Tag Archives: badlawyer

Punta Gorda Lawyer Suspended due to Incarceration

steven burch

Steven Burch

Attorney Steven Burch, who had about 44 cases pending, primarily in Charlotte County, has been suspended indefinitely by the Florida Bar. Burch was indicted on federal drug trafficking charges in 2016, but continued to practice until recently. He was incarcerated after new charges were added, and his bond was revoked for violation of pretrial release conditions. Burch had arranged for a client to send the drugs, allegedly to then try to cooperate with law enforcement to get out of his own DUI charge. He had his client arrange to ship heroin, which he then disclosed to law enforcement. Unbeknownst to him, his client’s wife recorded the arrangement, and Burch ended up going down. He entered a plea to conspiracy to distribute, and faces up to 20 years in prison on that charge.

I’m going to tag this “reverse entrapment”, as it wasn’t law enforcement that set a guy up… it was his own attorney. And this will almost certainly, hopefully, be the only time I use that tag! Though, it is kind of similar to the Easter case from California

Advertisements

Amira Fox is the Clear Choice for State Attorney

crowley and fox

Chris Crowley and Amira Fox

The primary election is tomorrow, and Republican voters will be presented a clear choice for State Attorney for the 20th Judicial Circuit. The standout choice is Amira Fox, currently the chief assistant State Attorney under current State Attorney Stephen Russell. Ms. Fox is a smart, talented prosecutor whose experience clearly makes her the most qualified candidate for the job. She has the support of law enforcement, including outgoing prosecutor Russell, and the sheriffs of all five counties in the 20th Judicial Circuit. Moreover, she has the overwhelming support of the attorneys who practice in Lee County, who are in the best position to evaluate the qualifications of the chief law enforcement officer for Southwest Florida.

The campaign leading up to the primary, which will be dispositive as there is only a token write-in candidate remaining in the general election, has been extremely heated. Her opponent, Christopher Crowley has attacked her with deceit and obfuscation because his actual qualifications are woefully lacking. Crowley is a twice-failed prosecutor who cannot gain the support of law enforcement.

Crowley was asked to resign from the office of the Statewide Prosecutor after detectives informed his supervisor that they did not have faith in his abilities as a prosecutor. He returned the the State Attorney’s office, where he was soon fired for incompetence. Crowley then demonstrated his stunningly poor judgment by illegally promoting a raffle at a campaign fund raising event. He then posted video of the criminal act on his Facebook page, which ultimately resulted in his felony arrest for the illegal lottery and illegal campaign fundraising. Crowley had to get a retired democrat attorney to represent him, because he has so much trouble finding a defense attorney. His attorney did a great job by getting him into the felony diversion program after he admitted to his wrongdoing. While the charge may have been an inadvertent infraction that did not involve much money, the lack of oversight and judgment demonstrate that Crowley cannot be trusted run the State Attorney’s Office.

Crowley has tried to mislead the electorate to distract from his lack of qualifications. One of his favorite claims is that the office is corrupt- basically accusing Ms. Fox of ordering his arrest. This is patently false, as the local State Attorney’s office notified the governor of the possible conflict, and the State Attorney for the 10th Circuit handled the case. If Crowley is suggesting corruption, he is accusing Governor Scott and multiple law enforcement agencies. This is not a case of corruption: incompetent Crowley committed a felony, published the evidence, and got charged by an independent prosecutor. He does not deserve to be the chief law enforcement officer for our circuit.

Another of his other favorite claims is that the conviction rate in our circuit is only 39%. He fabricated this number based on raw arrest numbers and actual adjudications. However, this number does not take into account charges that are not filed, nor does it take into account cases that are resolved in drug court, mental health court, or other positive dispositions. Ironically, Crowley’s own arrest and diversion program would count against his calculation of a conviction rate. The more appropriate number is calculated by the Office of the State Courts Administrator, and it’s 88% for this circuit, in line with other circuits. And the more important number, the crime rate, is the lowest of all the circuits in Florida. Some of the other claims being promoted by Crowley’s supporters, and often shared by him on social media, are unsupported, untrue, and not worth repeating.

Finally, as a criminal law attorney in town, I have had the opportunity to work with both candidates, and I can say without hesitation that Ms. Fox is more competent, better prepared, and a better attorney that Mr. Crowley. I do not have a dog in the fight and I have not donated to either candidate, but I can say experience has demonstrated that Ms. Fox is the best candidate for the job, and Mr. Crowley could be a train wreck if he were to win.

The choice for voters tomorrow is between an extremely experienced, qualified, and highly recommended candidate in Amira Fox, or a failed prosecutor in Chris Crowley. Crowley failed to lawfully conduct his campaign, and now wants to oversee law enforcement across Southwest Florida. And to do so, he is running a deceitful campaign. He is unqualified, he does not have the support of law enforcement, nor does he have the the competence for the job. The choice is clear, Amira Fox is the best candidate for State Attorney.

More Complaints About and Lies by Chris Crowley

Wink News ran a story today after pulling Chris Crowley’s personnel file from his time at the State Attorney’s office. We’ve already discussed how he was fired for his incompetence, but Wink dug deeper and pulled his file to see there were complaints that he made other prosecutors feel uncomfortable. Much of what they found was previously disclosed on the “This is Chris” website, which we have also linked before.

Crowley also says that there are several prosecutors that have left the office because they did not like working for Amira Fox as a supervisor, but he provided no names, and none have come forward. There is no evidence to support this claim.

Crowley also says there “is corruption at the state attorney’s office…” Crowley is lying. Not only is there no evidence of corruption at the State Attorney’s office, there is evidence demonstrating otherwise. When it came to light that Crowley committed a felony by running a raffle at his fundraiser, the State Attorney’s office referred the case away to FDLE, and asked for another State Attorney’s office to be appointed. And they were, the charges were filed by the 10th Circuit SAO. As stated by former prosecutor Ian Mann, “Crowley claims there is a conspiracy against him,” Mann said, adding that if that was true the conspiracy would have to include Fox, Russell, the governor, Haas, Hill and others. “All of those people would have to be involved in a conspiracy against him.”

Crowley claims it is not a coincidence that a month ago he said remove the corrupt official and a month later he was booked in jail. However, the correlation is not what he claims. It’s not a coincidence because a month ago he broke the law and that’s why he went to jail. He has admitted he broke the law, (it was on tape,) and he is lying when he claims corruption put him in jail. He broke the law. He admitted to it. That’s why he went to jail.

Chris Crowley committed a felony. He now keeps lying about corruption. He is dishonest. He is not qualified to be the chief law enforcement officer for the 20th Judicial Circuit.

What to know about the Chris Crowley Arrest

crowley raffle

Crowley: in flagrante delicto

State Attorney Candidate Chris Crowley was arrested and charged with two felonies yesterday. He’s trying to mislead on what that means. Here’s what you need to know:

Crowley committed a crime… two, actually. His offenses were on tape. He has admitted guilt for his crimes. One charge was for holding a raffle: only registered non-profits can hold raffles. The other was for illegally soliciting campaign funds. That’s why Crowley went to jail.

There is no law enforcement corruption here, quite the opposite. The local State Attorney did not handle the case, so there would be no conflict. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) handled the investigation, and the State Attorney’s office for the 10th Judicial Circuit (out of Bartow), handled the prosecution decisions and the negotiations. When Crowley claims corruption, he is lying.

The amount of money does not matter. The crime was not how much money he raised, but that he solicited it and raised it illegally.

It is also irrelevant that he gave the money back. The robber is not exonerated if he gives back the purse when he is caught. This is a mitigating factor, but it does not excuse the fact that he committed two felonies. Nor is it a defense that the illegal raffle was done ‘in good faith.’ It is the duty of the candidate to follow the campaign laws.

Crowley says “Amira Fox had me arrested.” That is also a lie. He was arrested because he committed felonies. The office that Ms. Fox works for, the State Attorney for the 20th Judicial Circuit, did not handle the case. Crowley has provided zero evidence that Ms. Fox had anything to do with his arrest. Crowley says he wants to be tough on crime, but he does not want to be truthful about his own crime that put him in jail today.

Finally, the case has not already been ‘effectively dismissed’ with just a fine. Crowley has signed a pretrial diversion contract. That means that when he completes certain requirements, the charges will be dropped… but it hasn’t happened yet. He likely will be supervised by the State Probation department for at least six months, in addition to fines and other financial obligations. This is a common resolution for a first time offender. It does not suggest that the charges are not appropriate, but that Crowley is getting a break since he doesn’t have any history. He’s lucky that the 10th Circuit prosecutors did not try to make a “tough on crime” example out of him.

Chris Crowley Arrested! Charged with Felonies

  • Chris Crowley has just been arrested for two felonies for his campaign activities.
  • Crowley is running for State Attorney.
  • Crowley has been stating his will be tough on crime.
crowley raffle

Crowley, illegally selling raffle tickets

NBC-2 is reporting that State Attorney Candidate Chris Crowley has been arrested and charged with two felonies. A warrant was issued and Crowley turned himself in. We covered the alleged illegal activity several weeks ago on Crimcourts. The case is going to be handled by another circuit prosecutor, due to the possible conflict of interest. He is charged with operating a lottery and violating campaign law.

Crowley was seen at a campaign fundraiser promoting 50/50 raffle tickets to raise money for his campaign. He later posted the video of the activity himself, which is an illegal lottery and a campaign violation. When interviewed by NBC-2, he admitted the 50/50 raffle, and said he didn’t deposit the money. For the record, ignorance of the law is no excuse, especially for someone running to be the chief law enforcement officer.

Our previous story on Crowley’s illegal campaign activity is here, and we did a story on reports of his incompetence as a prosecutor here.

 

Did a State Attorney Candidate Break the Law at his Fundraising Event? (On video)

crowley raffle

Candidate Christopher Crowley selling raffle tickets, via Facebook

One of the candidates for State Attorney for the 20th Judicial Circuit has been accused of breaking the law at a recent fundraising event. At the campaign event, of which Crowley posted video footage on his campaign Facebook page, Crowley can be seen promoting a “50/50” raffle (like a split the pot), for which tickets are being sold. He specifically states the tickets are to raise money for the campaign. This is problematic for several reasons.

The first problem is with doing any raffle or other lottery-type promotion… it’s illegal under most circumstances (Fla. Stat. Sec. 849.09). There is an exception for registered non-profit organizations: a 501(c) is allowed to do a raffle if they follow state law. That’s why you frequently see them at sporting events; the Red Sox, Twins, or whoever, does the event through their charitable foundation, which is permissible under state law. However, an election campaign is not one of those exceptions, and a raffle would qualify as a lottery, which is a third degree felony under Florida law. It may have been inadvertent, but this is a big problem for Mr. Crowley, contrary to his protestations that the complaint is a political stunt.

The second problem is that it runs afoul of campaign finance regulations. As NBC-2 points out, it’s clear on page 69 of the candidate handbook that raffles are not appropriate, and the handbook then specifically refers to the lottery statute, Sec. 849.09. Another reason for that is that all contributions must be identified, recorded, and reported under Florida law. That’s such a basic tenet of state campaign rules that it is disappointing that Mr. Crowley would be oblivious to it. He indicates that he called the ethics line and returned the money to the event organizer without depositing it. That’s a good remedial step, but it does not undo the initial error. Crowley has already been fined several times for late treasurer reports for his campaign, as well.

Crowley says to NBC that the complaint is a stunt by his opposition. It’s not. Steve Russell, the outgoing State Attorney, didn’t run out an file charges against Crowley, which he probably would be entitled to do. Instead, he referred it to FDLE, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, to conduct an independent investigation, and recused himself, as he should have. Crowley is incorrect that he can botch things up and try to pawn it off as fake news. This mistake is real, and it is serious, and Crowley posted the video of himself advertising the 50/50 raffle.

Further, Crowley tries to counter by touting an ethics complaint filed by his friend against Ms. Fox. He keeps saying she is under investigation… but NBC found a letter from the FEC indicating that the complaint they received was legally insufficient, and that the case was closed. It is a political stunt to get your friend to file an unsupported ethics complaint, and then to KEEP TALKING ABOUT IT, even if nothing has come from the investigation. This raises serious issues regarding Mr. Crowley’s lack of trustworthiness. On the other hand, kudos to Ms. Fox for taking the high road and declining to discuss the allegations against her opponent, which are much more serious.

I don’t think felony charges are appropriate for what appears to be an inadvertent, and relatively minor, campaign violation for which he returned the money. For now, it is up to FDLE to conduct their investigation. I am a lot more concerned about what this says about the judgment of the person running to be the highest law enforcement officer in Southwest Florida.

Below is the NBC video, but check out the full online story here, and also be sure to check out the News-Press article, which includes the full letters from Steve Russell.

The Sordid Tale of a former Kentucky Judge turned Sex-Trafficker

tim nolan mug shot

Tim Nolan

Cincinnati.com went long on Tim Nolan, the former judge (and attorney, school board member, and Trump activist) who has pled guilty to charges of human trafficking. Go check out the full article by Scott Wartman. In sum, the former judge- who had prided himself of being tough on crime, turned out to be a criminal. He has pled guilty to 21 counts of human trafficking going back to 2004, and will be sentenced Thursday for what will probably amount to a life sentence (20 years). He took advantage of young women, many living in his properties, often using drugs or physical force or the threat of eviction to induce them for sex.

The case was weird, not only because of Nolan’s political ties. At one point there were allegations he paid a witness, with whom he had had a relationship, but whose daughter was one of his victims. There was talk that he might blame mental illness, or his brain tumor, for his behavior, but ultimately decided to enter a guilty plea. He reportedly had a disdain for lawyers… which in itself suggests his contempt for the rule of law and due process, but is particularly galling for a lawyer himself.

Be sure to check out the article on cincinnati.com.