A somber and contrite David C. Ullman, 55, of Lake Wales, was sentenced Tuesday, to five years in prison followed by another five years probation as a sex offender as part of a plea deal.
The final arrangement was worked out between his attorney, Larry Shearer and Assistant State Attorney Brad Copley with the State Attorney’s Office.
He had been free on a surety bond.
Originally, Ullman had been sentenced by Judge Glenn Shelby of the 10th Circuit Court for charges of using a computer to solicit a minor for sex and traveling to meet a minor for sex. Additional charges of attempted lewd battery and unlawful use of a two-way communication device had been dropped in exchange for the plea deal.
At Tuesday’s hearing, the second charge was dropped, based upon a recent case that was concluded just days earlier, according to Copley, but to which Ullman had agreed to in February at his court hearing. On Tuesday the plea agreement was modified, to which Ullman pleaded no contest.
Before pronouncing sentence, Shelby asked Ullman a series of questions in order to make sure Ullman understood and agreed to the conditions of the agreement by which he soon would be sentenced.
“By entering to the agreement you are giving up certain rights you are entitled to,” said Shelby. He then recited what Ullman would be relinquishing. “Having heard all that, is it still your intent to plead ‘no contest?’”
Ullman said yes. With that, Shelby found Ullman guilty of the first felony count and sentenced him to five years to be served in a Florida Department of Corrections institute, to be followed by five years of probation with certain conditions under which Ullman would be subject to, such as random testing for alcohol use. Copley reminded Shelby that Ullman was also to be classified as a sex offender, which Shelby concurred was part of the sentencing.
As part of the sentencing hearing, Shearer said his client asked to address the court and Shelby granted permission for Ullman to do so.
In a voice that quavered at times, Ullman apologized to his family, friends and associates and the city of Lake Wales for the embarrassment and shame his actions had brought about.
“I am truly repentant and ashamed,” said Ullman. He added since his arrest he had been ministered to by his pastor and four others, as well as by friends. He added that his family resolved to stand by his side but were not present for his sentencing, for a reason. He blamed the media for what he termed its excessive coverage of him and his actions.
“My desire is to protect my family from such insensitive actions of the media,” he said. Ullman concluded by announcing he was guilty of the actions for which he was accused and accepted his sentence. He said again he was remorseful and repentant and that his faith was and would be in Jesus Christ.
Shearer also passed on Ullman’s request that he be sent to a DOC institute and housed in a section termed as “safe and character-based.” Shelby said the best he could do was recommend, and that his jurisdiction in this case was relegated to the courtroom only.
Before concluding the sentencing, Shelby said he appreciated Ullman’s willingness to recognize and acknowledge his actions, as well as accept his punishment.
“I appreciate your comments and those of others and hope it serves as a lesson to others,” said Shelby.
With that, Ullman was fingerprinted and led away. As he exited the courtroom he waved to friends who had accompanied him into the courtroom. He then stepped out of the courtroom, formed a circle and sang a song of prayer.
“David’s fate and hope is in Jesus Christ,” said Tom Freeland, a friend who also is a deacon of the church Ullman and his family attend, First Presbyterian Church of Lake Wales. “The hope is for his family to move on.”
Ullman’s arrest was the result of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office undercover detectives making contact with Ullman in June 2013. An undercover detective had portrayed himself as a 14-year-old juvenile female and placed a fictitious advertisement on Craigslist.com. According to the PCSO, Ullman responded to the Craigslist advertisement and email conversation ensued.
Prior to his arrest, Ullman had been active in the Lake Wales community. He was instrumental in helping organize the Lake Wales Charter School system, served as a trustee, served on the LWCS Foundation; served on the Polk County School District Foundation Board as its secretary/treasurer; and was a partner in Bunting, Tripp and Ingley LLP, Lake Wales, at the time of the original arrest.
Ullman was arrested a second time after violating his pretrial release by changing residence without notifying the court.