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2023 News

LONG TIME DEALER ARRESTED ON TRAFFICKING CHARGES
(Citrus County, FL) On Thursday, January 19, 2023, detectives with the Citrus Country Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Tactical Impact Unit (TIU) arrested long-time drug dealer 40-year-old Matthew Mullins of Homosassa for various drug trafficking charges. 

After observing a minor traffic violation, Detective Stephen Quinn of CCSO’s Community Impact Section attempted to conduct a traffic stop, in which Mullins began to flee from deputies in his vehicle. Mullins’ reckless behavior was short-lived as another CCSO deputy, Deputy Nick Erdman, was stationed only a short distance away at the intersection of CR491 and West Cardinal Street, in Lecanto.

As Mullins drove northbound through the intersection, a tire deflation device was successfully deployed by Deputy Erdman. Knowing his time was running out, Mullins threw a large baggie of what was later determined to be fentanyl out of the vehicle’s window. After discarding the fentanyl and realizing his vehicle was inoperable, Mullins pulled his vehicle to the side of the road without further incident.

The bag of fentanyl thrown by Mullins ruptured when it hit the ground, resulting in some of the contents being scattered across the grass shoulder. Due to the deadly substance now being airborne, members of CCSO’s TIU and the Citrus County 
Fire Service Hazmat Team, who are trained in Hazmat collection, responded to the scene to collect the fentanyl and decontaminated the area. The fentanyl collected weighed in at approximately 51 grams, enough to kill approximately 25,500 people. 

A search of Mullins vehicle was conducted with deputies locating approximately 199.7 grams of methamphetamine. Mullins was also found to be in possession of alprazolam pills (Xanax) and approximately 0.65 grams of fentanyl on his person. 

The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office continues our commitment to combat illicit narcotics in our community. Mullins has a long history of selling narcotics and has actively fled deputies in the past to avoid arrest,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “Today, he not only endangered the citizens of Citrus County with his reckless actions while fleeing, but he could have exposed citizens and law enforcement to the extremely fatal substance fentanyl. Thanks to the quick actions of the CCSO Tactical Impact Unit, Patrol Division and the Community Impact Section, Mullins was taken into custody before anyone 
was harmed.”

Mullins was arrested and charged with fleeing and eluding law enforcement, trafficking in methamphetamine, trafficking in fentanyl, possession of a controlled substance, possession of paraphernalia, and tampering with evidence. His bond was set at $113,000.
TWO BROTHERS SENTENCED IN FEDERAL COURT FOR HATE CRIME
(Citrus County, FL) Yesterday, Wednesday, January 25, 2023, brothers 56-year-old Roy Lamar Lashley Jr. and 52-year-old Robert Dewayne Lashley were sentenced in federal court for a hate crime they committed in Citrus County back in 2021. 

On November 17, 2021, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) was contacted in reference to a physical disturbance near the Family Dollar in Citrus Springs. The caller told communications officers that two white males, later identified as brothers Roy and Robert Lashley, were attacking a black male victim with an axe handle. Deputies 
immediately responded to the scene and were able to take both brothers into custody. While being detained, Roy Lashley kicked one of the deputies several times and actively resisted their efforts to place him in a patrol vehicle.

Witnesses to the attack told deputies that the brothers were yelling racial slurs at the victim and that Robert Lashley began to punch the victim, knocking him to the ground. According to the victim and witnesses, Roy Lashely retrieved an axe handle and joined the attack, striking the victim with it multiple times.

Roy Lashley (DOB 09/18/1966) was arrested for one count of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, one count of resisting an officer without violence, one count of resisting an officer with violence, and one count of battery on a law enforcement officer.

Robert Lashley (DOB 05/03/1970) was arrested for one count of battery.

As the investigation continued, Detective Steelfox with the CCSO’s Major Crimes Unit (MCU) was able to identify and interview multiple witnesses to the attack. It quickly became apparent that the brothers had targeted the victim because of his race and used racial slurs while attacking him. Due to this incident appearing to be a hate crime, 
Detective Steelfox consulted with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Office of the United States Attorney, and it was determined that this case would be prosecuted in federal court.

No person should ever have to worry about being a target for violence because of their race, religion, or nationality,” said Sheriff Prendergast. “I am extremely pleased with the federal convictions of these two and believe that justice has been served thanks to the aggressive prosecution of this case. Working in cooperation with our federal partners, we ensured that these criminals received the highest possible penalty for their brutal attack on an innocent individual.”

Based on their actions, Roy Lashley was sentenced to five years in federal prison, followed by three years of federal probation, and Robert Lashley was sentenced to five years in federal prison, followed by three years of federal probation.
TWO SEPARATE CRUELTY CALLS LEAD TO FOUR ARRESTS
(Citrus County, FL) Last week, two separate investigations led to the arrest of four individuals on various charges of child neglect and animal cruelty.

On Tuesday, January 24, 2023, Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) deputies responded to a residence off East Patience Lane in Inverness following a 9-1-1 call referencing a dog attack. Upon arrival, deputies and an animal control officer discovered five puppies and six adult dogs living in deplorable conditions. It was determined that all of the animals were not current on their vaccinations. Within the RV home, deputies observed the interior to be covered in feces with an abundance of flies and a strong odor of ammonia.

The two defendants, 52- year-old Steven Oliver and 49-year-old Shannon Oliver, were living outside the RV home in tents along with a minor. There was no access to running water or electricity, and the conditions outside were both unsafe and unsanitary. Officials observed an open area exposed with human feces and bacteria.

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) was called on scene to observe the living conditions. After determining the defendants could not meet the basic and essential needs of the minor in their care - who was sleeping in a separate tent that contained blankets covered in dog feces and urine, the child was immediately removed from the home. 

No one, human or animal, should be subjected to live in such appalling conditions,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “The disgusting situation seen in both cases was dangerous not only for the children living in the homes but for the animals as well. Animal abuse and child neglect go hand in hand; if someone cannot care for a pet, then chances are they cannot care for a child. It is crucial that our citizens report any possible signs of neglect that they may see, because sometimes – like in the Olivers’ 
case– the juvenile may not have regular access to responsible adults who could have helped.”

Just three days later, on Friday, January 27, 2023, CCSO deputies responded to East Laurel Court in Floral City for a welfare check on an animal. 

Immediately, deputies noticed in the middle of the living room, a child sleeping on a torn-up mattress inside a crib. Another small child was walking around the living room with dried fecal matter on the bottom of their feet.

Inside the home, deputies located seven severely malnourished dogs and observed animal urine and feces scattered throughout the house.

Both defendants, 35-year-old Jannet Fairfield, and 30-year-old Lexx Lucas were detained for further investigation. 

While being questioned, Fairfield advised officials there were three other juveniles living in the home but that they were at school during this time. When deputies asked where the children sleep, Fairfield stated the children do not have beds and instead sleep together on the couch. Based upon the findings of the investigation, all animals were seized and both defendants were placed under arrest.

DCF also responded to the home during this investigation and removed all five.

Charges for both cases are as follows:

Steven Oliver
(05/04/1970) was arrested for 11 counts of animal cruelty with each count having a $2,000.00 bond and child neglect with a $2,000.00 bond. Total bond amount $24,000.00.

Shannon Oliver (02/20/1973) was arrested for 11 counts of animal cruelty with each count having a $2,000.00 bond and child neglect with a $2,000.00 bond. Total bond amount $24,000.00.

Jannet Fairfield (03/18/1987) was arrested for seven counts of animal cruelty with a $2,000.00 bond for each count and child neglect with a $2,000.00 bond. Total bond amount $16,000.00. 

Lexx Lucas (11/22/1992) was arrested for seven counts of animal cruelty with a $2,000.00 bond for each count and child neglect with a $2,000.00 bond. Total bond amount $16,000.00.

2022 News

DEPUTY NANCY SUTO RETIRES AFTER 32 YEARS OF SERVICE
(Citrus County, FL) Today, we celebrate the well-deserved retirement of Citrus County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Nancy Suto, who is officially hanging up her duty belt after three decades.

Nancy began her public service career with CCSO on October 23, 1989, as a Communications Officer, where only four years later, she would fulfill her dream of becoming a Deputy Sheriff. In addition to her law enforcement duties, she served as a Crime Prevention Deputy and a Field Training Officer (FTO). Nancy’s eight and half years assigned to the training unit were instrumental in the continuous training of the agency’s sworn members. Whether mentoring newly hired deputies or investigating criminal activity, Nancy always performed with an unwavering commitment to her position.

“We are so proud of Nancy’s many accomplishments for the betterment of our community and fellow law enforcement peers. May her retirement make up for the endless sacrifices she has made while protecting our community,” said Sheriff Prendergast. “Congratulations on an inspiring career; thank you for your service, and enjoy your well-deserved retirement.”

Nancy has been a sterling example of CCSO’s core value of ‘Service above Self’ throughout her career. She received a certificate of commendation for her involvement in ‘Operation Coin Toss,’ which targeted drug dealers throughout our community and resulted in the arrest of fifty-five individuals. She also received a certificate of appreciation from the Dunnellon Chief of Police and a unit citation for her involvement in furthering the development of our training program. Nancy has also received numerous letters of appreciation from citizens and law enforcement alike throughout her career.

Please join us in congratulating Deputy Nancy Suto on her steadfast commitment to our mission and selfless service to our community for the past three decades. Have a safe and healthy retirement!
Posted on 10 Feb 2022
FORMER CORRECTIONAL OFFICER SENTENCED FOR SEXUAL ABUSE ON A CHILD AND DOMESTIC BATTERY
(Citrus County, FL) Yesterday, March 3, 2022, in the courtroom of the Honorable Judge Richard “Ric” Howard, a jury found 40-year-old James Touchton of Inverness guilty of Capital Sexual Battery on a Child Under 12 (six counts) and Domestic Battery by Strangulation (two counts). Touchton was then sentenced to six consecutive life sentences for Capital Sexual Battery and two consecutive five-year sentences for Domestic Battery.

Touchton, who had been a Correctional Officer at Lowell Correctional Institution in Marion County, was originally arrested on March 11, 2019, by Detective Jason Cook and Detective Mike Laborda with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Special Victims Unit (SVU). The detectives worked closely with the Child Protection Team at Jessie’s Place, the Citrus County Child Advocacy Center, to obtain the statements and evidence needed to place Touchton under arrest.

“Justice has been served today in Citrus County,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “Due to the incredible work by our SVU detectives, alongside the Child Protection Team at Jessie’s Place, Touchton was quickly arrested and remained in custody all the way through today’s trial. Thanks to the court’s decision yesterday, Touchton will spend the rest of his life in prison and will never be able to abuse another child. While this can never undo the harm done to this victim, I hope they will find solace in knowing Touchton will spend the rest of his life in prison.”
Posted on 04 Mar 2022
DEPUTY DALE STRICKLAND SET TO RETIRE
(Citrus County, FL) Today, we celebrate the many accomplishments, influential leadership, and well-deserved retirement of Citrus County Sheriff’s Office K9 Deputy Dale Strickland, who is officially retiring from our office after 22 years of unwavering service.

Dale began his public service career back in 1995 when he worked for Sumter Correctional and later on, Corrections Corp of America. By the end of 1999, he would join the CCSO team as a Patrol Deputy where in just two short years he would take on the role of Community Resource Officer. By the spring of 2009, Dale was promoted to the rank of Community Crimes Unit Detective where he served for five years before deciding to get back to his roots as a Patrol Deputy.

Finally, in 2016, Dale became a K9 handler, partnering with his current companion K9 Six, to better protect and serve our community. This dynamic duo was instrumental in locating 17 persons, apprehending 6 fleeing individuals, and conducting 235 vehicle sniffs that resulted in the seizure of 1,350.78 grams of Marijuana, 509.26 grams of methamphetamine, 5.21 grams of heroin, and 22.40 grams of cocaine.

Throughout his career, Dale has been instrumental in our operations, becoming a Field Training Officer to mentor and teach new deputy recruits, and joining both our Crisis Negotiation Team and Specialize Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team. Over his tenure working at CCSO, Dale received multiple Certificates of Commendation, Letters of Appreciation, and a few Perfect Attendance Awards.

“Congratulations to Dale on his well-earned retirement,” said Sheriff Prendergast. “Thank you for being a mentor and a friend to all of us here at CCSO. We wish you the best in your retirement and can only hope you will enjoy it as much as we have enjoyed serving alongside you.”

Please join us in congratulating Deputy Dale Strickland on his steadfast commitment to our mission and selfless service to our community for the past two decades. Have a safe and healthy retirement!
Posted on 04 Mar 2022
BRIEF EASTER PURSUIT ENDS IN MEADOWCREST
(Citrus County, FL) Shortly after 1:30 p.m. today, Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) deputies attempted to conduct a traffic stop on a vehicle in the area of W. Venable Street and 7 Rivers Dr. in Crystal River. Deputies observed the gold in color Dodge pickup truck bearing a Tennessee tag, both of which were confirmed to be stolen.

However, when deputies attempted the traffic stop, the driver of the vehicle, later identified as 39-year-old Michael James Dailey of Lecanto, did not stop and led officials on a slow speed vehicle pursuit. Throughout the pursuit, Dailey briefly stopped the vehicle numerous times and took off after each stop. However, during one of his short stops, the other passenger of the vehicle, identified as 61-year-old Betty Joan Hall of Lecanto, was able to safely exit. As deputies secured Hall, she indicated that Dailey was high on methamphetamine and had a firearm in the truck.

As the pursuit continued, Dailey attempted to strike several deputy vehicles and at one point, successfully rammed one deputy’s patrol car head-on. The pursuit, which lasted roughly 45-minutes, ended in the business plaza of Meadowcrest when deputies deployed stop sticks deflating the tires. In his last act to elude law enforcement, Dailey attempted to drive over a rock embankment but was unsuccessful and immobilized the vehicle.

Dailey then refused deputies’ commands to exit the vehicle and claimed to have a firearm while making erratic movements within the vehicle. In response, officials contained the area, shutting down the entranceway into the Meadowcrest plaza and activated the CCSO’s Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) to respond out. After a 45 minute negotiation period, members of CCSO’s SWAT deployed a flash-bang with little effect and eventually fired two less-lethal gas rounds into the vehicle. Dailey subsequently surrendered without further incident and was arrested.

Dailey is being charged with aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, resist officer without violence, aggravated flee/elude law enforcement from the scene of a crash with damage, theft of a vehicle, and driving while license suspended or revoked.
Dailey’s passenger, Hall was also arrested and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.

"Dailey showed a blatant disregard for law enforcement today,” said Sheriff Prendergast. “His actions put our deputies’ lives in jeopardy and that of our citizens. Our office is thankful that we were able to apprehend Dailey without further incident and that everyone on our team will be returning home safely this Easter.”
Posted on 03 Apr 2022
SPECIAL OLYMPICS LAW ENFORCEMENT TORCH RUN
(Citrus County, FL) The tradition continues on Friday, May 13, 2022, when Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) deputies join in the annual Florida Law Enforcement Torch Run that benefits Special Olympics Florida.

Each year, this signature event highlights the law enforcement community's year-round support of the Special Olympics. Law enforcement officers from around the state carry the “Flame of Hope” in an intrastate relay of simultaneous routes throughout Florida, covering hundreds of miles.

Citrus County's relay participants will meet at the Sheriff's Crystal River Community Resource Office on U.S. Highway 19, where the run will start at 8 a.m. Runners will cover a distance of about 3 miles, traveling east along S.R. 44 to the Publix in the Crystal Springs Plaza at the intersection of C.R. 486. Publix grocery store chain is a premier sponsor of both the Florida Law Enforcement Torch Run and Special Olympics Florida and will be providing healthy snacks and drinks for all relay participants.

At 9 a.m., bicyclists will ride the second leg of the cross-county relay from there to the Withlacoochee Technical College, about a 14-mile stretch. From that point, runners will complete the relay leg over to the Publix in Inverness. From there, participants and clients from the Key Training Center finish on to the Citrus County Sheriff's Office Operations building in downtown Inverness around 11:30 a.m. Our outstanding partners at CoreCivic, will then be providing lunch for everyone.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run has long been the largest grassroots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle for the Special Olympics program. As in past years, Citrus County’s runners and bicyclists will raise funds for Special Olympics Florida through the sale of commemorative T-shirts. While citizens cannot join in on the run, they are still able to purchase the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run (L.E.T.R.) shirts to support this amazing cause and are encouraged to cheer on participants at either Publix locations or CCSO’s operations building.

Shirts can be purchased at the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office Training section in the Park Place building located at 107 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. in Inverness, Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Citizens can purchase the shirts with cash or check (payable to L.E.T.R.). cotton short-sleeve shirts are $20.00, dry-fit shirts are $25.00, and women’s cotton razorback tanks are $25.00.

Here in Florida, the Torch Run had its start many years ago as the Special Olympics Mileage Event (SOME) Run, when a handful of officers carried the Flame of Hope throughout the state in a grueling, non-stop run. The SOME Run soon gained momentum, and law enforcement agencies from all over Florida became involved. Eventually, the relay came to be known as the Florida Law Enforcement Torch Run.

We hope you will help light the way for inclusion and support the athletes of the Special Olympics Florida.
Posted on 03 May 2022
FLORAL CITY WOMAN ARRESTED FOR MURDER IN DRUG OVERDOSE
(Citrus County, FL) Yesterday, May 23, 2022, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) arrested 44-year-old Delia Marie Dean of Floral City for first-degree felony murder as a result of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance (Fentanyl) which resulted in the overdose death of 48-year-old Jonathan Michael Bishop of Inverness.

"This case is a landmark case for us here in Citrus County,” said Sheriff Prendergast. “As Gov. Ron DeSantis said after signing his bill into law last week to increase the penalties for those who illegally sell and distribute opioids in our state, ‘Floridians of all walks of life have witnessed the destruction caused by the opioid epidemic across our state.’ Last year our county had 377 reported drug overdoses with 81 deaths – a 47% increase from the year prior. Our office stands with Gov. DeSantis in his fight to end this deadly crisis and save lives. This case is just one of many more to come in our effort to hold those responsible for destroying our communities.”

On April 20, 2022, CCSO deputies were dispatched to a residence off West Hudson Street in reference to a death. Upon arrival, officials located Jonathan in his room, where he was pronounced deceased due to obvious signs of rigor mortis. After speaking with the decedent’s mother and witness on scene, it was determined that the decedent did not have a known medical history that could have been attributed to his passing.

While inside the residence, deputies noticed a white powdery substance in a line with a rolled-up bill next to it in the decedent’s bathroom. The powder was field-tested and yielded a positive result for the presence of Fentanyl. Both the white powder and bill were collected for evidence. The decedent’s body was turned over to the medical examiner to determine the cause of death.

CCSO’s Major Crimes detectives, along with Tactical Impact Unit (TIU) detectives continued to work collectively on this case. Their initial investigation revealed that Jonathan had contacted Dean for illicit narcotics, which she provided him on numerous occasions. Detectives were then able to locate Dean just eight short days after Jonathan’s death to question her about her interactions with Jonathan and involvement in his illicit drug use. Dean admitted to supplying the decedent with narcotics on various occasions, specifically on the night of his death.

On May 19, 2022, the toxicology report from the Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the cause of death as a combined drug toxicity of Fentanyl and alcohol. Based on the findings of this case, along with the evidence collected and interviews conducted, an arrest warrant was signed by the Honorable Judge Falvey yesterday and Dean was arrested merely hours later.
Posted on 24 May 2022
CCSO LEADERS GRADUATE FROM ST. LEO'S 23RD & 24TH COMMAND OFFICER MANAGEMENT PROGRAM
(Citrus County, FL) Today, six Citrus County Sheriff’s Office professionals graduated from Saint Leo University’s Command Officer Management Program.

“Congratulations to our graduates for completing Saint Leo University’s Command Officer Management Program,” said Sheriff Prendergast. “It was an immense honor to witness my staff graduate from such an outstanding and rigorous professional development program. As I learned a long time ago, this career demands constant pursuit of excellence when it comes to education and training to stay ahead of the bad guys.”

Law enforcement officials from seven Florida counties, who make up the 23rd and 24th cohorts of Saint Leo University’s Command Officer Management Program, received their diplomas earlier today.

Of this group, CCSO’s very own graduates were:
• Community Relations Supervisor, Brittney Carman
• Financial Services Supervisor, Andrea Coral
• Major Crimes Sergeant, Christopher Holloway
• School Resource Sergeant, Jeff Hunter
• Patrol Sergeant, Allison McLaughlin-Perry
• Behavioral Health Unit Sergeant, Rachel Montgomery

Law enforcement personnel who aspire for a leadership position benefit greatly from this comprehensive, six-week-long program, which provides on-site education, specifically focusing on leadership, ethics, human resources, critical incident management, and other relevant administrative competencies.

Congratulations again to all of the graduates!
Posted on 03 Jun 2022
DEPUTY THOMAS "PAT" ALFORD RETIRES AFTER 30 YEARS OF SERVICE

(Citrus County, FL) Today, January 7, 2022, The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) wishes to acknowledge the many accomplishments of Deputy Sheriff Thomas “Pat” Alford as he retires with 30 years of dedicated service to the citizens of Citrus County.

Pat began his career with the CCSO in January 1992 as a Patrol Deputy after serving as Chief of Police in Cedar Key, Florida. Pat spent eleven years in the patrol division, where in addition to his law enforcement duties, he served as a Field Training Officer (FTO) and as a Canine Deputy. Whether mentoring newly hired deputies or investigating criminal activity, Pat always performed with an unwavering commitment to his position. In February of 2003, Pat transitioned to Juvenile and Judicial Services as a Bailiff. 

Pat’s many contributions over his distinguished career have played an integral part in meeting the mission of excellence in public safety,” said Sheriff Prendergast. “It has truly been an honor to have had him as part of our team, and we wish him the very best in his well-deserved retirement.”  

Pat has exemplified CCSO’s core value of service above self throughout his career. Pat received a Ribbon of Commendation for his quick action in preventing someone from self-harm. He has also received two Certificates of Commendation, a Division Letter of Commendation, and more than twenty Letters of Appreciation. 

Please join us in congratulating Deputy Pat Alford on his remarkable commitment to public service for the past three decades. Have a safe and healthy retirement, Pat!  

HOMICIDE LEADS TO DEPUTY-INVOLVED SHOOTING

(Citrus County, FL) On January 14, 2022, at approximately 9 P.M., deputies responded to a residence in the area of East Dawson Drive, Inverness, FL in reference to a shooting.

Upon arrival, deputies observed a victim with apparent gunshot wounds lying on the driveway. Shortly thereafter, EMS arrived and began treating the victim. Subsequently, the victim was air-lifted to Marion County for medical treatment and was later pronounced deceased at the hospital. Witnesses told deputies the suspected shooter tried to break into their home before he fled on foot. Through witness statements, deputies were able to identify the suspect as 29-year-old Daniel Arthur Redman, who was just released from prison on January 9, 2022.

Deputies began searching for the suspect with the assistance of a K-9 unit. Within minutes, the suspect was tracked to a motor home located approximately a quarter mile away. Upon contact, the suspect was observed holding another victim, with obvious injuries, as hostage. Deputies gave verbal commands for the suspect to release the hostage, which he eventually complied with. Once the hostage was safe, deputies ordered the suspect to show them his hands. The suspect refused to comply and reached behind his back towards his waistband. After failing to comply with verbal commands, fearing for the safety of others, the suspect was shot one time. Deputies immediately secured the suspect and rendered first aid, until he was transported to the hospital for medical treatment.

“In what has proven to be a terrifying night for our community, the immediate actions of our deputies saved other victims from further terror caused by this convicted felon,” stated Sheriff Prendergast. “Thanks to our deputies quick thinking and superior performance, they were able to protect our community from further harm.”

Multiple charges are pending in this case, which is still under investigation. Any additional details regarding this incident will be released when possible.

As is common practice with deputy involved shootings, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) responded and is conducting an independent investigation into the incident. The deputy involved has been placed on administrative leave which is standard procedure.

29-YEAR-OLD REDMAN ARRESTED FOR MURDER OF 19-YEAR-OLD BROTHER

(Citrus County, FL) Earlier this morning, Citrus County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Detective Robaldo Ramos arrested 29-year-old Daniel Arthur Redman of Inverness for the premeditated murder of his 19-year-old brother, Brenden Ray Redman.

On January 14, 2022, CCSO deputies responded to a shooting in the area of East Dawson Drive in Inverness where they located victim Brenden Redman lying in a driveway with apparent gunshot wounds. Victim Brenden, unfortunately, succumbed to his injuries. During the initial investigation, detectives identified the suspect as Daniel Redman. Daniel Redman was shot by deputies during a hostage situation and has been in our custody while receiving medical treatment.

Today, Redman was formally arrested on the below charges and transported to the Lake Butler Correctional Facility:

  • Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon
  • Shoot/throw deadly missile into dwelling/conveyance
  • Burglary with battery
  • Premeditated murder
  • Kidnapping with intent to commit/commission any felony

“The immediate action and quick thinking our deputies demonstrated in this grisly situation speaks volumes to the rigorous training they undergo to serve our citizens,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “In this situation every second counted, where our deputies were able to respond immediately and save the life of another victim.  I commend our outstanding team of professionals for their dedication and thoroughness during this difficult case.” 

*****ORGINIAL NEWS RELEASE*****

(Citrus County, FL) On January 14, 2022, at approximately 9 P.M., deputies responded to a residence in the area of East Dawson Drive, Inverness, FL in reference to a shooting.

Upon arrival, deputies observed a victim with apparent gunshot wounds lying on the driveway. Shortly thereafter, EMS arrived and began treating the victim. Subsequently, the victim was air-lifted to Marion County for medical treatment and was later pronounced deceased at the hospital. Witnesses told deputies the suspected shooter tried to break into their home before he fled on foot. Through witness statements, deputies were able to identify the suspect as 29-year-old Daniel Arthur Redman, who was just released from prison on January 9, 2022.

Deputies began searching for the suspect with the assistance of a K-9 unit. Within minutes, the suspect was tracked to a motor home located approximately a quarter mile away. Upon contact, the suspect was observed holding another victim, with obvious injuries, as hostage. Deputies gave verbal commands for the suspect to release the hostage, which he eventually complied with. Once the hostage was safe, deputies ordered the suspect to show them his hands. The suspect refused to comply and reached behind his back towards his waistband. After failing to comply with verbal commands, fearing for the safety of others, the suspect was shot one time. Deputies immediately secured the suspect and rendered first aid, until he was transported to the hospital for medical treatment.

“In what has proven to be a terrifying night for our community, the immediate actions of our deputies saved other victims from further terror caused by this convicted felon,” stated Sheriff Prendergast. “Thanks to our deputies quick thinking and superior performance, they were able to protect our community from further harm.”

Multiple charges are pending in this case, which is still under investigation. Any additional details regarding this incident will be released when possible.

As is common practice with deputy involved shootings, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) responded and is conducting an independent investigation into the incident. The deputy involved has been placed on administrative leave which is standard procedure.

NEARLY 500 GRAMS OF METH SEIZED IN HOMOSASSA SEARCH WARRANT

(Citrus County, FL) February 17, 2022, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team, along with the support of the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team, executed a search warrant at 6330 W. Carter Road in Homosassa.  Detectives from CCSO’s Tactical Impact Unit worked in conjunction with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives gathering evidence that led to the issuance and execution of this narcotics search warrant.

Upon arrival at the W. Carter Road residence, deputies discovered six people inside the home. After securing the residence and individuals on scene, officials proceeded with the execution of the lawful search warrant.  Detectives located narcotics including large trafficking amounts of methamphetamine (482.6 grams), various narcotic pills (Diazepam, Oxycodone, and Alprazolam), and LSD.

The following subjects were arrested and charged accordingly:

  • Melissa Parker (DOB 07/07/1980) - Trafficking in methamphetamine, four counts of possession of a controlled substance, and drug paraphernalia. (Four prior felony convictions)
  • Anthony Fusco (DOB 11/18/1968) - Possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
  • Danny Green (DOB 03/20/1983) - Possession of a controlled substance. (Three prior felony convictions)
  • Holly Beams (DOB 01/09/1992) - Possession of a controlled substance.

“I’d like to thank Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis and his team, along with our federal partners for assisting us with the successful execution of this narcotics search warrant,” said Sheriff Prendergast. “Our united front in the fight against illegal narcotics serves as a reminder to those dealing drugs in our communities that we will find you, and when we do, you’ll be in cuffs.”  

Remember, Citrus - If you SEE something, SAY something! Our non-emergency line is staffed 24/7 and can be reached at 352-249-2790. Callers wishing to remain anonymous can call Citrus County Crimes Stoppers at 1-888-ANY-TIPS. Help us eradicate illegal drugs from the streets in our community.

HOMOSASSA MAN ARRESTED FOR AGGRAVATED CHILD ABUSE

(Citrus County, FL) February 22, 2022, 25-year-old Shane Harrison Cohen was arrested for Aggravated Child Abuse in reference to injuries he inflicted on a 2-year-old child who was in his care.

Acting on information received from a local daycare facility, Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Detective Jason Cook and Detective Roscoe Watts, with the Special Victims Unit (SVU), immediately began an investigation.

When Cohen was dropping the victim off at daycare in the morning, a staff member observed Cohen acting strange. When Cohen brought the victim inside, he spontaneously told staff the victim had injuries on his chest, and it was caused by a pet.  Initially, staff only observed minor scratches and red marks, but a short time later they worsened. They now could see extensive bruising on the victim’s face, torso, and buttocks.  Staff members immediately contacted the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and CCSO.   

A deputy initially responded and documented extensive bruising all over the victim’s body. The victim was taken to Jessie’s Place, Citrus County’s Child Advocacy Center, for an emergency medical examination by the Child Protection Team (CPT).  As a result of this exam, the victim’s injuries were determined to be consistent with abuse.

Detectives Cook and Watts made contact with Cohen and conducted an interview.  While speaking with detectives, Cohen admitted to the abuse and indicated he had observed the inflicted injuries prior to dropping the victim at daycare.

“It is inexcusable that an adult would cause these types of injuries to a child. Cohen used the victim as a target for his anger and frustration, knowing they would be unable to fight back,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “If not for the watchful eye of the daycare staff and the teamwork between DCF, Jessie’s Place, and our office, this victim’s fate could have been much worse. It is everyone's duty to protect those most vulnerable and if you see something say something. Let’s all make Citrus County the safest community to live in.”

As a result of this investigation, Cohen was placed under arrest for Aggravated Child Abuse, and is being held at the Citrus County Detention Facility without bond.

FORMER CORRECTIONAL OFFICER SENTENCED FOR SEXUAL ABUSE ON A CHILD AND DOMESTIC BATTERY

(Citrus County, FL) March 3, 2022, in the courtroom of the Honorable Judge Richard “Ric” Howard, a jury found 40-year-old James Touchton of Inverness guilty of Capital Sexual Battery on a Child Under 12 (six counts) and Domestic Battery by Strangulation (two counts).  Touchton was then sentenced to six consecutive life sentences for Capital Sexual Battery and two consecutive five-year sentences for Domestic Battery.

Touchton, who had been a Correctional Officer at Lowell Correctional Institution in Marion County, was originally arrested on March 11, 2019, by Detective Jason Cook and Detective Mike Laborda with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Special Victims Unit (SVU).  The detectives worked closely with the Child Protection Team at Jessie’s Place, the Citrus County Child Advocacy Center, to obtain the statements and evidence needed to place Touchton under arrest.

“Justice has been served today in Citrus County,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “Due to the incredible work by our SVU detectives, alongside the Child Protection Team at Jessie’s Place, Touchton was quickly arrested and remained in custody all the way through today’s trial.  Thanks to the court’s decision yesterday, Touchton will spend the rest of his life in prison and will never be able to abuse another child.  While this can never undo the harm done to this victim, I hope they will find solace in knowing Touchton will spend the rest of his life in prison.”

OVIEDO MAN SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR  SEXUAL BATTERY ON A CHILD

(Citrus County, FL) March 15, 2022, in the courtroom of the Honorable Judge Richard “Ric” Howard, a jury found 34-year-old Rapheal Malik Akbar Arnold of Oviedo guilty on one count of Capital Sexual Battery on a Child Under 12.  Arnold was consequently sentenced to life in prison.

Nearly two years ago, on May 7, 2020, allegations of sexual abuse were reported to the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO). Detective Ricci with the CCSO Special Victims Unit (SVU) immediately began investigating the allegations.  The juvenile victim was interviewed by the Child Protection Team (CPT) members at Jessie’s Place, the Citrus County Child Advocacy Center.  During this interview, it was determined numerous instances of sexual abuse had taken place at a residence located in Crystal River, Florida, as well as at multiple other locations throughout the state.

Based on the results of this investigation, a warrant was issued for Arnold’s arrest for the charge of Sexual Battery on a Child Under 12.  Members of the United States Marshals Service (USMS) Fugitive Task Force located Arnold in North Carolina on July 25, 2020, where he was taken into custody for this warrant.  Arnold was later transported to Citrus County to await trial, where he was held until his sentencing yesterday.

“Another predator has been removed from society due to the amazing work by CCSO detectives, the Child Protection Team, and the United States Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force. The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office remains steadfast in its mission to make our community safe and protect our most vulnerable citizens,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “It is my hope that Arnold’s sentencing will finally allow the victim to begin the healing process.”

TRAFFIC STOP TURNS DRUG BUST IN HOMOSASSA

(Citrus County, FL) In the early morning hours on Friday, March 18, 2022, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Tactical Impact Unit conducted a traffic stop in the area of U.S. 19 and W. Yulee Dr. in Homosassa due to an expired registration.

Upon making contact with the driver of the vehicle, 36-year-old Ernest Corey Grimaldi of Brooksville, it was discovered the individual did not possess a valid driver’s license due to a suspension. Further investigation also revealed the other occupant in the vehicle, 36-year-old Danielle Marie Turney of Inverness, had an active Pasco County warrant.

Both individuals were asked to step out and consent was given to search the vehicle. During the search of the vehicle the following narcotics were located:

  • 139 Oxycodone 10mg pills
  • 124 Oxycodone 30mg pills
  • 88 Hydromorphone 8mg pills
  • 97 Alprazolam 2mg pills
  • 1 btl of Testosterone Cypionate
  • 1g of Fentanyl
  • And $1,400 in cash

Both Grimaldi and Turney were arrested and charged accordingly:

  • Ernest Grimaldi (DOB:03/03/1986)- Trafficking in more than 28g of Oxycodone, trafficking in more than 4g of Oxycodone, trafficking in more than 4g Hydromorphone, possession w/intent to sell Alprazolam, possession of a controlled substance (Fentanyl), possession of a controlled substance (Testosterone Cypionate), possession of drug paraphernalia and felony driving while license suspended (3rd offense).
  • Danielle Turney (DOB: 09/07/1985)- Open warrant for driving on a suspended license (Pasco County).

“This is just another prime example of how dull-witted individuals dealing illicit drugs are,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “Great job to our guys working out there in our community noticing the small details of an expired registration that elevated this minor traffic stop to a full blown drug bust.”

POLK CITY MAN ARRESTED FOR LEWD AND LASCIVIOUS BATTERY OF A CHILD UNDER THE AGE OF 16

(Citrus County, FL) On March 25, 2022, 20-year-old Donovan Wayne Cole of Polk City, Florida, was arrested on a warrant for the charge of Lewd and Lascivious Battery in reference to an incident that occurred on January 28, 2022 in Inverness, Florida.

On February 1, 2022, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) was contacted by the parent of the juvenile victim in this case.  The parent told deputies that the victim had just disclosed sexual activity with Cole, who they had met on the TikTok social media app.  Detective Tiffany Barry with the CCSO High Tech Crimes Unit (HTCU) was assigned to the case and immediately began an investigation.

During an interview with the Child Protection Team (CPT), at Jessie’s Place Child Advocacy Center, the victim said that Cole had travelled to Inverness from his home in Polk City and they had engaged in sexual activity in a local parking area.

As the investigation continued, evidence was obtained that supported the victim’s allegations.  Detective Barry worked with the State Attorney’s Office and a warrant was issued for Cole’s arrest.  On March 25, 2022, Detective Barry made contact with Cole at his residence in Polk City.  During an interview with Cole he provided detectives with information that further reinforced the victim’s statements.

 “Cole is an example of how a predator can use social media to connect with a victim” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “He developed a relationship online, and then travelled to Citrus County to take advantage of a juvenile.  The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office is devoted to protecting the youth of our community and taking offenders like Cole off the street.”

Cole was arrested on the warrant for one count of Lewd and Lascivious Battery of a Child less than 16.  He is being held at the Polk County Jail with a bond of $15,000.00.

DEPUTY INVOLVED SHOOTING IN DUNNELLON

 (Citrus County, FL) At approximately 5:30 p.m. this afternoon, Citrus County Sheriff’s Office deputies initially responded to a residence off of N. Windbreak Ter. in Dunnellon in reference to a disturbance and verbal altercation.  

Upon arrival, deputies met with the complainant.  While speaking with the complainant, the suspect returned to the scene in his vehicle. As deputies approached the suspect, he refused to comply with verbal commands.  While failing to comply with verbal commands, the suspect retrieved a weapon, leaving the deputies with no choice but to deploy deadly force to stop the threat.

The suspect, later identified as 46-years-old Bryan Thomas Otto of  Dunnellon (DOB 10/19/1975), was pronounced deceased on scene.

“Citrus County Sheriff’s Office deputies are trained to respond appropriately to any threat they come in contact with,” said Sheriff Prendergast. “We are thankful for their courageous efforts in keeping our community safe.”

As with any of our deputy-involved shootings, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is on scene and investigating this case. Following agency policy, the deputies involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave with pay, pending the outcome of the preliminary FDLE investigation.

We will release additional details as they become available.    

OPERATION ´ROTTEN EGGS' RESULTS IN 35 ARRESTS

(Citrus County, FL) Over the last two days, just in time for Easter, members of the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Tactical Impact Unit (TIU) conducted a covert operation to search for the ‘rotten eggs’ that have been involved in the sale and distribution of illicit narcotics in Citrus County.

Partnering with agents from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (Homeland Security) Air and Marine Operations, and task force officers from the U.S. Marshals Service Florida/Caribbean Regional Fugitive Task Force, the combined law enforcement efforts resulted in the arrests of thirty-five men and women in Citrus County for an array of narcotics charges.

The following arrests were made during Operation ‘Rotten Eggs’:

  • Kenneth Anderson (DOB 06/25/1987) Trafficking in Fentanyl
  • Clinton Czerwinski (DOB 12/01/1982) Trafficking in Fentanyl
  • Marydolores Arza (DOB 01/01/1971) Trafficking in Fentanyl
  • Richard Harkleroad (DOB 01/14/1971) Sale of a controlled substance (Methamphetamine)
  • Robert Gilbert (DOB 06/08/1970) Sale of a controlled substance (Methamphetamine) and two counts of possession of a controlled substance (Methamphetamine & Alprazolam)
  • Broderick Houston (DOB 04/26/1989) Two counts sale of a controlled substance (Fentanyl) and possession of a controlled substance (Fentanyl)
  • John Stevens (DOB 11/24/1973) Sale of a controlled substance (Hydromorphone)
  • Kerri O’Brien (DOB 05/31/1980) Sale of a controlled substance (Fentanyl) and failure to appear reference violation of probation
  • Vanessa Wall (DOB 01/11/1979) Two counts sale of a controlled substance (Fentanyl)
  • David R Swanson (DOB 08/26/1963) Sale of a controlled substance (Methamphetamine)
  • Angela Taylor (DOB 04/05/1975) Sale of a controlled substance (Methamphetamine) and possession of a controlled substance (Methamphetamine)
  • Timothy Trehuba (DOB 07/24/1978) Sale of a controlled substance (Fentanyl)
  • Alexander Lamb (DOB 02/27/1997) Sale of a controlled substance (Methamphetamine)
  • Nichole Mandat (DOB 03/28/1988) Sale of a controlled substance (Fentanyl)
  • Danny Green (DOB 03/20/1983) Sale of a controlled substance (Methamphetamine)
  • Tabitha Morgan (DOB 08/16/1996) Sale of a controlled substance (Heroin)
  • Richard Knowles (DOB 08/05/1995) Sale of a controlled substance (Heroin)
  • Lawrence Roddenberry (DOB 09/29/1975) Two counts sale of a controlled substance (Methamphetamine)
  • Amanda McElmurray (DOB 09/12/1991) Two counts sale of a controlled substance (Methamphetamine)
  • Zackary Stanfield (DOB 02/11/1993) Two counts sale of counterfeit substance
  • Brian Chambers (DOB 11/16/2001) Sale of a controlled substance (Oxycodone)
  • Vincent Armstrong (DOB 03/17/1992) Two counts sale of a controlled substance (Alprazolam)
  • Jose Alamo (DOB 04/13/1994) Sale of a controlled substance (Cocaine), possession of a controlled substance (Fentanyl), conspiracy to sell a controlled substance and petit theft
  • Jason Gordon (DOB 01/10/1984) Sale of a controlled substance (Fentanyl) and sale of a controlled substance (Methamphetamine)
  • Amanda Funk (DOB 12/22/1984) Possession of a controlled substance (Methamphetamine & Fentanyl)
  • Brandon Bigel (DOB 11/29/1985) Possession of a controlled substance (Fentanyl)
  • Jennifer Uncapher (DOB 01/08/1972) Possession of a controlled substance (Methamphetamine & Fentanyl)
  • Michael Mehringer (DOB 09/13/1985) Possession of a controlled substance (Methamphetamine)
  • Dean Dumont (DOB 05/16/1998) Violation of probation
  • Corey Ross (DOB 11/01/1990) Sale of a controlled substance (Fentanyl)
  • Courtney Bissonette (DOB 10/07/1989) Two counts possession of a controlled substance (Methamphetamine & Fentanyl)
  • Jeff Lipovetsky (DOB 12/24/1986) Possession of a controlled substance (Suboxone)
  • Joseph Kennedy (DOB 06/25/1979) Violation of probation ref original charge of possession of a controlled substance
  • Craig Richmond (DOB 07/10/1974) Violation of probation reference possession of paraphernalia & driving while license suspended or revoked and failure to appear for possession of a controlled substance
  • Tracy Higgins (DOB 10/12/1970) Violation of probation for possession of paraphernalia

Three of the arrestees listed here were also arrested during a previous operation, ‘Deck the Cells’ back in December of 2021 – those individuals are Nicole Mandat, Richard Harkleroad, and Corey Ross.

We would like to thank our partners at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (Homeland Security) Air and Marine Operations, and the U.S. Marshals Service for their teamwork, which resulted in the resounding success of this operation.

"Since being elected Sheriff, I have upheld my promise to combat the illicit drugs in Citrus County after witnessing the damaging effects drugs have on our community, especially our youth,” said Sheriff Prendergast.  “Contrary to what many believe, drug use is not a victimless crime – everyone’s safety is at stake. Drug users steal to pay for their addictions; their dependence tarnishes relationships with loved ones and can even result in their death by means of overdose. Today, our agency made additional progress in our resilient efforts to combat this crippling epidemic and secure the future for the betterment of our community.”

If you know of anyone who may be dealing in illegal narcotics or know of someone struggling with addiction, call our non-emergency line at 352-249-2790 to report the criminal activity, or to speak with a member of our Behavioral Health Unit for assistance.

BRIEF EASTER PURSUIT ENDS IN MEADOWCREST

(Citrus County, FL) Shortly after 1:30 p.m. today, Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) deputies attempted to conduct a traffic stop on a vehicle in the area of W. Venable Street and 7 Rivers Dr. in Crystal River. Deputies observed the gold in color Dodge pickup truck bearing a Tennessee tag, both of which were confirmed to be stolen.

However, when deputies attempted the traffic stop, the driver of the vehicle, later identified as 39-year-old Michael James Dailey of Lecanto, did not stop and led officials on a slow speed vehicle pursuit. Throughout the pursuit, Dailey briefly stopped the vehicle numerous times and took off after each stop. However, during one of his short stops, the other passenger of the vehicle, identified as 61-year-old Betty Joan Hall of Lecanto, was able to safely exit. As deputies secured Hall, she indicated that Dailey was high on methamphetamine and had a firearm in the truck.

As the pursuit continued, Dailey attempted to strike several deputy vehicles and at one point, successfully rammed one deputy’s patrol car head-on. The pursuit, which lasted roughly 45-minutes, ended in the business plaza of Meadowcrest when deputies deployed stop sticks deflating the tires. In his last act to elude law enforcement, Dailey attempted to drive over a rock embankment but was unsuccessful and immobilized the vehicle.   

Dailey then refused deputies’ commands to exit the vehicle and claimed to have a firearm while making erratic movements within the vehicle. In response, officials contained the area, shutting down the entranceway into the Meadowcrest plaza and activated the CCSO’s Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) to respond out. After a 45 minute negotiation period, members of CCSO’s SWAT deployed a flash-bang with little effect and eventually fired two less-lethal gas rounds into the vehicle. Dailey subsequently surrendered without further incident and was arrested.

Dailey is being charged with aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, resist officer without violence, aggravated flee/elude law enforcement from the scene of a crash with damage, theft of a vehicle, and driving while license suspended or revoked.

Dailey’s passenger, Hall was also arrested and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.

"Dailey showed a blatant disregard for law enforcement today,” said Sheriff Prendergast.  “His actions put our deputies’ lives in jeopardy and that of our citizens. Our office is thankful that we were able to apprehend Dailey without further incident and that everyone on our team will be returning home safely this Easter.”

SPECIAL OLYMPICS LAW ENFORCEMENT TORCH RUN

(Citrus County, FL) The tradition continues on Friday, May 13, 2022, when Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) deputies join in the annual Florida Law Enforcement Torch Run that benefits Special Olympics Florida.        

Each year, this signature event highlights the law enforcement community's year-round support of the Special Olympics.  Law enforcement officers from around the state carry the “Flame of Hope” in an intrastate relay of simultaneous routes throughout Florida, covering hundreds of miles. 

Citrus County's relay participants will meet at the Sheriff's Crystal River Community Resource Office on U.S. Highway 19, where the run will start at 8 a.m.  Runners will cover a distance of about 3 miles, traveling east along S.R. 44 to the Publix in the Crystal Springs Plaza at the intersection of C.R. 486. Publix grocery store chain is a premier sponsor of both the Florida Law Enforcement Torch Run and Special Olympics Florida and will be providing healthy snacks and drinks for all relay participants. 

At 9 a.m., bicyclists will ride the second leg of the cross-county relay from there to the Withlacoochee Technical College, about a 14-mile stretch.  From that point, runners will complete the relay leg over to the Publix in Inverness. From there, participants and clients from the Key Training Center finish on to the Citrus County Sheriff's Office Operations building in downtown Inverness around 11:30 a.m. Our outstanding partners at CoreCivic, will then be providing lunch for everyone.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run has long been the largest grassroots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle for the Special Olympics program.  As in past years, Citrus County’s runners and bicyclists will raise funds for Special Olympics Florida through the sale of commemorative T-shirts.  While citizens cannot join in on the run, they are still able to purchase the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run (L.E.T.R.) shirts to support this amazing cause and are encouraged to cheer on participants at either Publix locations or CCSO’s operations building.

Shirts can be purchased at the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office Training section in the Park Place building located at 107 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. in Inverness,   Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Citizens can purchase the shirts with cash or check (payable to L.E.T.R.). cotton short-sleeve shirts are $20.00, dry-fit shirts are $25.00, and women’s cotton razorback tanks are $25.00.

Here in Florida, the Torch Run had its start many years ago as the Special Olympics Mileage Event (SOME) Run, when a handful of officers carried the Flame of Hope throughout the state in a grueling, non-stop run.  The SOME Run soon gained momentum, and law enforcement agencies from all over Florida became involved.  Eventually, the relay came to be known as the Florida Law Enforcement Torch Run.

We hope you will help light the way for inclusion and support the athletes of the Special Olympics Florida.

FLEEING WANTED OF THE WEEK ARRESTED FOR ANIMAL CRUELTY

(Citrus County, FL) Tuesday, May 3, 2022, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office’s (CCSO) Wanted of the Week, 48-year-old Jason Munn of Floral City, was arrested by authorities with the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado, thanks to the assistance of the United States Marshals Service (USMS) Fugitive Task Force.

"Munn’s arrest could not have been made possible if it was not for the collaborative efforts of all the incredible professionals and advocates involved,” said Sheriff Prendergast.  “I’d like to thank the United States Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force, Citrus County Animal Shelter Chief Veterinarian Dr. Meaghan Mielo and Director Colleen Yarbrough, the Keokuk County Sheriff’s Office, Iowa Animal Rescue League, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office for their steadfast dedication and assistance in this horrendous case.”

The initial investigation into Munn’s criminal acts began on April 1, 2022, after CCSO officials received information that Munn, the property/business owner was not properly caring for a large number of dogs that he was breeding and selling. After initial contact with Munn reference the allegations of violating county ordinances, it was discovered that Munn was not in compliance with the size and capacity of the dogs’ kennels.

Rather than attempt to correct the violations witnessed by Animal Control Officers, Munn began trying to relocate some of the animals in his possession. He surrendered 14 dogs to the Citrus County Animal Shelter; three of which were in such deplorable conditions from long periods of neglect that Munn was subsequently arrested on April 18th, for three counts of aggravated animal cruelty.

Despite Munn’s initial arrest, officials continued to investigate. It was later discovered that Munn relocated 65 dogs to Iowa.  The Keokuk County Sheriff’s Office and the Iowa Animal Rescue League seized all of the animals due to their conditions. One of the dogs, now in the care of the Iowa Animal Rescue League, had a leg that was improperly amputated. Further investigation led CCSO’s Community Crimes Detectives and Animal Control Officers to believe that Munn performed this amputation himself in Citrus County, without the assistance of a veterinarian or proper follow-up care.

On April 20, 2022, CCSO’s Community Crimes Detectives and Animal Control Officers served a search warrant for both of Munn’s properties at 6991 E. Shadywoods Ct. and 7033 E. Shadywoods Ct. in Floral City, in reference to this animal abuse case.

In total, 56 dogs were found on the property living in deplorable conditions. Some were confined in small kennels with multiple other dogs and no access to food or water. The remains of two dogs were also located under a tarp on the property and one puppy was found deceased in its own feces and urine, with no access to water. Twenty-eight reptiles (snakes, skinks, geckos, and monitor lizards) were also found to be kept in terrible conditions.

Community Crimes Detectives and Animal Control Officers worked alongside our partners with the Citrus County Animal Shelter and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to seize the animals found on scene and to further investigate the deaths of the deceased dogs.

Both detectives and Animal Control Officers attempted to make contact with Munn, who had bonded out from his previous arrest, and were unsuccessful. Coupled with the existing evidence and preliminary examinations by the shelter veterinarian, an arrest warrant was obtained for Munn. Munn aired as CCSO’s Wanted of the Week originally on April 27th for his warrant for two counts of animal cruelty.

With the assistance of the USMS and the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office, Munn was arrested in Colorado. Munn will be extradited back to Citrus County for his crimes.

Additional charges are pending for Munn as our office continues its investigation.

COMMERCIAL BURGLARY SUSPECT WILLIAM DLUGOS JR. CAPTURED

(Citrus County, FL) Beginning on February 25th, 2022 the Sheriff’s Office began receiving reports of commercial burglaries that occurred throughout the county.  The suspect appeared to be a 6’0” to 6’2’’ heavy-set male, wearing a mask, a hoodie, pants, tennis shoes, and gloves.  Both the East and West Community Crimes Detectives (CCDs) immediately began collaborative investigative efforts to identify, locate and hold the unknown suspect accountable.   All burglaries occurred at commercial businesses after hours.  The suspect forced entry to closed businesses and stole cash and other miscellaneous items.  This past weekend the burglar hit three separate locations in one night, bringing the total to 11 commercial burglaries.   Detectives compared notes and investigated every possible lead.

 On Tuesday, May 10th, detectives found the break they were looking for.  Video surveillance from a nearby business of one of the crime scenes captured a possible suspect vehicle.  Detectives learned the suspect vehicle, a white GMC extended cab style vehicle, was observed to be in the area of multiple burglary scenes. Detective Snedeker recalled a vehicle matching the description being parked at a local motel in Homosassa.  Members of the Intelligence Analyst Unit immediately assisted with providing relevant information on the possible suspect.  Detectives spotted the vehicle and members of the Tactical Impact Unit jumped on surveillance, tracking the suspect’s movement. Detectives, with the assistance of Analyst Lori Cronshaw, learned the suspect didn’t have a current driver's license. Members of TIU, CCDs, and K9 Deputy Elias conducted a traffic stop in the motel parking lot. 

The suspect, William Joseph Dlugos Jr. was taken into custody without incident. K9 Odie conducted an exterior vehicle sniff of the suspect vehicle and alerted to the presence of narcotics. A search revealed Dlugos was in possession of crack cocaine. Detectives also observed evidence that tied Dlugos to at least one burglary scene. Detectives interviewed Dlugos who confessed to 10 of the reported 11 burglaries. Detectives completed and served a search warrant on the suspect’s vehicle and the motel room where they were able to recover physical evidence, further implicating the suspect’s involvement. Crime Scene Specialists actively assisted both on scene and behind the scene collecting pertinent evidence for future prosecution. 

Dlugos was charged with 10 counts of commercial burglary, 2 counts of felony criminal mischief, 2 counts of grand theft, 1 count of possession of a controlled substance, 5 counts of criminal mischief, 5 counts of petit theft, and 1 count of driving without a valid license.  Dlugos’ bond was set at $69,000 per the bond schedule.

The investigation had a lot of moving parts and required a tremendous amount of coordination. The hard work and dedication of all members led to a very successful outcome. Great job to all involved and thank you for your tremendous effort. 

FLORAL CITY WOMAN ARRESTED FOR MURDER IN DRUG OVERDOSE

(Citrus County, FL) Yesterday, May 23, 2022, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) arrested 44-year-old Delia Marie Dean of Floral City for first-degree felony murder as a result of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance (Fentanyl) which resulted in the overdose death of 48-year-old Jonathan Michael Bishop of Inverness.

"This case is a landmark case for us here in Citrus County,” said Sheriff Prendergast.  “As Gov. Ron DeSantis said after signing his bill into law last week to increase the penalties for those who illegally sell and distribute opioids in our state, ‘Floridians of all walks of life have witnessed the destruction caused by the opioid epidemic across our state.’ Last year our county had 377 reported drug overdoses with 81 deaths – a 47% increase from the year prior. Our office stands with Gov. DeSantis in his fight to end this deadly crisis and save lives. This case is just one of many more to come in our effort to hold those responsible for destroying our communities.” 

On April 20, 2022, CCSO deputies were dispatched to a residence off West Hudson Street in reference to a death. Upon arrival, officials located Jonathan in his room, where he was pronounced deceased due to obvious signs of rigor mortis. After speaking with the decedent’s mother and witness on scene, it was determined that the decedent did not have a known medical history that could have been attributed to his passing.

While inside the residence, deputies noticed a white powdery substance in a line with a rolled-up bill next to it in the decedent’s bathroom.  The powder was field-tested and yielded a positive result for the presence of Fentanyl. Both the white powder and bill were collected for evidence.  The decedent’s body was turned over to the medical examiner to determine the cause of death.

CCSO’s Major Crimes detectives, along with Tactical Impact Unit (TIU) detectives continued to work collectively on this case. Their initial investigation revealed that Jonathan had contacted Dean for illicit narcotics, which she provided him on numerous occasions.  Detectives were then able to locate Dean just eight short days after Jonathan’s death to question her about her interactions with Jonathan and involvement in his illicit drug use. Dean admitted to supplying the decedent with narcotics on various occasions, specifically on the night of his death.  

On May 19, 2022, the toxicology report from the Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the cause of death as a combined drug toxicity of Fentanyl and alcohol. Based on the findings of this case, along with the evidence collected and interviews conducted, an arrest warrant was signed by the Honorable Judge Falvey yesterday and Dean was arrested merely hours later.

CCSO LEADERS GRADUATE FROM ST. LEO'S 23RD & 24TH COMMAND OFFICER MANAGEMENT PROGRAM

(Citrus County, FL) Today, six Citrus County Sheriff’s Office professionals graduated from Saint Leo University’s Command Officer Management Program.

“Congratulations to our graduates for completing Saint Leo University’s Command Officer Management Program,” said Sheriff Prendergast. “It was an immense honor to witness my staff graduate from such an outstanding and rigorous professional development program. As I learned a long time ago, this career demands constant pursuit of excellence when it comes to education and training to stay ahead of the bad guys.”

Law enforcement officials from seven Florida counties, who make up the 23rd and 24th cohorts of Saint Leo University’s Command Officer Management Program, received their diplomas earlier today.

Of this group, CCSO’s very own graduates were:

  • Community Relations Supervisor, Brittney Carman
  • Financial Services Supervisor, Andrea Coral
  • Major Crimes Sergeant, Christopher Holloway
  • School Resource Sergeant, Jeff Hunter
  • Patrol Sergeant, Allison McLaughlin-Perry
  • Behavioral Health Unit Sergeant, Rachel Montgomery

Law enforcement personnel who aspire for a leadership position benefit greatly from this comprehensive, six-week-long program, which provides on-site education, specifically focusing on leadership, ethics, human resources, critical incident management, and other relevant administrative competencies.

Congratulations again to all of the graduates!

OPERATION CYBER KNIGHTS NABS CYBER PREDATORS

(Citrus County, FL) June 8, 2022, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office’s (CCSO) High Tech Crimes Unit (HTCU) is releasing the results of Operation Cyber Knights, a strategic undercover Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) operation to apprehend dangerous, cyber predators who had the intent to engage in sexual activity with a child.

Over the course of this operation, officials from the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, along with our partners at the United States Marshals Service Florida/Caribbean Fugitive Task Force (USMS FCFTF), the United States Secret Service, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, Sarasota Police Department, and the Longwood Police Department worked collaboratively to capture these online child sex predators.

During the operation, law enforcement officials posed undercover as either a 13 or 14-year-old girl or boy and exchanged online messages with these subjects. Despite the acknowledgment of the child’s age, in various messages these subjects engaged in sexually explicit conversations, detailing different sexual activities they hoped to perform with the child. In total, ten arrests were made as a result of this operation.

“Parents – predators know how susceptible and trusting our children are,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “They also know just how easy it is to gain access to your children and exploit them through the internet. The disgusting and sexually deviant behaviors these predators displayed in their online chats are monstrous. But to willingly arrange to meet up with a child to carry out these sickening acts makes them very real and very dangerous. I am extremely proud of the teamwork from the various law enforcement agencies that went into making these arrests possible and for knowing that thanks to their dedication, we’ve stopped these sexual predators from preying on children in our county and our surrounding counties.”

The following subjects were arrested in Citrus County during this operation:

Christopher Covyaw SEXUAL OFFENDER  (DOB 10/29/1972), Inverness, FL – 4 Counts of Transmission of Harmful Material 847.0138(2), Seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a child to engage in any illegal act F.S.S. 847.0135 (3)(a), Sexual Offenders Failure to Register; Electronic Mail 943.0435(4)(e)(1), Sexual Offenders Failure to Register; Telephone Numbers 943.0435(4)(e)(2), and Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communications Device 934.215. Total bond set at $137,000.

Dustin Warlick (DOB 2/10/1988), Inverness, FL – Travel to Seduce/Solicit Child in Sex Act: F.S.S. 847.0135(4)(a), 4 counts Knowingly Transmit Harmful Material to a Minor: F.S.S. 847.0138(2), Attempted Lewd and Lascivious Molestation: F.S.S. 800.04(5)(a), and Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communication Device: F.S.S 934.215. Total bond set at $137,000. 

Fabricio Oswaldo Aguilar Beccera (DOB 5/10/1981), Ocala, FL – Travel to Seduce/Solicit Child in Sex Act: F.S.S. 847.0135(4)(a), and Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communication Device: F.S.S 934.215. Total bond set at $27,000.

Kenneth Hottes (DOB 4/01/1979), Ocala, FL – Knowingly Transmit Harmful Material to a Minor: F.S.S. 847.0138(2), Travel to Seduce/Solicit Child in Sex Act: F.S.S. 847.0135(4)(a), and Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communication Device: F.S.S 934.215. Total bond set at $52,000.

Bruce William Henderson Jr. (DOB 1/17/1972), Brooksville, FL – Travel to Seduce/Solicit Child in Sex Act: F.S.S. 847.0135(4)(a), Seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a child to engage in any illegal act F.S.S. 847.0135 (3), and Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communication Device: F.S.S 934.215. Total bond set at $52,000.

Harold Wilfred Carver III (DOB 7/22/1976), Orlando, FL – Fugitive from Justice out of Washington County Virginia for 8 Counts of Rape and Sexual Battery. No bond.

The following subjects were arrested on Citrus County warrants as part of this operation:

Timothy Brown (DOB 11/28/1968), Ponte Vedra, FL – 17 Counts of Transmission of harmful material to minor 847.0138 (2), and Seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a child to engage in any illegal act F.S.S. 847.0135 (3)(a ). Total bond set at $450,000. (Arrested by the USMS FCFTF)

Lawrence Neu (DOB 8/28/1954), Lakeland, FL – 9 Counts of Transmission of harmful material to minor 847.0138 (2), Seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a child to engage in any illegal act F.S.S. 847.0135 (3)(a ), and Unlawful use of a Two-Way Communications Device 934.215. Total bond set at $252,000. (Arrested by Polk County Sheriff’s Office)

Justin Rampe (DOB 11/21/1983), Williston, FL – Transmission of Harmful Material 847.0138(2), Seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a child to engage in any illegal act F.S.S. 847.0135 (3)(a), Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communications Device 934.215. (Arrested by Levy County Sheriff’s Office)

Phillip Simpson (DOB 7/09/1995), Anthony, FL – Transmission of Harmful Material 847.0138(2), Computer Pornography; Solicit, Lure, or Entice 847.0135 (3)(a), Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communications Device 934.215. Total bond set at $52,000. (Arrested by the USMS FCFTF)

CCSO would like to thank all of our local, state, and federal law enforcement agency partners who played an integral role in the success of this operation and were unwavering in their commitment to protecting our youth.

If you suspect someone is committing crimes against our youth, call (352) 249-2790 to report your suspicions to our office immediately. You may also contact Crime Stoppers of Citrus County at 1-888-ANY-TIPS to remain anonymous.  Or download the Sheriff’s App (search Citrus County Sheriff’s Office) to use the ‘Submit a tip’ feature to instantly make a report. 

CCSO App users can look up Sexual Offenders in their area by clicking on the ‘Sexual Offenders’ feature, which will show a photo of the offender, their name, physical descriptors, address, and your approximate distance from their location (if app location settings are turned on by the user).

About the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office’s High Tech Crimes Unit:

The High-Tech Crime Unit is a unit within the Criminal Investigations Division whose primary function is investigating child pornography on the internet. This unit is also tasked with the investigation of technologically facilitated offenses including but not limited to forgeries, fraud, fiduciary crimes, breach of computer security, and social networking related offenses. The HTCU has the capability to forensically examine various devices and is a proud member of Florida Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force which actively investigates online child exploitation.

DEPUTY JANNETTE SPENCER SET TO RETIRE

(Citrus County, FL) Today, we celebrate the many impressive achievements, valuable contributions, and well-deserved retirement of Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Deputy Jannette Spencer, who is officially retiring from our office after 32 years of dedicated service.

Deputy Spencer began her 32-year career with CCSO on May 7, 1990, as a Communications Officer.  During her eight years in Communications, she ascended to the rank of Communications Supervisor and Training Officer.  In 1998, Deputy Spencer transferred to the Civil Unit where she performed the duties of a Process Server while attending the Law Enforcement Academy at Withlacoochee Technical College.  After successfully completing the academy, Deputy Spencer was officially sworn in as a Deputy Sheriff on September 1, 2001.  During her sworn law enforcement career, Deputy Spencer has been assigned to the Judicial and Juvenile Services Division working in both the Court Services and Civil Units.  As a Field Training Officer in the Court Security and Civil Units, she has imparted her years of knowledge and experience to a new generation of Judicial Deputies to serve the citizens of Citrus County. 

Over her career, Deputy Spencer has received Certificates of Commendations, a Divisional Letter of Dedication, a Letter of Commendation, Perfect Attendance Awards, and numerous letters of appreciation from various judges, jurors, school groups, and citizens in our community.   Additionally, at the 2003 Florida Law Enforcement Olympics, Deputy Spencer won Gold in Team Bowling and took Silver in the All Events portion.  In 2006, she won Silver in the singles bowling event and was part of a CCSO bowling team that took Bronze. 

Deputy Spencer has been a valued asset and dedicated member of our agency during her tenure.  Most notably, in 2007, she was part of the CCSO team sent to Miami-Dade for the State of Florida vs John Couey murder trial, which lasted over six weeks.  Televised by numerous news outlets, Deputy Spencer was instrumental in the bailiff court activities and a month-long 24/7 jury sequestration while Citrus County was thrust into the national spotlight.  Her efforts and hard work contributed to ensuring the judicial system’s fairness and impartiality of due process and, in the end, brought long-awaited justice for young Jessica Lunsford.

 “Congratulations to Jannette on her well-deserved retirement,” said Sheriff Prendergast. “Thank you for over three decades of dedication and service to our citizens as well as your steady mentorship of your fellow colleagues. We wish you the best in your retirement, as well as happiness and health in the years to come.”

Please join us in congratulating Deputy Spencer on her steadfast commitment to excellence in public safety and selfless service to our community. We are thankful for her devotion to our community and wish her the best in retirement!

HAPPY RETIREMENT TO CCSO DETECTIVE TRAVIS PARSONS

(Citrus County, FL) Today, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) says farewell and Godspeed to Detective Travis Parsons, who is retiring after over 20 years of dedicated service to our community.

Detective Parsons began his career with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office on May 28, 2002, as a Deputy Sheriff.  In October 2005, Deputy Parsons was promoted to the rank of Corporal and Officer In Charge.  In February 2012, Detective Parsons was transferred to CCSO’s Tactical Impact Unit (TIU), serving as a Deputy from February 2012 until April 2015.  In April 2015, he began his service as a TIU Detective. While working full-time, Detective Parsons earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminology at Florida State University.

Detective Parsons’ dedication to our community throughout his career is evidenced in his work to locate and dismantle in excess of 700 meth labs. He was praised for his efforts by receiving the highest award issued “DETECTIVE OF THE YEAR” for the State of Florida in 2017 by the Florida Narcotics Officers Association for combatting the methamphetamine epidemic. Locally, he received the “Partners with a Heart” award for his outstanding work in methamphetamine eradication.  

In 2015, Detective Parsons authored a County Ordinance related to scrap metal that virtually eliminated copper thefts in Citrus County. He has uncovered illicit gambling houses, prostitution rings, marijuana grow houses, cocaine stash houses, and methamphetamine labs. He received specialized training to enter and dismantle clandestine laboratories and is still one of only several “clan lab certified” detectives at the sheriff’s office.

Over the course of his career, Detective Parsons received several professional commendations that include a Humanitarian Service Medal for his service during Hurricane Michael, a Medal of Commendation, multiple Unit Citations for Operation Coin Toss, Certificates of Commendation, Perfect Attendance Awards, and sixteen acknowledgments from various individuals and organizations including the Governor, other agencies, and citizens. 

Detective Parsons has been an outstanding and fiercely committed member of our agency during his tenure. 

“Our office wishes Travis the best on his well-deserved retirement,” said Sheriff Prendergast. “His 20-years of commitment and selfless service to our community is a testament to the dedicated professionals that make up the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office. May nothing but good health and happiness follow in his many years to come.”

Please join us in congratulating Detective Parsons on his commitment to excellence in public safety and selfless service to our community for the past two decades. We are thankful for his dedication to our community and wish him the best in retirement!

Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA) – Invites Public Comments for CCSO's Reaccreditation

(Citrus County, FL) A team of assessors from the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA) will arrive on August 2, 2022, to examine all aspects of the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office’s (CCSO) policies and procedures, management, operations, and support services. CCSO has to comply with numerous standards in order to receive accredited status. Many of the standards are critical to life, health, safety issues, and best practices.

The assessment team is composed of assessors from similar agencies. The assessors will review written materials, interview individuals, and visit offices and other areas where compliance can be observed.

As part of the assessment, agency members and the general public are invited to offer comments to the assessment team. A copy of the standards manual is available on the CFA website at www.flaccreditation.org under the standards tab.

Once the Commission’s assessors complete their review of the agency, they report to the full Commission, which then determines if the agency is to receive accredited or reaccredited status - accreditation is valid for three years. Verification by the team that an agency meets the Commission’s standards is part of a voluntary process to gain or maintain accreditation--a highly prized recognition of professional excellence.

For more information regarding CFA or for persons wishing to offer written comments about the agency’s ability to meet the standards of accreditation, please send correspondence to:

CFA, P.O. Box 1489, Tallahassee, Florida, 32302, or email to flaccreditation@fdle.state.fl.us

Assessors will be on site from August 2nd through August 4th.

CCSO Announces "Operation Southern Slow Down"
(Citrus County, FL) Today, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office announces its participation in Operation Southern Slow Down. Operation Southern Slow Down is a collaborative effort by law enforcement agencies to detect and cite drivers for exceeding the posted speed. From July 15-21, state and local law enforcement agencies in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Florida will conduct a week-long speed enforcement campaign.

According to NHTSA, in 2019, there were 9,478 fatal crashes with at least one driver speeding, contributing to 26% of the total traffic fatalities. In addition, 12% of injury crashes and 9% of property-damage-only crashes in 2019 were also speeding-related. Thirty-three percent of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2019 were speeding, more than drivers of any other vehicle type.

Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast said, “We strive for Excellence in Public Safety every day. The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office is proud to join Operation Southern Slow Down to prevent crashes and fatalities caused by speeding. Slow down, Citrus, and help us save lives.” 

Operation Southern Slow Down is a collaborative effort among the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), and its division of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and local law enforcement agencies. 
CCSO Renews Membership to Protect Citrus County's Children

(Citrus County, FL)  As part of our vision to make Citrus County the safest community in Florida, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office announces its membership renewal in the Missing Kids Readiness Program.  This program was developed by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and promotes best practices for responding to calls of missing, abducted, and sexually exploited children.  Emergency call centers and law enforcement agencies are recognized for meeting essential training and policy elements and demonstrating preparedness for responding to a missing child incident.

“From the moment the report of a missing child comes in, to the resolution of the case, every action taken has the potential to make the difference between a successful recovery or a tragic outcome,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast.  “This program ensures the CCSO team has the best training, knowledge, and resources when responding to a report of a missing or exploited child.”

To meet the program’s requirements, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office reviewed its missing child policy with NCMEC ensure it will meet the critical elements of NCMEC’s model policy for call center agencies.  Philip Tompkins, Communications Quality Assurance & Training Coordinator, completed comprehensive training for the program.  In addition, all Communications Certified Training Officers, Communications Officers In Charge, Communications Supervisors, and Communication Officers completed the online training required for their membership.

A NCMEC spokesperson stated, “By demonstrating remarkable leadership, and making this commitment of training and preparedness, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office is communicating to its citizens and families that protecting the lives and safety of their children is a top priority. We at the National Center would like to express our sincere gratitude and congratulations to the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office for their diligence and commitment to children.

Armed with the information, knowledge, and operational resources gained through meeting the program criteria, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office continues to be positioned to respond more quickly, comprehensively, and effectively when a child’s life may be at stake.

To learn more about NCMEC and the Missing Kids Readiness Program, go to:

https://www.missingkids.org/education/training/mkrp

For a complete listing of all MKRP recognized agencies, go to:

http://www.missingkids.org/supportus/pon

MEDIA INVITE
The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office will be officially announcing its membership renewal in the Missing Kids Readiness Program in partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on July 12, 2022. 

We are cordially inviting all media to our Emergency Operations Center on Tuesday, July 12, 2022, for an opportunity to interview CCSO’s Communications Quality Assurance & Training Coordinator, Philip Tompkins, about this lifesaving program and what it means for residents right here in Citrus County. Media personnel will also get a brief tour of CCSO’s communication center. 

The Emergency Operations Center is located at 3549 Saunders Way. Lecanto, FL 34461-7108.

Please RSVP to Linda Linthicum via email to coordinate a 30-minute time slot between 10am and 12noon on Tuesday, July 12.

All interested and credentialed media must RSVP by July 11 at 4p.m.

Please provide the below information in your RSVP response:

1. Outlet affiliation
2. Full name of persons attending and their appropriate titles (i.e., Jane Doe, News Reporter 
& John Doe, News Cameraman) 
3. Contact number (preferable mobile) 

Please have your credentials visibly displayed upon arrival.

Thank you.
INVERNESS REGIONS BANK ROBBERY SUSPECT ARRESTED

(Citrus County, FL) Last night, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) arrested a suspect involved in the Regions Bank robbery, which occurred on Monday, July 11, at approximately 12:16p.m.

According to CCSO, 26-year-old Hunter Dillon, of Inverness was arrested on charges of Robbery, Aggravated Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer, and Resisting with Violence.  Detectives were able to identify him as a suspect, leading to a warrant being issued for his arrest.  Dillion is accused of robbing the Regions Bank at 809 W Main St, in Inverness.  CCSO officials said that a white male, approximately 25-35 years old, wearing a rolled-up long sleeve orange shirt, dark shorts, tan baseball cap, and gray backpack entered the bank and demanded money.  The suspect left the scene on a black bicycle heading westbound on Main Street towards Highway 581.  No one was injured during the incident.

Sheriff Mike Prendergast said, “Our detectives worked diligently to apprehend Dillon quickly, and his arrest demonstrates the persistence and determination of our detectives in keeping Citrus County safe.”

Dillion is being held at the Citrus County Detention Facility on a $72,000 bond. 

CRYSTAL RIVER SEXUAL PREDATOR ARRESTED FOR SEXUAL BATTERY

(Citrus County, FL) This past Friday, July 15, 2022, 49-year-old Todd Raymond Geller of Crystal River, Florida, was arrested for the charge of Sexual Battery on a Person Under 18 in reference to acts that occurred over an approximate two-year span at a residence in Homosassa. Geller is a registered Sexual Predator in the State of Florida since 2019.

On July 12, 2022 the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) was contacted in reference to a juvenile receiving sexually explicit social media messages from Geller.  Responding deputies were provided evidence supporting these allegations.  Detective Mike Mission with the CCSO Special Victims Unit (SVU) was assigned to the case and immediately began an investigation.

Detective Mission conducted an interview with the juvenile victim who disclosed sexual activity with Geller that began shortly after his release from prison in 2019.  At the conclusion of the interview further evidence was collected in an attempt to support the victim’s statements.

Contact was then made with Geller at the Department of Corrections Parole and Probation Office in Inverness where he was placed under arrest.

“Geller had been incarcerated for over two decades for Sexual Battery upon a minor.  Almost immediately upon his release, he chose to reoffend again” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “He is a Sexual Predator in the truest sense of the word and has shown he is beyond rehabilitation.  Predators like Geller are the reason the detectives of the Special Victims Unit are an essential part of the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office and our mission to keep this community safe.  We will continue to work in partnership with the State Attorney’s Office to make sure Geller will never terrorize another child.”

Geller was arrested for one count of Sexual Battery on a Person Under 18, one count of Unlawful Sexual Activity with Certain Minors, and one count of a Sexual Predator Failure to Register a Social Media Account.  He is being held at the Citrus County Jail without bond.

INVERNESS WOMAN ARRESTED FOR LEWD AND LASCIVIOUS CHARGES

(Citrus County, FL) On July 13, 2022, 33-year-old Diana Elizabeth Guevara of Inverness, Florida, was arrested on a warrant for the charges of Transmitting Harmful Materials to Minors, Unlawful Sexual Activity with Certain Minors, and four counts of Lewd and Lascivious Battery in reference to multiple incidents that occurred over the past several months at her residence in Inverness, Florida.

On June 30, 2022, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) was contacted by the parent of a juvenile victim in reference to this case. 

The parent told deputies that they had overheard the juvenile victim talking about a second juvenile victim engaging in sexual activity with Guevara. The first juvenile victim also told the complainant that Guevara had sent explicit photos and videos to them on social media. Detective Tony Ricci with the CCSO Special Victims Unit (SVU) was assigned this case and immediately began an investigation.

During separate interviews throughout this investigation, several juvenile victims disclosed sexual activity with Guevara at her residence in Inverness. Detective Ricci also obtained evidence supporting the victims’ statements of both the sexual activity and the explicit images sent via social media.

“Guevara manipulated the young victims in this case and then took advantage of them,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “She was able to foster a relationship with one victim and identify her next victims through them, showing a pattern of predatory behavior. This conduct will not be tolerated in Citrus County, and the SVU detectives will work tirelessly to bring justice to these young victims.”

Guevara was arrested on the warrant for one count of Transmitting Harmful Materials to a Minor, one count of Unlawful Sexual Activity with Certain Minors, and four counts of Lewd and Lascivious Battery. She is being held at the Citrus County Jail with a bond of $47,000.00.

SUSPECTED BANK ROBBER OFF THE STREETS

(Citrus County, FL) Citrus County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) officials say a suspected bank robber is off the streets and there is no longer a threat to public safety.  Deputies were dispatched to an alarm call at TD Bank in Crystal River shortly before noon today. When law enforcement saw a vehicle matching the suspect’s description, they initiated a traffic stop wherein the suspect was ultimately detained. 

“As soon as our team confirms the facts on what has transpired today,” said Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast, “we will release more information.  In the meantime,  please avoid the area between N. Regatta Pt and Fort Island Gulf Beach.”

TD BANK ROBBERY UPDATE

(Citrus County, FL) Yesterday, officials took into custody a serial bank robber, 44-year-old Jeromee Wade Greenough after he robbed the TD Bank in Crystal River.

Greenough entered the bank, shortly before noon yesterday, where he approached the tellers counter and demanded money while brandishing a firearm.  After obtaining an undisclosed amount of cash, the suspect fled in a white vehicle. 

CCSO deputies and detectives promptly responded to the scene to investigate. Working closely with our partners at the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), Greenough was located traveling down Fort Island Trail. When officials attempted to contact the suspect, he sped off attempting to strike law enforcement with his vehicle in an effort to avoid capture.

Subsequently, officials deployed spikes strips, which deflated the suspect’s tires. After continuing to travel on the deflated tires, FHP successfully performed a pursuit intervention technique to further immobilize the vehicle. Greenough exited his vehicle and armed himself with a rifle from inside the vehicle prior to taking off and running toward a playground area.

A use of force situation occurred where Greenough was shot by an FHP Trooper. The trooper and all law enforcement involved were unharmed during this dangerous encounter with Greenough. After providing immediate first-aid on scene, Greenough, was then transported to a medical facility for his non-fatal injuries. As with all law enforcement involved shootings, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will be investigating this incident.

Greenough will be charged with robbery with a firearm, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and fleeing and eluding law enforcement.

*****ORIGINAL MEDIA ALERT *****

SUSPECTED BANK ROBBER OFF THE STREETS

(Citrus County, FL) Citrus County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) officials say a suspected bank robber is off the streets and there is no longer a threat to public safety.  Deputies were dispatched to an alarm call at TD Bank in Crystal River shortly before noon today. When law enforcement saw a vehicle matching the suspect’s description, they initiated a traffic stop wherein the suspect was ultimately detained. 

“As soon as our team confirms the facts on what has transpired today,” said Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast, “we will release more information.  In the meantime, please avoid the area between N. Regatta Pt and Fort Island Gulf Beach.”

CCSO HOSTS ACTIVE SHOOTER TRAINING IN PARTNERSHIP WITH FDLE

(Citrus County, FL) The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Training Section coordinated a training session with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to facilitate a 16-hour ‘Single Officer Response to Active Threat and Shooter Incident’ training scenario in preparation for the upcoming school year. The training took place at Crystal River High School over two days, Tuesday and Wednesday this week, with both CCSO’s School Resource Deputies (SRD) and school Guardians in attendance. 

This training taught by FDLE officials is one of several courses that address the role of the SRD and is intended to prepare the SRD to respond immediately to an active shooter incident. During this training, SRDs are taught the mental and technical aspects of a single-officer response to an active assailant, including:

  • Psychological/Physiological Response
  • Principles of Response
  • The Importance of Immediate Response
  • Tactical Movement and Angles
  • Aftermath/Recovery

It is vital when different entities respond to a critical incident, such as the Sheriff’s Office, Fire Rescue/EMS, and school Guardians, that there is continuity in the deployment efforts to not only understand each other’s tactics, roles, and expectations, but to eliminate the threat.   

The Sheriff’s Office has been conducting Active Shooter/Assailant trainings for many years in both the School Resource Deputy program and agency in-service training.  These trainings incorporate stressors and how they affect deputy and guardian responses along with tactical maneuvers and overall situational awareness.  

“Our office takes an aggressive stance in safeguarding our youth.  Coordinating this training is just one of the many efforts we make to ensure a safe school year for our students. Thank you to the FDLE instructors who came to Citrus County to provide this imperative course to our SRDs, and the School District’s participation of its Guardians, along with the furnishing of a school venue,” said Sheriff Prendergast. “Through these collaborations, we fiercely prepare ourselves to defeat threats and remove any potential hazard that may endanger our students and schools.” 

NOISE COMPLAINT LEADS TO SEVEN ARRESTS FOR COCKFIGHTING

(Citrus County, FL) On July 30, 2022, at approximately 12:27 pm, Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) deputies responded to 12599 S. Florida Avenue in Floral City in reference to a noise complaint.

Deputies immediately recognized the property was being utilized as a cockfighting venue and made contact with the homeowner, Mr. Jose Hernandez. Six other individuals were detained by deputies in reference to the criminal activity taking place on the property. Citrus County Animal Control and CCSO’s Community Crimes Unit detectives responded to assist with the investigation.

“This was not your average noise complaint on a Saturday afternoon. Instead of CCSO deputies discovering a possible party with loud music, they found plain evidence of this organized criminal activity,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “Thank you to our citizens who contact us to investigate these types of nuisances because you are the ‘eyes and ears’ helping us put criminals behind bars.”

During the investigation, it was determined that individuals had traveled from all over the state with the intention of participating in the fighting of roosters. The property was set up with an arena, along with numerous cages, holding pens, scales, timers, and a scoreboard enabling bets to be placed on the fighting roosters. Behind the area were several freshly dug holes containing deceased roosters with artificial fighting spurs still affixed to their legs.

“In this age of technology, it baffles and disgusts me that individuals will still seek out to harm animals for their pure entertainment,” said Lora Peckham, CCSO Animal Control Unit Supervisor. “I am extremely grateful to my team and the outstanding staff at Citrus County animal shelter for saving these helpless animals, working well into the midnight hours.”

CCSO’s Animal Control Officers seized over 60 roosters, along with other animals contained on the property that lacked proper care and were in distress. Detectives also seized the fighting equipment, along with approximately $5,200 in cash that was utilized for placing bets on the fighting roosters.

"Cockfighting is an illegal, gruesome sport with no place in our community," stated Animal Services Director Colleen Yarbrough. "Citrus County Animal Services staff will be collecting veterinary forensic evidence and providing care for the victims. We urge citizens to speak up about animal cruelty -- if you see something, say something."

Jose Joaquin Hernandez (DOB 6-10-64) was arrested and charged in accordance with Florida Statute 828.122 (3) (d), Fighting or baiting animals and promoting, staging, advertising, or charging any admission fee to a fight or baiting between two or more animals. Bond set at $5,000.

The following individuals were also arrested and charged in accordance with Florida Statute 828.122 (3) (h), Fighting or baiting animals and/or attending the fighting or baiting of animals:

Carlos Rodriguez Cortes (DOB 3-7-50), of Orlando, FL.  Bond set at $5,000.

Ramon Luis Castro (DOB 8-21-42), of Hudson, FL. Bond set at $5,000.

Rafael Rosado Lopez (DOB 3-20-62), of Hudson, FL. Bond set at $5,000.

Pedro Antinio Gutierrez (DOB 7-3-57), of Kissimmee, FL. Bond set at $5,000.

Elias Junior Domenech (DOB 3-3-98), of Orlando, FL. Bond set at $5,000.

Melbin Yamil Mojica-Torres (DOB 9-17-79), of Orlando, FL. Bond set at $5,000.

ROAD RAGE INCIDENT LEADS TO ARREST

(Citrus County, FL) On August 8, 2022, 35-year-old Kristopher Alan Hite of Homosassa, Florida, was arrested for Attempted Vehicular Homicide and Child Neglect as a result of a Road Rage incident.

On July 28, 2022, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) responded to a motor vehicle crash that occurred near the 8000 block of North Suncoast Boulevard in Crystal River.  The crash involved a motorcycle and an SUV, following a verbal altercation between the motorists at a stoplight. 

Witnesses state that both vehicles were traveling northbound on North Suncoast Boulevard at high rates of speed, with Hite traveling in the left/inside lane and the motorcyclist traveling in the right/outside lane.  Hite was traveling with his girlfriend and young son.  As Hite saw the motorcyclist approach from behind, he swerved into the right/outside lane and struck the victim and his motorcycle, causing both the victim and motorcycle to flip repeatedly in the air violently.  The victim was put on life support and was in critical condition due to his injuries.

A thorough investigation determined that the crash resulted from an intentional act.

Contact was then made with Hite who was arrested.

“This incident was irresponsible and preventable,” stated Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “Allowing a negative interaction with another motorist to escalate to Road Rage puts everyone in jeopardy and demonstrates a reckless disregard for other motorists and passengers.”

Hite is being held at the Citrus County Detention Facility on a $15,000 bond for attempted vehicular homicide and $2,000 for child neglect, a total bond of $17,000.

ARREST FOR ILLEGAL ANIMAL BREEDING AND ANIMAL CRUELTY

(Citrus County, FL) On August 10, 2022, Community Crime Unit Detectives along with CCSO Animal Control responded to 6619 W Copenhagen St. in Dunnellon in reference to suspicion of breeding roosters for fighting.  Upon arrival, investigators found numerous small A-frame-style structures on the property with roosters tethered underneath the structures. Contact was made with Roberto Arevalo Miranda (11/19/1956) who lived on the property in a camper near the small A-frame-style structures. Detectives interviewed Miranda who advised that he stayed on the property and worked for his friend who raises roosters to ship to the Philippines for fighting. Miranda stated that he has lived on the property for approximately eight months and has started raising his own roosters to send to the Philippines for rooster fighting. As the investigation progressed, Miranda claimed ownership of nine roosters for fighting.

Fifty-nine roosters and hens were seized by CCSO Animal Control. There were also two dogs on the property with inadequate food, water, and shelter that were seized by CCSO Animal Control. Further investigation is ongoing to determine if any other suspects are related to this illegal breeding operation or if there is any connection to the previous case of cock fighting in Floral City.

“We will not tolerate this type of activity in Citrus County,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “Know that if you participate in any way in the cruel and inhumane treatment of animals, we will arrest you and make sure you are held accountable for your actions.  We encourage citizens to call 352-249-2790 to report suspected animal cruelty to help us help defenseless animals that can’t speak for themselves.”

Roberto Arevalo Miranda was charged with the following:

9 counts of animal breeding for the purpose of fighting 828.122(3)(a).

2 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty 828.12(1).

Total bond is $47,000.

CCSO Announces "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" Enforcement Campaign

(Citrus County, FL) Today, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) announces its participation in the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign.  CCSO joins law enforcement agencies nationwide that will maintain high visibility on the roads as we approach the Labor Day holiday weekend.  The campaign, which runs from August 19th - September 5th, is designed to educate people about the dangers and consequences of drunk driving.

According to NHTSA, one person is killed about every 45 minutes in a drunk-driving crash, totaling more than 11,000 lives lost each year.  In 2020, there were 530 traffic crash deaths nationwide during the Labor Day Holiday weekend.  Of crashes, 46% involved drivers who had been drinking, and 38% involved a drunk driver. 

“Citrus County Sheriff’s Office deputies will be out in full force during the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign,” said Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast.  “Driving while intoxicated is not only illegal, it is dangerous and puts others on the road in jeopardy—including innocent passengers like children. Drive Sober, Citrus - together, we can save lives.”

The NHTSA recommends having a plan whether you’re driving, riding, or hosting.  Don’t let someone get behind the wheel if they’ve been drinking.  If you’re hosting a gathering, make sure all your guests have a sober ride home.  If you see an impaired driver, dial 9-1-1.

HOMICIDE SUSPECT TAKEN INTO CUSTODY

(Citrus County, FL) Last night, Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) officials arrested 22-year-old Jacqueline Jasmin Johnson-Cabrera of Ocala for the murder of Cory Schweitzer.

At approximately 3:30 p.m. on August 19, 2022, CCSO’s communication center received a call in reference to the discovery of a potential suicide, which had occurred at a residence in Pine Ridge. It was relayed to the communications officer that the subject, a 31-year-old male, Cory Schweitzer had an apparent gunshot wound and was not breathing. First responders arrived at the residence shortly thereafter and pronounced the victim deceased.

CCSO Major Crimes Detectives responded to the residence to conduct an investigation. The preliminary information gathered at the scene led detectives in a different direction. As additional evidence was uncovered, collected, and analyzed, it became very clear that Cory Schweitzer, an off-duty Detention Deputy with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, was murdered.  Upon a thorough evaluation of the forensic evidence and additional investigative work by CCSO detectives, a warrant was secured for the arrest of Johnson-Cabrera, a former girlfriend of the victim.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Deputy Schweitzer’s family, along with Sheriff Woods and the men and women of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, who knew and worked alongside Cory,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “Investigating homicide cases are difficult enough, let alone when the victim is a fellow law enforcement officer. This case presented many unique factors and, with the arrest of Johnson-Cabrera, I hope and pray the family and colleagues can now begin the healing process.”

Johnson-Cabrera (DOB 03/04/2000) was booked into the Citrus County Detention Facility in Lecanto, pending charges for second degree murder with no bond.

TWO CONVICTED FELONS ARRESTED IN NARCOTICS SEARCH WARRANT

(Citrus County, FL) Today, detectives from the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office Tactical Impact Unit (TIU) executed a search warrant at 6959 North Charles Terrace in Hernando, FL. Detectives were aware of ongoing narcotics sales at the residence and conducted an investigation that led to the execution of the narcotics search warrant.

Upon arrival at the residence, TIU detectives were able to locate two suspects, Joseph Singh II (DOB 06/29/1980) and Michael Guinan, Jr. (DOB 08/08/1987).  

After securing the residence and both individuals on scene, detectives proceeded with the execution of the lawful search warrant.  Various narcotics, drug paraphernalia, eighteen firearms (including three stolen firearms), hundreds of rounds of ammunition, body-armor, four silencers, an explosive device, and roughly $5,600 in cash from illegal drug activity were seized and turned in as evidence this afternoon.

The two suspects were arrested and charged accordingly:

  • Singh II, a ten time convicted felon (previous target from CCSO’s Operation Deck the Cells who is currently out on bond for sales of fentanyl) - Trafficking in methamphetamine, possession with intent to sell heroin, ten counts possession of firearm by convicted felon, rent/own/lease drug dwelling, possession of a destructive device, two counts grand theft, two counts grand theft of firearm, possession of a controlled substance (xanax), possession of a bullet proof vest in the commission of a felony, and possession of paraphernalia. Bond set at $173,000.
  • Guinan, a five time convicted felon – One count of possession with intent to sell suboxone, possession with intent to sell cannabis, six counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and grand theft of a firearm. Bond set at $80,000.

“I’ve said it before, drug dealers have no regard for the law and they have no regard for the life of others,” said Sheriff Prendergast. “The professionals that work in our TIU, supported by our outstanding Patrol Deputies, are committed to protecting the residents of our great county. Today’s seizure and arrests demonstrate our unwavering effort in stopping the flow of deadly drugs in our community. We will continue to fight illicit drug activity in our community at every given opportunity.”

Remember, Citrus - If you SEE something, SAY something! Our non-emergency line is staffed 24/7 and can be reached at 352-249-2790. Callers wishing to remain anonymous can call Citrus County Crimes Stoppers at 1-888-ANY-TIPS.

SIX-MONTH LONG INVESTIGATION RESULTS IN OVER A MILLION DOLLAR VALUE OF DRUGS SEIZED

(Citrus County, FL) On September 13, 2022, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Tactical Impact Unit (TIU) wrapped up a six-month-long narcotics investigation that resulted in the arrest of 38-year-old Felix Abdiel Pintado Bernard, 28-year-old Angel Alberto Seda Ways, and 32-year-old Jennifer Medina Lozada, all of Lecanto.

“This investigation is an exceptional example of what can be accomplished when different law enforcement and community partners work together to keep our citizens safe,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “Over a million dollars’ worth of cocaine has been taken off the streets as a result of this investigation. I cannot imagine the countless lives investigations such as this have saved. Our continual fight against illicit drug activity takes time and numerous personnel. Deadly drugs and those who deal in these dangerous substances have no place in our community.”

These arrests came after the CCSO’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, with the assistance of the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team served a search warrant at 116 and 158 South Kensington Avenue, in Lecanto. Those two addresses are both located on the same five-acre tract, where both homes were being utilized to traffic large quantities of cocaine. The homes were originally identified through a traffic stop where defendant, Angel Alberto Seda Ways, was found to be in possession of cocaine.

Throughout the investigation, TIU, in conjunction with CCSOs Intelligence Analysis Unit partnered with the United States Postal Inspection Service, United States Marshal Service, United States Department of Homeland Security Investigations Tampa Airport Division, United States Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations - Tampa Marine Unit, Hernando County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team and the State Attorney’s Office of the Fifth Judicial Circuit.

During this joint operation, it was learned that packages of cocaine were being mailed to multiple addresses within Citrus County, then picked up and delivered to the Kensington addresses. Over the six-month span, multiple kilos of cocaine were seized by TIU, and through each seizure, more information was gathered, which culminated in probable cause for the search warrant.

While serving the search warrant, defendant Ways and defendant Lozada both fled on foot from the property and were apprehended by perimeter units within seconds. After a thorough search of the property, TIU detectives located:


  • Over three kilograms of cocaine (approx. 6.6 lbs.)
  • $7,951.00 in U.S. Currency
  • Six firearms
  • Scales
  • Narcotics ledgers
  • Packaging materials
  • And a money counter

Over the duration of this investigation, a grand total of 8.98 kilograms of cocaine (19.8 pounds) a street-level value of $1,077,735.48 was seized from this drug organization. The below arrests were made:

FELIX ABDIEL PINTADO BERNARD, H/M, DOB-02/12/1985, (TOTAL BOND $11,000.00) charged with:

  • Possession of a controlled substance (cocaine) with intent to sell – BOND $5,000.00
  • Conspiracy to traffic cocaine –BOND $5,000.00
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia –BOND $1,000.00

ANGEL ALBERTO SEDA WAYS, H/M, DOB-03/02/1994, (TOTAL BOND $117,000.00) charged with:

  • Trafficking in cocaine – BOND $100,000.00
  • Carrying a firearm during the commission of a felony –BOND $5000.00
  • Carrying a concealed firearm – BOND $5,000.00
  • Conspiracy to traffic cocaine –BOND $5,000.00
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia –BOND $1,000.00
  • Resisting without violence- BOND $1,000.00

JENNIFFER MEDINA LOZADA, H/F, DOB-11/25/1989, (TOTAL BOND $12,000.00) charged with:

  • Possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell (cocaine)- BOND $5,000.00
  • Conspiracy to traffic cocaine –BOND $5,000.00
  • Resisting without violence –BOND $5,000.00
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia – BOND $1,000.00

If you have any information about the illegal sale of narcotics or any other crime in our community, we encourage you to contact us at 352-249-2790 or by calling CrimeStoppers at 1-888-ANY-TIPS to remain anonymous.

About the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office’s Tactical Impact Unit:

The Tactical Impact Unit responsibilities include narcotics investigations, street-level reverse stings, regular checks for narcotics 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 local, state, and federal authorities.

DETENTION GUARD CANDIDATE ARRESTED FOR SELLING DRUGS

(Citrus County, FL) On September 14, 2022, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) arrested detention guard candidate, 38-year-old Shannon Marie Morgan of Inverness, at the Citrus County Detention Facility.

“It disgusting that individuals like Morgan not only peddle their poison in our community, but seek to infiltrate our detention facility for the sole purpose of bringing in contraband to inmates,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “Our office works closely with our partners at CoreCivic, and we want to send a clear message that illicit drugs have no place in our community and absolutely no place in our detention facility.”

Near the beginning of July, several sources came forward advising that Shannon Morgan was selling fentanyl and cocaine from her residence. Furthermore, they informed detectives she was attempting to get hired at the Lecanto Detention Facility in Lecanto, operated by CoreCivic, in a detention guard capacity to infiltrate the county jail for the purpose of bringing narcotics into the facility for monetary gain.

At the same time, the management and security team at CoreCivic received similar information about the defendant. After sharing this same information with our office, officials went to work to investigate these claims. Detectives with CCSO’s Tactical Impact Unit set up an undercover drug buy with Morgan, where she sold fentanyl and cocaine to detectives from her residence.

Last Wednesday, while in her training academy at CoreCivic, TIU detectives in coordination with CoreCivic’s management and security team, entered the classroom and arrested Morgan. She was ultimately charged with two counts sale of a controlled substance with a total bond of $10,000.

Our office works tirelessly to stop the illegal sell of narcotics in our community and will continue to work closely with our partners at CoreCivic in an effort to eliminate the flow of contraband into our detention facility. 

If you have any information about the illegal sale of narcotics or any other crime in our community, we encourage you to contact us at 352-249-2790 or by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-888-ANY-TIPS to remain anonymous.

CONGRATULATIONS TO DETECTIVE CHRIS CORNELL ON HIS RETIREMENT

(Citrus County, FL) After dedicating 22 years to our community, a highly valued member of the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) High Tech Crimes Unit, Detective Chris Cornell, retires today.

Detective Cornell began his career with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office on February 14, 2000, as a Deputy Sheriff where he responded to various calls for service in our community and worked diligently enforcing Florida’s laws for the safety of our community.  In April 2006, Deputy Cornell was selected as the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Detective, where he was instrumental in arresting some of the most heinous criminals, those preying on our children. Today, our Internet Crimes Against Children Detectives are part of the High Tech Crimes Unit, due to the specialized training.  

For over 16 years, Detective Cornell performed digital forensic examinations on computers, cellular phones, camera systems, hard drives, thumb drives, and cloud based servers. He uncovered and analyzed hidden data solving some of our most complex cases. Detective Cornell realized how vulnerable a community can be due to emerging technologies, so he began raising awareness on internet safety for our youth and eventually adults through various speaking engagements.  

During his public service career with CCSO, he received two Medals of Commendation – one of which was for a child pornography case in which the suspect was arrested and charged with over 50 counts of child pornography possession, one Unit Citation, and multiple Certificates of Commendation. More notably, he has trained over 50 personnel in establishing emergency communications through two-way radio, satellite, and cellular connections. He also served as team leader and supervisor for CCSO’s Mobile Command Unit.

“We are grateful to Detective Cornell for his unwavering commitment in solving some of the most atrocious crimes in our county,” said Sheriff Prendergast. “His 22-years of selfless service and the many countless hours he has dedicated to seeking justice for victims in our community has undoubtedly made Citrus County a safer place to live. We are privileged to have worked alongside Chris and wish him nothing short of a happy and safe retirement.”

Please join us in congratulating Detective Cornell on his commitment to excellence in public safety and selfless service to our community for over two decades. We are thankful to have worked alongside him and wish him the best in retirement!

CCSO TAKES 20 OFFENDERS OFF THE STREETS IN OPERATION STEP UP, A  NATIONAL FAMILY VIOLENCE APPREHENSION SWEEP

(Citrus County, FL) Citrus Abuse Shelter Association (CASA) issued a calling to the community to “step-it-up” for survivors of domestic violence during the month of October. In response to this calling, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) began to put a plan in place. In coordination with the 19th Annual National Family Violence Apprehension Detail, CCSO stepped up and, as a result, arrested 20 individuals for domestic violence related offenses.

According to the Florida Department of Children and Families, more than 10 million adults experience domestic violence annually in the United States. In 2020, 106,515 crimes of domestic violence were reported to Florida law enforcement agencies resulting in 63,217 arrests. Notably, 831 of those reports came from Citrus County. Regretfully, many of these reports deal with repeat offenders.

"We here at the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office want these offenders to know their actions are unacceptable and they will be held accountable. We will not sit idly by; we will take a steadfast approach and stop the power and control these individuals have over their victims. The Behavioral Health Unit, specifically our Domestic Violence Unit, works diligently to reduce domestic violence across the county by working with our community partners like CASA, to intervene and stop the cycle of violence,” said Sheriff Prendergast. “Thanks to our dedicated team, Citrus County started off this week a little safer than last."

On October 20th and 21st, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office implemented their plan, not only to capture active wanted domestic violence suspects, but also help raise awareness in our communities. The National Apprehension Detail calls for agencies across the United States to participate in serving outstanding family-violence warrants. Warrants are served for all types of family related crimes, including: domestic violence, interfering with making 9-1-1 calls, injunction violations, pretrial release agreement violations, non-payment of child support, child abuse crimes, elder abuse crimes and any other type of family violence. Additionally, during our search efforts, we discovered other individuals with active warrants or committing other crimes that we just couldn’t pass up!

Commencing on Thursday afternoon, detectives from our Behavioral Health Unit, Tactical Impact Unit, Community Crimes Unit, Aviation and K9 Unit began searching for subjects with outstanding warrants across Citrus County. Our office attempted to serve 69 arrest warrants and simultaneously conduct pre-trial release spot checks.

By 5 p.m. Friday, this outstanding effort resulted in the arrests of the following 20 suspects in Citrus County:

  • Marty Taylor (DOB 1/27/1980), Homosassa, FL- Strangulation F.S.S. 784.041(2)(A). Total bond set at none, due to domestic violence related crime. Prior history of domestic violence.
  • Carl Collier (DOB 4/23/1981), Beverly Hills, FL- Strangulation F.S.S. 784.041(2)(A) and Felony Battery, prior conviction F.S.S. 784.03(2). Total bond set at none, due to domestic violence related crime. Prior history of domestic violence.
  • Nicholas Sullivan (DOB 3/9/1990), Hernando, FL- Strangulation F.S.S. 784.041(2)(A). Total bond set at none, due to domestic violence related crime.
  • Shamy Tommie (DOB 7/23/1985), Crystal River, FL- Domestic Battery F.S.S. 784.03(1)(A)(1). Total bond set at none, due to domestic violence related crime.
  • Devin Picard (DOB 2/8/1994), Hernando, FL- Child Neglect without Great Bodily Harm F.S.S. 827.03(2)(D). Total bond set at $2,000.00.
  • Leah Barnes (DOB 6/11/1995), Crystal River, FL- Violation of Probation original charge Battery. Total bond set at none. (Evaded execution of the arrest warrant for over a year). Prior history of domestic violence.
  • Katlyn Obrien (DOB 6/6/1993), Hernando, FL- Failure to Appear original charge Battery. Total bond set at $4,500.00. (Evaded execution of the arrest warrant for two years). Prior history of domestic violence.
  • Emily Perez (DOB 3/26/1988), Inverness, FL- Violation of Probation original charge Violation of Injunction and Violation of Pretrial Release. Total bond set at none. Prior history of domestic violence.
  • Eric Luckey (DOB 5/28/1984), Beverly Hills, FL- Violation of Probation original charge of Theft and Possession of Fentanyl. Total bond set at none. Prior history of domestic violence.
  • Joshua Fitzwater (DOB 11/28/1984), Homosassa, FL- Violation of Probation original charge of Possession of Paraphernalia. Total bond set at $500.00.
  • Donald Cash (DOB 10/11/1977), Homosassa, FL- Failure to Pay Child Support, Possession of a Firearm with an Altered Serial Number F.S.S. 790.27(1)(A) and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon F.S.S. 790.23(1)(A). Total bond set at $15,485.00. Prior charge of domestic battery and career offender in Citrus County.
  • Jeremy Martin (DOB 7/18/1985), Lecanto, FL- Violation of Pretrial Release Terms F.S.S. 741.29(6). Total bondset at none, due to domestic violence related crime.
  • Dawn McDonald (DOB 5/30/1969), Lecanto, FL- Violation of Pretrial Release Terms F.S.S. 741.29(6). Total bond set at none, due to domestic violence related crime.
  • Jamey Waters (DOB 8/16/1973), Hernando, FL- Violation of Pretrial Release Terms F.S.S. 741.29(6) and Violation of Injunction F.S.S. 741.31(4)(A). Total bond set at none, due to domestic violence related crime. Prior history of domestic violence.
  • Kevin Kelly (DOB 10/7/1983), Inverness, FL- Violation of Pretrial Release Terms F.S.S. 741.29(6). Total bond set at none, due to domestic violence related crime. Prior history of domestic violence.
  • Jamie Mullen (DOB 11/1/1976), Floral City, FL- Failure to Pay Child Support. Total bond set at $1,678.00.
  • Jessica Cadett (DOB 10/16/1985), Dunnellon, FL- Failure to Pay Child Support. Total bond set at $1,178.00.
  • David Scheibelhoffer (DOB 1/19/1981), Homosassa, FL- Failure to Pay Child Support. Total bond set at $1,178.00.
  • Shawn Lapointe (DOB 3/3/1974), Beverly Hills, FL- Failure to Pay Child Support. Total bond set at $2,178.00. Prior history of domestic violence.
  • David Smith (DOB 3/30/1969), Hernando, FL- Failure to Pay Child Support. Total bond set at $1,178.00.

Even though National Domestic Violence Awareness Month is ending, our fight against domestic violence is still ongoing. The purpose of recognizing this month is to raise awareness of domestic violence issues and connect victims to those organizations working toward the common goal of ending the cycle of violence. Although our deputies are always diligently looking to serve these warrants, Thursday and Friday was designated solely to gathering intelligence, chase down leads, and track offenders that have been eluding capture.

If you or someone you know are experiencing signs of domestic abuse and needs to file a report, please call us at 352-249-2790. If you want to speak with a domestic violence advocate you can also contact CASA at 352-344-8111

BEVERLY HILLS MAN ARRESTED FOR MURDER IN DRUG OVERDOSE

(Citrus County, FL) On October 20, 2022, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) arrested 30-year-old John Dylan Gromling of Beverly Hills for first-degree felony murder as a result of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance (fentanyl) which resulted in the overdose death of 53-year-old Bruce William Payne of Inverness.

On August 15, 2022, the CCSO responded to a deceased person at a residence in Inverness, Florida. Upon arrival, deputies located the deceased, identified as Bruce Payne, in a shed on the property. Near his body, deputies located drug paraphernalia that tested positive for fentanyl, an extremely dangerous opioid.

"With this arrest, we demonstrate our commitment to the safety of Citrus County residents. We will continue to target drug dealers in an ongoing effort to make our community the safest in Florida,” said Sheriff Prendergast. “Earlier this year Gov. Ron DeSantis gave law enforcement better tools to protect the communities they serve, by signing his bill into law that increased the penalties for those who illegally sell and distribute opioids in our state. Detective Slingerland and the members of CCSO’s Tactical Impact Unit exemplify how our office will continue to support the Governor’s initiative on combatting the opioid epidemic in Florida.”

Due to this being a potential fatal fentanyl overdose, detectives from the CCSO Tactical Impact Unit (TIU) responded to the scene and began an investigation. Through the investigation, TIU detectives, along with Detective Dan Slingerland of the Major Crimes Unit (MCU), were able to identify Gromling as the individual who provided Payne with the lethal dose of Fentanyl.

On September 15, 2022, the report from the Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the cause of Payne’s death as a combined drug toxicity of fentanyl and alcohol. Based on the findings of the medical examiner, and the facts and evidence collected by members of TIU and Detective Slingerland, Gromling was arrested for murder by unlawful distribution of fentanyl and is being held without bond.

At the time of his arrest, Gromling was already in custody at the Citrus County Detention Facility for drug related charges

About the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office’s Tactical Impact Unit: The Tactical Impact Unit responsibilities include narcotics investigations, street[1]level reverse stings, regular checks for narcotics 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 Bureau of Special Investigations as well as local, state, and federal authorities

HOMOSASSA MAN SENTENCED FOR MOLESTATION OF A CHILD

(Citrus County, FL) Yesterday, 36-year-old Russell Thomas Florence of Homosassa, Florida, pled guilty to Lewd and Lascivious Molestation of a Child under 12. He was then sentenced to 35 years incarceration with the Florida Department of Corrections, lifetime Sexual Offender Probation, and will be required to register as a Sexual Predator.

“This is a horrendous case of an adult using a child for sexual gratification instead of protecting them,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “Cases like this shock the community and take a dedicated team to seek justice for their victims. Detective Mission’s quick and pivotal action in this case saved this child from further abuse at the hands of Florence. I am extremely proud of the CCSO team, the Child Protection Team, and the State Attorney’s Office for their efforts in taking predators like Florence off the streets of Citrus County.”

Florence was arrested by the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) on April 19, 2022, for Capital Sexual Battery on a Child less than 12, and had remained in custody at the Citrus County Detention Facility without bond.

Earlier that day, the CCSO was contacted by a concerned citizen in reference to possible sexual abuse of a child. Detective Mike Mission with the CCSO Special Victim’s Unit (SVU) was assigned to the case and immediately began investigating the incident. The victim was interviewed by the Child Protection Team (CPT) at Jessie’s Place, the Citrus County child advocacy center. During the interview the victim detailed years of ongoing sexual abuse by Florence.

Following the interview with the victim, Detective Mission served a search warrant at Florence’s residence, located within Citrus County, where multiple items of evidence were collected. Florence, who was at the residence when detectives arrived, was placed under arrest and turned over to the custody of the Citrus County Detention Facility.

TWO ARRESTED ON BURGLARY CHARGES FOR STEALING FROM CHURCHES

(Citrus County, FL) On Friday, October 14, 2022, the Citrus County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) Community Crimes Detectives (CCDs) arrested two individuals involved in a string of burglaries that occurred at local churches and storage facilities throughout Citrus County.

The day prior, it was reported to CCSO that a burglary and grand theft had occurred at the Good Shepard Lutheran Church in Hernando, FL. Detectives were able to review surveillance footage from the church property that showed two suspects removing various items, to include three lawn mowers and a portable air compressor. The total value of items stolen was nearly $13,000.

Upon further investigation by the CCDs, along with the assistance of CCSO’s Intelligence Analysis Unit, detectives were able to identify the two suspects from the surveillance video as 68-year-old Steven Rodrick and 54-year-old Henry Hudson of Homosassa.

After locating both Rodrick and Hudson, detectives conducted an interview with them regarding the crimes committed. Both suspects gave detectives a full confession and informed officials of where the stolen property was located.

While investigators were at the West Mistflower Place residence in Homosassa, they found additional property which had been reported as stolen from back in June of this year, from the Gulf to Lake Church in Crystal River, FL.

Rodrick was charged with two counts of burglary to a structure and three counts of grand theft. Hudson was charged with one count of burglary to a structure, two counts of grand theft, as well as a violation of probation.

“I am proud of our detectives and analysists who nimbly worked together to solve and put a stop to these crimes,” Sheriff Mike Prendergast said. “Don’t give criminals an open door of opportunity. Lock your doors, lock up your valuables and help our agency in keeping Citrus County safe.”

Burglary and theft prevention tips – Make sure your homes, sheds or anything that can be locked has proper locking mechanisms; install motion activated lighting; keep items out of sight from the roadways, and behind fencing/lockable gates when possible; put up cameras.

If you are the victim of burglary or theft, security systems and cameras increase the likelihood of developing leads to solve the case.

If you have any information about stolen property or any other crime in our county, we encourage you to contact us as 352-249-2790 or by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-888-ANY-TIPS to remain anonymous.

INVERNESS MAN ARRESTED FOR MURDER

(Citrus County, FL) Yesterday, 33-year-old Brodrick Larnell Houston of Inverness, Florida, was arrested by the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) for the charge of murder. This arrest stems from an altercation that occurred in September between inmates at the Citrus County Detention Facility, where Houston was in custody on unrelated charges.

On September 9, 2022, the CCSO was contacted by jail staff in reference to an inmate, 40-year-old Gerald Raymond Dietrich, Jr., who had been transported to a hospital with an unknown medical condition. Responding deputies determined that Dietrich and Houston had been involved in a physical altercation earlier in the day, which could have led to his hospitalization. Detective Roscoe Watts, with the CCSO Major Crimes Unit (MCU), was contacted and immediately began an investigation. Dietrich passed away at the hospital later that night.

As a result of his extensive investigation, Detective Watts arrested Houston for murder. During this investigation, Houston had remained in custody at the Citrus County Detention Facility for his previous charges.

“Houston has no regard for the laws of society and chose to take the life of another man” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “Individuals like Houston are a danger to the citizens and to the safety of Citrus County. Hopefully this arrest will bring peace to the victim’s family and be the first step in seeking justice for Houston’s actions.”

Houston was arrested for one count of 3 rd degree murder and one count of aggravated battery by a person who is being detained in a prison, jail, or other detention facility upon visitor or other detainee.

He is being held at the Citrus County Jail with a bond of $30,000.00.

Sergeant John Bergen's Graduation
(Citrus County, FL) Today, October 18, 2022, Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Sergeant John Bergen graduates from the National Public Safety Innovation Academy (NIA).

NIA is an eight-week executive-level academy for law enforcement and correctional staff pursuing future command positions within their agencies. The program offers an innovative alternative to traditional leadership training because it is always evolving and takes into consideration technologies, methodologies, and future trends. The renowned subject matter experts address many of the leadership challenges facing today’s public safety professionals as well as what to expect in the future.

Its meticulous curriculum assesses contemporary issues, traverses future movements in public safety and criminal justice, and supplies participants with the skills and knowledge to create innovative policies and procedures to communicate and administer during high-liability situations.

“Graduating from this course is another excellent professional achievement for Sergeant Bergen. It will not only prepare him for additional leadership roles in his professional career but also benefit the citizens of Citrus County,” said Sheriff Prendergast. “Here at CCSO, we believe strongly in continuing education. Those who 
continue to learn will continue to help our agency move forward in our ever-changing society.” 

Sergeant Bergan began his career with CCSO on March 20, 2006, as a Deputy Sheriff. Since then, he has continued to further his education to serve his community better. He joined the Tactical Impact Unit (TIU) as a deputy in August of 2011, and by September, he was promoted to the rank of detective. In 2014, he transferred from a TIU detective into the Major Crimes Unit, where he climbed the ladder again, becoming the Officer in 
Charge (OIC) in 2015 and the Major Crimes Unit Sergeant in 2016. He transferred to TIU again three years later, obtaining his current title as TIU Sergeant.

Congratulations, Sergeant Bergen! We are proud to have you on this team serving Citrus County with us and thank you for your continuous dedication to growing your knowledge and ability to apply it to make Citrus County
the safest community in Florida.
CONGRATULATIONS TO DEPUTY FAHERTY ON HIS RETIREMENT
(Citrus County, FL) School Resource Deputy Joseph Faherty retires today from the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office after dedicating nearly 24 years of service to our youth and community as a sworn law enforcement officer. 

Deputy Faherty began his career with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office on November 23rd in 1998 as a Deputy Sheriff where he responded to various calls for service while assigned to patrol. In December of 2000, he followed his passion and was selected to serve as a School Resource Deputy. While working fulltime, Deputy Faherty earned a Master of Arts degree from Webster University. He also served as a member on CCSO’s Crisis Negotiation Team, filling various roles and later became an assistant team leader.
 
During his public service career with CCSO, he received various accolades for his dedication to service, such as multiple perfect attendance awards, a Certificate of Commendation for Operation Coin Toss and numerous letters of commendation from various organizations and groups. Deputy Faherty was requested to attend the Florida House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee meeting back in 2013 as a result of 
his thoughtful suggestions to HB 1097-School Safety. In addition to internal agency awards, Deputy Faherty received an award from the School Safety Advocacy Council in 2010 for his contribution to school safety and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Florida Association of School Resource Officers in 2022. 

“After a noteworthy career dedicated to public service, we wish Deputy Faherty well in all his future endeavors,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “His professional accomplishments are representative of the dedication of all of our School Resource Deputies.” Please join us in congratulating Deputy Faherty on a job well done, and wish him a long, healthy and happy retirement
CITRUS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE INTELLIGENCE ANALYST NAMED CRIME STOPPERS COORDINATOR OF THE YEAR

(Citrus County, FL) On November 14, 2022, Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Intelligence Analyst Heather Ramos was selected as the 2022 Crime Stoppers Coordinator of the Year at the Annual National Crime Stoppers Conference held in Orlando, Florida. Analyst Ramos, attended the conference not only to further her applicable abilities in various concepts of criminality, but she was also featured as a speaker, delivering a presentation on “Tools to Enhance Investigating Tips & Open Source Intelligence.”

In addition to Ramos being named as “Coordinator of the Year”, she was also sworn in by the Honorable Judge Richard Carter as Crime Stoppers Director for Region IV. The position is one of 14 regional director seats throughout the United States, which includes over 350 Crime Stoppers programs. As Director of Region IV, she will oversee all programs in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. While taking on this new role, Ramos will also continue to hold her position as Coordinator for Crime Stoppers of Citrus County.

Ramos, has been employed with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office since 2005, first serving her community as a Communications Officer and later transferring to her current position as the Intelligence Analyst assigned the crucial responsibility of ensuring Sex Offenders and Predators remain in compliance with all applicable laws and conditions of their release from custody.

Ramos became involved with Crime Stoppers when she took on her analyst position and was nominated to the title of Coordinator for Crime Stoppers of Citrus County in 2016. Since taking over the program, Ramos has been extremely active and is responsible for much of the ongoing successes of our county’s Crime Stoppers Program.

“The dedication shown by Analyst Heather Ramos in her position at the Sheriff’s Office and as Coordinator of the Program is impressive, and we want to congratulate her on receiving national recognition,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “She has been instrumental in expanding the program and working to continually educate and encourage the public on how Crime Stoppers works as a tool to combat crime in our community.”

A couple of her accomplishments during her tenure as coordinator include obtaining additional funding for Crime Stoppers of Citrus County and enhancing crime tip rewards through Google Grants and partnerships with the Florida Sheriff’s Association Cold Case Advisory Board.

Crime Stoppers is an integral part in solving crime locally in Citrus County and beyond. We encourage all citizens to use this tool so they will remain anonymous and possibly eligible for a cash reward when reporting a crime.

Remember, Citrus - If you SEE something, SAY something! Our non-emergency line is staffed 24/7 and can be reached at 352-249-2790. Callers wishing to remain anonymous can call Citrus County Crimes Stoppers at 1-888-ANY-TIPS.

DOMESTIC SHOOTING RESULTS IN TRAGIC DEATH
(Citrus County, FL) On Friday, December 2nd, at approximately 6:23 p.m., the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) communications center received a call in reference to a shooting that had just occurred at 3980 South Springbreeze Way in Homosassa, FL. 

Within minutes, deputies arrived on scene and located a victim, later identified as 63-year-old Tammy Campbell, with a single gunshot wound to the chest. The victim was pronounced dead at 6:37 p.m.

Major Crimes Detective Roscoe Watts promptly responded to the scene and began working on this case, uncovering the events that led up to the shooting. A witness’ account stated that during a verbal argument between the Mr. and Mrs. Campbell, Mr. Campbell shot Mrs. Campbell. It was also relayed that verbally abusive comments and arguments were normal in the pair’s relationship prior to this incident.

By 2:30 a.m. on December 3rd, following the investigation and collection of the witness’ statement, the victim’s husband, 64-year-old Michael Francis Campbell was arrested. Campbell was transported to the Citrus County Detention Facility for booking and processing on one count of manslaughter. 

“All situations of domestic violence are unacceptable and devastating for our community,” said Sheriff Prendergast. “If you or someone you know is living in an abusive relationship, please seek help. There is always a chance that verbal abuse from either party could cause the situation to escalate physically.” 

If you or someone you know are experiencing signs of domestic abuse and needs to file a report, please call us at 352-249-2790. If you want to speak with a domestic violence advocate you can also contact the Citrus Abuse Shelter Association (CASA) at 352-344-8111.
CCSO EARNS 3 RD EXCELSIOR ACCREDITATION AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN PUBLIC SERVICE
(Citrus County, FL) The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) is proud to announce that we have received our 3rd consecutive Excelsior Accreditation Award from the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation, Inc. (CFA).

“I am extremely proud of all the professionals here at CCSO, whose mission is to deliver nothing less than excellence in public safety,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “This reaccreditation reaffirms our mission of excellence in public safety, and we will continue to be a leader when it comes to professionalism and service above self.”

CFA is a voluntary program for Florida law enforcement accreditation that ensures agencies are meeting professional standards and following industry best practices. Agencies are evaluated for accreditation once every three years, making this the 25th straight year CCSO has been accredited with CFA.

A team of assessors from CFA arrived on August 2, 2022, to examine all aspects of CCSO’s policies and procedures, management, operations, and support services. CCSO has to comply with numerous standards in order to be considered for accredited status. Many of the standards are critical to life, health, safety issues, and best practices.

This year, CCSO has also been recommended for another Excelsior Award, which is reserved for agencies that have received five or more consecutive accreditations over a 15 year period with zero compliance issues. CCSO received this award at our previous accreditation in 2019. Evaluators also highlight several exemplary programs within CCSO, including our agency’s Behavioral Health Unit. CCSO’s Behavioral Health Unit 
was established in January of 2021. The unit was created to further our efforts in bridging those gaps between law enforcement and community-based resources specific to mental health and substance abuse.

Thank you to the dedicated CCSO personnel and accreditation team who work diligently to ensure our agency operates within a culture of accountability and adheres to professional standards. Michelle Ferguson (Accreditation Manager), Sherri Sanders (Accreditation Assistant), and Lt. Bobby Lambert (Professional Standards Supervisor) are the wonderful team members who have been instrumental in ensuring our success.
CCSO DEPUTIES SERVE EARLY MORNING NARCOTICS SEARCH WARRANT
(Citrus County, FL) Early this morning, detectives from the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Tactical Impact Unit (TIU) and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team executed a search warrant at 5023 North Bedstrow Blvd. in Beverly Hills, FL. Detectives were aware of ongoing narcotics sales at the residence and conducted an investigation that led to the execution of the narcotics search warrant.

Upon arrival at the residence, the SWAT team began to secure the residence. After making entry into the home, they were able to locate one of the suspects, 38-year-old Brian Waddell (DOB 12/11/1983), inside a bedroom. As they continued throughout the residence, SWAT located another suspect, 25-year-old Cameron McNeil (DOB 08/22/1997). It was relayed to the SWAT team McNeil had retreated into a bathroom within the residence during the initial announcements and was armed with a handgun. McNeil was located inside the bathroom deceased from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

After securing the residence, detectives proceeded with serving the lawful search warrant. Detectives located narcotics, a massive amount of drug paraphernalia, one firearm, and multiple scales, which were seized and turned in as evidence. 

Waddell was arrested and charged accordingly:

Waddell, an eight-time convicted felon (with 4 felony convictions and 23 misdemeanor 
convictions) - Trafficking in methamphetamine (over two ounces), possession of cocaine (over four grams). Bond set at $52,000. 

“Drug dealers have no place in our community,” said Sheriff Prendergast. “This type of illegal activity puts everyone in danger and has less than favorable outcomes. We will continue to fight illicit drug activity in our community at every given opportunity.”

Remember, Citrus - If you SEE something, SAY something! Our non-emergency line is staffed 24/7 and can be reached at 352-249-2790. Callers wishing to remain anonymous can call Citrus County Crimes Stoppers at 1-888-ANY-TIPS
CRYSTAL RIVER WOMAN SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON
(Citrus County, FL) Yesterday at 5:59 p.m., Victrina Marie Crites-Worley (DOB 
01/30/1970) was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the First 
Degree murder of her husband. She entered a guilty plea on October 4, 2022. The 
Honorable Carol Falvey, Fifth Judicial Circuit Court Administrative Judge, presided over 
the lengthy hearing, which ended at approximately 6 p.m.

“Justice was served thanks to the professional collaboration between CCSO Major Crimes detectives and prosecutors from the Fifth Judicial Circuit,” said Sheriff Prendergast. “From the very beginning, our team worked hard on piecing together this heinous puzzle of a crime. Once we solved this case, prosecutors at the State’s Attorney’s Office worked just as hard to ensure Crites-Worley received the sentence she deserved.”

On March 30, 2020, deputies responded to a residence in Crystal River in reference to a 
well-being check, where they first made contact with an injured woman, later identified as Crites-Worley. Deputies then found a 77-year-old deceased male on the property as they continued their security check.

This male was later identified as her husband, Lawrence Howard Worley, Sr. As detectives continued their investigation into this murder, Crites-Worley was hospitalized for her injuries. As a person of interest, detectives questioned her upon her release and determined she was responsible for the first-degree murder of her husband.
29 CRIMINALS ADDED TO SANTA'S NAUGHTY LIST AS A RESULT OF OPERATION ´DECK THE CELLS' 2.0
(Citrus County, FL) Instead of walking into a winter wonderland, these criminals are walking into booking once again thanks to the members of the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Tactical Impact Unit (TIU). Over the past few months, CCSO’s TIU conducted another ‘Deck the Cells’ covert operation to target drug dealers in Citrus County.During this operation, numerous undercover techniques were utilized resulting in 31 warrants being issued.

Partnering with agents from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (Homeland Security) and task force officers from the U.S. Marshals Service Florida/Caribbean Regional Fugitive Task Force, these arrest warrants were served over the span of six days. 

Concluding yesterday, December 20, 2022, the combined law enforcement efforts resulted in the arrests of 29 men and women in Citrus County for an array of narcotics charges, including trafficking.

As a result of these arrests, methamphetamine, cocaine, and the deadly narcotic fentanyl were seized and taken off the streets of Citrus County.

The following 29 arrests were made during Operation ‘Deck the Cells’ 2.0:

  •  James Evoy, DOB 11/20/1969, possession of a controlled substance – history includes 1 felony conviction.
  •  Joseph Kordecki, DOB 11/16/1975, arrested on an out of county warrant for driving while license suspended– past history of 10 felony convictions, 2 misdemeanor convictions, and 3 stints in prison
  • Derrick King, DOB 03/01/1984, arrested on an out of county warrant for VOP- criminal record includes 5 felony convictions, 2 stints in prison, and 2 misdemeanor convictions.
  • Lance Tarantino, DOB 12/01/1972, sale of a controlled substance – prior history of 7 felony convictions, 5 misdemeanor convictions, and 1 stint in prison.
  • Nicholas Tamburro, DOB 12/15/1993, sale of a controlled substance – history includes 6 felony convictions, 4 misdemeanor convictions, and 2 stints in prison.
  • Aaron Miller, DOB 11/16/1989, felony violation of probation for theft - previous history of 3 felony convictions and 4 misdemeanor convictions.
  • James Harrington, DOB 09/06/1979, possession of a controlled substance - Registered sexual offender. History includes 5 felony convictions, 1 misdemeanor conviction, and 2 previous stints in prison.
  • Dennis Coan, DOB 07/05/1980, sale of a controlled substance – criminal history includes 3 felony convictions, 2 misdemeanor convictions, and 1 stint in prison. 
  • Randy Tock, DOB 05/10/1990, sale of a controlled substance - has a history of 2 felony convictions and 4 misdemeanor convictions.
  • Eliot Bishop, DOB 08/09/1984, sale of a controlled substance – priors include 2 felony convictions and 3 misdemeanor convictions.
  • Stacey Usher, DOB 03/05/1984, sale of a controlled substance – history of 9 felony convictions.
  • Bamela Roddenberry, DOB 08/20/1975, sale of a controlled substance – priors include 1 felony conviction and 5 misdemeanor convictions.
  • Jeremy Sharrone, DOB 10/13/1992, possession of a controlled substance and open warrant for violations of probation for possession of meth – previous history includes 1 misdemeanor conviction.
  • Sean Hartigan, DOB 11/19/1986, possession of a controlled substance. 
  • Joshua Dunlap, DOB 06/25/1978, possession of a controlled substance.
  • Matthew Boice, DOB 11/02/1978, sale of a controlled substance – criminal history includes 3 felony convictions and 1 prison stint.
  • Jennifer Toms, DOB 01/13/1977, possession of a controlled substance.
  • Lisa Clayton, DOB 04/23/1979, possession of a controlled substance – history of 1 misdemeanor conviction.
  • Penelope Hart, DOB 06/15/1960, possession of a controlled substance – prior history of 4 misdemeanor convictions.
  • Meghan Bannister, DOB 09/28/1988, possession of a controlled substance – and 1 misdemeanor conviction.
  • Devin Penrod, DOB 01/07/1996, sale of a controlled substance – history of 5 felony convictions, 9 misdemeanor convictions, and 1 prison stint.
  • Eboney Bishop, DOB 08/12/1985, sale of a controlled substance – history of 3 previous felony convictions, 2 misdemeanor convictions, and 1 prison stint.
  • Richard Miller, DOB 10/05/1994, sale of a controlled substance – prior history includes 2 previous felony convictions and 3 misdemeanor convictions.
  • William Carlton, DOB 10/01/1966, sale of a controlled substance (arrested in Tampa on charges) – prior history of 17 previous felony convictions, 17 misdemeanor convictions, and 9 prison stints.
  • Shane Siordia, DOB 01/22/1993, trafficking – history of 2 felony convictions and 1 stint in prison.
  • Anthony Pacheco, DOB 09/16/1995, sale of a controlled substance – prior history includes 1 previous felony conviction, 4 misdemeanor convictions, and 1 stint in prison.
  • Timothy Norris, DOB 04/02/1960, possession of a controlled substance – criminal history of 6 felony convictions and 5 misdemeanors with 3 previous stints in prison.
  • Eric Johnson, DOB 10/24/1988, violation of probation for narcotics possession and a warrant out of Iowa for failure to appear reference harassment.
  • James Earley, DOB 08/07/1975, trafficking, possession of fentanyl, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of cannabis under 20 gram – priors include 13 felony convictions, 1 misdemeanor, and 2 stints in prison.
Prior to these arrests, these individuals had already amassed 106 prior felony convictions. 

We would like to thank our partners at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (Homeland Security) and the U.S. Marshals Service for continual support in our vision of making Citrus County the Safest Community in Florida.

"We are very fortunate to have excellent partners in the law enforcement community who serve alongside us as we serve our citizens. They have assisted us in fighting illicit drug activity right here in our home front,” said Sheriff Prendergast. “Dangerous substances, such as methamphetamine and fentanyl, are a deadly threat to our citizens. Thank you to those who have stepped up and have helped us eradicate illegal drugs from our community. With these arrests, we’ve demonstrated our commitment in making Citrus County safe for our residents and free of these dangerous narcotics, fighting deadly addictions where they start.

If you know of anyone who may be dealing in illegal narcotics or know of someone struggling with addiction, call our non-emergency line at 352-249-2790 to make a report, or to speak with our Behavioral Health Unit for assistance. 
BEVERLY HILLS WOMAN ARRESTED ON 12 ANIMAL CRUELTY CHARGES AND CHILD NEGLECT
(Citrus County, FL) Wednesday night, Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) deputies responded to an address in Beverly Hills regarding an animal cruelty complaint which resulted in an arrest for 12 counts of animal cruelty charges and one count of child neglect. 

Upon officials entering the home, they immediately noticed a strong ammonia smell. They observed several cages and glass enclosures containing snakes and other rodents. All of these animals were deprived of water and food. The animals were living in fecal matter and urine, causing an infestation of flies, roaches, and other bugs. One cage even contained a deceased rodent. Moving throughout the house, officials noticed trash, dirty dishes, and food scattered around the residence, causing more roaches and flies to pervade the area. 

After moving into one of the bedrooms, deputies observed two more cages — one containing a ferret, and one a dog. The ferret’s cage was also littered with urine and feces, and missing food and water. The dog’s cage was entirely too small, without food and water. The dog appeared to have some of its coat missing. Entering the second bedroom, occupied by a juvenile, an overwhelming amount of trash and bugs was observed. The mattress on the ground was covered with roaches. There was also blood on the ground, caused by several cats that were eating a dismembered rat.

When officials entered the third bedroom of the home, they located approximately 50 rodents in cages in addition to over 300 other rodents roaming freely.

We don’t tolerate abuse of any kind,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “We urge our citizens to speak up about any suspected animal cruelty they see and assist us in saving these defenseless animals from cases such as this one. Conditions seen in this case are not only dangerous for the animals, but for the child that was living in the home as 
well. It is crucial that our citizens report any possible signs of child neglect that may they see.

The defendant, Shannon Marie Morgan (02/25/1984), was arrested for 12 counts of animal cruelty and one count of child neglect. The total bond for the defendant was set at $26,000.

CCSO animal control officers have removed seven cats, one dog, and one ferret from the home. The house has been secured for further investigation and removal of the other remaining animals, including the three snakes and hundreds of rodents. 

Animal Control Officers are available to respond to routine calls for service between 8:00 am & 8:00 pm every day of the week, including holidays. Emergencies are responded to 24 /7.

Requests for service should be made to CCSO Communications Center at 352-249-2790 or simply by dialing 9-1-1.
INVERNESS MAN ARRESTED FOR SEXUAL BATTERY AND LEWD AND  LASCIVIOUS MOLESTATION OF A CHILD UNDER THE AGE OF 12
(Citrus County, FL) Yesterday, Jeffrey Lynn Bell (DOB 06/08/1977) of Inverness, Florida, was arrested on a warrant for the charges of Sexual Battery on a Child under 12 and Lewd and Lascivious Molestation of a Child under 12 in reference to several incidents that occurred between March 2020 and March 2021.

On December 1, 2022, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) was contacted by the parent of the juvenile victim in this case. The parent told deputies that the victim had disclosed to them that they had been sexually abused by 45-year-old Bell. Detective Ryan Brown with the CCSO’s Special Victims Unit (SVU) was assigned to the case, and immediately began an investigation.

During an interview with the Child Protection Team (CPT) at Jessie’s Place Child Advocacy Center, the victim stated that Bell had touched them in a sexual manner on multiple occasions while visiting their friend at a residence in Inverness. 

As the investigation continued, evidence was obtained that supported the victim’s allegations. Detective Brown consulted with the State Attorney’s Office and a warrant was issued for Bell’s arrest. On December 21, 2022, Detective Brown made contact with Bell during a traffic stop. Bell declined to speak with Detective Brown and was placed under arrest for his warrant.

Bell gained the trust of the victim and their family, and used his position to take advantage of the victim for sexual gratification,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “His actions are even more heinous due to the fact he repeated these actions multiple times over the course of a year. The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office is committed to finding justice for all victims in our community. We hope that this arrest is the beginning of 
the healing process for this victim and their family.”

Bell is currently being held at the Citrus County Jail without bond. No additional reports against Bell have been made. 

About the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office’s Special Victims Unit:
Special Victims Unit conducts specialized investigations into the sexual and physical abuse cases involving children. This unit works in direct conjunction with the Citrus County State Attorney’s Office, Jesse’s Advocacy Center, the Department of Children and Families, as well as other local, state and federal agencies to investigate and prosecute cases involving sexual exploitation and abuse, human trafficking, severe physical abuse cases involving children and a wide variety of other crimes against children. The detectives assigned to this unit are among the most skilled and experienced investigators in law enforcement and undergo in-depth training in various forensic disciplines and other specialized training topics.
DOMESTIC SHOOTING RESULTS IN TRAGIC DEATH
(Citrus County, FL) Last night, Thursday, December 29, 2022, Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Major Crimes detectives arrested 20-year-old Samantha Daniele Driggers, of Beverly Hills, for second-degree murder.

A family gathering to celebrate the holiday season should have been a time of happiness, but instead turned deadly in an instant,” said Sheriff Prendergast. “This act of violence has shocked our community and will affect this family forever. I am proud of the quick response of CCSO deputies and detectives that ensured this incident was isolated and the community was safe. Our thoughts go out to this family as they 
begin the long process of healing.” 

At approximately 2:45 p.m. Thursday, the CCSO communications center received a call in reference to a shooting that had just occurred on North Columbus Street in Beverly Hills.

Deputies were immediately dispatched to the scene, where inside the residence, they located the victim, 44-year-old Matthew Charles Driggers, with an apparent single gunshot wound to the back of his head. Deputies attempted to render aid to Matthew until Citrus County Fire Rescue arrived on the scene, at which time he was pronounced deceased.

Upon further investigation, deputies were able to locate and recover the firearm used during this incident. The preliminary investigation supported witness statements that the suspect, Samantha, used the firearm to shoot her uncle, the victim. Samantha, who was still inside the residence, was taken into custody and transported to CCSO’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for an interview and to collect additional forensics evidence. 

Ultimately, Samantha was placed under arrest and booked into the Citrus County Detention Facility. Samantha Driggers is being held on a $500,000.00 bond.