On Tuesday, August 25, a Detroit Police Officer who had been suspended after being accused of a drive-by shooting at a Ray Township assisted-living home was sentenced to prison. Clifford E. Gullion now faces a minimum of three years in prison, and termination from the Detroit Police Dept. is underway, according to a news article at Mlive.com. 17821516_s

Gullion allegedly opened fire on the assisted-living facility located near 29 Mile and Romeo Plank in April using a .40-caliber gun. He had been on medical leave from the police department for several months at the time the incident occurred. No one was hit by the gunfire.

The motive for the shooting appeared to be a dispute Gullion’s wife had with the husband of a patient living at the home; his wife is an in-home caretaker.

Gullion agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to felony use of a firearm and discharging a weapon into a building. He was sentenced to two years for the firearm charge, and between one and eight years for the weapon discharging charge. At a minimum, he will serve three years in prison. Gullion worked in the Ninth Precinct, and began his career with the Detroit Police Dept. in 2009.

Unlawful discharge of a weapon charges are extremely serious, with penalties that may include jail/prison time, fines, probation, and firearms restrictions depending on the state in which the crime occurred, and other factors such as whether a home or building was occupied at the time of the shooting. When the safety or lives of others are put at risk, penalties are typically more severe.

No matter how serious a crime may seem, every person who is charged with a criminal offense is innocent until proven guilty. In some instances, it may be beneficial to the defendant to accept a plea deal with prosecutors; in others, it may be best to go to trial and fight. It all depends on the circumstances of each individual case. There are occasions on which a skilled Michigan criminal defense attorney can get charges completely dismissed.

To learn about your legal options and how to obtain the best possible outcome in your particular case, consult with an experienced defense lawyer who will work to protect your legal rights and freedom.

On Tuesday, August 25, two Lakeside, CA women were arrested after authorities found marijuana, methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, and ammunition inside a home located on Wintercrest Drive, according to a CBS news report. drugs2

The drugs were seized when sheriff’s deputies from the Santee station served a search warrant at the residence. An undisclosed amount of cash was also found in the home, according to an article at The San Diego Union-Tribune.

The suspects, 52-year-old Kristina Duerksen and 53-year-old Robin Faulkner, were arrested at the scene and charged with sales of controlled substances, possession and sale of drugs and drug paraphernalia, maintaining a place for trafficking in controlled substances, manufacturing a controlled substance by chemical extraction, and being a felon in possession of ammunition. Duerksen and Faulkner were booked into Las Colinas Detention Facility.

The residence was evaluated and declared unsuitable for habitation; it was condemned because of the alleged presence of toxic narcotics-related residue (methamphetamine), according to reports.

It appears the women were manufacturing meth and selling the methamphetamine and marijuana out of the residence. Manufacturing meth or operating a meth lab is a very serious charge in most states across the country. Methamphetamine is a Schedule II drug, which means its potential for abuse and/or addiction is high. In the state of Michigan, those found guilty of manufacturing methamphetamine may face punishment that includes fines of up to $25,000 and/or a maximum of 20 years in prison. However, certain factors may result in even harsher penalties, such as where the crime occurred, the defendant’s criminal history, whether firearms were present, and more.

When arrested or under investigation for a crime involving any type of illegal substance whether marijuana, meth, cocaine, heroin, or even prescription drugs, it is critical to work with a seasoned Michigan drug crimes attorney. Your legal rights must be protected, and a solid defense strategy developed in order to protect your freedom and future. Never face drug charges without a skilled defense lawyer at your side, as the consequences of a conviction can be life-changing.

On Thursday, August 20, 79-year-old Cardinal William Joseph Levada of Menlo Park was charged with driving under the influence while vacationing on the Big Island of Hawaii with priest friends, according to a recent article at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. glass-of-whiskey-1254218-m

A police spokeswoman said that Levada was alone and was driving a Nissan Altima at the time he was pulled over for swerving while headed in a northbound direction on Queen Kaahumanu Highway. While news reports did not reveal Levada’s blood alcohol content, the threshold for legal intoxication in Hawaii is 0.08 percent, the same threshold as in many states in the U.S.

Levada said in a statement emailed to The Huffington Post that he regretted his error in judgment, and intended to cooperate fully with authorities. He was formerly the highest ranking American official in the Vatican.

Levada was ordained a priest in 1961 in the Los Angeles Archdiocese; he was appointed as a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in May of 2005, and now holds the title of Prefect Emeritus of the Conclave of the Faith. He is scheduled to appear in Kona District Court on September 24, and is required to appear according to Sgt. Robert Pauole. Following his arrest, Levada was released from jail approximately an hour later after posting $500 bail.

As in most states, Hawaii imposes harsh administrative and criminal penalties on those charged with driving under the influence. Those found guilty will face a minimum of 48 hours in jail, along with fines of between $150 and $1,000. The defendant may also be ordered to perform community service work.

In Michigan, the penalties for a first-offense DUI conviction include fines, possible jail time, driver’s license suspension, community service, a criminal record, and more. Driving under the influence is a very serious matter, and should be treated as such. If you have been charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, contact an experienced Michigan DUI attorney immediately to ensure your legal rights and freedom are protected. Driving drunk is a crime; never take matters into your own hands.

Michigan white collar crimes attorneys know that even in situations where no violence is involved or harm done to others, crimes involving financial matters can result in serious punishment. Recently, 52-year-old Paul Joseph Waltner of Ypsilanti pleaded guilty to once count of filing a false tax return with the IRS. business-buttons-585040-m

On August 14, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade and IRS Special Agent in Charge-Criminal Investigation Jarod J. Koopman announced in a press release that Waltner had pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stephen J. Murphy, III.

According to the release, Waltner failed to report his full wages and a bonus he earned for the year 2008 while working in the Kingdom of Bahrain at Unicom Investment Bank. He was employed at the bank from 2007 through March of 2011. While Waltner actually earned more than $246,000 and received a bonus of nearly $216,000 from UIB in 2008, the Form 1040 he filed with the IRS reported combined wages and bonuses of only $150,000. Waltner used the Foreign Earned Income Form 2555. By reporting approximately $310,000 less than he had actually received, the amount Waltner actually owed in taxes was understated by $101,998.

Waltner’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for December. Those who file a false tax return with the IRS may face a fine of $250,000, up the three years in prison, or both. As part of his plea agreement, Waltner agreed to pay restitution to the IRS for the years 2008 and 2010 in the amount of $197,806 and will also file legitimate returns for the years he was employed at the Bahrain banking institution.

While collar crimes are typically those involving money, and include tax fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, and more. If you have been accused of any similar offense or are under investigation, consult with a Michigan criminal defense lawyer immediately to ensure your legal rights are protected, and so that work can begin to protect your freedom and future.

For months, someone has been setting fire to abandoned homes in Saginaw; now, police believe they have their man, although his name cannot be released pending his arraignment. News reports do indicate the suspect is 49 years old, and police along with residents are relieved to get the man police are calling a “serial arsonist” off the streets. 1209539_lighting_a_match_2

Following police interviews with the suspect, Michigan State Police Lt. David Kaiser said the man is responsible for at least 14 of the fires that have occurred in recent months. He also said that the interviews did not reveal why the man set the fires, and no motive can be determined.

How did police catch the suspect? According to Kaiser, police set up on various homes in Saginaw on Tuesday the 18th anticipating the man would return to the scene of the crimes. Police were in luck; the suspect did return to a house that had been set on fire in the past. He was holding a cup police believed was filled with accelerant. Police say he struck again, and police confronted the man as he was walking away from the scene. The suspect dropped the cup, and police took him into custody. Meanwhile, the home the suspect had returned to had a porch that was noticed to be in flames by other officers.

Although it has not been revealed how police connected the suspect to many of the other recent fires in abandoned homes in Saginaw, he has been placed in the Saginaw County Jail. Police have recommended prosecutors charge the suspect with three counts of third-degree arson, and three counts of preparation to burn.

Third-degree arson is a felony involving the malicious or willful burning of and building/structure or the contents of a structure, any personal property with a value of $20,000 or more, or for anyone with a prior conviction for arson, any personal property valued at $1,000 or more. The criminal penalties for a conviction include a fine of $20,000 or up to three times the value of the destroyed property, and/or a maximum of 10 years in prison.

As you can see, the punishment for an arson conviction is severe and even life-changing. If found guilty, you will lose your freedom and likely face ruin of your reputation and career. Anyone who is arrested or under investigation for an arson crime should consult with a highly qualified Michigan criminal defense attorney immediately in an effort to protect your freedom and future.

On Monday, August 17, 35-year-old Macon defense attorney Holly Hogue Edwards was charged with drug distribution. A news article at 11 Alive says that Edwards was arrested after being pulled over on Interstate 75 in Peach County, according to Monroe County investigator Greggory Phillips. Authorities pulled the criminal defense lawyer over to serve an arrest warrant charging her in the case involving distribution of oxycodone.  11831842_s

Edwards is charged with a single count of distribution of oxycodone and methamphetamine, and three counts of distribution of oxycodone. Oxycodone is a prescription narcotic pain medication that is highly abused and addictive.

A Monroe County Sheriff’s Office news release stated that Edwards sold drugs to undercover agents. The investigation of Edwards began in May when it was learned that she might be involved in illegal activities including the use and distribution of illegal drugs. The indictment revealed that the incidents Edwards is alleged of being involved in occurred in May and June.

Edwards, who was admitted to practice in Georgia in 2005, pleaded not guilty to all charges against her. Edwards opened her own law practice in 2009, and was an assistant public defender in Houston County and an associate attorney at Hogue & Hogue prior to opening her own firm. Hogue & Hogue is operated by Edwards’ former mother- and father-in-law.

In the state of Michigan possession or possession with intent to sell or distribute oxycodone are very serious charges. In cases involving less than 50 grams of oxycodone, an individual may face criminal penalties including a $25,000 fine and/or up to 20 years in prison if convicted on distribution charges. If an individual is found guilty of possession of 1,000 grams or more, penalties increase to fines of as much as $1 million and possible life in prison.

Clearly, anyone who is accused of distributing illegal substances or prescription drugs must consult with an experienced Michigan drug crimes attorney. Those charged with serious drug crimes face extremely harsh consequences, including loss of freedom. Ultimately, a conviction will change an individual’s life forever. By working with a capable defense lawyer it is possible to reach a more favorable outcome in many cases.

On June 16 of this year, 51-year-old Joseph Robert Livingood of White Pigeon was stopped as he drove away from the Four Winds Casino in Dowagiac; his blood alcohol level at the time was 0.18, more than twice the legal limit according to an article at the South Bend Tribune. On Friday, August 14, Livingood pleaded guilty to a third offense DUI. He was sentenced in Cass Circuit Court to between two and five years in prison. He was also ordered to pay $1,658 in fines, costs, and restitution. glass-of-whiskey-1254218-m

According to the report, Livingood has been arrested for drunken driving in 12 jurisdictions across several states. In addition to Michigan, he has been arrested for DUI in Illinois, Mississippi, New York, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The defendant claimed he had never been offered treatment for his alcohol problem. At court on Friday, Cass Circuit Judge Michael Dodge noted that Livingood had a long criminal history including six prison terms for nine felony convictions, although the specific crimes were not revealed.

In the state of Michigan, anyone who has been convicted of driving under the influence more than twice will face 3rd offense charges, regardless of whether it is the third offense or twelfth. A third DUI offense is a felony, which means the defendant will face harsher penalties, including certain jail time. Other punishment may include driver’s license revocation, steep fines, community service, and possibly vehicle immobilization. The court may also order the defendant to have an ignition interlock device installed on his/her vehicle. Felony DUI is punishable by up to five (5) years in prison.

As you can see, a felony or third-offense DUI is a very serious matter. Not only is a person’s freedom in danger, but his or her career, reputation, and family relationships are at risk as well. A criminal record also has a negative impact on a person’s life in terms of employment opportunities, housing, and more.

Whether you have been arrested on charges of driving under the influence for the first time or have been charged numerous times, it is critical to work with a seasoned Michigan DUI attorney who will protect your legal rights and provide the legal support and guidance you need to ensure the best possible outcome.

On Sunday, August 9, 24-year-old Antonio Lee Albert and 34-year-old Jason Jordan were reportedly in the backseat of a car in Southeast Grand Rapids when an argument began. According to news reports, Albert exited the vehicle, walked around to the other side, then shot at Jordan three to four time, striking him twice in the head. 17821516_s

The vehicle the two were riding in was stopped at a red light in the vicinity of Franklin Street SE and Eastern Avenue as the driver of the car was waiting for the light to turn green. The shooting took place at approximately 7 a.m.

Albert then walked away from the scene, however the driver of the vehicle took the victim to a local hospital, where he died just a short time after his arrival. For several days police were asking for the public’s help in finding Albert; on Thursday he turned himself in. The driver of the car and others who were in the vehicle identified Albert as the man who shot Jordan.

News reports state Albert is charged with one count of open murder, and remains incarcerated at the Kent County Jail. At the time of news reports, an arraignment date had not been scheduled.

In Michigan, a charge of open murder essentially leaves the decision as to whether to try the defendant on first-degree, second-degree, or other potential homicide charges up to the prosecutor or jurors. If charged with first-degree or felony murder, the criminal penalties if the defendant is found guilty include life in prison. In order to be found guilty of first-degree murder, the prosecutor must prove very specific elements of the crime, particularly premeditation and deliberation.

Second-degree murder is also an extremely serious charge, and will leave the defendant facing many years in prison if convicted. However, in this case the elements of premeditation and deliberation are not included. Essentially, in order for an individual to be found guilty of first-degree murder, it must be proven the defendant thought about and made the decision to kill someone beforehand – the murder was premeditated.

Any homicide charge is serious, and could leave the accused facing life-changing criminal penalties if convicted. If you have been arrested or charged with open murder or any homicide/manslaughter offense, speak with an experienced and aggressive Michigan criminal defense attorney immediately.

In November of 1999, Eric Brown of Pontotoc pleaded guilty to the murder of a woman he had been in a relationship with. The woman was pregnant at the time, and Brown was sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years for the death and manslaughter of Shorelonda Moore and her unborn child. 21964891_s

Brown was in a relationship with another woman at the time of his relationship with Moore, and had children with both. He married the other woman, who was not named in news reports. A few days later, Brown reportedly strangled Moore behind a Pontotoc restaurant. According to a news article at the Daily Journal, Brown and his wife drove the victim’s vehicle to Memphis where they proceeded to douse it with gas and set it on fire after parking it in an alley. Moore’s body was discovered the next day.

Brown appealed his murder conviction, which was recently upheld by the Mississippi Court of Appeals. The defendant argued upon appealing his conviction and sentence that due to the fact the Circuit Court did not conduct a competency hearing prior to accepting his guilty plea, his fundamental rights were violated. The appeals court did not agree, and upheld Brown’s conviction and life sentence on Tuesday, August 11.

Whether an individual is wrongly convicted of a crime he/she did not commit, or sentenced in a way that is unfair due to human bias or procedural error, mistakes are made in the criminal justice system, and individuals’ constitutional rights violated. In many cases, ineffective counsel (poor performance by the defense attorney) may result in an individual being found guilty of a crime. The fact is, legal errors or mistakes made by judges, attorneys, or even jurors can result in an innocent individual facing time (or even life) behind bars.

Being convicted of a crime is not necessarily the end of the road. There are post-conviction options that may be available in certain situations, such as filing a motion for a new trial or Ginther Hearing, appealing a sentence, and more. However, it is critical to be aware that the appeals process is highly complex, and appeals court judges rarely overturn a murder conviction, although it does happen.

Most importantly, anyone who is considering an appeal must work with an experienced Michigan criminal appeals attorney with a proven track record for success in the appeals process.

Following a months-long investigation of the activities of five men in the Austin, TX area, all five were arrested on Wednesday, August 5 according to a recent report at the Statesman. The investigation spanned several cities in the Austin area, and resulted in the seizure of about 2,500 grams of cocaine along with more than $60,000 in cash. illegal-drugs

Brent Garrett, 41, and his son Brent Garrett Jr., 22, both of Hutto are suspected of being involved in cocaine trafficking through several networks in Williamson and Travis Counties, according to arrest affidavits. Police said months of information provided by confidential informants and multiple sources led to the arrests of the Garretts, and that members of the Austin Police Department’s Gang Suppression Unit tracked the men, watching what they suspected to be drug transactions. Father and son were arrested on charges of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.

Another man, Terry Alexander, rode with the elder Garrett as the two made their way to a Target packing lot, where a man who was waiting got into the back seat of the vehicle. The man got out of the back seat a short time later and got into another car. Police believed they were watching a drug deal in progress. When Garrett and Alexander left the parking lot, the two men were pulled over because Garrett did not use a turn signal. Police called in a narcotics detection team, and ultimately found over 100 grams of cocaine in the center console of the car. Both were arrested.

Police also surveilled Garrett Jr. during an alleged drug deal at a Walgreen’s parking lot. When all was said and done, 37-year-old Eric Mendez and his cousin, 35-year-old Richard Anguiano, were arrested after it was learned Anguiano was meeting with the two to purchase three ounces of cocaine.

The majority of the evidence was found at the Garretts’ Hutto home, where authorities located $58,000 and approximately 2,500 grams of cocaine in a safe. Also inside the safe were digital scales, an electric money counter, gold jewelry, a loaded 9 mm pistol, and other items.

The Garretts and the three other men were arrested for possession of a controlled substance. Four of the men were held in the Travis County Jail on $250,000 bail, while the elder Garrett was held on a $100,000 bail.

Charges of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver are extremely serious, regardless of what state a person resides in. In Michigan, possession of a controlled substance involving Schedule I or II substances with intent to deliver can result in up to life in prison and/or up to $1 million in fines. The penalties an individual may face depend largely on the type and amount of drug involved, and his/her prior criminal drug history. Whether the drug transaction was made within a specific distance of a school, church, park, or home may also impact sentencing.

Anyone arrested for a drug crime, regardless of how minor or serious the situation may seem, must work with a highly skilled Michigan drug crimes attorney for the best possible outcome, and the best chance for protecting your freedom.