State files new charges against former Clay County employee accused of stealing electronics

After his initial dismissal and arrest on theft charges, police implied there may be more charges filed against a former Clay County information technology director accused of stealing and pawning county property. Those charges came this month in his Clay County Theft Case, with prosecutors filing an all-compassing charge with major ramifications, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The charge brings at least 80 confirmed cases against Michael Hamilton under one umbrella, the newspaper reported. Hamilton was arrested in December on three felony charges.

This time, Hamilton is charged with running a scheme to defraud. As with all Clay County Theft Cases, the felony degree and, subsequently, the maximum prison time, is determined by the value of the property involved in the alleged scheme. In this Clay County Theft Case, Hamilton comes in at the very top of the scale. He is charged with a scheme to defraud more than $50,000, a first-degree felony that carries a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in state prison. According to state statutes, a scheme to defraud is “a systematic, ongoing course of conduct with intent to defraud one or more persons, or with intent to obtain property from one or more persons by false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises or willful misrepresentations of a future act.”

Police say dozens of computers and other electronic equipment were stolen, pawned and then traced back to Hamilton, the newspaper reported. Police have tracked down about 60 percent of the items and about $15,000 in equipment is still unaccounted for, the newspaper reported. There are two tracks the state can take in a Clay County Theft Case such as this. Prosecutors can stack all of the cases up together and charge Hamilton with dozens of theft and dealing in stolen property charges, the most serious of which is a second-degree felony. Second-degree felonies have a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, so if Hamilton was found guilty of several of them, his maximum sentence could be well into the triple digits. But judges are often more likely to let defendants serve sentences concurrently, meaning if he received 15 years on 20 different counts, he would likely just serve the 15 years and be done. Now, the maximum will be 30 years and the state will have laid out its entire case, showing the sheer volume it alleges Hamilton stole. The state often holds back a couple of theft charges it can try individually, a sort of insurance policy if something happens with the larger case. Our Clay County Theft Attorneys represent people accused of all levels of theft – from misdemeanors with something worth less than $100 to first-degree felonies that Hamilton is now facing.

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 Clay County Theft Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.