Gregory George Joins the State Attorney’s Office

Gregory George Joins the State Attorney’s Office

The Office of State Attorney Glenn Hess announces that on January 7, 2019, Gregory George joined our Bay County office as an Assistant State Attorney in the Misdemeanor Division.  Mr. George attended Florida A&M University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a concentration in Economics and Urban Studies.  He then obtained a Juris Doctorate from Florida A&M University School of Law.  Mr. George worked as a Summer Associate at Seibane Law, P.A., as a legal intern at the Office of the General Counsel for the Orange County Public Schools, as a legal intern for Congressman Trey Gowdy, and as a research associate at Florida A&M University College of Law.  After graduating law school, Mr. George worked at the local Navy Base in the Office of Civilian Human Resources.  We welcome Mr. George to the team!

For additional information, contact Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford.

Construction Fraud Task Force Update

The Office of State Attorney Glenn Hess announces that on November 9th, 2018, the State Attorney’s Office, in conjunction with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, created a Construction Fraud Task Force.  It consists of a number of law enforcement agencies, building inspectors, and state agencies including building officials from Bay County, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the Panama City Police Department, the Lynn Haven Police Department, and the Department of Homeland Security.

The purpose of the Construction Fraud Task Force is to protect the citizens of the 14th Circuit from the abuse of unlicensed or unscrupulous contractors from fraud, grand theft, and sub-standard construction.  Our primary objective is to deter would-be violators.
The Construction Fraud Task Force has conducted undercover sting operations in Bay County on 5 separate dates and arrested 32 defendants for contracting without a Florida license.  Those arrests were made in Lynn Haven and Panama City when individuals who represented themselves as roofing contractors gave estimates to undercover officers for the cost to roof a home damaged by Hurricane Michael.  Most of the defendants were from Texas or Louisiana and only one was from Bay County.

Additionally, an undercover sting operation was conducted in Gulf County with the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office and Port St. Joe Police Department which resulted in the arrest of 2 defendants representing themselves as licensed roofing contractors.
The Construction Fraud Task Force, as part of its mission to prevent citizens from being “victimized” twice by Hurricane Michael, has attempted to educate the public about construction fraud by publicizing the sting operations, speaking to civic groups, posting signs stating that unlicensed contracting is a felony during a state of emergency, and distributing a brochure which highlights warning signs for homeowners when dealing with contractors.

Please review the Construction Fraud Task Force Brochure at the link below and if you have any questions please contact our office at (850) 872-4473.

Construction Fraud Task Force Brochure

Construction Fraud Task Force Makes Arrests in Gulf County

Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford announced the following:

On Wednesday, December 19th, two people were arrested in Gulf County for Contracting without a License.  The arrests stemmed from an investigation conducted by the Construction Fraud Task Force consisting of officers from the State Attorney’s Office, the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office, the Port St. Joe Police Department, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and Department of Financial Services and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.  The individuals were arrested when they arrived separately at a home and represented themselves as roofing contractors who were ready, willing and able to roof homes damaged during Hurricane Michael. Contracting without a License During a State of Emergency is a third degree felony punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison and a $5000 fine.  The Construction Fraud Task Force was formed to deter unlicensed contractors from taking advantage of unsuspecting homeowners.  During past recovery efforts, numerous unlicensed contractors either took homeowners’ money and ran or took the money and provided substandard work that would not pass building inspections.  The goal of the task force is to prevent our citizens from being victimized twice.  If you have been the victim of contractor fraud, contact the State Attorney’s Office at 850-872-4473 or your local Sheriff’s Office.

If you have any questions or need additional information, contact Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford.

Employment Opportunity

We are now hiring entry-level attorneys.  Florida Bar license is required.  Copy and paste the link below into your browser to view our job posting:

https://jobs.myflorida.com/job/PANAMA-CITY-ASSISTANT-STATE-ATTORNEY'S-OFFICE%2C-14TH-CIRCUIT-ASSISTANT-STATE-ATTORNEY-21013798-FL-32402/521611300/

Trawick Convicted of Possession of Methamphetamine

Press Release

The Office of State Attorney Glenn Hess announces that on November 27, 2018, Spencer Lamont Trawick, 44, of Marianna, Florida, was found guilty as charged by a Washington County jury of Possession of a Controlled Substance (Methamphetamine).  The State proved that in February of this year, Trawick was in possession of methamphetamine, which he had concealed in the gas flap of his vehicle which was stopped on the side of Corbin Road in Washington County.  Trawick has multiple prior convictions for drug offenses and was on probation for a similar charge in Jackson County at the time of his arrest.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney John Maceluch.  The Washington County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation. Following the verdict, acting Circuit Judge Colby Peel sentenced the defendant to 18 months in the Florida Department of Corrections.

For additional information, contact Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford.

Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford and Sheriff Tommy Ford Announce the Formation of a Construction Fraud Task Force

Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford and Sheriff Tommy Ford Announce the Formation of a Construction Fraud Task Force

This morning, Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford and Sheriff Tommy Ford announced the formation of a Construction Fraud Task Force.  Chief ASA Basford stated that we appreciate all of the people who have come to our community to help us survive, recover, and rebuild our community; specifically, the law enforcement officers, linemen, tree surgeons, and construction workers.  However, we remember what happened in the aftermath of Hurricanes Andrew and Opal: many of our citizens were victimized again by people who came here to help only themselves; specifically, unlicensed contractors and roofers that took advantage of our neighbors desperate to get their homes fixed.

Determined not to let this happen again, Chief ASA Basford and Sheriff Ford met and decided to form a Construction Fraud Task Force.  A team of prosecutors, law enforcement officers, local building inspectors, and agents from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.  The mission of the task force is simple:

1. To deter unlicensed and unethical contractors and repairmen from committing fraud, grand theft, and substandard construction, and
2. To arrest and aggressively prosecute those people who violate the law.

Contracting without a license during a state of emergency is a third-degree felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Chief ASA Basford had a clear message for unlicensed contractors: If you’re not licensed, either get licensed, or get out of our town.  We will not permit you to victimize our citizens, friends, and neighbors again.  If you violate the law, you will be arrested, you will be prosecuted, and you will go to jail.

Dawson Convicted of Multiple Charges Including Drug Trafficking

Press Release

The Office of State Attorney Glenn Hess announces that on October 3, 2018, a six-member Bay County jury found Delvin Dawson guilty as charged of Trafficking in MDA 10 Grams or More, Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute, Introduction of Contraband into a County Detention Facility, Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute, and Possession of Paraphernalia.

Evidence presented at trial proved that on June 3, 2016, a Panama City Police Officer noticed an overwhelming odor of marijuana coming from room 117 of the Howard Johnson motel.  The officer conducted an investigation.  During the investigation, the officer noticed short-stay traffic visiting room 117 and a male matching the description of Dawson answering the door.

Eventually, the officer approached room 117 and conducted a knock-and-talk with the occupant.  Dawson was the sole occupant of room 117.  The officer noticed marijuana on the table inside of the room.  He placed Dawson under arrest, and a search incident to arrest revealed 17.8 grams of cocaine in Dawson’s left front pocket.

After being placed under arrest and read his Miranda rights, Dawson consented to a search of the room.  A search of the room revealed two digital scales with residue, multiple sandwich baggies, over 800 grams of marijuana, a loaded firearm, and 17.2 grams of MDA.  Dawson was transported to the Bay County Jail after the search of the room.

Dawson was informed if he had any other items on his person to turn them over prior to intake at the Bay County Jail.  However, while at the jail, an officer noticed Dawson acting suspicious and he could detect the odor of fresh marijuana coming from his person.  The officer searched Dawson and ultimately discovered marijuana in Dawson’s underwear.

The cocaine and MDA were sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for testing.  The tests revealed the substances were in fact controlled substances and the MDA was over the threshold weight for trafficking per Florida Statute.

The jury deliberated for a little over two hours before returning a verdict of guilty as charged on all counts.  Dawson faces up to 55 years in the Department of Corrections.  Circuit Judge Brantley Clark, Jr. will sentence Dawson on October 16, 2018.  Assistant State Attorneys Alyssa Yarbrough and Cord Grimes prosecuted the case with the help of the Panama City Police Department and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

For additional information, contact Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford.

Judge Overstreet Sentences Giddens to Life in Prison

Press Release

The Office of State Attorney Glenn Hess announces that on October 2, 2018, Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet sentenced Demarcus Giddens to life in prison for the August 20, 2017, murder of 16 year old Jason Ian Price.  On September 27, 2018, a Bay County jury found Giddens guilty as charged of the crimes of First Degree Murder and Attempted Robbery.  Assistant State Attorneys Bob Sombathy and Cord Grimes presented evidence that Giddens pulled out an AK-47 pistol gripped assault weapon and attempted to rob John Pyle during an attempted marijuana purchase between Pyle and Giddens.  Ian Price was sitting in a nearby truck in the CVS parking lot when he saw Arnold High School classmate John Pyle being assaulted by Giddens.  Ian Price ran from his truck in an effort to help Pyle when Giddens turned around and shot Price in the chest.  Giddens fled the scene but was quickly apprehended at the nearby Fairfield Inn parking lot by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.  Giddens, who was 21 years old at the time, traveled down from Auburn, Alabama with several co-defendants.  Giddens testified that he acted in self-defense, but Assistant State Attorney Bob Sombathy highlighted several flaws in Giddens’ story during the pivotal cross examination of Giddens.  Giddens had been convicted of four felonies in Alabama prior to this charge.

This case was investigated by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office and assigned to Investigator Christian Williams, case agent.

For additional information, contact Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford.

Giddens Convicted of Murdering Arnold High School Student

Press Release

The Office of State Attorney Glenn Hess announces that on September 27, 2018, a Bay County jury unanimously found Demarcus Montrel Giddens guilty as charged of First Degree Murder and Attempted Robbery.

The State proved that on August 20th, 2017, Demarcus Giddens and his accomplices from Auburn, Alabama set up a marijuana deal with local high school students at the CVS Pharmacy on Highway 98 near the Hathaway Bridge.  At CVS, Demarcus Giddens and his accomplices attacked the students.  Demarcus Giddens attempted to rob one of the students at gunpoint with an AK-47 style firearm.  Jason Ian Price, a 17-year old Arnold High School student, was sitting in his friend’s truck away from the incident when he witnessed the robbery.  He left the vehicle to help his friend, who was being held at gunpoint.  Demarcus Giddens turned and fatally shot Jason Ian Price once in the chest as he rushed to his friend’s aid.  The Defendant and his accomplices attempted to flee back to Alabama.  They were apprehended by a Bay County Sheriff’s Deputy at the Fairfield Inn.  The twelve-person jury deliberated around two hours before returning a verdict of guilty.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant State Attorneys Bob Sombathy and Cord Grimes.  It was investigated by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office. Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet set sentencing for October 2, 2018.  The Defendant faces mandatory life in prison.

For additional information, contact Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford.

Sex Offender Found Guilty by Jury in Washington County

Press Release

The Office of State Attorney Glenn Hess announces that on September 27, 2018, Brian David Anderson, 49, of Wausau, Florida was found guilty by a jury in Washington County, Florida.  Anderson was charged with three (3) counts of Lewd and Lascivious Battery on a person under 16 but older than 12.  The State had proven that in July and August 2017, the defendant committed three (3) sexual acts with a child. Though it was not admissible in trial, the defendant had previously been designated a sex offender stemming from a conviction in St. Lucie County, Florida in 1996.

This case was tried by Assistant State Attorneys John Maceluch and Shalla Jefcoat.  The Washington County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Child Protection Team and Gulf Coast Sexual Assault Program.  Following the verdict, the defendant was designated a sexual offender and sentenced to 45 years in the Florida Department of Corrections by Circuit Judge Tim Register.

For additional information, contact Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford.