Articles Tagged with Michael B. Cohen for the defense

After a scare back in January when the Louisiana Supreme Court gave clearance for prosecutors to again give it their best shot to try to encourage a Louisiana state judge to revoke his probation, former Miami Dolphin Cecil “The Diesel” Collins finally won his freedom.

Collins had already served over thirteen years in prison after being convicted for a felony burglary charge that took place in Davie Florida on March 27, 2001 at the Palm Trace Landings apartment complex where he also lived.

Collins pleaded guilty to breaking into the apartment of Ronald and Tina Nolte, a married couple who lived in the gated community by climbing through their bedroom window at five o’clock in the morning. Before the incident occurred he apparently persistently stalked Mrs. Nolte, frequently asking her out on dates even though he knew she was married.

As his defense for the break-in, Collins was quoted as saying he only “wanted to watch her sleep.” After being arrested shortly after the incident occurred he told reporters “I just made a mistake.” He was released on $10,000 bond pending trial.

At trial, it didn’t take long. After being convicted of the crime he was sentenced to the maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. The sentence was handed down less than two hours after the jury completed deliberations and convicted him of the crime. He spent most of his sentence at South Bay Correctional Institute, a two story building surrounded by the everglades.

In an interview with the Associated Press which he reluctantly agreed to, Collins said he granted it because he craved it to be known that “the Diesel is still alive.” He apparently had adjusted as well as possible during his stay at the prison. He showed up for daily therapy sessions, lifts weights, views many sporting events on TV and is involved in competitions in the recreation yard with other inmates. His overall appearance has drastically changed from the cornrowed hairstyle he sported during his trial to a crew cut and well-groomed goatee. He blames his criminal past on “bad choices” triggered mostly by his bad temper and substantial abuse of alcohol.

Collins has been free on $25,000 bond since July, 2013 when Louisiana State District Judge Mike Caldwell wouldn’t go along with a prosecutorial appeal to revoke Collins’ probation in Baton Rouge which originated from a similar but separate case that occurred in Louisiana in April 1999.

In that case, Collins was charged with forcing his way into the apartments of two women who lived in a local housing complex. He pleaded guilty to two counts of unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling, both felonies as well as two counts of simple battery which are misdemeanors. The women both accused Collins of fondling them.

At sentencing for those two cases, Judge Caldwell handed down a suspended five-year prison term and basically a slap on the wrist by placing Collins on probation for a term of four years. The case concluded in 1998 but when he violated his probation in South Florida within the designated period he became subject to an additional five years of imprisonment based on the terms of his probationary sentence.

After thirteen and a half years of incarceration he was released from DeSoto Correctional Annex in Arcadia, Florida but immediately extradited to Baton Rouge to face the probation violation charge. But Judge Caldwell declined to revoke his probation apparently agreeing with Collins’ lawyer that his client had already been “significantly punished,” as Collins stood by listening with tears in his eyes. He was placed on three years’ probation and told that he could move freely back to the South Florida area if he chose to do so. He will also be subject to random drug testing and must regularly check in with an assigned parole officer.

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Throughout his career, thirty year old Michael Gerard Stavris II worked in the company of children. Since he was sixteen years old, beginning in the year 2000, Stavris worked for the school system in Flagler County. He was an instructor of activities and safety for kids in grade eight and lower. He remained at that position through 2006. He also worked for the Duval County school system in Jacksonville during 2009 and 2010 as a patrol officer with responsibilities of reacting to calls on a city-wide basis after regular school hours had ended. He joined the Bunnell Police Department in 2011 and held the rank of corporal.

The Palm Coast police officer was arrested this week and charged with one count of criminal use of personal identification information stemming from the theft of the identity of a 16-year-old girl. He was also charged with two counts of child exploitation and computer pornography violations under the child exploitation prevention act according to Gretl Plessinger a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). All charges are third-degree felonies. A conviction for these offenses carries a sentence of five years in prison.

The arrest was made by the FDLE at the Bunnell City Hall and took place after the conclusion of a three month investigation which was initiated when a teenaged boy complained to a police officer about Stavris’ interaction with him late last year.

Part of the complaint points out that Stavris utilized the social media site Facebook to lure unsuspecting teenage boys into sexual conversations beginning in November of 2012. He did so by becoming their Facebook friends, posing as a teenage girl. After interaction with one of the new friends began, he went as far as sending a picture of a young girl’s breasts, asking the boy to send him pictures of his genitalia in return and saying “maybe” we could meet. The young boy responded by saying “Later when you show me your stuff,” but did not send back a picture. Currently, it is unknown if that meeting ever occurred between the two

Also uncovered through the investigation was another instance when Stavris asked another youth if he could send him a picture of himself getting oral sex through Facebook’s messaging system. The boy’s reply was “*IDK (*I don’t know) if I can get a girl that would let me take a pic doin that to me lol but your bi?” to which Stavris answered “Ya and I know u got pics in your phone of other giels (**sic)” There were additional references about meeting underage male students behind the school to participate in oral sex, and pictures requested of student’s genitals and those of them masturbating.

Stavris purportedly admitted to the FDLE that he did set up the bogus Facebook account and made contact with boys between the ages of 14 and 16 who attended Flagler Palm Coast High School and Buddy Taylor Middle School.

The arrest of the eight year veteran of law enforcement took place on the evening of March twenty-fifth.

After being processed he was released on $125,000 bail and let go from the Flagler County Detention Facility. Stavris is a big man at 6’3″ and weighing in at about 400 pounds. After his release, he couldn’t be reached for comment relating to the allegations, but has been placed on leave from the Department without pay.

By observing his Facebook account, the investigation uncovered that Stavris had more than 40 students under the age of eighteen listed as Facebook friends. A group of them were from Flagler Palm Coast High School, the same school he graduated from in 2002.

At least six students from Flagler County were mentioned in the affidavit as being targets or victims of Stavris and the FDLE made a public plea for anyone having any further information about any other persons that may have been victimized by him to get in touch with them by telephone.

Dennis Bustle, of the law enforcement agency’s Jacksonville office was quoted as saying “We will do everything in our power to see that all potential victims are identified and this person is charged with each crime that’s committed.”

Tom Foster, 57, who is Stavris’ boss and the Police Chief of the Bunnell Police Department, said that he was disappointed to find out about the alleged actions of one of his officers. But he went on to state that no single officer’s actions is a reflection on the entire department. Foster has only served as chief since early February. He was previously a veteran of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office where he served for over thirty years. Bunnell County is the governmental center or county seat of Flagler County.

Although the evidence and allegations may seem overwhelming, Stavris does have at least one person who believes in his innocence. Sherry Blevins, who may soon be his mother-in-law, asserted that Stavris is being framed. Presently, he is engaged to marry her daughter. Ms. Blevins was quoted as saying “I tell you this was all prompted when him and the ex-girlfriend broke up and he wouldn’t take her back.” She maintains his innocence proposing that he is being set up by a rejected ex-girlfriend.

To view the redacted arrest report, click here.

**sic: the quotation has been transcribed exactly as found in the original source, complete with any erroneous or archaic spelling or other nonstandard presentation.
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