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Press Release

Criminal Defense Attorney Pleads Guilty To Conspiring To Distribute Heroin In Scheme To Get Out Of A DUI Offense; Agrees To Forfeit His Law License

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Tampa, FL – Steven Paul Burch (43, Cape Coral) has pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute heroin. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. In his plea agreement, Burch has agreed to forfeit his license to practice law, which was used to facilitate the offense. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to the plea agreement, in August 2015, Burch was arrested in Sarasota County for driving under the influence of alcohol and causing property damage. In an effort to reduce his charges and avoid punishment from the Florida Bar, Burch recruited co-defendant and client Herbert Battle to send packages of drugs through the mail that Burch could then report to law enforcement as a form of cooperation. Unbeknownst to Burch and Battle, Battle’s wife (Qualonda Battle) recorded one of the conversations at Burch’s law office. In the recording, Burch discusses how the packages were going to be sent, where they were going to go, and how the conspirators would get away with it.

In March 2016, Battle shipped an ounce of heroin from California to Sarasota County. Battle sent the tracking number to his wife who, using a disposable phone, texted the tracking number to Burch, who then forwarded the tracking number to law enforcement. The package was intercepted at the FedEx warehouse in Bradenton, where a search of the package revealed an ounce of heroin that had been concealed in a bag of beef jerky.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, the State Attorney’s Office for the 12th Judicial Circuit and, the Florida Bar Association. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dan Baeza and Diego Novaes.

Updated August 6, 2018

Drug Trafficking