Haines City man convicted of trafficking methamphetamine



State Attorney Brian Haas announces the conviction of Pioquinto Bejar-Salamanca, a 59-year-old Haines City man for trafficking more than 200 grams of amphetamine (methamphetamine), possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of a structure with intent to trafficking amphetamine.

Bejar-Salamanca was convicted by a six-member jury, which deliberated for about two hours on Wednesday.  The more than 800 grams of methamphetamine has a street value of over fifty thousand dollars.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Seth Solomon.

Bejar-Salamanca faces up to 45 years in prison with a 15-year mandatory prison term when he is sentenced on August 30.   The Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the Lake Wales Police Department were critical partners to the State Attorney’s Office in securing this conviction.

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State Attorney Haas speaks to Suncoast Crime Prevention Association

State Attorney Brian Haas addresses law enforcement officers.

State Attorney Brian Haas addresses law enforcement officers.

State Attorney Brian Haas addressed officers and deputies from the Suncoast Crime Prevention Association on Wednesday at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office operations center.

The event, hosted by Sheriff Grady Judd, featured Mr. Haas discussing ways to prevent scams from occurring.

“We have to do everything we can to warn people ahead of time,” Mr. Haas said.

Mr. Haas mentioned a number of scams, including old ones like mail fraud and newer ones, such as text messages residents receive, stating that their bank account has been compromised. Also, Mr. Haas said scams directed at the elderly on Facebook have become all too common.

“Sometimes people are pulled into scams and they’ll end up dumping more and more money into them,” Mr. Haas said.

Toward the end of the discussion, Mr. Haas asked law enforcement if they had any suggestions about ways to tell people about scams in the community.

Officers suggested providing tips on social media and speaking to groups of people in the community about ways to prevent scams from occurring.

Mr. Haas agreed.

“This is our obligation to share this knowledge with our citizens,” Mr. Haas said.

He thanked officers for their hard work.

“I couldn’t do this job without the support of these great agencies,” Mr. Haas said.

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State Attorney Brian Haas

Charges filed against Joseph and Courtney Irby

State Attorney Brian Haas discussed on Wednesday filing charges against both Joseph and Courtney Irby. Joseph Irby, 35, faces one felony charge of aggravated battery. Courtney Irby, 32, has been charged with misdemeanor trespassing.

State Attorney Brian Haas Press Conference

Michael James Smith

JURY VERDICT: Michael James Smith convicted of lewd or lascivious battery

Michael James Smith

Michael James Smith

State Attorney Brian Haas announced the conviction of Michael James Smith of lewd or lascivious battery: engaging in sex act with a victim 12-16 years of age.  Smith was convicted by a Polk County Jury after deliberating for just under two hours.

Smith who was twenty-five (25) years of age at the time of the crime was reported to be having an ongoing sexual relationship with a thirteen (13) year old victim.  The investigation revealed this abuse occurred multiple times and at one point Smith purchased emergency contraception for the victim.

State Attorney Haas commended the efforts of Assistant State Attorney Randall Daugustinis in her efforts in bringing Michael Smith to justice.  State Attorney Haas also thanked the Polk County Sheriff’s Office for a thorough investigation that led to the successful prosecution of Smith.  The Special Victims Unit of the State Attorney’s Office is committed to seeking justice and protecting the most vulnerable victims, our children.

Smith’s sentencing is scheduled for August 2nd.

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