This website contains archived material from which is supported through private funding, supporter donations and advertising. If you are looking for the latest news in Manatee County Florida visit or perform an archive search at NOTE: Archiving did not begin until March 14, 2008. If you are seeking articles published prior to this date, you will need to contact us directly.

Review archived pages by date OR Text search of archived pages

Local/State News for week ending 10/25/2008

Manatee Detectives Arrest Man
for Theft of Seven Weapons
While Family Slept

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- Manatee County Sheriff's Detectives have arrested Shane A. Seaman, 18, of 107 52nd Avenue Drive East, Bradenton.

Shane A. Seaman

According to the arrest report, on August 16, 2008, Seaman entered a residence in the 5200 block of 1st Avenue Drive NW, Bradenton. during the overnight hours while the family was sleeping.

He forced entry to a garage window on the east side of the residence.

The resident had built a room inside the garage that housed his guns in a locked gun cabinet. The key to the cabinet was lying on top of the cabinet and was used to enter.

Seaman then stole 3 rifles, 3 pistols and a shotgun. The value of the guns was $2,844 dollars.

Latent fingerprints were obtained from inside the garage.

On October 20, 2008, a latent fingerprint examiner reported the prints belonged to Seaman.

Seaman, who is currently in the Manatee County Jail on unrelated charges, was additionally charged with Armed Burglary and Grand Theft. He remains in the Manatee County Jail on bonds totaling $30,000 for those offenses.

Stolen Valuable Banjo Found
at Pawn Shop, Man Arrested

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- Manatee County Detectives, in an attempt to match up recent burglaries with items found in local pawn shops, have connected a stolen valuable banjo at Cash America Pawn and arrested the man who pawned it.

Christian P. Meudt

According to an arrest report, a burglary was committed on October 6, 2008, at a mobile home at 5811 14th Street West, Bradenton.

During that burglary, only a banjo was stolen. It was an Odessa banjo, valued at $300 dollars.

A day or two earlier, a friend of the resident's had brought Meudt to the residence. Meudt took a specific interest in the banjo and told the resident that he also played the banjo.

During the pawn shop search for a match to items stolen in burglaries, the banjo was discovered and it was also discovered to have been pawned by Meudt not five hours after the burglary had occurred.

Meudt, who is currently in the Manatee County Jail on unrelated charges, was additionally charged with Burglary to a Dwelling, Dealing in Stolen Property and Defrauding a Pawn Broker.

He was also charged on two arrest warrants for Passing a Forged Instrument in two separate incidents.

He remains in the Manatee County Jail on bail bonds totaling $27,000 dollars for those offenses.

Man Confesses to Theft of
Boat Motors on Island,
Tools in Palma Sola

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- Manatee County Sheriff's Investigators say Steven Wayne Tanner, 47, of 5310 26th Street West, Bradenton, has confessed to stealing numerous boat motors from the Village of Cortez, Longboat Key and Holmes Beach. Tanner also confessed to taking tools from the Palma Sola area in Manatee County.

Steven Wayne Tanner

According to arrest reports, on July 28, 2008, at about 2 a.m., Tanner stole tools and a Honda generator from a construction trailer in the 1100 block of Palma Sola Blvd., he told detectives. The items were valued at $3,285 dollars.

Then, on August 3, 2008, Tanner told investigators he stole a Whacker plate compactor, valued at $1,500 dollars, from a storage space at a residence in the 1700 block of Palma Sola Blvd.

The boat motor thefts were not listed in the arrest report.

Tanner's wife pawned a number of the items locally. She said she had accompanied Tanner on the burglaries, as well.

Tanner, who is currently in the Manatee County Jail on unrelated charges, was additionally charged with two counts of Grand Theft, Burglary to a Conveyance and Burglary to a Dwelling.

He remains in the Manatee County Jail on bonds totaling $38,000 for those offenses.

Tanner's wife was not arrested.

Deputies Search for Work Truck
Taken in Armed Carjacking
Thursday Morning

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- Manatee County Deputies are searching for a red 2008 Ford F-150 work truck, Florida license tag 360 HMI, taken on Thursday, October 23, 2008, at about 6:30 a.m. by two armed Black males.

Above, a lookalike red 2008 Ford F-150

According to the report from the sheriff's office, the victim, Ramiro Valdez, 21, was outside his vehicle in the 4300 block of 9th Street East, preparing to go to work, when a black SUV pulled up in the yard.

Two Black males got out of the SUV and each pointed a gun at him, demanding money.

Valdez told them that he did not have any, at which time one of them snatched the keys from his hands, jumped into the truck and drove off northbound on 9th St. E.

The vehicle, a work truck, is a red 2008 Ford F-150, FL tag 360 HMI with white lettering on each side reading "Valley Crest."

No shots were fired and no injuries occurred.

A BOLO was issued and surrounding agencies were notified.

The carjackers were described as 2 Black males of unknown age, approximately 6' to 6'3, dressed in all black clothing. One had dreadlock style hair.

Two Hispanic Men Carjack
Vehicle at Wal-Mart

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- The Manatee County Sheriff's Office reported a carjacking on Thursday, October 23, 2008, at about 4:15 a.m. from the Wal-Mart parking lot located at 8320 Lockwood Ridge Road, in South Manatee County.

According to the report, the victim, William Wu, 57, was returning to his vehicle from shopping and was attempting to get into the vehicle.

He was approached from behind by two Hispanic men. One of them put a handgun in Wu's face while the other pulled him out of the vehicle.

The second man ripped open Wu's pocket and took his wallet.

The carjackers then demanded the keys to Wu's vehicle and took off with the vehicle eastbound on University Parkway.

Wu was not hurt during this incident and no shots were fired.

The vehicle was not described in the incident report.

4 Shots Fired Into Residence
By Tall Thin Unknown Man

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- On Wednesday, October 22, 2008, at about 10:30 p.m., four shots were fired into a residence in the 7400 block of Ponce De Leon Street, in South Manatee County.

A report from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office said seven people, ranging in age between 15 and 37 were inside the residence at the time at various parts of the home.

One of them reported glass from the front window hit her in the face, but did not hurt her.

A neighbor was coming out of his house at the time of the shooting and did not see anyone shooting, but reported seeing a tall thin man wearing all black standing across the street. The neighbor said that man began running southbound to a waiting vehicle at Tallevast and Ponce De Leon Street. He entered the late model vehicle and the vehicle fled eastbound on Tallevast.

Nobody in the home had any idea who would have done the shooting.

The home was photographed and one of the bullets was recovered.

Visit Bradenton’s "Haunted Trail"
on Halloween Night, Oct. 31st

BRADENTON, Florida [NMT] -- For a scary but safe place to spend Halloween, visit the Bradenton "Haunted Trail" at 1218 18th St. W., sponsored by the Ballard Oaks Neighborhood Association and the Bradenton Police Department.

The Haunted Trail is open from 7 p.m. to about 11 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 31st, Halloween night. This is a one-night-only event.

The Haunted Trail is an annual tradition created by Bradenton resident Shawn Troxel. Shawn has a professional background in special effects makeup and haunted house construction.

Every year, he and his wife, Darell, turn their back yard and their neighbor’s back yard into a Halloween adventure for everyone – and it’s free, too, although donations are encouraged to help ensure the Haunted Trail’s return in 2009.

"We do this so kids have a place to go on Halloween," said Shawn, father of a two-and-a-half-year-old boy. "Everyone knows it’s a fun, safe environment."

Among the many scares are a glowing ghost, a spider tunnel, a graveyard (with some residents who may or may not be dead) and a rotting Pirate ship, staffed with live actors and some amazing props. New additions to this year’s trail include a tunnel of psychotic clowns, a butcher with a variety of cooking/torture tools, a skeleton tunnel and more.

The Bradenton Police Department is expected to close 18th Street West between 12th and 14th avenues between 6:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Halloween night, although residents who live on the street will be able to get to and from their houses.

The police department’s Explorer Post will sell food and beverages from a concession stand.

Costume attire is welcome.

Anna Maria Bridge Rehab
Project Closure Update

BRADENTON, Florida [NMT] -- Work continues during the closure of the Anna Maria Bridge Rehab Project on State Road 64, aka Manatee Avenue West.

There are 21 days before the bridge is scheduled to reopen on November 13, 2008.

The Contractor will receive an incentive bonus of $550,000 should the bridge reopen in 45 days. On the 46th day, the Contractor will owe the Florida Department of Transportation $10,000 and that amount increases by $10,000 daily.

The Contractor is on schedule.

There are 26 spans to be repaired through hydro-demolition which is a high-pressured water system used to remove the damaged concrete. The Contractor has demolished 25 spans.

Once the concrete is demolished, it has to be replaced with new concrete. The Contractor has restored 20 of the 26 spans.

Replacing the bridge steel is another major element of the rehabilitation. The entire roadway steel has been completed. The contractor still needs to repair the sidewalk steel.

Please cooperate with the City of Bradenton as they make every effort to complete the work within 45 days or less.

Teacher, 45, Arrested for
Sex with Male Student, 17

PORT ORANGE, Florida [NMT/WKMG] -- A teacher who resigned from a Volusia County Christian school amid allegations that she had a sexual relationship with a student has been arrested, according to Orlando television station WKMG.

Cynthia Horvath
(Mug shot courtesy WKMG)

Cynthia Horvath, 45, of South Daytona, was arrested Wednesday on charges of unlawful sexual activity with certain minors at the Wal-Mart on Beville Road in Daytona Beach around 12:20 p.m.

Horvath, who taught at Warner Christian Academy, was transported to the Volusia County Branch Jail and was being held on a $10,000 bond.

The teacher was investigated by Port Orange and South Daytona police after she was confronted by a school administrator about having an inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old male, police said.

According to a preliminary investigation by South Daytona police, the teacher and the student met off-campus over a four-month period and had a sexual relationship, WKMG said.




Manatee County Detective
Arrests Man: Five Counts
of Capital Sexual Battery
on a Child, 6 Years Old

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- Manatee County Sheriff's Detective Jeff Bliss has arrested Robert J. Hartley, 64, of Hudson, Florida.

Robert J. Hartley
(Mug shot courtesy Pasco County Sheriff)

According to the arrest report, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office was contacted by the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and advised of an ongoing Capital Sexual Battery investigation involving Hartley.

The unnamed victim, who is now an adult and lives is Pasco County, disclosed to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office that Hartley committed acts consistent with Capital Sexual Battery to her when she was six years old in 1996.

At the time, the victim was living in the Bayshore Gardens area of Bradenton, in the 2100 block of Wellesley Drive.

The sexual abuse continued when the victim moved to Pasco County, the report said.

During the course of the investigation, probable cause was developed to arrest and charge Hartley with multiple counts of sexual battery.

Hartley was interviewed and confessed to committing such acts to the victim in both Pasco County and in Manatee County.

Det. Bliss obtained five arrest warrants for Hartley, charging him with five counts of Capital Sexual Battery.

Hartley is currently being detained with no bond in the Pasco County Jail.

The victim was known to Hartley, the arrest report said.

Deputy Arrests Man for
Theft of Money from
Employer's Safe

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- Manatee County Sheriff's Deputy Brandon Gard has arrested Clinton Matthews, Jr., 55, of 3129 54th Drive East, Bradenton, for allegedly stealing over $500 dollars from the safe of his employer, Popeye's Chicken, located at 3320 1st Street, Bradenton.

Clinton Matthews, Jr.

According to the arrest report, at 15 minutes past midnight on Tuesday, October 21, 2008, the assistant manager, Kevin Edwards, told Dep. Gard that he closed the store and left. At that time, the count for the money in the store was $925 dollars.

At about 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Clinton Matthews, Jr., entered the closed store and walked over to the safe, then walked out, as seen on a surveillance camera.

Clinton then entered the store again at 2:25 a.m. This time, the camera shows Clinton squat down to the bottom safe, open it and place an unknown amount of money in his pocket.

Clinton then comes back into camera view again at 4:16 a.m., went to the safe and then turned on the lights. There was nothing further about that period of time in the report.

The following afternoon, at about 4:15 p.m., Clinton entered the store while Dep. Gard was there. He told Dep. Gard he doesn't remember anything and that he had been drinking as of about 5 p.m. on Monday and quit late Tuesday night.

He didn't know where the money is, he told the deputy, but agreed that that is him on the surveillance video.

The amount of money in the safe in the morning, according to the assistant manager, was $395 dollars. The amount missing was therefore $530 dollars, the deputy wrote in his report.

Clinton was arrested and charged with Grand Theft.

Two Arrested in Assault
at Palmetto Bar

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- The Manatee County Sheriff's Office has arrested Travis Crawford, 21, of 1004 4th Avenue West, Palmetto, and Jacob Blackman, 20, of 403 12th Street West, Palmetto.

Above, L to R, Travis Crawford and Jacob Blackman

The sheriff's office arrest report for both men said on Saturday, October 18, 2008, at about 8:00 p.m., Travis Crawford, Jacob Blackman and Ryan Crawford showed up at Peggy's Corral, 4511 U.S. 41 North, in Palmetto.

Earlier that night, Travis Crawford had been kicked out of the bar for causing a disturbance. At that time, Travis said he would be back and kill the owner, Terry Toner, the person who kicked him out.

When the three showed up, the manager of the bar stopped them at the door and pushed them out the door.

Travis attempted to kick over a motorcycle that belonged to the manager, Brian Roberts.

A fight then ensued between Travis and Roberts.

The owner then saw Jacob Blackman pull a gun from his pocket, the report said.

The owner ran to et his gun and when he returned, he observed that Jacob had the gun in his hand and was holding it down at his side. He told Jacob, "If you raise the gun, I will shoot you." Toner made that statement due to what Travis had said earlier.

Travis got up off the ground and told Jacob to give him the gun as they started to run around the corner of the bar. Jacob did not give the gun to Travis, the report said.

When a deputy arrived, he put all three on the ground at gunpoint. At that point, the deputy saw Travis pull a bag of marijuana from his pocket and drop it by his leg.

Backup units arrived on the scene and a K-9 unit was deployed to find the gun, which was located in the trees, about 25 feet from where the men were standing. The gun had a loaded magazine, but the chamber was clear.

Travis Crawford was arrested and charged with Aggravated Assault with a Firearm, Felony Battery, Possession of Marijuana and Trespass After Warning.

Jacob Blackman was arrested and charged with Aggravated Assault with a Firearm and Possession of a Firearm with an Altered Serial Number.

Ryan Crawford was not arrested.

Bradenton Police Arrest Man
for June Burglary

BRADENTON, Florida [NMT] -- Bradenton Police have arrested Peter E. Samson, 35, of 810 10th Avenue West, Bradenton, who is currently incarcerated in the Manatee County Jail.

Peter E. Sampson

According to Sampson's arrest report, on June 11, 2008, there was a burglary of a residence in the 2800 block of 20th Avenue Drive West.

The victims of that burglary reported over $5,000 dollars worth of jewelry was taken, along with an Apple iPod, valued at $300 dollars.

Initial investigation revealed that entry was made through a rear sliding glass door. The burglar then left through the same door.

The responding officer found a water bottle left in the kitchen and a rubber glove on the ground just outside the sliding door. Neither of those items belonged to the victim of the burglary.

The items were sent for DNA analysis to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

On October 10, 2008, detectives received a report from FDLE indicating DNA on the rubber glove was a match to Peter Sampson.

The detective attempted to interview Sampson at the jail, but was told by Sampson his lawyer told him not to talk to police.

On Tuesday, October 21, 2008, Sampson was charged with Burglary to a Dwelling.

Florida Railroad Museum Offers
Halloween Experiences for Kids

PARRISH, Florida [NMT] -- The Florida Railroad Museum is offering two separate events for kids (and adults who are not afraid) for Halloween.

The Pumpkin Patch Express event is being held on Saturday and Sunday, October 25 & 26th, at 9 a.m., 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Riders are transported along Florida's historic rail route to the Ghost Town of Willow, Florida where they are allowed to de-train, gather a pumpkin from the patch and have fun on a hay ride.

Eerie Railroad, which is not recommended for younger children nor the faint of heart, is being held on Friday and Saturday, October 24th & 25th, at 8 p.m.

The Eerie consist leaves Parrish at 8 p.m., traveling north along the historic rail lines. You have to come ride along to see what fate awaits those brave enough, in the old Cypress Swamp. If the swamp doesn't get you, then the haunted Pullman car awaits you on the return to Parrish. No telling who you may see hanging around there.

The volunteer train crew will be lurking for you in Parrish at the Depot 12210 83rd Street East, in Parrish.

The Florida Railroad Museum is a non-profit, volunteer staffed organization. It is one of the Tampa Bay area's and Manatee County's treasures.

De Soto National Memorial
Announces "Desoween"

BRADENTON, Florida [NMT] De Soto National Memorial would like to invite the public to come out to the park for "Desoween," a family friendly spooky experience at their first ever Haunted Night hike.

On Thursday, October 30th, bring the kids in their Halloween costumes to the park at 6:30 p.m.

There will be several activities, a Halloween costume contest and prizes for the kids.

After dark, Park Rangers will lead everyone on a spooky trail walk through the haunted mangroves.

This will be a family experience without the scary costumes and gore of other haunted houses, so children of all ages will be able to participate.

Learn about De Soto, the American Indians and local haunted history through spooky tales.

Admission to the park and all activities is free.

Reservations are required because space is limited so please RSVP by calling 941-792-0458 ext 106 by October 30th.

De Soto National Memorial is located in Bradenton at the North terminus of 75th Street West.

Come out and have a great experience and let the kids try out their costumes before Halloween.

2-Year-Old Sarasota Boy
Drowns in Lake Near Home

SARASOTA COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office reported a 2-year-old boy drowned in a lake near his home, located in the 2300 block of 21st Street, in Sarasota.

The boy, Angel Avila, was discovered missing from his home by his parents, Angel and Shara Avila, on Tuesday, October 21, 2008, at about 4:15 p.m.

The boy's father found him in a lake next to the home.

The father was able to retrieve his son and EMS was called.

The boy was pronounced dead at the scene.

MRSA Cases Confirmed
at Three More Schools

ORLANDO, Florida [NMT/WKMG] -- Three more Orange County students have contracted methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA, school officials told Orlando television station WKMG News on Tuesday.

The incidents occurred at Memorial Middle, Pine Hills Elementary and Dover Shores Elementary schools. Letters have been sent to parents of students at the respective schools, informing them of the situations.

There have been four MRSA cases involving Orange County students this school year, and numerous other students throughout Central Florida have also contracted the infection.

Earlier this month, a Kissimmee high school student died after contracting MRSA. His classmate also contracted the infection, WKMG said.

MRSA is a type of staph that is resistant to antibiotics called beta-lactams. Beta-lactam antibiotics include methicillin and other more common antibiotics such as penicillin, amoxicillin and oxacillin.

Factors that have been associated with the spread of staph infections, including MRSA skin infections, include close skin-to-skin contact, openings in the skin, such as cuts or abrasions, contaminated items and surfaces, crowded living conditions and poor hygiene.



Cops: Doped-Up Mother Busted;
Daughter, 4, Found in Ditch,
Stove On Fire, Home Filthy,
Two Sons, 7 and 8, Taken
By Neighbors from Fire

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- A 26-year-old woman may qualify as the worst mother of the year in Manatee County. On Thursday, October 16, 2008, at about 11 p.m., she was found wandering in a drug-induced confused state. Her 4-year-old daughter was found in a ditch near a construction site where her mother had abandoned her. And neighbors rescued two other children, boys ages 7 and 8, from her filthy home when the woman's stove was on fire; the neighbors went to assist in extinguishing the fire.

Ginny M. Eason

According to Deputy Kevin Vreeland's arrest report. Ginny M. Eason, of 5546 8th Street Court West, Bradenton, was discovered by neighbors wandering around in a "drug-induced state of confusion." They also discovered that Eason had been attempting to cook some food and in doing so set her stove top on fire. Eason had placed clothing on the flames in an attempt to put the fire out. A neighbor went to assist Eason with putting the fire out and removed two of Eason's three children from the home, two boys, ages 7 and 8. Eason then began wandering around in a "semi-conscious state."

Neighbors then discovered that Eason's 4-year-old daughter was missing. Several neighbors started to search for the child, starting at Eason's home. They were unable to find the child and when Eason was questioned regarding the child's whereabouts, Eason told them in "slurred speech" that the child was with an uncle. Eason failed to realize that the uncle was the person asking where the 4-year-old girl was.

By this time, the fire had been extinguished and neighbors had begun their search outside the home for the little girl, while others watched the two boys.

The search for the little girl went on for about an hour and she was finally found near a construction site with large deep holes in the ground. The child was found about 150 yards from the back of Eason's home, just south of the construction site, approximately 20 yards down in a large ditch. The child was covered with plant material and was very shaken, Dep. Vreeland wrote.

The child told Dep. Vreeland that while walking back from the store, her mother had put her in the ditch and left. Dep. Vreeland also spoke with the 8-year-old son. He told Dep. Vreeland that his mother had told him that his sister had fallen behind on the way home and was in a ditch.

EMS was summoned and examined the children, including the 4-year-old girl, who were all unharmed and had no visible signs of abuse. Eason was also checked by EMS. They determined that she was highly intoxicated. She was transported to Manatee Memorial Hospital, where it was determined that she had several drugs in her system, including barbiturates, benzodiazapine, opiates, cocaine and marijuana. The amount of the drugs could not be determined, but were considerable enough to cause Eason to be unconscious for several hours while at the hospital.

Back at the home, Dep. Vreeland continued his on scene investigation. The fire had been started because a plastic bowl or plate had been set on hot burners. He saw the burned clothing that had been used to put out the fire. The kitchen was in an unkempt state and dirty. The rest of the home was also very unkempt and dirty. Clothing was piled up in the bedrooms and floors were covered with clothing and other household items, as well as dog feces. Several small plastic bags were on the floor as well, which are commonly known to be used for drugs. No drugs or traces of drugs were found in the baggies.

Child Protective Services (CPS) investigators responded to the scene and spoke with witnesses and the 8-year-old boy. Photographs were taken of the inside of the home.

Deputies made several attempts to locate family of the children for placement, but no current information was found in Eason's phone list.

CPS was able to place the children with the neighbor and his family until the grandparents could come to take the children to school the next morning. It is unknown at this time as to where the children were now being kept or with whom.

When Eason regained consciousness at the hospital, she was arrested and transported to the Manatee County Jail, charged with 3 counts of Child Neglect and two counts of Violation of Probation. She remains there on a bond of $30,500 dollars.

Charges Filed Against Man
Who Drove Car Fleeing
Cops in Fatal Crash

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- The Manatee County Sheriff's Office has filed charges against James. M. Gilles, 18, the man who was driving the car that was fleeing from deputies that was involved in a fatal crash.

James M. Gilles

James M. Gilles, 18, was the driver of the white Buick that fled from deputies on Monday at about 10:30 a.m. The Buick subsequently was involved in a crash at 15th Street and U.S. 301 that killed 18-year-old Maurice Cooper and seriously injured Jaime Hobdy, 27 (See Tuesday's report of the incident).

Gilles has been charged with Vehicular Homicide, Aggravated Assault with a Motor Vehicle, Aggravated Fleeing to Elude and Burglary, in addition to No Valid Driver License, Leaving the Scene of a Crash Involving Death, Leaving the Scene of a Crash Involving Serious Bodily Injury, Reckless Driving, Possession of Marijuana and Contempt of Court for Failure to Answer a Summons.

Gilles remains in the Manatee County Jail on a bond of more than $25,000 dollars for several charges. The Vehicular Homicide and Aggravated Assault with a Motor Vehicle carry no bond.

The three men were allegedly all gang members involved in drug and weapons violations, according to the sheriff's office and were under investigation prior to the incident.

Trailer Fire Leaves Home
Unoccupiable; Resident
Baker Acted

BRADENTON, Florida [NMT] -- The Bradenton Fire Department responded to a trailer fire that occurred late Monday night, October 20, 2008, at about 11:58 p.m., according to Ken Langston, BFD Fire Marshal.

Above, 2209 7th Avenue Drive East, Lot 4
(Photo by Heather Chadwick, NewsManatee)

The fire was at the Manatee Trailer Park, 2209 7th Avenue Drive East, Lot 4, Bradenton.

By the time fire fighters arrived the structure was heavily involved.

One resident of the trailer, Jim Dulany, 54, was taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation. He was later Baker Acted.

According to NewsManatee reporter Heather Chadwick, who was on scene Tuesday interviewing witnesses, the fire was started by the resident, Dulany, who called his brother an hour before starting the fire saying he was depressed and was going to blow up the trailer.

The cause of the fire has not been determined, nor has a dollar value of the damages, Bradenton Fire Department's Fire Marshal Ken Langston told NewsManatee on Tuesday.

The residence is no longer occupiable, Langston said.


Man Arrested for Strangling
Girlfriend, Smothering Her

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- Manatee County Sheriff's Deputies have arrested Daniel Dukatz, 31, of 4570 71st Street West, Bradenton.

Daniel Dukatz

Deputies say on Sunday, October 19, 2008, at about 4:15 p.m., Dukatz became angry with his girlfriend (unnamed in the report) while drinking at Clancy's Bar.

When they returned home, Dukatz punched the victim in the stomach, causing her to fall to the ground, according to her statement to deputies.

Then he started choking her by placing her hands around her neck until she was unable to breathe. Dukatz continued to do so until the woman lost consciousness.

When the regained consciousness, Dukatz then covered her mouth and nose, making it impossible for her to breathe, the report said.

She had injuries in the form of bruises to her right bicep, a dark bruise on the bottom part of her throat, and redness and bruising on the right side of her neck. Her bottom lip was swollen and dried blood was all over the lip. The woman also had bruising on both legs.

Dukatz was not at home when deputies were there, but he was later arrested at about 12:45 a.m. on Monday, October 20, 2008.

Dukatz was charged with Domestic Battery by Strangulation and Domestic Battery.

Bradenton Police Arrest Man
Currently in Jail for Burglary
That Happened in May

BRADENTON, Florida [NMT] -- Bradenton Police have arrested Zachary Robinson, 22, currently in the Manatee County Jail for Violation of Probation.

Zachary Robinson

Robinson has been charged with the May 22, 2008, burglary of the Anna Maria Oyster Bar, 6696 Cortez Road West.

According to Robinson's arrest report, Robinson used a small brick to break out a side window to gain entry.

Once inside, he made his way to the bar area before setting off an alarm. Robinson then fled the business.

Robinson was captured on a surveillance video tape.

While crawling through the window, Robinson left blood inside and outside the business.

The blood was collected and sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. They were able to match the blood to Robinson and sent back a report of the match on October 9, 2008.

Robinson was interviewed at the jail and he allegedly admitted to the burglary. He said he was drunk at the time. He said he wants help with his addiction.

Robinson was charged with Burglary to a Structure.

Two Black Men in Halloween Masks
Fire Several Shots at Residence

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- On Monday, October 20, 2008, sometime during the night, two Black men in Halloween masks fired several shots at a residence in the 5600 block of 11th Street Court East, Bradenton, according to a report from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

The report said the men shot at least 6 times at the above location.

Deputies responded to neighbors complaining of hearing the gunfire and the area was searched.

An unoccupied vehicle was found with a bullet hole in the rear bumper at a residence next door. The victim/car owner was informed of the damage by deputies.

No one was found injured in the incident and no suspects were found.

One witness saw two Black males in Halloween masks running from the area right after the shots were heard.

There was no further description of the shooters.

Anyone with any information about this case is asked to call the Manatee County Sheriff's Office at (941) 747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at 1-866-634-TIPS (8477) -- or, to provide an anonymous e-Tip by computer, .

Callers to the Crime Stoppers tip line and Tipsters who submit e-Tips by computer will remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.

Child Bike Helmet Giveaway
Set for Amscot Locations

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- The Manatee County Sheriff's Office announced a Child Bike Helmet Giveaway event to be held this Thursday at two Amscot Financial locations.

The Child Bike Helmet Giveaway is an effort to make Florida’s children safer bicyclists on the roadways.

Sheriff Offices and Police Departments throughout Florida will distribute child bike helmets at their nearest participating Amscot locations in each county.

Amscot Financial encourages the participation of law enforcement agencies in each county by distributing helmets within their local communities.

The event will be held on Thursday, October 23, 2008, from 6:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. in Manatee County at the following Amscot locations: 3611 1st Street East, Bradenton, and 3400 Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton.

All bicycle riders under the age of 16 are required by law to have a helmet while riding their bikes.

All violators are subject to a $49.00 fine.

Sarasota Residential Blaze
Displaces Family

SARASOTA, Florida [NMT] -- NewsManatee Sarasota Bureau reporter Doug Reynolds reported on Monday, October 20, 2008, at about 8 p.m. Sarasota County fire fighters were dispatched to a house fire in the 1000 block of Bahia Vista Court. Upon the first engine's arrival, fire fighters found they had a working fire.

Above, Residential fire aftermath in the 1000 block of Bahia Vista Court
(Photo by Doug Reynolds, NewsManatee)

It took two hours to bring the fire under control.

This 2-alarm fire used 5 engine companies, a ladder truck, 4 rescue wagons, a tanker and the heavy rescue engine. All together, it took 30 fire personnel over 4 hours to put the fire out.
It was said that the residents of the home left only a few minutes before the fire broke out. The mother was taken to the hospital for chest pains and her son went to turn off the stove. They were notified at the hospital the fire had occurred, Reynolds reported.
Fire officials determined the cause was a pot of oil left on the stove.
One Sarasota Firefighter was taken to the hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.
The home is a complete loss. The roof collapsed onto a piano in the living room.
The American Red Cross was also called to the scene to provide refreshments to the firefighters and assisted the owner with lodging, Reynolds said.

Man Arrested in Sarasota
Shooting Incident

SARASOTA COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Detectives have arrested Jesse James Collins, 21, of 1340 Tudor Road, in Englewood, on one charge of Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon in connection with a shooting incident that occurred Friday, 10th October, 2008, at approximately 2:24 a.m. at 730 Harvey Street in Englewood.

Jesse James Collins

The shooting occurred as a result of a criminal mischief incident at the above location.

The shooting victim, John Millen, 34, of 7273 Mamouth Street, in Englewood, was transported to Englewood Hospital and then to the Tampa General Hospital Trauma Center, in Tampa. He has subsequently been released from the hospital.

Collins is being held at the Charlotte County Jail without bond.

Sarasota Sheriff Investigating
Copper Thefts; Ask Public's

SARASOTA COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Detectives are investigating a series of copper wire thefts that occurred on Thursday, October 16th, 2008 at East Sawgrass Road and Interstate Boulevard, in Sarasota.

The male suspect removed the copper coils from the air conditioning units of 12 business premises in the vicinity.

The suspect was driving a 1980’s model white/light colored Chevrolet pick-up truck (see surveillance photo above).

The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information regarding the incident should contact the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office District I Criminal Investigations Bureau at (941) 861-4900. They may also leave anonymous information on the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at (941) 366-TIPS (8477) or online at or text “TIP109” and a message to CRIMES (274637).

Two Men Arrested by CCSO
for Construction Site Metal Thefts

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- The Charlotte County Sheriff’s detectives arrested two North Port men Monday caught in the act of stealing $3,000 worth of items at a construction site, 7245 Gasparilla Rd. in the Gulf Cove Point area. Arrested were Jacob Coriano Gascot, 47, 4962 Cromey Rd. and Castor Abreu, 37, 2599 Atwater Dr.

Above, L to R, Jacob Gascot and Castor Abreu

CCSO received a call from the owner who drove by his property at 4:45 p.m. and saw a pickup truck at his construction site. When he pulled into the driveway Gascot and Abreu fled into a wooded area, leaving Abreu’s pickup behind. Road patrol, detectives, K-9 and Marine Patrol responded and searched the area. Gascot was located around 5:20 p.m. Detectives said they received information about where Abreu might be located and at 11:54 p.m. Abreu was arrested at the Punta Gorda Wal-Mart.

Gascot told detectives he and his neighbor Abreu were at the construction site and when the owner showed up they fled leaving the pickup and stolen items behind. Gascot said he just wanted to take some metal to scrap for money. Abreu told detectives he thought taking some metal to scrap for money without the owner’s permission was okay. The pickup was impounded and in it detectives found a gasoline water pump, a gasoline pile driving engine, a piece of pile driving leads, a jet pump, 40 stainless steel lag bolts, a gray tarp, an aluminum boat ladder, two pieces of steel and an exhaust muffler.

Both were charged with Grand Theft and taken to the Charlotte County Jail. Detectives also learned that Gascot had three outstanding warrants for Petit Theft, and two for Failure to Appear. Gascot’s bond was set at $8,500 and Abreu for $2,500.

'Heavy' Inmate Hid Pot in Fat
Folds of Stomach, Cops Say

JACKSONVILLE, Florida [NMT/WKMG/WJXT] -- Police have filed additional charges against an inmate who they say tried to hide illegal drugs inside a Northside prison in the folds of his stomach, Orlando television station WKMG's sister station Jacksonville television station WJXT reported.

Cedric Webb
(Mug shot courtesy WKMG)

Officers said Cedric Webb, 25, was at the Montgomery Correctional Center on the Northside when officers searching for contraband told him to lift his shirt.

According to the police report, when Webb raised his shirt, the officer saw two bags of marijuana and tobacco tucked into his stomach fat.

Investigators said the drugs then fell to the ground, WJXT reported.

The report said Webb would not explain how he got the banned substances into the facility.

The arrest report describes Webb as 6 feet 2 inches tall and 290 pounds and his build as "heavy."

Webb, who had been in jail since May on charges of possession of cocaine and forgery, is now charged with introduction of contraband into a detention facility and possession of marijuana, WKMG said.




Alleged Gang Member Dies
During High Speed Pursuit by
Manatee County Sheriff's Deputies

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- A criminal investigation into drug and weapons charges led to a high-speed pursuit around 10:30 a.m. on Monday, October 20, 2008. One suspect is dead, another is in serious condition, and yet a third is in custody after they fled from Manatee County Sheriff's Deputies.

Above, the accident scene at 15th Street East and U.S. 301
(Photo by Heather Chadwick, NewsManatee)

Gang suppression deputies were conducting surveillance at an undisclosed address near 15th Street East, when the three suspects: James Gilles, 18, Jaime Hobdy, 27, and Maurice Cooper, 18, rammed their vehicle into a sheriff’s vehicle and resisted arrest.

Minutes later, the suspects, driving a white older Buick sedan, ran through the red light at U.S. 301 and 15th Street East and collided with a Blue Ford cargo van, after being struck by another vehicle.

Maurice Cooper, deceased
(Prior mug shot from 2006)

The impact of the crash killed Maurice Cooper, who was riding in the back seat, and ejected Jaime Hobdy, who was riding in the front seat.

The driver, James Gilles, escaped the crash without serious injury and continued to flee on foot before deputies apprehended him just yards from the crash hiding in a shed.

The driver of the van involved in the crash was not injured. The driver of the vehicle that collided with the Buick was transported to Manatee Memorial Hospital with possible back injuries.

One witness, Latisha Pring, told NewsManatee when the Buick hit the nearby railroad tracks, it went airborne.

NewsManatee reporter Heather Chadwick said another witness, Jack (Rusty) Mitchell, had stopped at a nearby laundry and told Chadwick, "About five police cars were chasing [the Buick] at about 100 mph."

Charges against the surviving gang members involved in the crash have not been released as yet.

"Deputies are working on separate investigations into the criminal case that led up the pursuit and the fatal traffic crash," Randy Warren, a sheriff's office spokesman said.

Manatee County Sheriff's K-9 Unit
Captures Woman Who Committed
Two Robberies in Two Days

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- According to two reports from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, Kristen Dodd, 27, was captured by a K-9 unit after committing two strong arm robberies; one was on Saturday, October 18, 2008, and the other was on Sunday, October 19, 2008.

Kristen Dodd

On Sunday, at about 6:15 p.m., the victim, Clare Lindsey, 82, was leaving the Target store at 6150 14th Street West after shopping and was about to get inside her vehicle when she was approached by a woman later identified as Dodd.

Dodd grabbed Clare's purse from her shoulder. As Dodd was fleeing, Clare was able to hold on to Dodd's shirt in an attempt to get her purse back. Dodd was able to get into her dark green Saturn and began to pull away. Clare, however, was still holding onto Dodd's shirt. Dodd continued to drive away, dragging Clare a short distance before she let go.

Dodd fled West to 26th Street, then North on 26th to approximately the 5400 block where she was involved in a traffic accident. Dodd and another female fled South on foot with the driver of the other vehicle in pursuit.

Deputies Taylor and Bass were first on scene and confirmed the vehicle as the robbery vehicle. A perimeter was established and the suspect was located by the K-9 unit at 5600 21st Street Court West. The name of the K-9 Deputy and his K-9 were not in the sheriff's report of the incident.

It was also discovered that in the course of fleeing, Dodd went inside an occupied residence in an attempt to hide, but the residents there told her to leave.

The victim's purse was located and returned to her.

Dodd was charged with Robbery By Sudden Snatching, Aggravated Battery on a Person Over 65 Resisting Arrest without Violence and Occupied Burglary.

However, Detective Sevier, of the Violent Crimes Task Force put 'two and two together' from an incident that had occurred on Saturday that NewsManatee reported in our Monday edition.

On Saturday, Lena Seay was sitting on a bench at 835 Cortez Road West when the suspect approached Lena asking for money. Lena felt suspicious and clutched her purse to prevent it from being taken. The suspect then ripped the victim's necklace from her neck and fled in an awaiting vehicle. The victim described the suspect as being a male with very short hair and tattoos on the inside of the wrist. The victim also said the suspect was a male who looked like a female.

Dodd has a buzz-cut hair style and tattoos on the inside of her wrist.

Detective Sevier made a photographic line-up containing the picture of Kristen Dodd and showed it to Lean, who positively identified Dodd as the person who stole her necklace.

Dodd was additionally charged with Strong Arm Robbery for that incident.

She remains in the Manatee County Jail on more than $36,000 dollars bail.

Young Man Arrested for
Shooting Woman

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- Manatee County Sheriff's Deputies have arrested Breon Chism, 18, of 1012 59th Avenue Drive East, Bradenton, after it was determined that Chism pointed a gun at a juvenile female joking about shooting her and the gun went off, striking the girl.

Breon Chism

On Sunday, October 19, 2008, at about 1:00 a.m., deputies were dispatched to the above location regarding a shooting call.

Upon arrival, they saw a juvenile female sitting in a lawn chair in the driveway. She had blood on her foot, leg and on the ground.

Deputies spoke to Chism, who told conflicting stories about how the shooting occurred.

At first, Chism said there had been a drive-by shooting.

Ultimately, deputies learned from Chism and from the crime scene inside that Chism had been pointing a .357 magnum at the juvenile girl, joking about shooting her, when the gun went off, striking the girl.

Chism then got scared and threw the gun out the back door, where it was recovered by deputies.

Chism was arrested and was charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, Possession of Ammunition by a Convicted Felon, Shooting within an Occupied Dwelling, Tampering with Evidence and Culpable Negligence.

The report did not say whether the girl had life-threatening injuries, or not.

Off-Duty Manatee Detective Snags
Sweetbay Shoplifter on the Spot

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- An off-duty Manatee County Sheriff's Detective spotted a shoplifter at a Sweetbay market on Sunday, October 19, 2008, at about 3:30 p.m., tackled him and held him for deputies.

Joseph Wayne Young

A sheriff's office report said Detective Robert Stevenson was shopping at Sweetbay when he observed Joseph Wayne Young, 32, a homeless man, with what appeared to be bags of groceries stuffed in his pants.

Detective Stevenson believed Young was attempting to steal items from the store and approached Young.

Detective Stevenson identified himself to Young as a Manatee County Sheriff's Deputy and ordered Young to stop.

Detective Stevenson and the store manager were talking with Young when he removed several bags of frozen shrimp from his pants and said he was going to return them.

Young then fled for the exit by shoving Detective Stevenson out of the way.

Stevenson tackled the suspect and restrained him until patrol deputies arrived.

Young was arrested and charged with Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer, Resisting Arrest without Violence and Retail Theft.

Dog Shot, Killed, Woman Pistol-
Whipped, Man Slugged During
Armed Home Invasion

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- According to a report from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, a Rottweiler was shot and killed and a man was pistol-whipped during an armed home invasion on Saturday, October 19, 2008, at about 9:10 p.m., in the 4200 block of 60th Avenue West. The robbers only got a Playstation 3 and a cell phone.

The report said Kelly O’Connor, 40, walked outside to smoke a cigarette. Three black males in all black approached her and grabbed her. They asked her for the "stuff." Then they forced her back into the house and hit her on the head with a pistol.

The family dog, a Rottweiler, began barking at the suspects. One of the suspects with a handgun told her to get the dog back or he would shoot it. He fired a shot striking the dog in the head, killing it instantly.

O’Connor’s son, Kenneth Krals, 21, was upset they were man-handling his mother and was uncooperative so one of the suspects struck him in the face twice.

The suspects then gathered up the rest of the victims, ranging in age from 4 years old to 62 years old, and put them in the bath tub.

The invaders then ransacked the house and stole a Playstation 3 and a cellular phone.

They fled from the house and the victims heard a vehicle speed away.

The Violent Crimes Task Force (VCTF) responded and assisted with the investigation. A Crime Scene Technician responded to process the scene.

The dog was collected and taken to an emergency veterinarian, where an attempt was made to retrieve the bullet.

The invaders were only described as three Black males, 2 short and 1 tall, dressed in all black clothing, wearing glove and armed with 2 handguns and a rifle.

Anyone with any information about this case is asked to call the Manatee County Sheriff's Office at (941) 747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at 1-866-634-TIPS (8477) -- or, to provide an anonymous e-Tip by computer, .

Callers to the Crime Stoppers tip line and Tipsters who submit e-Tips by computer will remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.

Armed Home Invasion Robbery
with Pistol-Whipping of Man;
Man Chased Robbers

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- A man was the victim of an armed home invasion robbery on Sunday, October 19, 2008, at about 3:30 a.m., during which he was pistol-whipped. Following the robbery, the victim chased the robbers in his vehicle, to no avail, apparently.

According to a report from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, at approximately 3:26 a.m., the victim, Toborus D. Cunningham, 27, was in his back room of his residence in the 2800 block of 52nd Avenue Terrace West on his computer when he heard his front door being kicked in.

Then two armed Black males came to the back room where Toborus was.

The invaders demanded money and one of them struck Toborus in the face with the butt of a pistol. This caused a cut on Toborus' right cheek.

The invaders ransacked the room and made Toborus open a small lock box. Inside was $200 dollars.

Upon the arrival of deputies, Toborus had fled the scene. The front door was unsecured, so deputies conducted a welfare check of the house to locate any other possible victims.

Inside they found the back room was ransacked and there was a small amount of blood on the bed sheets and the lock box on the floor.

Due to the fact the deputies had no other information and attempts to contact the victim were futile, the scene was secured and they cleared the scene.

Then the landlords called and stated they heard something next door.

Deputy Petta was first on scene and determined there was no problem.

The landlords were able to contact Toborus and he returned to the scene.

Upon his return, Toborus told deputies he told the robbers he had more money at the ATM. He knew his car has auto locks, so when he got into his car, it locked the robbers out.

They began to run away and Toborus attempted to run them down.

The Violent Crimes Task Force (VCTF) responded to the initial call and a Crime Scene Technician responded and processed the scene.

The robbers were described as two unknown Black males. One was 5'9" tall, 150 pounds with gold teeth and was dressed all in black; the other was 5'7" tall, 150 pounds, with a red and white jogging suit. Both were armed with chrome handguns.

Anyone with any information about this case is asked to call the Manatee County Sheriff's Office at (941) 747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at 1-866-634-TIPS (8477) -- or, to provide an anonymous e-Tip by computer, .

Callers to the Crime Stoppers tip line and Tipsters who submit e-Tips by computer will remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.

SPD Officer Captures Rapist
During Attack on Woman

SARASOTA, Florida [NMT] -- On Monday, October 20, 2008, at about 6:45 a.m., a man was in the process of raping a woman and a Sarasota Police Officer, who was about 100 yards away at the time, was able to capture the man.

Oscar Prestenback

According to the arrest report from SPD, the unnamed woman was walking toward a bus stop located at 1st Street and Lemon Avenue when she was approached by Oscar Prestenback, 24, a homeless man.

Prestenback subsequently dragged the woman into the alley in the 1500 block between 2nd Street and Fruitville Road and forced her to the ground. He then pulled down her pants and attempted to sexually assault her, the SPD report said.

A passerby, Joel Murrill, reported that while he was walking down that same alley, he observed a purse and a cell phone. He then heard the woman yelling, "Help me, help me, please help me."

Murrill later told officers that he observed Prestenback laying on top of the woman who was yelling for help. Murrill said that he then went to the bus stop and called 911.

Officer Steve Heaven, who was about 100 yards away at the time, was dispatched to the area and upon his arrival observed Prestenback on top of the woman in an apparent attempt to commit the sexual battery and removed Prestenback from the woman.

The woman said during Prestenback's attack he punched her and scratched her face. The officer noted her right eye was swollen and bruised and she had a scratch on her chin.

Prestenback was arrested and charged with Attempted Sexual Battery (victim helpless to resist).

He is being held in the Sarasota County Jail without bond.

The victim is currently being treated for possible facial fractures. The victim is also being assisted by a counselor from the Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center.

Four Juvies Busted for
Deep Creek Burglary

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- Charlotte County Sheriff’s detectives arrested four juvenile boys for burglarizing a Deep Creek home Sunday morning and stealing $680 in various electronic items. The four Punta Gorda Middle School students are Derrick Clarence, 12, 28200 Bermont Rd., Punta Gorda; Daivaun Kimbrough, 12, 26129 Madras Ct., Deep Creek; Patrick Jerell Sullivan, 14, 2511 Luther Rd., Port Charlotte, and Glen Joseph Lewis, 15, 2511 Luther Rd., Port Charlotte.

The homeowner was away at the time of the burglary at 26138 Madras Ct. The homeowner told detectives a friend of her daughters called and said she was given the homeowners cell phone by one of the boys and they were at the Hampton Point Apartments on Luther Road. The woman went to the apartments, located the four boys and said they admitted going into her home and taking the items since they knew her daughter.

Detectives arrived and talked to the boys, and their parents. Consent was given to searching three of the boy’s homes and some of the stolen items were recovered. Detectives said all four stated they went into the home and stole the items.

All four were each charged with Burglary and Grand Theft. They were taken to the Charlotte County Jail Sunday night and released to their parents, pending court action.

'Lost Relative' Scam Warning
Issued in Central Florida

MARION COUNTY, Florida [NMT/WKMG] -- A scam alert was issued over the weekend after scammers posing as long-lost relatives were able to steal money from Central Floridians, Orlando television station WKMG reported.

Detectives said the thieves are pretending to be family relatives and asking for cash to get them or someone else out of a problem situation.

Usually, the bogus relatives claim they are in Canada and that money should be immediately wired to a location.

A Central Florida resident wired $2,000 in the latest reported incident of the scam.

A Casselberry family also lost money to the scam, police said. The family thought their grandson asked them for more than $4,000 so he could get out of jail in Canada.

Police said the grandson was actually at home in Oviedo, WKMG said.



Manatee Detectives Arrest Man
for Attempted Sale of Heroin
Which Turned Out to be an
Unknown Substance

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- On Thursday, October 16, 2008, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office SID Tactical Unit conducted a buy-bust operation at 3223 3rd Street West, the location of the Garden Walk Apartments.

Miguel Salamanca

An undercover detective made arrangements to purchase $1,100 dollars worth of heroin from an unknown Hispanic male.

At approximately 8:15 p.m., the suspect, later identified as Miguel Salamanca, 19, arrived driving a gold Ford Explorer Sport Trac. Two other unknown Hispanic males were in the car with Salamanca.

After the undercover detective completed the narcotics transaction, the suspects attempted to leave the parking lot. As SID takedown teams moved into position to make the arrest, the suspects sideswiped one of the unmarked vehicles and fled from the parking lot.

A vehicle pursuit ensued that was comprised of various components within the agency to include: Patrol, COPS South and East, K-9 and the Aviation Unit. The route taken by the suspects was primarily through the eastern sections of the county. The pursuit lasted approximately 45 minutes during which time deputies successfully deployed stop sticks on at least three occasions.

The suspects stopped their vehicle in the 2500 block of 16th Street East. The driver attempted to flee on foot but was apprehended by a K-9 unit. The two passengers were taken into custody just outside their vehicle.

The buy money used during the deal was found in the driver's front pants pocket.

The substance sold to the undercover detective did not test positive for heroin.

The driver, Salamanca, was charged with the following: Sale of a Fraudulent Substance, Aggravated Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer, Aggravated Fleeing to Elude, Resisting Arrest without Violence, and a host of other charges, some related, some not.

The two passengers, who were not named in the report from the sheriff's office, were charged with Resisting Arrest without Violence.

Ddeputies learned that during the pursuit a handgun and an unknown amount of heroin was thrown from their vehicle.

The passenger drove with deputies to the area where the items were discarded. Detectives did not locate any narcotics but were able to recover a .38 revolver that was found at 38th Ave. and 39th Street East.

Two Arrested Following Pursuit
in Search for Man Wanted for
Attempted Murder

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- On Friday, October 17, 2008, at about 1:15 p.m., Manatee County Sheriff's Office Warrants Deputies went to the area of the 700 block of 31st Street East, Palmetto, in response to a tip of a wanted Attempted Murder suspect in the area.

Above, L to R, Robert L. Rodriguez and Joshua Grooms

Deputies saw a subject who matched the description of the attempted murder suspect in a Dodge 4-Door.

Deputies attempted to stop the vehicle, but the subjects fled.

During the pursuit, firearms were thrown from the vehicle, which were later recovered.

The subjects drove to the 200 blk of 9th Street West, Palmetto, where they jumped from the vehicle and fled on foot.

The subjects were apprehended in the 200 block of 7th Street West, Palmetto, by responding deputies.

Deputies deployed their Tasers to apprehend the driver.

Robert L. Rodrigeuz, 20, was the driver and Joshua Grooms, 18, was the passenger.

Neither were the Attempted Murder suspect.

Rodriguez was charged with Fleeing to Elude, Reckless Driving and Driving with a Suspended Driver License.

Grooms was charged with Resisting Arrest without Violence and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.

No deputies or citizens were injured.

FHP Arrests Man Accused of
Hit-and-Run Fatality

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- In the evening hours of Thursday, October 16, 2008, Florida Highway Patrol Troopers arrested Marco Antonio Pena of Bradenton for Felony Leaving the Scene of a Crash Resulting in Death.

Marco Antonio Pena

Pena's arrest stems from a crash on State Road 70, east of Bradenton, that occurred at 1:35 a.m.

Pena was traveling westbound in the eastbound lane in a 1998 Dodge truck. The front of the truck collided head-on with a motorcycle driven by the victim, Scott A. Stevens, of Arcadia.

After the collision, Pena fled the scene on foot into a wooded area.

Troopers worked throughout the day attempting to locate Pena.

Responding to an anonymous tip, FHP Traffic Homicide Investigators located Pena at a friend’s residence.

Pena claimed to be injured from the crash and EMS responded and transported him to a local hospital. Upon his release, Troopers transported him to the Manatee County Jail.

Pena was also charged with Felony Driving While License Suspended Involving Death and Failure to Maintain a Single Lane.

Man Strikes Another with
Machete in Revenge Attack

BRADENTON, Florida [NMT] -- Bradenton Police Officers have arrested Daniel S. Hawkins, 37, of 2210 10th Avenue West, in Bradenton.

Daniel S. Hawkins

According to the arrest report, On Thursday, October 16, 2008, at about 1:00 a.m., Hawkins struck a man in the lower left arm with a machete, leaving a 5-inch wound. Then Hawkins fled the scene.

BPD Officers tracked the man to the 1900 block of 13th Street West and arrested him for Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon.

A 3-foot long machete was located near Hawkins.

Following his arrest, Hawkins admitted he had told others he was going to tear the victim's head off and admitted he had been mad at the victim for an earlier incident.

Three witnesses saw Hawkins chasing the unnamed victim with the machete and swinging it at the victim, the report said.

4 Armed Black Males Invade
West Side Home, Kidnap
Store Owner, Rob Him

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- The Manatee County Sheriff's Office reported four armed Black men invaded a West Manatee County home, kidnapped the resident, who was a store owner, and forced him to drive them to the store, where robbed him of a large sum of cash. The incident occurred on Sunday, October 19, 2008, at about 2:30 a.m., and began in the 4500 block of 19th Street Circle West.

The report said the invaders kicked in the front door of the victim, Raymond Montgomery, 53, and began beating him as he slept.

Once awake, the victim saw that they were armed with 2 shotguns and 2 handguns.

The invaders demanded money and threatened to shoot Montgomery. He told them his money was at his store.

The robbers forced the victim to drive them to the store in his vehicle while one of them drove the vehicle they arrived in.

Once in the store, Montgomery gave them a bank bag containing a large sum of cash.

As one of the robbers was handing the bag to another, Montgomery fled from the store.

Montgomery saw the robbers get into a white SUV and flee the scene. The vehicle was recovered in the 900 block of 61st Avenue Circle East, the report said.

Montgomery had a cut to his head and was treated by E.M.S. for a minor head wound.

The robbers were only described as 4 unknown Black males dressed in all black, armed with 2 handguns and 2 shotguns.

The location of Montgomery's store was not disclosed in the report.

Anyone with any information about this case is asked to call the Manatee County Sheriff's Office at (941) 747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at 1-866-634-TIPS (8477) -- or, to provide an anonymous e-Tip by computer, .

Callers to the Crime Stoppers tip line and Tipsters who submit e-Tips by computer will remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.

Woman Grabbed, Forced Inside
Bayshore Gardens Home,
Robbed of Two Firearms

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- On Sunday, October 19, 2008, at about 3:00 a.m., a woman was grabbed outside of her home in the 6600 block of Georgia Avenue, in the Bayshore Gardens section of West Manatee County, forced back inside and robbed by four men, according to a report by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

The report said the victim, Ashley Ward, 21, and her boyfriend were returning home when they got into a disagreement. The boyfriend asked to walk the rest of the way home.

The victim got home and went inside. She immediately came back out to go get her boyfriend and was met by four men.

One of the men grabbed her, took her back into the house and told her to "give up the stuff."

Ashley gave them 2 firearms, a Glock 23, a Taurus Mil Pro APC, two cell phones and assorted keys.

The robbers then fled in an unknown direction.

Ashley victim was not injured.

The robbers were only described as an unknown Black male and three other unknown males.

Anyone with any information about this case is asked to call the Manatee County Sheriff's Office at (941) 747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at 1-866-634-TIPS (8477) -- or, to provide an anonymous e-Tip by computer, .

Callers to the Crime Stoppers tip line and Tipsters who submit e-Tips by computer will remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.

Woman Robbed of Necklace
While Waiting for a Ride
on Cortez Road West

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- The Manatee County Sheriff's Office reported a woman's necklace was snatched from her neck while she was waiting for a ride on Saturday, October 18, 2008, at about 9:50 p.m.

The victim, Lena Seay, was sitting in front of 845 Cortez Road West waiting someone to pick her up from shopping.

Lena observed a small 2-door black vehicle drive towards her through the parking lot. The vehicle pulled alongside the building and a man got out of the passenger side and approached her.

Lena observed a female with brown hair driving.

The man asked if he could use her phone to call someone.

Lena became suspicious and stood up, grasping her purse tightly because the victim thought he was going to take her purse.

The man grabbed the victim's necklace instead, ripping it from her neck.

He then ran back to the vehicle and the pair sped away.

The area was checked by deputies, to no avail.

Lena was not physically injured during the incident.

The man was described as a White male, 5'7" to 5'10" tall, 140 pounds, with short brown hair and green eyes. He was clean shaven. The White female driving the car was only described as having brown hair.

Anyone with any information about this case is asked to call the Manatee County Sheriff's Office at (941) 747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at 1-866-634-TIPS (8477) -- or, to provide an anonymous e-Tip by computer, .

Callers to the Crime Stoppers tip line and Tipsters who submit e-Tips by computer will remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.

Four Hispanic Males Robbed By
Two Black Males; One Man Shot

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- A man was shot during an armed robbery on Saturday, October 18, 2008, shortly before 10:00 p.m., according to a report from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

All four Hispanic male victims were sitting in the back yard of a residence in the 2100 block of 2nd Avenue West, in Palmetto, socializing and drinking beer when two Black males came into the back yard.

One Black male had a bandana covering his face and he pointed a gun at the victims.

The robbers demanded money from the victims and they went through the victims' pockets.

When they got to Morico Valaco, 63, the man with the firearm struck Valaco on the right side of his face.

The robbers took more than $180.00 from the victims, and as the robbers were leaving, they shot at least twice at the victims.

One round hit Valaco on his upper back. The bullet went in and out under Valaco's skin. The entry wound and the exit wound were about 5 inches apart.

Valaco's injury was not life-threatening.

The victims do not speak English very well, the report said.

The robbers were described as an unknown Black male in his 30s, 5'08" tall, with a medium build, and was wearing a white shirt, black shorts, with a dark bandana covering face; and a Black male in his late teens, 5'6" tall, skinny, with a black shirt and blue pants.

Anyone with any information about this case is asked to call the Manatee County Sheriff's Office at (941) 747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at 1-866-634-TIPS (8477) -- or, to provide an anonymous e-Tip by computer, .

Callers to the Crime Stoppers tip line and Tipsters who submit e-Tips by computer will remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.

Missing Woman, Body Found
Cases Solved By SSO

SARASOTA COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Detectives have confirmed the identity of the female body found on Tuesday, October 14th, 2008.

Mary S. Walls

The body was discovered in the area of Mauna Loa Blvd. and Bee Ridge Road in Sarasota.

The body was that of missing endangered adult, Mary S. Walls, 63, of Sarasota.

The Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled the death a suicide.

Authorities did not say how Walls committed suicide.

Man Shot and Killed
in Sarasota

SARASOTA, Florida [NMT] -- The Sarasota Police Department is investigating an apparent homicide that occurred in the 1800 block of 20th Street, in Sarasota.

At about 8:10 p.m. on Thursday, October 16, 2008, SPD officers responded to a "shots fired" call in the 1800 block of 19th Street.

Officers checked the area but could not find any witnesses, victims or evidence of shots being fired.

About 10 minutes later, a 911 call was received about a shooting victim in the 1800 block of 20th Street.

Officers responded and found a male victim inside the doorway of a residence.

SPD detectives are investigating the incident and criminalistics personnel processed the crime scene.

The victim has been identified as Thomas Davis, 44, A Black male, of 1845 20th Street.

Davis died from gunshot wounds.

Sarasota Home Depot Customer
Victim of Armed Robbery

SARASOTA COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Deputies responded to an Armed Robbery on Friday, October 17th, 2008, at approximately 3:34 p.m., at the Home Depot, 4111 Cattlemen Road, in Sarasota.

Two suspects approached the victim as he was walking to his vehicle in the parking lot. One suspect displayed a handgun and the other suspect displayed a knife. They demanded cash from the victim. A physical altercation between the suspects and the victim ensued and the victim received a knife wound to the arm. The victim was subsequently transported to Doctor’s Hospital in Sarasota for treatment.

The suspects fled the scene with the victim’s wallet in a dark colored Chevrolet Astro van heading southbound on Cattlemen Road. The van was painted with a substantial amount of grey primer.

One suspect is described as a Black male, approximately 6’ tall, weighing approximately 350–400 lbs. The other suspect was only described as a Black male.

Anyone with information regarding the incident should contact the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office District I Criminal Investigations Bureau at (941) 861-4900. They may also leave anonymous information on the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at (941) 366-TIPS (8477) or online at or text “TIP109” and a message to CRIMES (274637).

Punta Gorda Police Arrest
Woman in $29,000 Bank Fraud

PUNTA GORDA, Florida [NMT] -- On Friday, October 17, 2008, Punta Gorda Police arrested 66-year-old Charlotte S. Nymark of 216 E. Oak Street, Arcadia for the theft of $29,944.06 from Wachovia Bank, 314 Taylor Street, Punta Gorda.

Charlotte S. Nymark

On Friday, October 16, 2008, Wachovia Bank notified the Punta Gorda Police Department of a fraudulent financial transaction in which Nymark misrepresented herself as a partner of Live Longer Physicians Group, LLC, a medical practice based in Arcadia.

Punta Gorda Police detectives determined Nymark, a former partner in the medical practice, submitted fraudulent documents to Wachovia on 10/9/08 that indicated she was to be added as an authorized representative on the Live Longer bank account. She then requested that a check in the amount of $29,944.06 be issued in the name of her new employer.

Nymark then forged the signature of her current employer to deposit the check in his bank account and subsequently had the money released to her and deposited in her personal account.

Punta Gorda Police detectives coordinated with the current owners of the medical practice and determined that Nymark was no longer a partner in the practice, nor did she have authorization to make financial transactions on behalf of the business.

Nymark was interviewed by Punta Gorda Police detectives and admitted to forging the bank documents as well as forging the signature of her current employer on the check drawn on the Wachovia Bank account. An eyewitness also corroborated her illegal activities.

Nymark was arrested and charged with Second Degree Grand Theft and Forgery. She was transported to the Charlotte County Jail and held on a $7,500.00 bond.

Two Men Caught Stealing Copper
from Plumbing Business

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- On Friday, October 17, 2008, Charlotte County Sheriff’s deputies arrested two men around 3:00 a.m. after witnesses saw them inside the locked gates of McDonough Plumbing, 4584 Tamiami Tr., in Charlotte Harbor.

Above, L to R, James Wayne Ellingsworth and Kenneth Thomas Berkshire

Arrested were James Wayne Ellingsworth, 51, 4428 Parmely St. and Kenneth Thomas Berkshire, 40, of 3511 Shady Ln, both of Charlotte Harbor.

The witnesses contacted the CCSO at 2:00 a.m. after seeing the men taking copper valves, pipes and fittings from several vehicles in the fenced in area. Ellingsworth and Berkshire noticed that they were seen, crawled under the fence and fled the area. CCSO deputies established a perimeter around the area and a K-9 unit arrived and began tracking. As the Watch Commander arrived, he saw a man matching the description and stopped Ellingsworth. The K-9 tracked to that location where Ellingsworth was stopped. The K-9 then continued to track for Berskhire and located him hiding under a wood platform next to a nearby building.

The witnesses positively identified both men as the pair they saw stealing copper items in the locked plumbing company lot. Deputies found a pile of the stolen items on the ground behind the vehicles. Numerous industrial extension cords were also removed from the company trucks.

Ellingsworth and Berkshire were both charged with Grand Theft, and two counts each of Burglary, and then transported to the Charlotte County Jail.

Detectives Investigate Murder,
Attempted Suicide

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Florida [NMT] -- Charlotte County Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit detectives continued their murder-attempted suicide investigation Saturday afternoon, October 18, 2008, at 11232-B Pendleton Ave., East Englewood.

Above, murder-attempted suicide crime scene
(Photo by Robert Carpenter, CCSO PIO)

At 8:40 a.m., a neighbor called CCSO to report she was checking on her neighbor and found her dead in her apartment bedroom. The victim’s boyfriend was found in the apartment with injuries. Detectives would not say what kind of injuries or the weapon used as it's part of the ongoing investigation.

When deputies arrived, they secured the home and area, then MCU detectives began their investigation. The male subject was taken into custody and transported by EMS to Peace River Regional Medical Center in Port Charlotte. Detectives said he will remain under guard and his injury was not life-threatening. MCU detectives will interview the man at the hospital when he is available to talk to them. It is not known when the man will be released and be questioned by detectives.

Around 10:30 p.m. Friday night, CCSO Communications received a domestic disturbance call from the boyfriend. When two deputies responded, the boyfriend refused to talk to them and locked himself in a bedroom. His girlfriend only asked deputies to remove her boyfriend from the apartment they live in and she rents. Since neither discussed the disturbance call and no crime was committed, deputies advised her that they couldn’t evict her boyfriend without an enforceable court order and she needed to contact her landlord.

The Medical Examiner Office will perform an autopsy on the woman.

Charlotte County Sheriff's Watch Commander Lt. Brian Harrison released the name of the victim in the murder-suicide. She is 56 year old Christina Lorenzo. She has rented and lived in Apartment-B at 11232 Pendleton Ave. the past three months. She was born in North Carolina and her family lives in Pennsylvania.

Major Crimes detectives have not released the name of the boyfriend who remains in a Port Charlotte hospital and is being treated for an injury that is not life-threatening.

The investigation is continuing.

Ex-Bradenton Coast Bank
Officer Pleads Guilty to
Fraud, Money Laundering

TAMPA, Florida [NMT] -- On Friday, October 17, 2008, United States Attorney A. Brian Albritton announced the filing of a Criminal Information against Philip William Coon, a 55 year old resident of Bradenton, Florida, which charges Coon with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and private sector honest services fraud and money laundering. Coon has agreed to plead guilty.

The maximum penalties Coon faces are five years of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000, and forfeiture.

According to the Information and Plea Agreement, Coon was the Executive Vice-President, Mortgage Lending Department, of Coast Bank ("Coast"). As such, he owed a fiduciary duty to act honestly and faithfully in all of his dealings with Coast and to transact business in the best interests of Coast, which included a duty to make full and fair disclosure to Coast of any personal interest, profit, or kickback he expected to, or did, derive from any transaction in which he participated during the course of his employment.

In late 2004, Coon used his position with Coast to request that a coconspirator, John Robert Miller, the president of American Mortgage Link (AML), charge AML’s clients who wanted residential home loans from Coast a mortgage brokerage fee that was one percent more than AML would otherwise have charged, and to pay three-quarters of the additional one percent to the defendant. Miller agreed. The additional one percent charged as a result of the conspiracy did not affect the amount paid by the borrower as the builder/seller was responsible for the payment of all closing costs.

Coon and Miller split the proceeds of the additional percentage point. Coon received three-quarters, and Miller received one-quarter, of each additional percentage point. Then Miller transferred, via various means, Coon's share of the proceeds into checking accounts in the name of a shell corporation.

Coon prepared and transmitted, via e-mail and other means, instructions to Miller to make checks drawn on the accounts in the name of the shell corporation payable to, among others, various of Coon's creditors, charities, and family members. Miller gave Coon a debit/ATM card, along with the accompanying personal identification number (“PIN”), for the same accounts, and Coon used the debit/ATM card and PIN to make purchases of goods and services and to withdraw funds from the accounts.

In total, Miller transferred to Coon $1,146,462.35 in proceeds from the additional percentage point. Coon used the proceeds to, among other things, finance domestic and international travel, purchase real estate, a piano, jewelry, clothing and wine, make significant charitable contributions to a church and its food pantry, pay down mortgages, and provide financial support to family members.

The scheme gave Coon incentive to deal with AML, which resulted in Coast having a higher concentration of loans in one particular area with one particular builder than was prudent. The scheme also exposed Coast to the risk of litigation brought by one or more of the participants in the residential development/home loan program from which Coon procured the illicit proceeds. Coon reasonably should have foreseen that Coast might suffer an economic harm as a result of his breach of fiduciary duty. Miller pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud on September 18, 2008.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on January 13, 2009, at 8:45 a.m., by U.S. District Judge James S. Moody, Jr.

Man Exposed Self to Teen,
Deputies Say

KISSIMMEE, Florida [NMT/WKMG] -- A man was arrested Thursday after he exposed himself to a teenager at a Disney-area hotel, Osceola County sheriff's deputies said.

Christopher Mercado, of Kissimmee, exposed himself to a 14-year-old at a Home Suite Homes hotel on West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, deputies said.

Mercado was arrested on several charges and taken into custody.



"The Islander" has news, on their logo to go to their website.

(Click on the logos to go to their website)





NewsManatee Archive Created 10/25/2008 12:29:15 PM

NewsManatee, Inc.
P.O. Box 10453
Bradenton, Florida 34282-0453
NewsManatee, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Bradenton, Florida.
Your donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law.
Michael C. Quinn, Publisher and President

2014 - Unless otherwise indicated or assumed, all material herein, written, audio or visual, or in any publication by or belonging to NewsManatee, Inc. including the names and NewsManatee, is Copyrighted by NewsManatee, Inc., Bradenton, Florida.

All worldwide rights reserved. ~ No material may be printed, transmitted, or broadcast in whole or in part, without the express consent of owner.