Florida Lottery winner of $1M among suspects rounded up in major drug bust

May 20, 2019, 10:54 am (16 comments)

Florida Lottery

Just days before Mother's Day in 2018, a pregnant woman in Volusia County went to Tallahassee to smile for the Florida Lottery cameras.

That woman, Karlee Harbst, had won $1 million in the $5,000,000 Gold Rush Doubler game.

She was on what gamblers call a roll — she had won $100 in the same scratch-off game just a week before.

The wins capped a troubled past for the Florida woman who had already racked up a number of drug possession arrests, petit theft, contempt of court and driving with a suspended license charges in Volusia County, according to court records.

From lottery winner to jail

Thursday, Harbst, perhaps a million richer but not lucky, according to law enforcement officials, was arrested and charged with solicitation to deliver heroin and unlawful use of a two-way device.

When she won the big lottery prize, she told Florida Lottery officials she bought the ticket because of its number. "When I saw the ticket was number 24, I had to get it; 24 is my favorite number," NBC's WESH2 reported.

A little over a year later, Harbst was one of nearly two dozen people arrested in a series of raids across Volusia County in connection with a yearlong drug trafficking investigation by the Volusia County Sheriff's Office, The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.

Federal authorities and various police agencies were also a part of the ongoing narcotics task force investigation dubbed "Operation: Smooth Criminal," named for the 1987 Michael Jackson hit single.

South Florida connection

One man from South Florida, Pembroke Pines' Kenneth Tremaine Rowell, 44, was arrested in Miami-Dade Thursday as part of the Volusia sting by members of the South Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force, the Sun Sentinel reported.

Rowell's court record shows charges for cocaine possession and trafficking, cannabis possession and trafficking and sale near a school. Rowell is being held on a $7,500 bond and has a June 14 court hearing in Miami-Dade.

Sheriff's video

In a video posted to the Volusia County Sheriff's Office's Facebook page, Sheriff Mike Chitwood said the drug busts — which also confiscated caches of weapons — was aimed at bringing down ringleaders and street level dealers.

"The message is loud and clear to these scumbags out there: if you come into this county and insist on dealing this poison and destroying families, the whole force of the federal justice system will fall on you," he said. "You want to spend the rest of your life behind bars, have at it. We're going to oblige you."

The ringleaders and street level dealers were part of an organization that distributed drugs including heroin, cocaine and fentanyl.

Ringleaders arrested

Among the ringleaders captured Thursday: Marcel "MJ" Green, 31, of Daytona Beach, and Robert Hamilton, Jr. , 34, of Ormond Beach, the News-Journal reported.

"I hope now, this time, going to big boy jail federal prison will be a little different," Chitwood said in the press conference video his department released.

"I hope this is just a spring flood that turns into a major flood of intel and maybe solve some homicide cold cases of other crimes," Chitwood said.

The sheriff said that he hoped the 21 arrests in nine locations would also make some of the suspects come to a strong reckoning. "When these knuckleheads who think they are tough toting guns and shooting guns around neighborhood may not get out til they are 60 year olds."

Chitwood added that hundreds of hours were invested to take the organization down. "To make the streets a little bit safer from this deadly scourge."

News story photo(Click to display full-size in gallery)

Thanks to jackpotismine for the tip.

Miami Herald

Comments

CDanaT's avatarCDanaT

So the Million Dollar win wasn't quite enough ???   Chair Good for you Karlee. Your next adventure may not have the same jubilation's that May 2018 brought. BUT, please enjoy your stay. Courtesy of Florida Law Enforcement

music*'s avatarmusic*

Criminals ruin life for the rest of us. Local, State, and Federal Law Enforcement are fighting the good fight. 

 The demand side must be fought against as well. 

mikeintexas's avatarmikeintexas

I believe it was the late Robin Williams who once quipped "Cocaine is God's way of telling you that you are making too much money."

I'd amend that to "Heroin means you shouldn't be trusted with ANY money."

Pregnant, too.  SMH

zephbe's avatarzephbe

This is sad.  If she was pregnant last May she has a small child someone else will raise while she is in prison.  She had enough money to move and start over.  No vision.

hearsetrax's avatarhearsetrax

Quote: Originally posted by mikeintexas on May 20, 2019

I believe it was the late Robin Williams who once quipped "Cocaine is God's way of telling you that you are making too much money."

I'd amend that to "Heroin means you shouldn't be trusted with ANY money."

Pregnant, too.  SMH

😏 further proof, people like that can't be fixed and need to be buried alive 

sdw1000

Why is always the idiots who win? (Not always...but we hear more stories like this than not).

cottoneyedjoe's avatarcottoneyedjoe

Quote: Originally posted by sdw1000 on May 20, 2019

Why is always the idiots who win? (Not always...but we hear more stories like this than not).

Idiots spend more on the lottery. It's the Pareto principle, or the 80/20 rule. The most idiotic 20% of the population accounts for 80% of the lottery's revenues.

music*'s avatarmusic*

Quote: Originally posted by on Sep 30, 2022

Live with it!Green laugh

noise-gate

Grittv angry fight mad action GIF
  l                                          l llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll l satt 

One round with Chuck Norris should straighten Karlee out for goo.d

Stack47

Quote: Originally posted by music* on May 20, 2019

Live with it!Green laugh

Never read anywhere the actual IQs of lottery players, but we can say for a fact this winner might be trying to prove why it's called "dope".

Bleudog101

Orange will look good on her.  Where's your smile, honey.

Did the humpty dance, got pregnant and running drugs.  It really is sad when you could have done something more productive with your life and child.  Certainly the money is all gone by now.

music*'s avatarmusic*

Quote: Originally posted by Stack47 on May 20, 2019

Never read anywhere the actual IQs of lottery players, but we can say for a fact this winner might be trying to prove why it's called "dope".

I Agree! All winners are treated as equal and given life changing opportunities. If the jackpot is large enough. 

 Here is hoping that a Lottery Post Member or Staff wins MM tonight.

Unluckyone's avatarUnluckyone

She was given an opportunity to turn her life around does this? she had absolutely no respect for her child or herself...what a way to waste such a golden opportunity.Bash

Stack47

If I could predict lottery results like that I'd have $millions. LOL

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