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

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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

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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

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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.

Veterans Court Established for the 14th Judicial Circuit

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Veterans Court Established for the 14th Judicial Circuit

On September 27, 2018, State Attorney Glenn Hess and Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford joined Chief Circuit Judge Elijah Smiley, Administrative Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet, and Senator George Gainer in announcing the creation of a Veterans Court for the 14th Judicial Circuit.

Veterans Court is a voluntary diversion court program serving military veterans with mental health or substance abuse problems charged with certain misdemeanor or felony crimes.  It authorizes a judge to expeditiously and efficiently divert veterans with service-related issues into available veteran treatment programs without compromising the safety of the public.

The purpose of Veterans Court is to reduce recidivism by emphasizing treatment and rehabilitation as an alternative to incarceration for veterans, while also requiring offender accountability and increasing public safety.

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

[Pictured in photo (back row): County Veterans Services Director John Deegins, Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford, State Attorney Glenn Hess, Assistant Regional Conflict Counsel Russ Wilson, Public Defender Henry Mark Sims; (front row): Senator George Gainer, Chief Circuit Judge Elijah Smiley, and Administrative Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet.]

Katie McLaurin Sworn as an ASA

Press Release

The Office of State Attorney Glenn Hess announces that on September 24, 2018, Katherine “Katie” McLaurin was sworn in as a member of the Florida Bar by Circuit Judge Christopher Patterson, after passing the Florida Bar examination.  On September 25, 2018, she was then sworn in as an Assistant State Attorney by State Attorney Glenn Hess.

Katie began her career with the State Attorney’s Office in 2013 as an intake clerk, and later worked as a legal assistant and legal intern while attending law school at Florida Coastal School of Law.  Katie will be assigned to the misdemeanor division in our Jackson County office. Congratulations, Katie!

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

Craven Sentenced to Death

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The Office of State Attorney Glenn Hess announces that on Wednesday, September 10, 2018, a sentencing hearing was held for Daniel Jacob Craven, Jr.  In June, a Jackson County jury unanimously found Craven guilty of First Degree Premeditated Murder in the death of John Anderson and returned a unanimous verdict that death was the appropriate punishment.  Circuit Judge Christopher Patterson wasted little time in adjudging Craven guilty and pronouncing a death sentence.  He filed a written Sentencing Order summarizing the facts of the case and detailing why the four Aggravating Factors that had been established beyond a reasonable doubt outweighed the five Mitigating Circumstances that had been established by the greater weight of the evidence.  The case was prosecuted by Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford and Assistant State Attorney Laura Parish, and was investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Craven is the first Defendant in the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit to be sentenced to death under Florida’s new death penalty law that was enacted in 2017.
For additional information, contact Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford.

Jmond White Sentenced to 35 Years

Press Release:

      The Office of State Attorney Glenn Hess announced that on Thursday, September 6, 2018, Circuit Judge Michael C. Overstreet sentenced Jmond White to serve 35 years in the Florida Department of Corrections followed by life on probation after the Defendant entered an open plea to the court on the charges of Burglary of a Dwelling with Assault or Battery, Attempted Second Degree Murder and False Imprisonment. 

      On July 2, 2016, the Defendant stabbed the victim 5 times in an attempt to kill her.  The Defendant and victim had been in a romantic relationship.  When the Defendant realized the victim was involved with someone else, he hired a cab and came to the victim’s home in Mexico Beach unannounced.  The victim was home alone when the Defendant burst into her home uninvited where he then began to beat and threaten the victim in her bedroom.  The victim’s boyfriend arrived back at the home and the Defendant threatened him at the entry to the home, then closed the door locking the male outside.  The Defendant then turned on the victim and began stabbing her repeatedly about the head and neck.  The Defendant stopped stabbing her to get a bigger knife from the kitchen.  This is when the victim is able to stumble out the front door and the Defendant then fled the scene.  After the stabbing, the Defendant sent text messages to the victim’s teenage son telling him he killed the victim.  The Defendant was apprehended a short time later on Tyndall Air Force Base.  The victim suffered stab wounds to her neck, arm, side and face.     

Please contact Chief Assistant Attorney Larry Basford at 850-819-6985 with any questions.

Jonathan Jones Convicted of Lewd or Lascivious Molestation

Press Release

The Office of State Attorney Glenn Hess releases the following information:

On August 29, 2018, Jonathan Adam Jones was convicted in Jackson County, Marianna, of two counts of Lewd or Lascivious Molestation, three counts of Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition, and three counts of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor.  The State established that in February 2017 the defendant touched two children in a sexual manner while providing them with alcohol and tobacco at his residence.  The defendant also exposed himself to children on two different occasions.

This case was tried by Assistant State Attorney Michelle Daffin.  The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office conducted the criminal investigation with assistance from the Child Protection Team and the Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center.  Following the guilty verdicts, Judge Christopher Patterson sentenced the defendant to 45 years of incarceration in the Florida Department of Corrections.  The defendant was also designated a sexual offender.

If additional information is needed, please contact Chief Assistant Attorney Larry Basford.