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Theft accomplice leads to arrest of Fort Lauderdale man

A 28-year-old Fort Lauderdale man was arrested on fraud charges recently after an alleged accomplice turned him in. Authorities suspect the man is connected to a theft ring that allegedly broke into women's cars, stole checks and identification and then cashed the checks at local banks. Because authorities say the ring used the outermost drive-through lane at the banks, they nicknamed them the Felony Lane Gang.

The alleged accomplice, a 24-year-old Orlando woman, implicated the man after she was arrested on a petty theft charge in July. The woman was in the back seat of a taxi when she started talking about the alleged property crimes, according to police. The cab driver got nervous and pulled over to talk to a deputy. When the woman said she was unable to pay the cab fare, she was arrested. Authorities claim she later told them about the theft ring. Authorities subsequently arrested the man and charged him with two counts of fraud.

Authorities claim they have spoken with four other members of the alleged gang and have sworn statements admitting they were involved in cashing the stolen checks. The suspect and another man allegedly wired the money to family members in Fort Lauderdale after the checks were cashed.

It is not unusual for police and prosecutors to rely on the testimony of accomplices when arresting and prosecuting suspects. But when they do so they take a risk. The people they are relying on to build their case often have criminal records, and their credibility is open to question. At trial, an experienced criminal defense attorney can use cross-examination to point out inconsistencies in their stories and get them to admit they are providing testimony in order to get a better plea deal for themselves. The jury is left not believing the prosecution's witnesses, and the result is often an acquittal.

Source: Pensacola News Journal, "Escambia deputies arrest 'Felony Lane Gang' suspect," Aug. 7, 2012

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