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Inglis man joins others suspected of DUI
CCSO, FHP and others across America
conduct Operation CARE

Suspected DUI people
The three suspects arrested by the CCSO are seen above. The Florida Highway Patrol also caught a DUI suspect during Operation Care in Citrus County.

Story and Photo Provided
By CCSO Community Relations Specialist Madeline Scarborough
Sent March 24, 2023 at 7:12 p.m.
Published March 25, 2023 at 9 a.m.
     CITRUS COUNTY –
Residents and visitors driving vehicles were warned the Citrus County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) would not tolerate any form of malarkey when it comes to traffic safety over the Saint Patrick's Day weekend.

 


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     Sadly, not everyone heeded the CCSO warnings. Several vehicle operators were witnessed driving under the influence (DUI) by CCSO Traffic and Patrol Units. 
     “Driving while under the influence of any substance is reckless behavior,” Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast said. “It is simply selfish to risk not only their lives, but the lives of countless innocent people by getting behind the wheel. I am beyond disappointed in those choosing to operate a vehicle while under the influence. Our units will continue to be on the roadways protecting our community from their careless decisions by targeting those who make these selfish decisions.”
     Last weekend, CCSO joined Operation CARE (Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort), led by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), in an effort to increase officer presence on Interstate and other United States highways across the nation during specific high crash periods.
     As part of this operation, the CCSO took to the streets of Citrus County alongside its partners at the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP).
     There were 75 traffic stops, which resulted in four DUI arrests (one by FHP) and a total of 74 traffic citations being issued.
     The following three people were taken into custody for DUI by CCSO:
     ● Michael Steven Shafer, 30, of Crystal River, was pulled over after failing to stay in his lane of travel, almost hitting multiple vehicles. His bond was set at $1,000 per the bond schedule.
     ● Christopher Mark Parreault, 56, of Inglis, was stopped after deputies observed his vehicle make multiple traffic infractions. His bond was set at $1,000 per the bond schedule.
     ● Stephen Anthony Rivera, 51, of Inverness, was failing to stay within his designated lane of travel when deputies activated their overhead red and blue emergency lights, Rivera instead of pulling over, lead deputies on a brief pursuit where he continued to swerve in and out of lanes, before he stopped to let a passenger out along the side of the road and sped off again. The passenger alerted deputies that Rivera was “heavily intoxicated.” Rivera then continued to flee at reckless speeds, conducted multiple U-turns, came within feet of ramming a patrol vehicle, and almost hit multiple other vehicles in the area before finally coming to a stop and being apprehended.
     The CCSO always is dedicated to keeping intoxicated and erratic drivers off Citrus County’s roadways. While the CCSO actions may not always be visible, this dedicated team is always out in full force to ensure the safety of motorists and others in the community.

 


Man faces at least 25 years
in federal prison for child sex crime

Information Provided
By The Office of United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg
Middle District of Florida
Published March 25, 2023 at 9 a.m.
      JACKSONVILLE --
United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg recently announced that a federal jury has found Paul Edward Lee Jr., 43, of Jacksonville guilty of attempting to entice a 14-year-old child to produce and send him pornographic videos and images depicting her own sexual abuse.
     In 2011, Lee was convicted of lascivious molestation and exhibition of a 10-year-old child and was required to register as a sexual predator.
     Because of these prior child sex convictions, at sentencing Lee faces an enhanced minimum mandatory penalty of 25 years, up to 50 years, in federal prison and a potential life term of supervised release. Lee was arrested in Jacksonville on May 2, 2018. His sentencing hearing is set for July 10, 2023. 
     According to evidence and testimony introduced at trial, in April of 2018, an FBI agent in Illinois discovered that a 14-year-old child was having online contact with an adult male in Florida through a smart phone gaming application (app) designed for use by children. The messages sent to the child by the adult male were increasingly graphic and sexually explicit.
     The FBI was able to identify this individual as Paul Edward Lee Jr., a registered sexual predator living in a residence in Jacksonville along with eight other registered sex offenders.
     On April 25, 2018, an undercover FBI agent in Jacksonville, posing as the 14-year-old child, resumed text messaging with Lee. During these communications, Lee told the “child” in graphic terms how he wanted to have sex with the “child,” and he sent several images and videos of his own genitalia to the “child.”
     On April 27, 2018, Lee repeatedly texted and solicited the “child” to produce and send him graphic images and videos of “her” genitalia. When FBI agents executed a federal search warrant at his residence on May 2, 2018, Lee damaged his cellphone in an effort to conceal evidence of his criminal activity.  
     This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney D. Rodney Brown.
     It is another case brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in 2006 by the United States Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.
     Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit https://www.justice.gov/psc.

 


Deputies find hatchet-wielding man
CPD officers capture suspect

suspected mether
Rayford Delton Holder holds a hatchet (left) and Rayford Delton Holder poses for a mugshot at the Levy County Jail.

Photos By LCSO

By LCSO Lt. Scott Tummond
Published March 23, 2023 at 4:15 p.m.
     FANNING SPRINGS –
Thanks to assistance from the Chiefland Police Department, a man suspected of being under the influence of methamphetamine and presenting a danger to the public has been put in the Levy County Jail.

     At 8:16 a.m. Wednesday morning (March 22), the Levy County Sheriff’s Office 9-1-1 Center received an emergency call regarding a man walking on the Greenway Trial in the City of Fanning Springs acting erratically while waiving around a hatchet.
     The caller feared this person, who was walking in the direction of a business office and around occupied camper trailers, could potentially hurt someone.
     Deputies arrived on scene and confronted the subject walking down the Greenway Trail. The deputy saw the man tuck the hatchet into his rear waistband in an attempt to hide it. The man, was later identified as Rayford Delton Holder, 36, of Lake City.
     Holder took an aggressive stance, balled his fists and exclaimed, “I am a God!”
     Holder then fled from deputies toward a convenience store.
     Deputy Nelson Macias and Sgt. Tom Martin chased the armed suspect. Deputy Macias used his vehicle to cut Holder off.
     Holder pulled the hatchet from his rear waistband and began running toward Deputy Macias’s patrol vehicle. Deputy Macias attempted to avoid Holder, who bounced off the patrol vehicle. Holder then fled into an adjacent wooded lot.
     Additional deputies and Chiefland Police Department (CPD) officers arrived to assist.
     Chiefland Police Chief Scott Anderson and CPD Lt. Macy located and confronted Holder on a nearby road. Holder dropped the hatchet when ordered and surrendered.
     Holder exclaimed the methamphetamine found in his possession were for his Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. 
     He told deputies he was a superhuman angel and he didn’t want to hurt them, but he could if he wanted.
     Holder was booked into the Levy County Jail, charged with two counts of aggravated assault on law enforcement, resisting arrest with violence and possession of meth. His combined bonds are been set at $65,000.

 


Child sex suspect nabbed
Child Sex Suspect

Mug Shot By Marion County Sheriff’s Office

By LCSO Lt. Scott Tummond
Published March 23, 2023 at 7:30
     BRONSON --
On Feb. 10, Levy County Sheriff’s Office Det. Rob Bowers opened an investigation into complaints of lewd conduct by Joseph M. Davis, 44, of Morriston.

     The complainant alleged Davis acted inappropriately by touching a 12-year-old female, exposing his genitals to her and offering the child $3,000 to have sex with him.
     The investigation and victim testimony gathered with the assisted by Levy County Sheriff’s Office Victim Advocates, developed probable cause for Davis’s arrest.
     Detective Bowers interviewed Davis and a warrant was obtained.
     A bond of $200,000.00 was assigned to the warrant.
     Detective Bowers along with the United States Marshals Fugitive Task Force found Davis in Marion County on March 16.
     Davis was taken into custody and booked into the Marion County Jail. Davis is scheduled to be transferred to the Levy County Jail where he will be held on a $200,000 bond.

 


Former Rep. Joe Harding pleads guilty
Faces max of 35 years in prison

By Libby Lastinger, Administrative Services Specialist
Assisting United States Attorney Jason R. Coody
United States Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Florida
Published March 22, 2023 at 10:15 a.m.
     GAINESVILLE --
Joseph Harding, 35, of Williston, pled guilty yesterday (Tuesday, March 22) to wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements in connection with COVID-19 relief fraud.

     Harding was serving as the Florida House of Representatives District 22 member, which included Levy County, at the time of committing these crimes, according to records.
     United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida Jason R. Coody announced the guilty plea in a press release.
     Court documents reflect Harding devised a scheme to defraud the Small Business Administration (SBA) and obtained coronavirus-related small business loans by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises, and while executing such scheme, caused wire communications to be transmitted in interstate commerce.
     Harding also made a false and fraudulent SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) application, in the name of one of his dormant business entities, that he submitted to the SBA. By this conduct, Harding fraudulently obtained $150,000 in COVID-19 relief funds from the SBA to which he was not entitled.
     After obtaining the EIDL proceeds, Harding conducted three monetary transactions each involving more than $10,000 in fraudulently obtained funds: a transfer to his joint bank account, a payment to his credit card, and a transfer into a bank account of a third-party business entity.
     A sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 25 at 11 a.m., at the United States Courthouse in Gainesville, before the Honorable United States District Judge Allen Winsor.
     Harding faces the following maximum terms of imprisonment for the offenses:
     • 20 years: Wire Fraud
     • 10 years: Money Laundering
     • 5 years: Making False Statements

     The investigation was jointly conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Office of Inspector General, and the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Inspector General.
     The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Justin M. Keen and Assistant United States Attorney David P. Byron.

 


DEA warns
of fentanyl mixed with xylazine
Fatal overdose
and rotting flesh potential noted

Information Provided
By United States Drug Enforcement Administration
Published March 21, 2023 at 7:30 a.m.
     WASHINGTON –
The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is warning the American public of a sharp increase in the trafficking of fentanyl mixed with xylazine.

     Xylazine, also known as “Tranq,” is a powerful sedative that the United States Food and Drug Administration has approved for veterinary use.
     “Xylazine is making the deadliest drug threat our country has every faced, fentanyl, even deadlier,” DEA Administrator Anne Melissa Milgram said. “DEA has seized xylazine and fentanyl mixtures in 48 of 50 States. The DEA Laboratory System is reporting that in 2022 approximately 23 percent of fentanyl powder and 7 percent of fentanyl pills seized by the DEA contained xylazine.”
     Xylazine and fentanyl drug mixtures place users at a higher risk of suffering a fatal drug poisoning.
     Because xylazine is NOT an opioid, naloxone (Narcan) DOES NOT reverse its effects. Still, experts always recommend administering naloxone if someone might be suffering a drug poisoning. People who inject drug mixtures containing xylazine also can develop severe wounds, including necrosis—the rotting of human tissue—that may lead to amputation.
     According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 107,735 Americans who died between August 2021 and August 2022 from drug poisonings, with 66 percent of those deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
     The Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco Cartel in Mexico, using chemicals largely sourced from China, are primarily responsible for the vast majority of the fentanyl that is being trafficked in communities across the United States.

 


Convicted rapist gets
8-year prison sentence in plea deal

Convicted Rapist
Basil Ellis May III

Mugshot By LCSO

By Jeff M. Hardison © March 19, 2023 at 8:15 p.m.
     LEVY COUNTY –
A 74-year-old Bronson man was sentenced to eight years in the Florida Department of Corrections Prison System on March 14 after being arrested Sept. 29, 2021, for sexual battery, according to records.

     Basil Ellis May III, 74, of Bronson was arrested Sept. 29, 2021, by the Levy County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division Det. Rob Bowers for sexual battery, according to records.
     The crime happened and a lengthy investigation led Det. Bowers to have facts and evidence, when applied to the law, showed May was guilty beyond and to the exclusion of reasonable doubt, according to records
     May had been held in custody at the Levy County Jail since his arrest, according to records. May was represented by Eighth Judicial Circuit Assistant Public Defender Alfredo Ferrer, according to records. 
     Eighth Judicial Circuit Assistant State Attorney Glenn Bryan prosecuted the case, according to records. 
     Eighth Judicial Circuit Court Judge William E. Davis levied the prison sentence, as well as imposing $917 in court costs and fines, according to records, after confirming that the prosecution and defense agreed to the plea-negotiated agreement, and that the defendant understood and agreed with what was happening.
     On March 14, May entered a guilty plea during a hearing and was sentenced to 96 months (eight years) in prison, according to records. The criminal will be given credit for time served, according to records.
     If May lives to serve his entire sentence, he will be older than 80 years old when he is released, and there will be conditions placed on him for the rest of his life as a convicted sexual offender, according to Florida law.
     Levy County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Scott Tummond said the plea-negotiated agreement between the State Attorney’s Office and the defendant alleviates a potentially long and complicated trial and relieves the victims of the burden of testifying in open court.
     “The fully comprehensive investigation conducted by Detective Bowers, the tireless work by the Eighth Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office and Victim Services,” Lt. Tummond said, “left May with little option other than to plead his guilt.”

 


Suspected fentanyl trafficker arrested
Suspected Fentanyl trafficker
Todd G. Myers

Mugshot By LCSO

Story Provide
By LCSO Lt. Scott Tummond
Published March 19, 2023 at 8 p.m.
     BRONSON --
On March 15, Levy County Drug Task Force detectives arrested Todd G. Myers, 54, of Chiefland by serving an outstanding warrant for sale of methamphetamine.
     Detectives knew Myers was residing in a camper trailer at 8051 N.W. 60th St. (Levy County Road 347), a mile or two east-northeast of the unrecorded subdivision known and Jemlands, in the unincorporated area of Levy County between Carter’s Crossroads and Fowler’s Bluff. People in that part of Levy County have “Chiefland” listed as their address.
     When detectives arrived, they saw Myers walking out of the camper trailer. He was immediately taken into custody. 
     Detectives found two pill bottles in his pocket. One bottle contained medication prescribed to him, and the other bottle contained 1.32 grams of fentanyl.
     A subsequent search of the camper trailer where Myers lived isI where investigators discovered another cache of 18.85 grams (about seven-tenths of one ounce) of fentanyl.
     Florida law defines trafficking in fentanyl as being in possession of more than four grams. Trafficking in fentanyl is a second degree felony that, if convicted, can result in the offender serving up to a 25-year prison sentence.
     Fentanyl is an extremely dangerous opioid. It is responsible for numerous overdose deaths. Mere exposure to skin can cause an overdose resulting in death.
     Myers was also found in possession of 28.09 grams (an ounce) of marijuana and assorted drug paraphernalia.
     He was booked in at the Levy County jail for the outstanding warrant as well as the new charges. His combined bonds were set at $122,500.

 


Head-on crash kills Cross City man
By Jeff M. Hardison © March 19, 2023 at 6:30 a.m.
     DIXIE COUNTY –
A head-on crash claimed the life of a Dixie County man and resulted in serious injuries for the Madison County woman Saturday night (March 18), the Florida Highway Patrol noted in a press release sent at 1:18 a.m. on March 19.

     The next-of-kin of the man who died were notified before the press release was sent, the FHP said.
     On March 18 at 9:05 p.m. a gold-colored Jeep sports utility vehicle that was driven by a 45-year-old Madison County woman was southbound in the northbound inside lane of U.S. Highway 19 near Southwest 316th Avenue in Dixie County, the FHP noted, based on information from an FHP crash investigator and an FHP homicide investigator.
     At the same time on the same date, a silver-colored Chevrolet pickup truck driven by a 54-year-old Cross City man was northbound in the inside northbound lane of U.S. 19 near the same point on that highway, the FHP said.
     The Jeep SUV continued southbound in the northbound lane directly into the path of the northbound Chevy pickup truck, the FHP said. The front of the Jeep collided with the front of the Chevrolet, the FHP said.
     Neither driver was wearing their seatbelts, the FHP said.
     The man from Cross City was pronounced dead on the scene, the FHP said. The woman from Madison County was taken by helicopter to UF Health in Gainesville (Alachua County) with serious injuries, the FHP said.
     There is no hospital in Dixie County, Gilchrist County or Levy County.

     As of May of 2020, the Florida Highway Patrol stopped providing names of people and some other information from crashes as part of its press releases.
     Prior to May of 2020, the FHP formerly provided that information via those public records in its press releases.
     The FHP and some other law enforcement agencies in Florida are abiding by a Florida version of something known as “Marcy’s Law” of California, which is reportedly used to protect alleged victims of crimes. The Florida version of “Marcy’s Law” was adopted after Florida voters chose to change the Florida Constitution to exempt more public records from view.
     Although not every vehicle crash involves crime victims, which may have been the legislative intent of the Florida version of “Marcy’s Law” approved by voters, the FHP adopted its current blanket exclusion of some information as part of its process in sending press releases.
     Although the FHP adopted this new practice, not every law enforcement agency has done so.
     For instance, the Chiefland Police Department, the St. Petersburg Police Department and the Ocala Police Department all have provided crash information in press releases or traffic crash reports, except when there is an actual victim of a crime, as demonstrated in the reports provided to the press since the onset of the FHP’s revision in its press release practices in May of 2020.

Crash Report Purchasing
https://services.flhsmv.gov/CrashReportPurchasing/
Florida Crash Data
https://www.flhsmv.gov/traffic-crash-reports/crash-dashboard/
Victims’ Rights Information
https://www.flhsmv.gov/victimsrights/

 
 


Operation Lucky Strike
nabs 11 suspected child predators 

suspected predators of children
(Not pictured - Robert Allan Rankin, an alleged accomplice arrested for drug law violations, as noted in the story below.)

Story and Photos Provided
By CCSO Community Relations Specialist Sydney Hudson
Published March 18, 2023 at 9:30 a.m.
     CITRUS COUNTY –
Yesterday (Friday, March 17), the Citrus County Sheriff's Office's (CCSO) High Tech Crimes Unit (HTCU) is releasing the results of Operation Lucky Strike, a tactical undercover Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) operation to apprehend dangerous cyber predators who attempted to engage in sexual activity with a child.

     Over the course of this operation, officials from the Citrus County Sheriff's Office, along with our partners at the United States Secret Service, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), the Marion County Sheriff's Office, the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, the Sumter County Sheriff's Office, and the Tavares Police Department, worked collaboratively to capture these online child sex predators.
     During the operation, law enforcement officials posed as minors on various websites waiting to be solicited through online messages by these subjects. Despite the acknowledgment of the child's age, these individuals still chose to send sexually explicit pictures, messages and detailed requests of various sexual activities they wanted to perform with the child. Some had driven over an hour thinking they were meeting a minor to engage in sexual activity but were luckily greeted by law enforcement personnel.
     In total, 12 arrests were made as a result of this operation.
     "These abhorrent and sick individuals prey upon children for their own perverted benefit. These individuals knowingly send vile and sexually explicit messages to minors online, and even travel hours to meet up with a child with the intention to carry out these repulsive acts if not something worse," Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast said. "Preying on children is absolutely despicable. I am incredibly proud of the extraordinary partnership between our agency and the law enforcement agencies who assisted us in bringing these monsters to justice and off of our streets. If operations like ‘Lucky Strike’ takes only one predator off of the streets, it is a success. We've stopped 12 immoral criminals this time, so we deem ‘Lucky Strike’ a huge success."
     The following men were arrested in Citrus County during this operation:
     ● Cristian Gabriel Rosado-Marrero, 27, of Summerfield - Travel to Seduce/Solicit Child in Sex Act: F.S.S. 847.0135(4)(a); and Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communication Device: F.S.S. 934.215. Total bond set at $27,000.
     ● Devin Michael Cordeiro, 26, of Brooksville - Travel to Seduce/Solicit Child in Sex Act: F.S.S. 847.0135(4)(a); and Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communication Device: F.S.S. 934.215. Total bond set at $27,000.
     ● Franklin Lezama, 31, of Bradenton - Travel to Seduce/Solicit Child in Sex Act: F.S.S. 847.0135(4)(a); Transmission of Harmful Material to Minor: F.S.S. 847.0138(2); Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communication Device: F.S.S. 934.215; Carrying Concealed Weapon with No License: F.S.S. 790.01(1); and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon: F.S.S. 790.23(1)(A). Total bond set at $72,000.
     ● Jeff D. Adams, 46, of Crystal River, FL - Travel to Seduce/Solicit Child in Sex Act: F.S.S. 847.0135(4)(a); and Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communication Device: F.S.S. 934.215. Total bond set at $27,000.
     ● Sean Robert Mooney, 40, of Homosassa - Travel to Seduce/Solicit Child in Sex Act: F.S.S. 847.0135(4)(a); and Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communication Device: F.S.S. 934.215. Total bond set at $27,000.
     ● Robert Allan Rankin, 31, of Hernando - Possession of a Controlled Substance: F.S.S. 893.13(6)(a); and Possession of Paraphernalia: F.S.S. 893.147(1) Total bond set at $3,000. (Accomplice to Sean Robert Mooney, driving him to the meeting location.)
     The following subjects were arrested on Citrus County warrants as part of this operation:
     ● Matthew Leathers, 40, of Palm Bay - 2 Counts of Transmission of Harmful Material to a Minor: F.S.S. 847.0138(2); and Computer Pornography: Seduce, Solicit, Lure, or Entice a Child to Engage in Any Illegal Act: F.S.S. 847.0135 (3)(a); and Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communication Device: F.S.S. 934.215. Total bond set at $4,000.
     ● Glenn Cunningham, 37, of Homosassa - 2 Counts of Transmission of Harmful Material to a Minor: F.S.S. 847.0138(2); and Computer Pornography: Seduce, Solicit, Lure, or Entice a Child to Engage in Any Illegal Act: F.S.S. 847.0135 (3)(a); and Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communication Device: F.S.S. 934.215. Total bond set at $8,000.
     ● James Patrick Lake, 51, of Tampa - Transmission of Harmful Material to a Minor: F.S.S. 847.0138(2); and Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communication Device: F.S.S. 934.215.Total bond set at $4,000.
     ● Marc Philip Werner Lovric, 40, of Beverly Hills - Transmission of Harmful Material to a Minor: F.S.S. 847.0138(2); and Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communication Device: F.S.S. 934.215. Total bond set at $4,000.
     ● Alex Anthony Francis, 32, of Orlando - Transmission of Harmful Material to a Minor: F.S.S. 847.0138(2); and Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communication Device: F.S.S. 934.215. Total bond set at $4,000.
     ● Ralph Joseph Perkins, 53, of Tampa - Failed to Register All Electronic Mail and Identifiers. Total bond set at $2,000.

 


Two women jailed for election crimes
By FDLE Office of Public Information
Published March 15, 2023 at 12:30 p.m.
     TALLAHASSEE –
Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) arrested Donna Prentes Brady, 66, of Ocala, on two counts of casting more than one ballot in any election, a third-degree felony.

     As the result of a separate investigation, Toye Ann La Rocca, 63, of Fort Walton Beach was arrested on one count of false swearing of voter registration information and two counts of unqualified electors willfully voting, all third-degree felonies. 
     Brady voted in both the 2020 state primary and general elections in Florida and New Jersey. In both elections, she voted in person in Marion County while voting by mail in Sussex County, New Jersey. 
     Brady was arrested March 13 and booked into the Marion County Jail. The Office of the Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney is scheduled to prosecute Brady. 
     As noted, in a separate case, La Rocca was arrested for voting in 2022 while serving probation for a 2022 DUI conviction.  Because La Rocca is a convicted felon, she cannot vote until she completes her sentence. La Rocca voted in person for the primary election in Okaloosa County and voted by mail in the general election.
     La Rocca was arrested last Wednesday (March 8) by Okaloosa County Sheriff’s deputies and booked into the Okaloosa County Jail. The Office of the First Judicial Circuit State Attorney is scheduled to prosecute La Rocca.

 


CCSO teams up
in undercover operation on alcohol sales

21 check ID
Graphic and Story Provided
By CCSO Community Relations Specialist Madeline Scarborough
Published March 15, 2023 at 12:15 p.m.
     CITRUS COUNTY -
- Earlier this month, detectives from the Citrus County Sheriff's Office and state investigators from the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (ABT) teamed up for an enforcement effort ensuring establishments adhere to their licensure.
     "The sale of alcohol and tobacco to minors is irresponsible and preventable just by a simple check of an identification card," Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast said. "I am proud of those establishments that follow the law and do their part to help keep our community safe. We will continue to work with our colleagues at the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco to conduct these compliance checks throughout the year."
     During this operation, 21 random establishments in Citrus County were visited to test their internal processes concerning the sales of alcohol or tobacco to minors.
     The below establishments were NOT in compliance:
     ● Brothers Pizza - 6746 W. Gulf-to-Lake Highway, Crystal River: 1 misdemeanor citation was issued.
     ● Joe Eder’s Coney Island - 674 N.E. Fifth St., Crystal River: 2 violations occurred. A 17-year-old sold to the minor. The manager was also issued a citation due to the 17-year-old not being allowed to sell alcohol.
     ● Strickland's Convenience Store - 5378 S. Cherokee Way, Homosassa: 1 misdemeanor citation was issued.
     ● Florida Cracker Monkey Bar & Kitchen - 5297 S. Cherokee Way, Homosassa: received an administration violation, for a violation of Florida Statute 562.12, by selling a cocktail "To Go" and allowing the individual to walk off the premises with alcohol meant to be consumed on the licensed premises. (They did not sell to a minor.)

     The below establishments DID OPERATE IN COMPLIANCE with their licensure: 
     ● Copp Winery - 785 W. Gulf-to-Lake Highway, Crystal River
     ● La Casita Mexican Restaurant - 773 N.E. Fifth St., Crystal River
     ● Wawa - 505 U.S. Highway 19, Crystal River
     ● Oysters Restaurant - 606 N.E. U.S. Highway 19, Crystal River
     ● Crystal River Shell - 639 639 N.E. U.S. Highway 19, Crystal River
     ● BubbaQue’s - 631 N. Citrus Ave., Crystal River
     ● Kane's Cattle Company - 508 N. Citrus Ave., Crystal River
     ● Norton's Riverside - 16 N.E. Fifth Street, Crystal River
     ● Taps and Caps Pub - 3782 W. Gulf-to-Lake Highway, Lecanto
     ● Lecanto Food Mart - 3761 W. Homosassa Trl., Lecanto
     ● Blowin’ Smoke - 3772 W. Gulf-to-Lake Highway, Lecanto
     ● Rocco's Café - 6612 Gulf-to-Lake Highway, Crystal River
     ● Sugar Mill Liquor - 26601 W. Gulf-to-Lake Highway, Crystal River
     ● Beef O' Brady’s - 6738 W. Gulf-to-Lake Highway, Crystal River
     ● Los Magueyes Mexican Restaurant - 6875 W. Gulf-to-Lake Highway, Crystal River
     ● Sunoco - 6971 W. Gulf-to-Lake Highway, Crystal River
     ● RaceTrac - 3861 S. Suncoast Blvd., Homosassa
     The Citrus County Sheriff's Office and ABT will continue to work constructively with local retail establishments to ensure employees are well educated in Florida Tobacco and Beverage Laws.

 


Levy County Sheriff's Office
Suspects Jailed In Levy County Florida
Suspects Jailed March 13, 2023 through March 19, 2023
Published March 20, 2023 at 2:15 p.m.

 


Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office logo etc

Gilchrist County Suspects Jailed
Suspects Jailed March 13, 2023 through March 19, 2023
Published March 20, 2023 at 2:15 p.m.

 


DCSO Logo

Dixie County Suspects Jailed
Suspects Jailed March 13, 2023 through March 19, 2023
Published March 20, 2023 at 6:30 p.m.

 


Pickup driver passes in wrong place
and sedan driver dies

By Jeff M. Hardison © March 12, 2023 at 8 a.m.
     LEVY COUNTY --
A 55-year-old Gainesville man was hospitalized in critical condition and a 25-year-old Morriston man is dead after a Saturday night (March 11) crash, according to information in a press release from the Florida Highway Patrol.
     Gainesville is the county seat for Alachua County. Morriston is a census-designated place in an unincorporated part of Levy County.
     The next-of-kin of the man who died were contacted before the press release was sent at 4:31 a.m. on March 12, the FHP said. As of the March 12 press release based on information from crash investigator FHP Trooper K. Skelly and homicide investigator FHP Cpl. J. Bard, the crash investigation from March 11 is in its preliminary stage and is ongoing.
     On March 11 at approximately 7:50 p.m., a two-vehicle rollover crash happened on State Road 121 (Northeast Sixth Boulevard, which is later known as Williston Road as it goes toward Gainesville) near Northeast 184th Court in Levy County, the FHP said in the press release.
     A 2016 Ford F-150 pickup truck driven by a 55-year-old Gainesville man was eastbound on SR 121, the FHP said.
     A 1999 Toyota Corolla sedan driven by a 25-year-old Morriston man was westbound on SR 121, the FHP said.
     The F-150 entered the westbound lane of travel and was passing multiple vehicles in a no-passing zone, the FHP said. The F-150 crossed back into the eastbound lane as the Corolla was approaching, the FHP said.
     The front left of the F-150 hit the front left of the Corolla, the FHP said. The F-150 and Corolla were redirected and overturned onto the north and south shoulders, the FHP said.
     The driver of the Corolla was pronounced dead on the scene, the FHP said.
     The driver of the F-150 was transported to UF Health Shands in Gainesville with critical injuries, the FHP said.
     There is no hospital in Levy County.

     As of May of 2020, the Florida Highway Patrol stopped providing names of people and some other information from crashes as part of its press releases.
     Prior to May of 2020, the FHP formerly provided that information via those public records in its press releases.
     The FHP and some other law enforcement agencies in Florida are abiding by a Florida version of something known as “Marcy’s Law” of California, which is reportedly used to protect alleged victims of crimes. The Florida version of “Marcy’s Law” was adopted after Florida voters chose to change the Florida Constitution to exempt more public records from view.
     Although not every vehicle crash involves crime victims, which may have been the legislative intent of the Florida version of “Marcy’s Law” approved by voters, the FHP adopted its current blanket exclusion of some information as part of its process in sending press releases.
     Although the FHP adopted this new practice, not every law enforcement agency has done so.
     For instance, the Chiefland Police Department, the St. Petersburg Police Department and the Ocala Police Department all have provided crash information in press releases or traffic crash reports, except when there is an actual victim of a crime, as demonstrated in the reports provided to the press since the onset of the FHP’s revision in its press release practices in May of 2020.

Crash Report Purchasing
https://services.flhsmv.gov/CrashReportPurchasing/
Florida Crash Data
https://www.flhsmv.gov/traffic-crash-reports/crash-dashboard/
Victims’ Rights Information
https://www.flhsmv.gov/victimsrights/

 


Two busted for meth
Meth Suspects
Jason Dakota Barber and Victoria Castellano

Mug Shots By LCSO

By Jeff M, Hardison © March 11, 2023 at 2:45 p.m p.m.
     LEVY COUNTY –
Two Levy County residents were put in the Levy County Jail after being arrested March 8 on various drug charges, according to records


Meth House
The location where drugs were found, and arrests were completed.
Photo By LCSO

     Jason Dakota Barber, 27, of Chiefland and Victoria Ashley Castellano, 32 of Cedar Key were arrested after a lengthy investigation led law enforcement officers to conduct a search warrant at 2570 N.W. 73rd Terrace, located in the Whitted Estates Subdivision south of Chiefland, according to information in a Levy County Sheriff’s Office sent by LCSO Lt. Scott Tummond on March 10.
     On Wednesday (March 8), Lt. Tummond said, the Levy County Drug Task Force (DTF) and the LCSO Criminal Investigations Division (CID) served a search warrant.
     Lt. Tummond noted this event happened after DTF detectives began an investigation upon receiving numerous complaints and anonymous information from individuals who identified this home as a possible location being used to sell drugs.
     Detectives learned Barber was selling methamphetamine from the home, Tummond said. Detectives conducted a variety of covert operations over a period of time and developed probable cause for a search warrant of the home and a warrant for Barber’s arrest.
     Detectives seized over more than grams (about an ounce) of methamphetamines and drug paraphernalia during the execution of the search warrant, Tummond said. Barber was arrested at the scene and was charged with additional crimes of possession of a trafficking amount of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, and child neglect, Tummond said.
     His combined bonds were set at $415,000, Tummond said. Detectives arrested Castellano who was located in the home when the warrant was served, Tummond said. She was charged with possession of methamphetamine and her bond has been set at $15,000, Tummond said.
     Barber, Castellano and Castellano’s young child were the only occupants of the residence at the time the search warrant was served, Tummond said. 
      Tips from the general public concerning probable criminal activity is essential in identifying locations such as the one Barber used to sell drugs, Tummond said.
     Drug sales in a neighborhood invite the criminal element which leads to an increased thefts, burglaries and other crimes, Tummond said.
     Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum continues his pledge to combat drug activity in Levy County and urges everyone who sees suspicious activity to immediately report it. Anonymous tips can be reported by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-877-349-8477.

 


Body scanner locates contraband
Caught
Kayla Hicks and contraband

Photos By LCSO

Story Provided 
By LCSO Lt. Scott Tummond
Published March 11, 2023 at 2:30 p.m.
     BRONSON --
The Florida Highway Patrol arrested Kayla Hicks, 28, of Wesley Chapel for driving under the influence (DUI) on Feb. 28.
     FHP Trooper Kevin Davis was suspicious the arrestee was in possession of additional contraband but did not find anything during his arrest procedures.
     Hicks was immediately escorted by LCSO detention officers to the Tec-84 Body Scanner upon her delivery to the Levy County Detention Center (also known as the Levy County Jail).
     The scan was completed and a foreign object was identified concealed inside of her. Officers then completed a strip-search and recovered a tube containing marijuana. The contraband was collected as evidence by Trooper Davis and additional charges were filed.
     Hicks was originally arrested for DUI, but based upon the discovery of this contraband she was additionally charged with introduction of contraband into a detention facility and possession of marijuana. Hicks was held on a $72,500 bond and released after posting bond on March 1.
     The Tek-84 Body Scanner was purchased by the Levy County Sheriff’s Office approximately two years ago. It is used by jail staff on a daily basis. Any person arrested within Levy County’s jurisdiction is subject to an examination by this piece of equipment.
     This is not the first time foreign objects have been found concealed inside an arrested person’s body by this tool. Since its implementation, the jail has seen a marked decrease in contraband, including illegal drugs, being smuggled into the general population of inmates held in there. The use of this piece of equipment makes the Levy County Jail a safer place for those held in custody, as well as for the staff members who work there.

 


Thief strikes in Jemlands
LCSO seeks suspect

Suspected Thief
This still picture of the suspected thief shows he is wearing clothes and a mask in an attempt to conceal his identity.

Photo Provided 

By Jeff M. Hardison © March 10, 2022 at 6:15 a.m.
     LEVY COUNTY –
An unrecorded subdivision known as Jemlands in Levy County is again plagued by a thief.

     Jemlands is bounded on the north by Northwest 60th Street (Levy County Road 347), on the south by 55th Street, on the west by 100th Avenue and on the east by 97th Court. It is about three miles west of State Road 345, in Levy County, and it is in the woods generally between Chiefland and Fowler’s Bluff.
     It is platted with 11 dirt roads between 100th Avenue and 97th Court, although some property owners have blocked their dirt roads from through traffic between those two county-maintained lime rock roads.
     Burglars and sneak thieves have struck the unrecorded subdivision in the past.
     One of the most recent victims of a cowardly young man choosing the life of crime is a property owner in the area who lost approximately $500 worth of materials, including packs of meals ready to eat.
     Among the thief’s targets was a recreational vehicle (RV) on or about the afternoon of March 1. A separate attempt was foiled. The Levy County Sheriff’s Office’s detectives are investigating this criminal activity.
     People who have any information about the identity of this thief are asked to call the LCSO at 352-486-5111.
     Multiple still images and videos of this suspect have been turned over to LCSO detectives.
     Publisher’s Note: The Ink Pad is located on the southern tip of the unrecorded subdivision known as Jemlands. For people in the area, please remember that a young man who has chosen to expend his energy stealing -- is looking at your property, too, for opportunities to take things he did not earn, except through this felonious criminal activity – burglary and grand theft.

 


DCES ambulance hits man
Patient involved is reportedly healing


By Jeff M. Hardison © March 9, 2023 at 7 p.m.
     DIXIE COUNTY –
A Dixie County Emergency Services (DCES) ambulance was involved in a crash Feb. 24, according to records.
     On March 2, DCES Director Darian Brown appeared before the Dixie County Board of County Commissioners and informed them of an accident from the previous Friday night (Feb. 24). Capt. Brown said the Florida Highway Patrol has released the vehicle and the DCES crew is fine.
     The patient is healing, Chief Brown told the County Commission, according to minutes from March the County Commission meeting.
     The Florida Highway Patrol investigated the crash, according to a March 9 press release from the FHP.
     On Feb. 24 at 9:39 p.m., initially, a 2019 F250 Ford pickup truck driven by 51-year-old man with a Trenton residential address, was southbound on Southeast 349 Highway, one-tenth of one mile north of Southeast 424th Street, according to the FHP press release based on information from crash investigator FHP Trooper Kyle Skelly.
     In Dixie County, County Roads are called highways.
     For reasons to be determined, the FHP said, this Ford pickup truck was parked by the driver -- as it was facing southbound in the northbound lane of Dixie County Road 349.
     The driver had exited the vehicle and was standing near the driver's door, the FHP said.
     A 2021 Dodge Ram ambulance owned by Dixie County was northbound on CR 349, the FHP said.
     When the DCES ambulance driver saw the headlights of the Ford pickup truck facing the ambulance in her lane, she took evasive action by steering to the right, the FHP said.
     Now heading to the northeast, the ambulance hit the 51-year-old Trenton man, the FHP said.
     The ambulance also hit the left of the Ford pickup with its left front, the FHP said.
     The 47-year-old female driver of the ambulance and her 30-year-old male passenger, both with Old Town residential addresses, were not injured, according to the FHP. The driver was wearing a seatbelts the FHP said, and it is unknown if the passenger was wearing a seatbelt.
     After the collision, the man from Trenton, who had suffered critical injuries, and the 78-year-old female patient from Old Town, who was a passenger in the DCES ambulance, and was not injured in the crash, were transported to Shands of UF, the FHP said.

     As of May of 2020, the Florida Highway Patrol stopped providing names of people and some other information from crashes as part of its press releases.
     Prior to May of 2020, the FHP formerly provided that information via those public records in its press releases.
     The FHP and some other law enforcement agencies in Florida are abiding by a Florida version of something known as “Marcy’s Law” of California, which is reportedly used to protect alleged victims of crimes. The Florida version of “Marcy’s Law” was adopted after Florida voters chose to change the Florida Constitution to exempt more public records from view.
     Although not every vehicle crash involves crime victims, which may have been the legislative intent of the Florida version of “Marcy’s Law” approved by voters, the FHP adopted its current blanket exclusion of some information as part of its process in sending press releases.
     Although the FHP adopted this new practice, not every law enforcement agency has done so.
     For instance, the Chiefland Police Department, the St. Petersburg Police Department and the Ocala Police Department all have provided crash information in press releases or traffic crash reports, except when there is an actual victim of a crime, as demonstrated in the reports provided to the press since the onset of the FHP’s revision in its press release practices in May of 2020.

Crash Report Purchasing
https://services.flhsmv.gov/CrashReportPurchasing/
Florida Crash Data
https://www.flhsmv.gov/traffic-crash-reports/crash-dashboard/
Victims’ Rights Information
https://www.flhsmv.gov/victimsrights/

 


Two Trenton men arrested for burglaries
suspected burglars
Bryce Linderman (left) and James Latham are suspected of having committed thefts at a felonious level, and they were put in the Gilchrist County Jail after the Trenton Department of Public Safety found probable cause to charge them with violating the law.

Mugshots Provided As A Professional Courtesy Of The Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office

By Jeff M. Hardison © March 8, 2023 at 11 a.m.
     TRENTON –
Two Trenton men were put in the Gilchrist County Jail on Monday (March 6) after the Trenton Department of Public Safety found probable cause to charge them with several felonies, according to records.

     Trenton Police Chief Matthew Rexroat, who also serves as the city’s fire chief, provided information when asked about the two suspected burglars in a telephone interview on March 8.
     Bryce Linderman, 22, and James Latham, 18, are suspected of breaking into a semi tractor-trailer and buildings at Suwannee Valley Feeds, 617 N.E. Lancaster St. off of State Road 47 (Northeast Trenton Boulevard), Chief Rexroat said.
     Linderman is charged with three counts of burglary, three counts of armed burglary, three counts of grand theft, one count of petit theft and one count of criminal mischief, according to records.
     Gilchrist County Judge Sheree H. Lancaster set Linderman’s combined bail amount at $555,000, Chief Rexroat said.
     Latham is charged with six counts of burglary, three counts of grand theft, one count of petit theft and one count of criminal mischief, according to records.
     Judge Lancaster set Latham’s combined bonds at $470,000, according to records.
     Chief Rexroat, is joined on the police force by three full-time law enforcement officers and one part-time officer, and he is joined on the fire department by five part-time firefighters.
     Chief Rexroat is the investigator who solved the series of burglaries, he said, although he would prefer that it is noted that the Trenton Department of Public Safety solved the crimes.
     All $4,800-plus worth of property that was stolen, Rexroat said, was recovered and returned to its rightful owners.
     The two-man alleged burglary team of Linderman and Latham, Rexroat said, started a set of burglaries at Suwannee Valley Feeds on Feb. 26, with repeat strikes on March 3 and March 6. They stole things from a semi as well as from buildings on the feed store’s site, he said.
     By using videotape from security cameras and by interviewing witnesses and the suspects, the chief found probable cause to arrest the two men on the charges noted above, according to Rexroat.

 


Three-car crash brings one citation
Car Crash In Chiefland
The crash scene is photographed as a motorist safely passes the many vehicles in the intersection on March 1.

Story, Photo and Video
By Jeff M. Hardison © March 8, 2023 at 8 a.m.
     CHIEFLAND –
A crash in Chiefland on March 1 resulted in one driver being cited for failure to yield right-of-way, according to information in a March 7 press release from the Florida Highway Patrol.

     There were no injuries in the crash, and although the Chiefland Police Department normally investigates crashes in the city limits, this time the FHP investigated, according to records. Chiefland Fire Rescue responded to the crash.
     On March 1 at 5:30 p.m., a 38-year-old woman with a Chiefland residential address was driving a 2019 Chevrolet Spark southbound on Levy County Road 341 (Southwest 14th Street) approaching State Road 345 (Southwest Fourth Avenue), according to information in the press release by FHP Lt. Patrick Riordan, based on information from crash investigator FHP Troper Glen Ganus.
     Another sedan, a 2012 Ford Focus, driven by a 65-year-old Chiefland woman was westbound on SR 345, approaching CR 341, the FHP said.
     A third car, a 2007 Chevrolet Aveo, driven by a 39-year-old woman with an Old Town (Dixie County) address, was stopped as that vehicle faced eastbound on SR 345 at the intersections with CR 341, as she was waiting to make a left turn, the FHP said.

Car Crash In Chiefland
Click on the PHOTO above to see the short video from a dash camera as a 2013 Nissan Juke approaches from the west and then turns northbound as its driver goes safely around the crash scene. The journalist driving the Juke chose to keep going to another destination due to the conglomerated traffic scenario at the intersection, and due to being needed at another location then. This intersection is where a park exists at the southwest corner of that intersection and is dedicated as a memorial to the late Etter 'Tommy' Thomas Usher III (April 2, 1960-May 28, 1989).

     The driver of the Chevrolet Spark left the stop sign from CR 341 and entered the intersection, which caused the front of that car to hit the right side of the Ford Focus, the FHP said.
     After being struck by Chevrolet Spark, the left rear of Ford Focus ran into the left front of the Chevrolet Aveo, the FHP said.
     The driver of the Chevrolet Spark was cited for failure to yield right way, the FHP said.

     As of May of 2020, the Florida Highway Patrol stopped providing names of people and some other information from crashes as part of its press releases.
     Prior to May of 2020, the FHP formerly provided that information via those public records in its press releases.
     The FHP and some other law enforcement agencies in Florida are abiding by a Florida version of something known as “Marcy’s Law” of California, which is reportedly used to protect alleged victims of crimes. The Florida version of “Marcy’s Law” was adopted after Florida voters chose to change the Florida Constitution to exempt more public records from view.
     Although not every vehicle crash involves crime victims, which may have been the legislative intent of the Florida version of “Marcy’s Law” approved by voters, the FHP adopted its current blanket exclusion of some information as part of its process in sending press releases.
     Although the FHP adopted this new practice, not every law enforcement agency has done so.
     For instance, the Chiefland Police Department, the St. Petersburg Police Department and the Ocala Police Department all have provided crash information in press releases or traffic crash reports, except when there is an actual victim of a crime, as demonstrated in the reports provided to the press since the onset of the FHP’s revision in its press release practices in May of 2020.

Crash Report Purchasing
https://services.flhsmv.gov/CrashReportPurchasing/
Florida Crash Data
https://www.flhsmv.gov/traffic-crash-reports/crash-dashboard/
Victims’ Rights Information
https://www.flhsmv.gov/victimsrights/

 


 

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Here, Goldy (the now late) cat Hardison (Aug. 12, 2009-Aug. 25, 2021)
plays dead - her signature trick. She was among the great cats of the world.
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Here Inky the cat Hardison performs three Olympic jumps to rival the athletes in Brazil in 2016. Wait for it -- JUMP!
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