Man guides police to dozens of Jacksonville homes he says he broke into with a female companion

January 22, 2013

A recently released convicted felon pulled over by a Baker County deputy for not wearing a seatbelt confessed to police that he was breaking into homes in Baker and Duval counties, including 50 to 60 homes in Jacksonville. Police stopped Charles Wayne Cope last week, recognized his car as being similar to the one witnesses saw near several Baker County break-ins and spotted evidence in the car which police said was enough to detain Cope and his passenger, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police then searched the Jacksonville home of the passenger, Julie James Driggers, and police said they found items related to each of six Baker County burglaries.

Cope then agreed to work with Jacksonville Burglary detectives to explain the crimes he committed there, no doubt in an effort to curry favor with the state and try to reduce his eventual sentence. Prosecutors will have to sort through how many crimes to eventually charge Cope with, but he is potentially looking at a variety of sentences that could stack up to a couple of hundred years in prison. Police said Cope and Driggers would knock on the front doors of homes and, if someone answered, pretend to be looking for a lost dog. If no one answered, they would break in and steal jewelry, electronics and other valuables, the newspaper reported.

Driggers has denied any involvement in the break-ins, police said, but Cope appears to be doing enough talking to bring both of them down. Driggers is a nine-time convicted felon who, at 35, has already spent about 12 years behind bars, according to the newspaper report. And while cooperation can be a huge factor in reducing one's sentence, the court is also mindful of considering the source of the information. Cope would have first-hand knowledge of these Jacksonville Theft Crimes cases and would be helping solve the crimes. However, police said he has been ripping the gold out of jewelry and selling it, which means the goods he stole have already been destroyed. And, will the court decide to reward Cope and go easy on him, when he's established a pattern of behavior that would lead the court to believe he'd end up doing the same thing again if and when he is released? He had been out of prison less than a year before this latest crime spree of Jacksonville Burglary Crimes cases, according to the newspaper report.

The prosecution of Driggers by the Duval County State Attorney will be a completely different case, especially because she appears to have no previous criminal record, the newspaper reported. A criminal history can often be far more important in a sentencing that someone with a lengthy rap sheet driving police around to his various crimes, so the actual sentences in these Jacksonville Theft cases, if they get that far, will be interesting to watch.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a Free Consultation. Our Jacksonville Theft Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.