PUNTA GORDA, Fla. – A local attorney has been indicted by a federal grand jury for heroin trafficking.
Steven Paul Burch, who was also ordered by a federal judge to stay away from three people who are also his clients, is accused of conspiring “to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute, a quantity of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of heroin,” according to court documents.
Those in the Charlotte County legal community were shocked by the indictment, said Scott Weinberg, president of the Charlotte County Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys.
“In my experience though, in federal court, if the feds want you, they usually go after you pretty hard and get you,” he said. “Being a criminal defense attorney, you have to be very careful not to get too involved with some of your clients and sometimes you lose the moral compass because you’re surrounded by crime all day, you talk about crime all day, so, sometimes it’s easy to take that next step.”
That step typically doesn’t involve drug dealing, Weinberg said.
“Attorneys in general sometimes have issues with drinking and other types of things,” he said. “Selling or trafficking is not something many criminal attorneys have dabbled in before so people were shocked at the nature of the charges.”
Burch, of Cape Coral, also faces a charge from August for driving under the influence.
His office declined to comment on the indictment.
Burch is currently in good standing with the state bar, which said it is aware of the indictment.