Tallahassee felon sentenced
to 120 months in federal prison
for manufacturing machineguns
By Libby Lastinger
Administrative Services Specialist
Assisting United States Attorney Jason R. Coody
U.S. Attorney’s Office │Northern District of Florida
Published Oct. 4, 2023 at 7:45 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE – Garret D. Hodnett, 34, of Tallahassee was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to possessing firearms and ammunition as a convicted felon, manufacturing unregistered National Firearms Act (NFA) Weapons, and possessing an illegal machinegun.
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The sentence was announced Oct. 4 by Jason R. Coody, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
“Removing manufactured machineguns from the hands of felons and those who supply them directly addresses violent crime and makes our communities safer,” said U.S. Attorney Coody. “With the assistance of our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners we are committed to identifying and aggressively prosecuting those who illegally manufacture and distribute firearms to prohibited persons. This sentencing represents both the severe consequences of illegal firearms trafficking and our resolve to remove these weapons from our streets.”
After recovering two illegal short-barreled rifles which had been modified to function as fully automatic machineguns, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) began investigating the origin of the firearms.
ATF learned that those two firearms and others had been manufactured by Garrett Hodnett. ATF learned that Hodnett was a suspect in a July 27, 2022, shooting of a dog in Gadsden County, as well as an incident on July 31, 2022, in Tallahassee, in which someone was threatened with a firearm.
On Aug. 10, 2022, ATF and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office executed a federal search warrant at a residence where Hodnett was living.
Various firearms, firearm parts, and ammunition were found, including an AK-47-style rifle which had been modified to fire as a machinegun, and an AK-47 drum-magazine. A handgun found during the search of the residence matched a shell casing recovered from the scene in Gadsden County on July 27, 2022, at which the dog had been shot.
“North Florida is much safer with this violent criminal behind bars,” said ATF Tampa Field Division Special Agent in Charge Kirk Howard. “This complex, year-long investigation ended in a success only because of a hardworking and talented team of agents, local partners and federal prosecutors.”
Hodnett was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because he was a convicted felon.
Hodnett had six prior felony convictions, including prior convictions involving the illegal possession of firearms, but his longest prior prison sentence had been 15 months’ incarceration.
Following his 120-month prison sentence, Hodnett will be on federal supervised release for three years.
This conviction was the result of an investigation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Tallahassee Police Department, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office and the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney James A. McCain.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.
On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.
As part of its PSN strategy, the United States Attorney’s Office is encouraging everyone to lock their car doors, particularly at night. Burglaries from unlocked automobiles are a significant source of guns for criminals in the Northern District of Florida. Please do your part and protect yourself by locking your car doors.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General.
FDLE agents teach first sniper students
Course will be offered at no charge
to Florida law enforcement agencies
FDLE Sniper School Graduates
Story and Photo Provided
By FDLE Office of Public Informatin
Published Oct. 3, 2023 at 2:15 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE – FDLE’s Sworn Training Unit (STU) and Special Operations Team (SOT) recently held its first-ever FDLE Sniper School. The eight-day course was developed by FDLE to improve high-level marksmanship and defensive skills. FDLE Commissioner Mark Glass said, “It is critical that FDLE has a deep bench of well-trained, subject matter experts ready to deploy during critical incidents. Providing our agents with high-quality sniper training not only makes them better marksmen, but also makes them better overall cops. The ability to provide this training to our law enforcement partners strengthens Florida’s readiness and makes our citizens safer.”
As part of the training, agents learned specialized techniques in operational planning, short, midrange and long-distance shooting in a variety of scenarios and weather conditions. The course is mentally and physically demanding and includes stress-related and real-world training drills.
The Leon County Sheriff's Office SWAT Sniper Team provided logistical support, instructional assistance and monitored the qualification portion of the course. After attending the training, seven FDLE agents qualified for sniper certification.
These classes will be offered at no cost to Florida law enforcement agencies. The next class is planned for December.
Murder suspect arrested
Mug Shot By MCSO
Story and Photo Provided
By MCSO Public Information Office
Published Oct. 3, 2023 at 2:30 p.m.
MARION COUNTY – Yesterday (Monday, Oct 2), Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) Major Crimes Detective Kip Peterson arrested Jowarn M. Mitchell, 24, of Ocala for the murder of Quentin Samuel Jr.
On July 20 at around 5:30 p.m., MCSO deputies responded to 6500 S.E. 41st Court, in Ocala, in reference to a shooting. Marion County Fire Rescue (MCFR) also responded and located Quentin Samuel Jr. dead from multiple gunshot wounds.
A witness stated after hearing gunshots, they saw a maroon truck they believed belonged to Mitchell’s father leaving the location. Deputies quickly located and stopped the vehicle on Highway 314A. Mitchell was the driver and sole occupant.
During an interview with Mitchell, he denied being anywhere near Quentin’s home but instead went to get food and have a tire fixed.
When detectives asked specifically what locations he went to, he stated he received “crazy news” and began driving around to “clear his head,” but still claimed he did not go to Quentin’s house that day.
Detective Peterson used investigative techniques through to determine that Mitchell was untruthful about his whereabouts that day. The detective proved that Mitchel was, in fact, in front of Quentin’s home around the time of the shooting.
Mitchell was arrested for Murder in the Second Degree and transported to the Marion County Jail, where he is held without bond.
Suspects Jailed Sept. 25, 2023 through Oct. 1 2023
Published Oct. 2, 2023, 2023 at 2:30 p.m.
Suspects Jailed Sept. 25, 2023 through Oct. 1 2023
Published Oct. 2, 2023, 2023 at 2:30 p.m.
Suspects Jailed Sept. 25, 2023 through Oct. 1 2023
Published Oct. 2, 2023, 2023 at 2:30 p.m.
Four children hurt in school bus crash
By Jeff M. Hardison © Sept. 30, 2023 at 9:15 a.m.
MARION COUNTY – Four children were taken to a hospital Friday afternoon (Sept. 29) after a school bus overturned onto its left side in a grassy area next to a road in Marion County, according to information in a press release by the Florida Highway Patrol.
A Marion County school bus driven by a 62-year-old Ocala woman with a 20-year-old Ocala woman listed as a passenger was
Westbound on Marion County Road 464 at 3:06 p.m. on Sept. 29, according to information in an FHP press release based on information from crash investigator FHP Trooper S. Mendoza.
The westbound bus was approaching Southeast 55th Place as it went westbound within the outside lane of CR 464, the FHP said.
The school bus driver told the investigating trooper that traffic ahead of the school bus at that moment came to an abrupt stop, the FHP said.
She attempted to avoid collision with the vehicles ahead of the school bus by maneuvering onto the northern grassy area, the FHP said.
The bus continued westbound on the grass area while rotating clockwise, the FHP said.
The bus overturned onto its left side on the northern grassy area, the FHP said.
Upon the arrival of the FHP trooper, the school bus was on its left side on the grass, the FHP said.
Of the total 18 children in the bus at the time of crash, four of them were transported to Advent Health of Ocala, 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.
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Florida Crash Data
Victims’ Rights Information
CCSO and Marshals Service arrest four
Story and Photo Provided
By CCSO Community Relations Specialist Sydney Hudson
Published Sept. 29, 2023 at 2:15 p.m.
CITRUS COUNTY -- In the early morning hours yesterday (Thursday, Sept. 28), members of the Citrus County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) Tactical Impact Unit (TIU) and the United States Marshals Service Florida/Caribbean Regional Fugitive Task Force completed an investigation that resulted in four arrests.
The TIU initially received information from confidential sources in August 2023 regarding Niko Valentino Dedaj trafficking in illegal substances.
Through a collaborative investigation with the United States Marshals Service Task Force, members learned that Dedaj already had active warrants out of Marion County for weapons-related offenses and was known to frequent an address in Citrus Springs.
Combining efforts, CCSO TIU members, the CCSO SWAT Team, and the U.S. Marshalls Service launched a surveillance operation on the residence. As soon as Mr. Dedaj was spotted, all members surrounded the home and took Mr. Dedaj into custody.
Following the arrest, TIU members initiated a search warrant investigation due to the discovery of firearms and narcotics being in plain sight. At the conclusion of the investigation, members located fifteen different firearms, one being stolen, one being a "ghost gun" (untraceable), and another was modified to be fully automatic.
The search also revealed a trafficking amount of fentanyl, cannabis (marijuana), drug paraphernalia and a stolen vehicle.
“This is yet another example of the utter disregard criminals have for the law,” Citrus County Sheriff Mike said. “Yesterday, I made my oppositional stance known on Washington's (federal legislation) proposed gun crime prevention plan. It is alleged the outright banning of firearms will lead to a significant reduction in gun-related crimes.
“Criminals, like these four men, will continue to seek out and acquire firearms illegally, regardless of what laws are in place, leaving law-abiding victims defenseless," the sheriff continued. “I am proud of our team and the partnership we have with our fellow law enforcement agencies. Thanks to our combined efforts, illicit drugs, illegal firearms, and four dangerous criminals are off the streets of Citrus County.”
Suspects arrested were:
● Niko Valentino Dedaj, 20, of Wildwood -- charged with obstruction of a search warrant; trafficking in fentanyl weighing more than 28 grams (one ounce); possession with intent to sell cannabis (marijuana); possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony; and renting, leasing or owning a structure for the purpose of trafficking in a controlled substance. He is being held on a total bond of $65,000, per the bond schedule.
● Jonathan Penalvert, 30, of Ocala -- charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; grand theft of a firearm; possession of a firearm in commission of a felony; obstruction of a search warrant; and possession of drug paraphernalia. He is being held on a total bond of $18,000, per the bond schedule.
● Antonio Amaurys Perez, 22, of Ocala -- charged with obstruction of a search warrant. He is being held on a total bond of $1,000, per the bond schedule.
● Gabriel Ruiz, 38, of Ocala -- was charged with obstruction of a search warrant, trafficking in fentanyl weighing more than 28 grams (one ounce); possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony; possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; and possession with intent to sell cannabis (marijuana). He is being held on a total bond of $70,000, per the bond schedule.
Task force combats ‘modern day slavery’
By United States Department of Homeland Security
United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Published Sept. 29, 2023 at 10:45 a.m.
NAPLES — Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Tampa’s Fort Myers office has officially partnered with Southwest Florida law enforcement leaders, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, Operation Light Shine and the Tim Tebow Foundation to enhance efforts in combating human trafficking.
During a joint press conference Sept. 21 in Naples, authorities announced the launch of the Southwest Florida Inter-Agency Child Exploitation and Person Trafficking (SWFL INTERCEPT) Task Force.
This task force is a unique public–private partnership where involved nonprofit organizations provide much-needed and hard to find resources.
“With the success we have experienced in Jacksonville with the Northeast Florida INTERCEPT Task Force, it made sense to extend this unique partnership of federal, state and local law enforcement with nonprofit organizations to continue to draw upon the resources and expertise of each member. This partnership demonstrates the dedication of everyone involved in combating human trafficking and child exploitation, an epidemic of modern day slavery.”
-- HSI Tampa Special Agent in Charge John Condon
Since the SWFL INTERCEPT Task Force partners began working together earlier this year, authorities have arrested 25 people on charges related to child exploitation, sex trafficking and prostitution. These investigations identified 37 victims — the youngest of whom was two years old.
“Our focus is obviously on tackling the scale of the issue and giving law enforcement what they need from the private sector,” said Luke Pell, Operation Light Shine chairman of the board. “But, as a victim-focused organization, we remind ourselves in each board meeting that if we can just save one more child, all of this is worth it. We can never lose our focus on behalf of the victim. One is too many.”
Human traffickers target and prey on the most vulnerable people. They employ force, fraud or coercion to obtain labor or commercial sex acts from another. They sexually exploit children online, including enticement to distributing and sharing child sexual abuse material and sextortion. Offenders who traffic in child sexual abuse material share photo and video files across the internet and dark web, revictimizing these children each time the images are shared.
“Technological advances nowadays have placed a smartphone with instant and continuous access to the internet in the hands of children,” said HSI Ft. Myers Resident Agent in Charge John Yancey. “Considering predators have the same unfiltered instant and continuous access, then you can begin to understand why online child exploitation has become an epidemic and one of the biggest challenges for law enforcement.”
All these agencies recognize the urgent need to address the grave issue of child exploitation and human trafficking. Operation Light Shine has taken upon itself the responsibility to bridge the funding gap and bolster law enforcement efforts in their fight against this heinous crime.
By securing additional resources and support, this organization plays a pivotal role in empowering law enforcement agencies to intensify their efforts and protect vulnerable children from exploitation and abuse. Operation Light Shine is supported by the Tim Tebow Foundation, which is part of the public-private partnership known as the SWFL INTERCEPT Task Force.
The Tim Tebow foundation partners with organizations in the United States and abroad, proactively and reactively fighting against human trafficking and by providing survivor support. The foundation works in conjunction with rescue organizations on the front lines of human trafficking in the literal rescue of those who are enslaved. Protecting the “MVPs” — the most vulnerable people, as Tebow calls them — takes a collaborative and coordinated approach of working together at all three levels of government and with private sector partners.
Law enforcement leaders believe the task force’s cooperative nature will make a profound impact in rescuing victims of human trafficking. In addition to HSI special agents, the SWFL INTERCEPT task force consists of dedicated members from the sheriff’s offices in Collier County, Lee County and Hendry County; police departments form Naples, Marco Island, Cape Coral and Ft. Myers; the State Attorney’s Office in the 20th Judicial Circuit; the Lee County Port Authority Police; the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Justice’s South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
To report information about human trafficking, child sexual abuse or the trafficking in child sexual abuse material immediately to the local sheriff’s office or federal law enforcement, call 866-347-2423.
Those who wish to remain anonymous can report information to First Coast Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS (8477), file a report with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children through its tip line at 800-843-5678, or report it online at https://report.cybertip.org/.
DCSO and FWC recover human remains
and vehicle parts from river
Information and Photo Provided
By Dixie County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Amy Evans
Public Information Officer
Published Sept. 28, 2023 at 3 p.m.
DIXIE COUNTY – The Dixie County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the discovery of human remains found in the Steinhatchee River.
Yesterday (Wednesday, Sept. 27), a salvage crew was removing a dock from the Steinhatchee River at the Jena boat ramp when they discovered parts of a vehicle and what appeared to be partial human remains.
The human remains appeared to have been in the water for an extended period of time. The crew alerted the DCSO.
The DCSO and the Law Enforcement Division of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) responded with dive teams and began searching the area.
The search continued until dark and resumed this morning (Thursday, Sept. 28).
Several pieces of the vehicle and more human remains were found today.
Once divers completed the search, the vehicle was removed from the river. The Eighth Circuit Medical Examiner's Office collected the human remains. Identification has not been completed as of 2 p.m. on Sept. 28.
This investigation is ongoing. The DCSO will provide the public with more information when it is available.
Suspected felonious liar and thief jailed
By Jeff M. Hardison © Sept. 27, 2023 at 9 a.m.
TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) announced yesterday (Tuesday, Sept. 27) that the FDLE had caused the arrest in North Carolina of a suspect who was wanted in connection with alleged crimes against people who use domestic violence shelters across Florida.
Tiffany Carr, 54, of Port St. Joe was put in jail after she surrendered to law enforcement in North Carolina, according to the press release from the FDLE Office of Public Information.
Carr was the CEO for the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV). She is charged with one count each of organized scheme to defraud; grand theft; and official misconduct, all felonies, the FDLE noted.
An arrest warrant had been active for Carr since Sept. 20, and she surrendered herself to law enforcement in at the Jackson County Sheriff's Office in North Carolina on Sept. 25, the FDLE said.
The investigation shows Carr and Chief Financial Officer Patricia Duarte (who turned herself in on Sept. 20) conducted a scheme to fraudulently award themselves personal time off (PTO) using funds provided through grants intended to help fund domestic violence shelters across Florida.
“These officials were entrusted to run an organization to assist those seeking a safe haven from abuse,” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said. “Instead of ensuring state funds went to help those in need, they schemed together to steal more than $3.7 million for grossly inflated salaries and vacations. We previously took civil action to rid the organization’s bad management, and now we are filing criminal charges against these former officials.”
The allegedly ill-gotten funds were used for excessive bonus and leave payouts to Carr and Duarte in the amounts of $3.4 million to Carr and $291,000 for Duarte, according to what the FDLE found in its investigation, the FDLE noted.
Florida Attorney General Moody’s Office of Statewide Prosecution will prosecute this case, the FDLE said.
The Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV) was a nonprofit organization. In 2012, legislation was established making FCADV the official organization in charge of distributing state and federal grants to Florida’s 42 domestic violence shelters.
Its mission was “to create a violence-free world by empowering women and children through the elimination of personal and institutional violence and oppression against all people. FCADV provides leadership, advocacy, education, training, technical assistance, public policy and development, and support to domestic violence center programs.”
The FCADV was required to submit an annual budget to the legislature for approval. They oversaw more than $40 million in funding, the FDLE said.
In 2020, Florida ended its contract with FCADV. In 2021, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an Executive Order to dissolve the organization, the FDLE said.
Undercover bust reels in
two suspected drug traffickers
Port Charlotte suspects
jailed in Citrus County
Graphic Provided By Citrus County Sheriff’s Office
By Jeff M. Hardison © Sept. 24, 2023 at 9:30 a.m.
CITY OF CRYSTAL RIVER – A couple of men from Charlotte County found the Citrus County market for drug buyers includes undercover officers with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO), according to information provided Sept. 22 by CCSO Community Relations Supervisor Brittney Carman.
Robert Paul Kowanko, 49, and Sean Thomas Joyce, 37, both of Port Charlotte were arrested Friday (Sept. 22) after an undercover operation conducted by the CCSO concluded with the seizure of 226 grams of methamphetamine (about one-half of one pound) and 104 grams (about on quarter of one pound) of fentanyl, Carman noted in her email.
To put part of this into perspective, the amount of fentanyl seized during this investigation had the potential to kill approximately 52,000 adults.
The CCSO's Tactical Impact Unit (TIU) learned Kowanko was involved in the sale and delivery of large quantities of methamphetamine within Citrus County, Carman said.
Friday afternoon, TIU detectives conducted a covert operation and purchased a large quantity of methamphetamine from Kowanko, Carman said.
Kowanko drove from Port Charlotte with his associate Joyce to deliver the almost half-pound of methamphetamine, Carman said.
A controlled purchase was made from Kowanko resulting in the seizure of approximately 226 grams of methamphetamine. A short time later, Kowanko and Joyce were arrested in the parking lot of the Denny's restaurant in the City of Crystal River by TIU detectives, with the assistance of two CCSO K9 deputies, Carman said.
Kowanko was found in possession of approximately 59 grams of fentanyl, Carman said, while Joyce was found in possession of approximately 45 grams of fentanyl, as well as one gram of crack cocaine.
Several items of drug paraphernalia were recovered from the vehicle driven by Kowanko, too, Carman said.
"Our agency will continue to fight against and protect our residents from these deadly substances," Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast said. "It is important to stop illicit narcotics from being brought into our county. The TIU's dedication to halting the distribution train into Citrus County is truly commendable, and thanks to their hard work we have two fewer dealers and a large amount of deadly fentanyl and methamphetamine off our streets."
Kowanko was charged with trafficking methamphetamine over 200 grams, trafficking fentanyl over 28 grams, sale of methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a place of worship, illegal use of a two-way communication device, and possession of paraphernalia. His bond was set at no bond.
Joyce was charged with trafficking methamphetamine over 200 grams, trafficking fentanyl over 28 grams, sale of methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a place of worship, possession of crack cocaine, illegal use of a two-way communication device, and possession of paraphernalia. His bond was set at no bond.
The CCSO TIU’s responsibilities include narcotics (and other illegal drugs) investigations, street-level reverse stings, regular checks for illegal drugs in schools and traffic interdiction.
The unit coordinates and assists other organizations and departments in combating street-level drug crimes. The unit's detectives identify, investigate and infiltrate street-level to mid-level narcotics dealers and their organizations within Citrus County.
They work closely with other units within the CCSO Bureau of Special Investigations as well as local, state and federal authorities.
Two suspected burglars jailed
More arrests expected
Mug Shots By GCSO
By Jeff M. Hardison © Sept. 21, 2023 at 8 p.m.
GILCHRIST COUNTY – Investigators with the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO) recently found evidence to arrest of two suspected thieves, according to information in a Sept. 21 press release from the GCSO. A recent case in the Rock Bluff area, where the same residence was burglarized on at least three occasions over the past few months, bore fruit for finding suspected thieves. Several suspects were developed, which resulted in the execution of search warrants for two residences in the Rock Bluff area, the GCSO said.
On Tuesday (Sept. 19), an arrest warrant was granted for Hunter Micah Thomas Ellsworth of Bell, for burglary and petit theft.
On Wednesday (Sept. 20), Ellsworth was taken into custody, the GCSO said.
Additional search warrants were executed at the Ellsworth residence and a second address in Bell, the GCSO said.
Stolen property was recovered from both addresses, the GCSO said.
As of earlier today (Sept. 21), the GCSO said, Ellsworth was in the Gilchrist County Jail with a total bond amount of $50,000. Ellsworth is charged with one count of burglary of an unoccupied structure and petit theft, with additional charges forthcoming, the GCSO said.
Christopher John Goldthorpe, also of Bell, was arrested and charged with two counts of possession of a firearm and/or ammunition by a convicted felon and one count of resisting an officer without violence, the GCSO said.
Goldthorpe is a resident now at the Gilchrist County Jail with a total bond amount of $1,025,000 (one million and 25 thousand dollars).
This case is still an active and ongoing investigation with additional arrests anticipated, the GCSO said.
Gilchrist County Sheriff Robert D. “Bobby” Schultz III and the entire GCSO staff are committed to removing criminals from the streets, the GCSO said.
The GCSO noted that it wants to make sure the residents and visitors in Gilchrist County feel safe. The sheriff and his staff want people to know that this Sheriff’s Office is working diligently for everyone in the community.
Sheriff Schultz encourages individuals to report suspicious activity and persons to the GCSO.
The sheriff reminds people to remain vigilant in securing their property by locking their vehicles’ and residences’ doors, removing keys from vehicles when they are not in use, and to keep alert to activity in their surroundings.
“If you see something (suspicious), say something (by calling the GCSO at 352-463-3410, or if it is an emergency, call 9-1-1),” the GCSO noted.
Governor suspends county clerk
after FDLE makes arrest
Clerk and others jailed
as suspected thieves and liars
By Jeff M. Hardison © Sept. 21, 2023 at 9 a.m.
TALLAHASSEE – Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday (Sept. 20) suspended from office Jefferson County Clerk Kirk Bradley Reams, according to information provided by Director of Communications Jason Mahon in the governor’s press office. The email press release sent at 6:06 p.m. on Sept. 20 from the governor’s press office arrived after an email from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Public Information Office, which had arrived a few hours earlier on Wednesday.
The FDLE arrested on Sept. 20, Jefferson County Clerk of Court and Comptroller Reams, as well as Jefferson County Clerk of Court Financial Consultant Warren “Charles” Culp Jr., the FDLE noted.
An arrest warrant has been issued for former Jefferson County Deputy Clerk of Court and Human Resource Director for the Jefferson Board of County Commissioners Justin “Tyler” McNeill for fraud and theft-related crimes.
Reams, 46, of Monticello, was arrested on one felony count each for scheme to defraud over $50,000, and grand theft over $100,000, the FDLE said.
Culp, 52, of Tallahassee, was arrested on one felony count for scheme to defraud more than $50,000; two felony counts for grand theft of more than $100,000; six felony counts for grand theft for more than $20,000, but less than $100,000; and one felony count for grand theft $750 but less than $5,000, the FDLE said.
Culp formerly held a State of Florida position where he was involved in the auditing process of clerk of courts, which included court budgets.
McNeill, 40, of Monticello, was charged with one felony count each for scheme to defraud over $50,000, and grand theft over $100,000, the FDLE said.
FDLE’s Office of Executive Investigations inspectors initiated the criminal investigation in October of 2021 after receiving reports of alleged criminal misconduct related to the Jefferson County Clerk of Court Office, the FDLE said.
The criminal allegations against Reams included reports that he was spending county money on advertising and sponsorships and misusing the county purchasing card (P-Card) to pay for non-office related travel expenses.
The complaint alleged that Reams and Culp fraudulently misappropriated funds from the Jefferson Board of County Commissioners’ bank account, and that Reams used his position to establish a contract kickback scheme by which he, Culp and McNeill plotted to illegally enrich themselves.
Through the varying schemes, Reams, Culp and McNeill defrauded Jefferson County of over $800,000 in public funds, according to facts and evidence found by the FDLE.
Reams was booked into the Jefferson County Jail. Culp was booked into the Leon County Jail, the FDLE said.
These cases will be prosecuted by Office of the State Attorney, Second Judicial Circuit, the FDLE said. Jack Campbell is the elected state attorney leading that office, according to records.
Publisher’s Note: There is a move in the Florida Legislature to create mega-circuits in Florida, which has been brought to light. That story is currently on the Home Page as well as in the archives. It can be viewed in the archives by clicking HERE.
Two men charged
with first degree murder
Story and Mug Shots Provided
By MSCO Lt. Paul Bloom
Public Information Director
Published June 20, 2023 at 1:45 p.m.
MARION COUNTY -- On June 19, 2023, deputies and detectives with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) responded to the 4400 block of Northwest 22nd Avenue, in Ocala in reference to a report of multiple gunshots being fired.
Deputies learned that the victim Tylique Le’John Christie, 19, had been shot. He was transported to a local hospital in critical condition before law enforcement’s arrival.
On June 20, 2023, at around 9:30 a.m., Tylique did from his injuries.
During the investigation that followed, it was learned that the victim had driven to the location to sell marijuana. When he arrived, Davinci Dawson, 17, approached the vehicle that Christie was in, took the marijuana, and ran away.
As Dawson ran away, Luis Figueroa-Tirado, 20, approached Christie and shot him at close range. Additional shots were then fired toward the vehicle by a few other individuals standing nearby.
These other individuals have not been identified yet. Two other passengers that were in the vehicle with Christie were unharmed and were able to drive Christie to the hospital.
MCSO detectives identified Figueroa-Tirado and Dawson through the use of forensic evidence and a multitude of tips from the public.
On Sept. 18, a grand jury returned indictments charging both Figueroa-Tirado and Dawson with murder in the first degree. They are being held at the Marion County Jail with no bond.
“This is another tragic instance of young people killing one another,” Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said. “A 19-year-old’s life was senselessly cut short and the two people who we’ve so far identified as doing it were 17 years old and 20 years old. As your sheriff, I will not stand idly by while this continues to happen; but it won’t stop until we as a community create a culture where we don’t allow this to happen. Our young people need to know that violence is never the answer and that it just leads to more violence and suffering.
“With that said,” Sheriff Woods added, “I am proud of the hard work that my detectives put into this case, and I am thankful for all of the tips sent in by our citizens to help close this case and put these (suspected) murderers behind bars.”
Crash in Chiefland results in arrest
Mug Shot By LCSO
Story and Photos (other than the mug shot)
By Jeff M. Hardison © Sept. 18, 2023 at 8:45 p.m.
CHIEFLAND – A crash in Chiefland Sunday evening (Sept. 17) resulted in the arrest of a 33-year-old man who lives in the City of Crystal River (Citrus County), according to records.
In this crash scene, Colin Dave Boatwright is seen standing with the passenger door of one of the vehicles involved in the crash. Behind the CPD cruiser is a Levy County Fire Rescue ambulance and a tire sales and service outlet.
In this picture from the crash, a CPD cruiser blocks the southbound lane of Southwest Fourth Avenue (State Road 345), even though at this point SR 345 is an east-west road. The cruiser is facing east.
Within a half hour two Levy County Fire Rescue ambulances are on the scene, ready to take injured people to Alachua County. One man was transported. Levy County does not have a hospital.
Colin Dave Boatwright, 33, of Crystal River was booked into the Levy County Detention Center on Sept. 17 after being arrested for culpable negligence with injury; domestic battery and criminal mischief resulting in damage of more than $200 and less than $1,000 in estimated value, according to records.
Boatwright’s combined initial bonds were set at $30,000 at first appearance, according to records.
Physical evidence at the scene and testimony by a number of witnesses led to Boatwright being arrested by CPD Officer S. Snyder.
At approximately 5:08 p.m. on Sunday (Sept. 17), officer Snyder was dispatched to respond to a crash at Main Street (U.S. Highway 19) and Southwest Fourth Avenue (State Road 345) where two vehicles were smashed together near the corner where a ire retail outlet is located, across the street from the Citgo Food Mart.
When the officer arrived, contact was made with the driver of a 2022 Subaru four-door SUV, according to records. That driver is a woman from Citrus County.
She told the investigating officer that Boatwright was a passenger in the SUV and they had been arguing, according to records. The suspect was reported by the driver, and two other witnesses who were in the other vehicle, to have been seen spontaneously grabbing the steering wheel and causing the Subaru to hit a 2003 Toyota four-door Camry, driven by a man from Orange Park (Clay County), according to records.
Once the Subaru hit the Camry, both vehicles smashed into a power pole and meter, destroying both, Snyder noted.
A 47-year-old homeless man was a passenger in the Camry, and he told the investigator that he saw Boatwright grab the steering wheel as other said, according to records.
Boatwright, upon hearing his Miranda warning, chose not to speak with the officer about what happened, according to records.
CPD Officer H. Pagan saw Boatwright and the female driver of the Subaru, who had relocated to the Citgo during the crash investigation, as they argued, according to records.
Boatwright was standing over the woman, according to records, as she was seated. At one point Boatwright slapped the woman in her genital area, according to records, which caused her to immediately respond by showing signs of discomfort as she placed her legs on the ground and scooted away from the aggressor, according to records.
The homeless man was transported to a Gainesville hospital as a result of injuries he suffered in the crash, according to records.
The woman was given information about her rights after being victimized by Boatright, especially since they were in a romantic relationship at the time of the crash and suspected battery, according to records.
Boatwright was booked into the Levy County Jail, according to records.
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.
Cat training and video
By Jeff M. Hardison
© 2010-2023 All Rights Reserved
Here Inky the cat Hardison performs three Olympic jumps to rival the athletes in Brazil in 2016. Wait for it -- JUMP!
Cat training and video
By Jeff M. Hardison
© 2010-2023 All Rights Reserved