deltona, Florida Arrested for Possessing Methamphetamine

Scott Shaw and Lindsey Chum of Deltona, Florida were arrested Wednesday after police found materials for a meth lab, along with quantities of the drug itself, inside their vehicle, news sources report. Shaw, 22, was booked into police custody on charges of possessing listed chemicals, while Chum, 35, was booked on charges of possessing a controlled substance, possessing meth with the intent to sell, and possessing drug paraphernalia. A judge set Shaw and Chum's bail bond at $2,500. It is unclear whether the defendants have hired criminal defense lawyers.

According to reports, the incident occurred around 4:40 Wednesday evening on Elkcam Boulevard in Deltona. Officers reportedly witnessed Shaw drive through a stop sign at an Elkcam Boulevard intersection in a Saturn station wagon. The officers pulled Shaw over and questioned him, sources say. Shaw apparently appeared nervous.

Meanwhile, another officer questioned Chum, who was a passenger in the car. After stepping out of the vehicle, Chum allegedly admitted that she had "stuff" in her possession. Chum reportedly revealed a small plastic case containing methamphetamine and a broken piece of a pill. Chum also had a pipe used for smoking meth, coffee filters containing meth, and a plastic baggie with white powdery residue, sources allege.

An officer searched the vehicle and reportedly located a small safe in the rear. The officers asked Shaw what the safe contained. "A lab," he reportedly responded. Officers apparently found cold medicine, lighter fluid, salt, batteries, plastic tubing, and a pipe cutter in the safe. The contents of the safe resembled those of a meth lab, sources say.

The officers also allegedly located a cache of pseudoephedrine (an allergy medicine used to make methamphetamine) and a plastic soda bottle with white, powdery residue inside a garbage bag in the car. Shaw and Chum were subsequently arrested. It is not clear whether any other suspects were involved in the alleged meth manufacturing.

In other news, Gainesville resident Daron Brown was arrested after he fled police on a dirt bike because he was "bored," sources report. Brown, 18, was booked into the Alachua County Jail on charges of driving an unregistered vehicle and fleeing police. A judge set his bail at $12,000. It is unclear whether he has hired legal representation.

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September 20, 2013

Ajay R. Bhatt, Stuart, Florida Store Owner, Arrested for Selling Synthetic Marijuana

Ajay R. Bhatt, a Stuart, Florida store owner, was arrested Monday after he was accused of selling synthetic marijuana from his convenience store, news sources report. Bhatt was booked into the Martin County Jail on charges of selling synthetic cannabinoids within 1000 feet of a convenience store. It is unclear whether he qualified for bail bond. So far, no defense attorney appears to have spoken on Bhatt's behalf.

According to reports, Bhatt is the owner and operator of Rightway Deli on Southeast Palm Beach Road in Stuart. It is unclear how long Bhatt had been operating from that location. It is too early to tell how Bhatt's arrest will affect the day-to-day operations at the deli.

Unlike traditional marijuana - a plant that is grown in the ground, harvested, and sold without additives - synthetic marijuana is made using harsh and dangerous chemicals, which are arguably worse for the human body when burned and inhaled than normal marijuana smoke. To counteract the dangerous effects of synthetic weed, many manufacturers place the warning "not for human consumption" right on the packaging. Some of the core chemicals in synthetic pot are easily changeable, so when the Florida government would ban one of the drug's chemicals, manufacturers simply change that chemical to make it legal again. As of March 23, 2012, the state of Florida banned all of the 142 chemicals that could be used to make synthetic weed, ultimately stopping it from being sold legally in stores.

Despite the new law, minors were apparently frequenting the deli to purchase synthetic marijuana. Parents caught on and informed police, sources say. Officials then went undercover and purchased numerous packages of the suspected drug from Bhatt's store, sources say.

An analysis of those packages allegedly revealed that they contained synthetic marijuana. The Stuart police department later obtained a warrant and raided Bhatt's deli. The press did not say how much of the substance was taken during that raid.

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September 17, 2013

Omolola Dawodu Arrested at Fort Lauderdale, Florida Airport for Battery on an Officer

Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Omolola Dawodu of Baltimore, Maryland was arrested at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport after she allegedly assaulted a police officer, news sources report. Dawodu, 36, was booked into the North Broward Bureau Jail on charges of marijuana possession, possessing drug paraphernalia, resisting an officer with violence, resisting an officer without violence, failing to obey police, and battery on an officer. It is unclear whether she qualified for bail bond. No criminal defense lawyer has yet spoken on Dawodu's behalf.

According to reports, Dawodu is from Baltimore and was in South Florida on a road trip. "I just drove down yesterday," Dawodu reportedly told a judge during her initial hearing. "I wanted to spend the night and go home tomorrow." It was unclear why Dawodu was at the airport during her road trip.

Based on reports, the incident began at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport when Dawodu parked near a curb. An officer apparently requested that Dawodu move the vehicle. Dawodu allegedly became angry, shouting, swearing, and refusing to move her car.

The officer called in reinforcements, who soon arrived at the scene and attempted to get Dawodu under control, sources say. Dawodu kept being confrontational and refused to move her car, reports indicate. One of the officers apparently told Dawodu that he would have to tow the car if she did not move it. "Go ahead and tow it," Dawodu allegedly said.

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September 3, 2013

Norma Currlin, Sunrise, Florida Police Evidence Technician, Arrested for Theft of Controlled Substances

Norma Currlin, a Sunrise, Florida Police Department evidence technician, was arrested Friday after she was accused of stealing oxycodone pills from the department's evidence room, news sources report. Currlin, 50, was booked into the Broward County Main Jail on six counts of theft of controlled substances. She was later released after posting $6,000 bond. It was not immediately clear whether she had hired a lawyer.

According to reports, Currlin has been working for the Sunrise Police Department for around 22 years. She worked as a police dispatcher before becoming an evidence technician at the department in July 2006. As an evidence technician, Currlin is responsible for keeping inventory of the department's "drug room," where the department stores the drugs it seizes during searches and arrests. She reportedly created a logbook to manage the pills kept in the room; the book shows when detectives or other personnel took pills from the room to use in investigations or as evidence. Only one technician other than Currlin reportedly has daily access to the room.

The police department performed an audit on the drug room in May 2012, reports say. During that check, officers found that seven oxycodone pills were missing from a package inside the drug room. The missing pills were not required for any prior court cases and had no reason to be missing, sources allege.

Following the random check, detectives decided to conduct a full inventory of the drug room. The assessment showed that a number of pills had mysteriously gone missing. The missing pills were from a variety of cases, including an armed robbery case, a Drug Enforcement Administration drug seizure, and two community prescription drug operations. Some of the stolen pills were part of batches that were scheduled to be destroyed, reports say. The pill packs had apparently been resealed after the pills were taken to prevent the thefts from being discovered.

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September 3, 2013

Wayne Durham, Charles Gregory Hardge, and David Farrior of Hollywood, Florida Arrested for Drug Operation

Wayne Durham, Charles Gregory Hardge, and David Farrior of Hollywood, Florida were arrested for at a suspected drug house that police raided on Wednesday, news sources report. Durham, 52, allegedly ran the drug house; he was booked into the Broward County Main Jail on charges of possession of Xanax, possession of cannabis, possession of heroin and cocaine with intent to sell, and structure/convey known for sale of drugs. Hardge, 47, and Farrior, 38, were booked into jail on unspecified drug charges. It is unclear whether any of the defendants qualified for bail bond. The press did not specify criminal defense lawyers for the men.

According to reports, the suspected drug house is a rental with a picket fence and well-kept lawn located on Plunkett Street in Hollywood. Eric Vatel, the homeowner, reportedly said he rented the bungalow home to a couple several months ago. Vatel claimed the couple had good credit and no prior criminal history. It was not until later that Vatel learned the couple had subleased the house to a group of people, including Durham, sources allege. Vatel reportedly said the home's private setting behind foliage a distance away from the road make it a "perfect location for a drug house."

Based on reports, Durham has a history of arrests in Florida. Sources say Durham has previously served four different prison sentences and has spent around 16 years behind bars. He was arrested recently on charges of possessing cocaine, for which he is currently out on bail. It is not clear whether his prior arrests will affect his ability to be granted bail in this case.

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August 26, 2013

David Paul Lazarus, a Coral Springs, Florida Nurse, Arrested for Sexual Battery

David Paul Lazarus, a Coral Springs, Florida Nurse, was arrested Monday for allegedly giving a patient with drug problems extra painkillers, then forcing her to perform oral sex on him, news sources report. The 26-year-old victim's name was redacted in public reports. Lazarus, 42, was booked into the Broward County Main Jail on two counts of sexual battery. A judge ordered that he be held without bail bond due to a previous misdemeanor. Reports did not specify a defense attorney for Lazarus.

According to reports, Lazarus has worked for the Broward Health Medical Center for five years, during which time he does not appear to have been cited for any past wrongdoing. He is married to Leban David, who is also a nurse. Lazarus has a pending criminal case from December 2011 on charges of battery, reports indicate; the details of that case were not immediately available at press time.

A spokesperson for the Broward Health Medical Center released a statement following Lazarus's arrest, reportedly saying, "We were informed this morning of a patient allegation against an employee. We have responded by initiating a thorough review of the allegation, and because this is a police investigation, we're not permitted to provide any details at this time." It is too early to tell how this arrest will affect Lazarus's position at the health center.

Reports say the incident occurred on June 12 after the victim had undergone surgery to remove kidney stones at the Broward Health Medical Center. Based on reports, the victim had a past record of drug abuse and had recently gotten out of rehab. She had been prescribed Dilaudid, a painkiller, to held her with her surgery recovery. Lazarus was not assigned to the victim, but he reportedly engaged the victim in conversation and offered to let her smoke a cigarette outside of the building.

On June 14, Lazarus and the victim talked about her struggle with drug addiction. After he learned of the victim's addiction, Lazarus allegedly provided the victim with a 40-milligram oxycodone pill and two syringes of morphine. Oxycodone and morphine are both classified as opioids, and are in the same drug group as opium and heroin. Each of these drugs is highly addictive and prone to abuse.

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August 20, 2013

Mark Brown, Anthony Mcclain, Omar Lewis, Oliver Salguero, Gregory Robinson, Eldridge Raynard White, Jr., Edward Mcclain, Javon Jones, John Jones, and Marcus Brown of Overtown Florida Indicted for Drug Trafficking

Mark Brown, Anthony Donnell Mcclain, Omar Abdul Lewis, Oliver Salguero, Gregory Timothy Robinson, Eldridge Raynard White, Jr., Edward Keith Mcclain, Javon Jones, John Jones, and Marcus Marcell Brown, all of Overtown, Florida, were indicted this past week for possessing illegal substances with the intent to distribute, a press release by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida indicates. Charged with conspiracy to possess controlled substances with the intent to distribute and possession of controlled substances with the intent to distribute are Brown, 29; Anthony Donnell Mcclain, 29; Lewis, 39; Salguero, 24; Robinson, 27; White, 23; Edward Keith Mcclain, 23; Javon Jones, 29; John Jones, Jr., 22; and Marcus Marcell Brown, 23. It is unclear whether all of the defendants have all been arrested and, if so, whether they qualified for a set bail bond amount. The press did not specify defense attorneys for any of the defendants.

According to the indictment, the arrests were made as part of the Overtown Violence Reduction Partnership, which was formed in October 2011 by the U.S. Attorney's Office. The partnership pools resources from the U.S. Attorney's Office and local law enforcements to investigate and arrest those suspected of running violent and illegal networks in the Overtown neighborhood. The initiative also strives to create programs for at-risk youth, job seekers, and recently released parolees and probationers.

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August 8, 2013

Mark Joseph Marchand Arrested in Port Everglades, Florida for Trafficking Cocaine

Mark Joseph Marchand was arrested near Port Everglades, Florida after customs agents allegedly found him sailing in the dark with 87 bricks of cocaine, news sources report. Marchand, 57, was booked into police custody on a charge of importing cocaine with intent to distribute. It is unclear whether he qualified for bail bond. The press did not specify a lawyer for Marchand.

According to reports, the incident occurred around 1:45 p.m. on Monday. A customs agent reported that a sailboat had been located 30 miles east of Boynton Beach, sources say. The sailboat reportedly appeared to be heading towards the Hillsboro Inlet. Customs agents monitored the boat until it was about a mile off Port Everglades in Broward County, at which point they got into a boat of their own to investigate.

A Customs and Border Patrol vessel carrying agents and drug-sniffing dogs was dispatched to investigate the sailboat at about around 2:10 Tuesday morning, reports say. The patrol vessel neared the sailboat, which was allegedly operating without any lights, and stopped it. Marchand was the only suspect found on board, reports say.

The dogs reportedly conducted a search and indicated that they had detected drugs. After more searching, the agents allegedly discovered two hidden compartments. In one compartment, agents found 22 bricks of cocaine; in the other compartment, agents revealed another 65 bricks of cocaine, reports say. It is currently unclear how much the bricks weighed.

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August 2, 2013

Edward McElhenny, Clinton Story, Angela Story, Paul Richardson, and Kelly McCartney, Vero Beach, Florida Residents, Arrested for Manufacturing Methamphetamine

Edward McElhenny, Clinton Story, Angela Story, Paul Richardson, and Kelly McCartney, all of Vero Beach, Florida, were arrested this week after they were accused of making methamphetamine at an area residence, a press release from the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida indicates. McElhenny, 50; Clinton, 20; Angela, 32; Richardson, 27; and McCartney, 36, were each booked into the Indian River County Jail on a charge of conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance. It is unclear whether the defendants have qualified for bail bond. News sources did not specify whether the defendants had obtained legal representation.

According to the federal indictment released on Wednesday, special agents with the Indian River County Sheriff's Office and the Multi-Agency Criminal Enforcement Unit began investigating allegations of a methamphetamine lab at 1913 22nd Avenue in Vero Beach in late April. The indictment did not say what precursors led the investigators to that home.

On May 9, 2013, agents with the DEA-Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement Team reportedly executed a search warrant at the Vero Beach home. Inside, agents located Clinton, McElhenny, Richardson, and Angela, the indictment says. The agents detained the four defendants and reportedly questioned them about their role in the alleged meth manufacturing. Based on the indictment, Clinton, Angela, and Richardson confessed to buying pseudoephedrine for the manufacture of methamphetamine. Pseudoephedrine is sold in drugstores as a treatment for sinus-related allergy symptoms, but it can also be used to produce methamphetamine. It is most widely known by its brand name, Sudafed.

The agents conducted a thorough search of the home and the surrounding property, the indictment says. Agents reportedly located a laboratory equipped with precursor chemicals and laboratory equipment, all of which appeared be "utilized in and comprised a fully operational methamphetamine laboratory," the indictment alleges. Agents reportedly called in a fingerprint specialist, who pulled fingerprints from the various pieces of lab equipment. The indictment claims those fingerprints matched those of Clinton, McCartney, and McElhenny. In addition, McElhenny reportedly told the agents that he had produced methamphetamine on previous occasions.

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April 10, 2013

Jaime Miranda, Monroe County, Florida Sheriff's Office Deputy, Arrested for Drug Possession

Jaime Miranda, a Monroe County, Florida Sheriff's Office deputy, was arrested Saturday after he was accused of buying oxycodone from a police informant, news sources report. Miranda, 30, was on duty and in his cruiser at the time of the alleged drug deal. He was booked into the Key West Jail on charges of possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, conspiracy to purchase narcotics, possession of synthetic narcotics, and a misdemeanor charge for possessing drug paraphernalia. He was later released on a $12,000 bail bond. It is not yet known whether Miranda has obtained a criminal defense lawyer.

According to reports, Miranda began work at the Monroe County Sheriff's Office in 2008. Prior to his arrest, the department had assigned Miranda to the Lower Keys district. The department has suspended Miranda without pay while the drug investigation continues. The county sheriff released a statement praising the investigation, saying, "I am proud of the detectives who investigated this case. They did the right thing under difficult circumstances. The integrity, honesty and professionalism of the Monroe County Sheriff's Office is crucial to our ability to perform the job of law enforcement. I will not tolerate any behavior that compromises these values."

The incident occurred around 6:30 Saturday evening in a Winn-Dixie Supermarket parking lot on Big Pine Key. Miranda was on duty in his patrol car at the time. Sources say Miranda met with a police informant to purchase the drugs, though is not currently clear whether Miranda knew the dealer was a police informant. Miranda reportedly purchased 10 oxycodone pills from the informant, though unbeknownst to Miranda, the pills were not real.

Detectives pulled Miranda's cruiser over shortly after the alleged deal. A search of Miranda's vehicle produced nine and a half of the imitation oxycodone pills, a pipe containing marijuana residue, and 12 hydromorphone pills, sources indicate. Miranda reportedly admitted to taking half of an oxycodone pill following the drug deal. He also purportedly said that he stole the hydromorphone pills from his aunt's house.

In other drug-related news, officers in Pompano Beach nabbed 17 people accused of possessing and selling drugs at a city rave, reports say. At least two minors were arrested in the sting. Information regarding the defendants' identities was not immediately available following the arrests. Most of the arrested were booked into the Broward County Jail on charges of ecstasy distribution. It is unclear whether the defendants qualified for bail or hired legal representation.

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April 9, 2013

Vikram Chatwal, New York Hotel Manager, Arrested in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for Drug Trafficking

Vikram Chatwal, a famous New York hotel manager, was arrested in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Tuesday after airport security found numerous drugs in his possession, news sources report. The arrest occurred at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, sources say. Chatwal, 41, was booked into the Broward County Main Jail on eight unspecified drug charges and a felony charge of trafficking heroin. He was later released on an unspecified bail bond. Reports did not specify an attorney for Chatwal.

According to reports, Chatwal owns the renowned Dream Hotels, which are based out of South Beach and New York. Chatwal's father is the founder of Hampshire Hotels and Resorts. The younger Chatwal made headlines in January when he was spotted shopping with Lindsey Lohan; rumor mills later claimed that the two might be dating.

In 2010, Chatwal checked into rehab in Mumbai for alcohol abuse, reports say. Following this recent arrest, a contact of Chatwal told reporters that, "[Chatwal] needs to get himself into rehab ... He has a real substance abuse problem."

The incident occurred at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport as Chatwal was attempting to board a flight. A behavior detection team flagged Chatwal down at the Terminal 3 checkpoint. TSA agents moved Chatwal to a secluded area and searched his pockets. According to reports, the agents found a bag of cocaine in Chatwal's jacket and placed him under arrest.

The TSA continued their search and found another bag containing 6 grams of heroin, 3.5 grams of marijuana, and a half-gram of ketamine. Inside Chatwal's travel bag, TSA agents allegedly discovered 16 prescription pills, including Xanax and Lorazepam. Chatwal did not have a prescription for the drugs. "[Chatwal] provided a post-Miranda statement to narcotics detectives wherein he admitted possessing and purchasing the [narcotics] illegally," a police report says.

In other news, Steven Wesley Topps of Palm Beach Gardens was arrested after he was accused of stalking a woman and asking her for sex, reports say. Topps, 28, was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail on charges of aggravated stalking. He is being held without bail. It is unclear whether Topps has hired legal representation.

According to reports, the incident occurred after the 23-year-old victim exited a bus at the corner of Military Trail and Forest Hill Boulevard. Topps reportedly exited the bus at the same time and began following the victim. Topps allegedly followed the victim through a shopping plaza and continued to follow her even after she told him to stop.

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April 4, 2013

Suzanne Kraus of Wilton Manors, Florida Arrested for Prescription Drug Fraud

Suzanne Kraus of Wilton Manors, Florida was arrested after she was accused of using her dog's name to file for fraudulent prescriptions, news sources report. Kraus, 41, was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail on charges of fraudulently obtaining prescription drugs, attempting to obtain controlled substance by fraud, uttering a forgery, and petit theft. It is unclear whether she has qualified for bail bond. It is also not yet known whether she has hired a criminal defense lawyer.

According to reports, Kraus worked for the Floresta Animal Hospital between September 2010 and September 2012. The manager at the department said someone had burglarized the office only a month after Kraus's employment; it is unclear what was taken, but the perpetrator was never arrested. Kraus eventually left her position at that office; she began working for the Coral Ridge Animal Hospital in Fort Lauderdale sometime later. So far, the Coral Ridge Animal Hospital has remained silent regarding the allegations against Kraus. It is not clear whether the arrest has compromised Kraus's employment with the hospital.

The alleged fraud began in July 2012. Kraus reportedly stole a prescription pad from the Floresta Animal Hospital and began writing prescriptions for Hydrocodone using the fake name "Higgins Canine Kraus" and the signature of her employer. The name Higgins was the name of Kraus's dog, which had been put to sleep in June 2012. In this manner, Kraus reportedly filled out prescriptions for a total of 240 hydrocodone pills, for which she paid $215.99.

In January 2013, Kraus went to a Walgreens Pharmacy with the prescription for Higgins Canine Kraus, signed by a veterinarian from Floresta Animal Hospital. The suspicious pharmacist called the animal and spoke with the veterinarian, who immediately said the prescription was false and that the pad used to make it had been stolen from her office.

On February 8, detectives spoke with Kraus outside of her work at the Coral Ridge Animal Hospital. The officers said they had found fraudulent prescriptions that she had filed under the name "Higgins." Kraus reportedly said she once had a dog named Higgins, then said she had friends who abused prescription painkillers.

Detectives say Kraus smelled of alcohol during the questioning. When asked about the odor, she allegedly said, "I had drinks this morning ... I'm just depressed and I had a couple of drinks." Kraus reportedly indicated that her friends might have been at fault for the fraud.

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March 18, 2013

Henry Battagliola, Mark Cukierman, Kyin Sein Ho, and Edward Jose Mila Prats of South Florida Charged with Operating Unlicensed Pain Clinic

Henry Battagliola, Mark Cukierman, Kyin Sein Ho, and Edward Jose Mila Prats of South Florida were charged with operating an unlicensed pain clinic this past week, news sources report. Battagliola, 46, of Parkland; Cukierman, 57, of Boca Raton; and Ho, 71, of Fort Lauderdale turned themselves over to police on Thursday. They were each booked into police custody on charges of operating a non-registered pain medical clinic and conspiracy to traffic oxycodone. Prats remains at large and is wanted on the same charges. It is unclear whether the defendants qualified for bail. It is also unclear whether they have all hired criminal defense lawyers.

According to reports, the defendants were all involved in Boca East Pain Management in Boca Raton. Battagliola owned the clinic before it was forced to close. Detectives say Battagliola holds a chiropractic license, which, under Florida Law, restricts him from prescribing narcotics. Battagliola received the license in 1981; he also has a chiropractic license that he received in 1976. Reports indicate that Battagliola has a history of disciplinary actions, though the details of those actions remain unknown.

Cukierman received his medical doctor's license in 2001, sources say. In 2012, police fined Cukierman $50,000 for prescribing patients oxycodone and Xanax with no valid reason while he was employed by a Boynton Beach clinic. Detectives also arrested Cukierman in August 2012 on charges of trafficking controlled substances while he was working at a Pompano Beach clinic. Cukierman's attorney commented on the arrests, saying, "[The police are] trying to pressure doctors not to work at pain management clinics. And in doing that, they're unfortunately arresting and continuing to arrest legitimate doctors."

Official revoked Boca East Pain Management's license to prescribe prescription narcotics in 2010; however, the Department of Health discovered in May 2011 that the clinic was continuing to prescribe the narcotics. Detectives launched an investigation into the clinic, dubbed "Operation Take as Needed." During the investigation, detectives reportedly learned that the doctors were prescribing narcotics, such as oxycodone, despite not having a license to do so.

In other news, Martha Barrios of Lake Worth was arrested Thursday after she called 911 to report a crime that did not actually happen, reports say. Barrios, 21, was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail on charges of falsely reporting a crime. She was later released on her own recognizance. It is not yet known whether she has hired legal representation.

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