Ex-Lantana police officer Mark Ott was sentenced to three years in prison for a series of robberies targeting hispanic men. Ott was accussed of stopping Hispanic men between February and May after they left a check cashing store. He would confiscate their money, generally taking between $40 and $150 from his victims.
Ott plead guilty to five felony counts of evidencing prejudice while committing robbery. This means that he specifically targeting victims based upon their national origin and only robbed Hispanic individuals. Florida law increases the penalty for any crime (felony or misdemeanor) when the commission of the crime shows prejudice based on the race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, homeless status, mental or physical disability, or advanced age of the victim. The way is works is that the penalty for the crime would go up one notch. For instance, if it was a second degree felony, such as robbery, if there is a showing that the crime showed prejudice based on one of the enumerated classifications, then the crime goes up one notch, to a first degree felony. That means that instead of facing up to fifteen years in prison on each count, Ott was facing a maximum of thirty years per count.
In light of this, and the fact that he was an acting police officer when he committed these crimes, a three year sentence seems rather lenient. This was a plea deal worked out between Ott and the State Attorney's Office.