A local man was arrested and charged with dozens of counts of credit card fraud and identity theft. He is being accused of being involved with a ring that engages in credit card theft throughout the State of Florida. According to police reports, at the time of the arrest, the defendant had in his possession 109 fraudulent credit cards. Juan Echemendia's bail has been set at $1.825 million. While the defendant is facing a large of number of charges and serious prison time, a good defense team may prevail in his case. Recently, two Miami criminal attorneys appeared in Hillsborough County and won a motion to suppress of behalf of three clients. The court granted the motion and dismissed the information containing in excess of 50 counts.
The defendant is being investigated in other counties by various law enforcement agencies which may lead to additional arrests for identity theft, credit card and possession of fraudulent credit cards. The allegations may be so wide spread that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement may be involved in the cases. Four other suspects have also allegedly been caught on camera with the defendant committing identical crimes. It is not clear if law enforcement will attempt to use the defendant to catch the other suspects, but his assistance could certainly help him secure his release.
Many of the credit card fraud cases are defensible as long as the suspect does not admit to the crimes. The first step is to attempt to get the bail requirement reduced at a bond hearing to secure one's release. Credit card fraud and identity theft cases are fairly complex with voluminous discovery. If a defendant can not make bail, he or she will sit in custody while the defense in the case is prepared. The next step is to evaluate the evidence in the case. If the fraudulent credit cards were used in a retail store, surveillance video of the transaction may exist and can be used by the prosecution at trial. Dozens of police reports are generated in large investigation and must be evaluated to determine where the credit cards were found, what names appeared on the credit cards and by what method the police seized the credit cards.
How the police seized the credit cards is extremely important. The recently won case in Tampa by way of a motion to suppress occurred as a result of an illegal stop ordered by the lead detective. The detective received information from another detective that a person residing in Tampa was involved in marijuana trafficking. The detective set up surveillance on the residence and observed an individual carry a black to garbage bag to the rear of the vehicle. The detective could not see or smell the marijuana. The detective ordered the vehicle stopped and its occupants searched. Two of the passengers possessed fraudulent credit cards. A search of the residence revealed a marijuana grow house and more stolen credit cards. Because the detective did not have reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle, the judge suppressed the evidence and dismissed all of the charges. This is an example of how and experienced criminal lawyer can win a case even when there appears to be insurmountable evidence against a defendant.
Suspect in Statewide Credit Card Fraud Ring Arrested in Herando, The St. Petersurg Times.com, January 20, 2011.