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

May 20, 2019, 10:54 am

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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

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16 comments. Last comment 1 year ago by Loosechange45.
Page 1 of 2
CDanaT's avatar - Nolz june15.jpg
Central TN
United States
Member #121189
January 4, 2012
4743 Posts
Offline

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

Integrity: There is just no substitute.

    music*'s avatar - DiscoBallGlowing
    USN United States Navy
    Fresno, California
    United States
    Member #157851
    August 2, 2014
    3959 Posts
    Offline

    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. 

     "We are all in this together!" 

      mikeintexas's avatar - h87TsB4
      Texas Panhandle
      United States
      Member #136839
      December 20, 2012
      1660 Posts
      Offline

      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

      Epstein didn't kill himself.

        zephbe's avatar - animal butterfly.jpg
        South Carolina
        United States
        Member #77165
        July 15, 2009
        897 Posts
        Offline

        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.

        Every champion was once a contender who refused to give up.-Rocky Balboa

        “Don’t let someone who gave up on their dreams talk you out of going after yours.” – Zig Ziglar

          hearsetrax's avatar - alien on_computer.jpg

          United States
          Member #52343
          May 21, 2007
          3285 Posts
          Offline

          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 

            Avatar
            New Member
            SC
            United States
            Member #197748
            April 26, 2019
            12 Posts
            Offline

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

              cottoneyedjoe's avatar - cuonvFT

              United States
              Member #197033
              March 28, 2019
              541 Posts
              Offline

              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 avatar - DiscoBallGlowing
                USN United States Navy
                Fresno, California
                United States
                Member #157851
                August 2, 2014
                3959 Posts
                Offline

                Live with it!Green laugh

                 "We are all in this together!" 

                  Avatar
                  Chasing $ Millions.
                  White Shores- California
                  United States
                  Member #136473
                  December 12, 2012
                  6313 Posts
                  Offline

                  Grittv angry fight mad action GIF
                    l                                          l llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll l satt 

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

                   * Voice of Reason *   

                   

                  People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.

                    Avatar
                    Kentucky
                    United States
                    Member #32651
                    February 14, 2006
                    8965 Posts
                    Offline

                    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".

                      Avatar
                      Simpsonville
                      United States
                      Member #163184
                      January 22, 2015
                      2256 Posts
                      Offline

                      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 avatar - DiscoBallGlowing
                        USN United States Navy
                        Fresno, California
                        United States
                        Member #157851
                        August 2, 2014
                        3959 Posts
                        Offline

                        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.

                         "We are all in this together!" 

                          Unluckyone's avatar - lib

                          United States
                          Member #176415
                          August 4, 2016
                          180 Posts
                          Offline

                          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

                            Avatar
                            Kentucky
                            United States
                            Member #32651
                            February 14, 2006
                            8965 Posts
                            Offline

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