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2022 News

(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
(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
(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
(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
(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
(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
(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

2021 News

(Citrus County, FL) Today, members of the Citrus County Sheriff's Office attended the Attorney General's 2021 Human Trafficking Summit to continue effective methods in identifying, intervening, and ending human trafficking nationally. Attendees of this summit seek to strengthen their mutual responses and dispel misperceptions of human trafficking to reduce this staggering number.

This year’s summit was held virtually again due to ongoing health and safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to last year’s success, this online format allowed for a larger number of registrants to attend this special webinar of presentations from subject matter experts.

"As servants in our community, we remain steadfast in the protection of human dignity," said Sheriff Prendergast. “We lead by example and we have not grown weary in our fight for those denied their freedoms. Our office, along with our robust network of allies are faithfully continuing the fight against human trafficking."

The Florida's Statewide Council on Human Trafficking was created through legislation in 2014. This 15-member Council, chaired by Attorney General Ashley Moody, builds on existing state and local partnerships working to combat human trafficking. Members of the council include law enforcement officers, prosecutors, legislators, as well as experts in the fields of health, education, and social services.

The council conducts this annual summit to bring together local, state, and national leaders working to eradicate all forms of trafficking. Breakout sessions include recent updates and developments in the following areas:
? Legal and Law Enforcement
? Service Delivery
? Policy and Research
? Medical and Healthcare

Participants of the online summit engaged in conversations about modern case examples of human trafficking and evaluated the best law enforcement methodologies used to combat human trafficking efforts. The Department of State's June 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report indicates traffickers are denying nearly 25 million people around the world of their freedom and basic human dignity.

Learning opportunities created at the 2021 Human Trafficking Summit will allow Florida to continue working to protect victims, prevent trafficking, and prosecute traffickers.
The 2021 Human Trafficking Summit is hosted by the Florida Attorney General's Office, the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking, the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, the Florida Department of Health, the Florida Alliance to End Human Trafficking, Inc., and the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers, along with Florida State University as an educational partner.
Posted on 05 Oct 2021
(Citrus County, FL) On December 27, at approximately 9:30 p.m., the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) communications center received a call in reference to a shooting that had just occurred off South Great Oaks Drive in Floral City.

Within minutes, deputies arrived on the scene and located victim one, a 27-year-old white male with multiple gunshot wounds who stated he had been shot and described the vehicle in which the suspects possibly fled. While rendering aid to the victim, the deputies saw a vehicle matching the description roughly 50 yards away.
After ensuring the victim’s safety, deputies approached the vehicle where they discovered victim two, a 21-year-old white male who had also been shot multiple times. Despite attempting life-saving efforts on scene, victim two’s injuries were not survivable.

Major Crimes Detective Dan Slingerland responded to the scene and began working on this case and the events leading up to the shooting. During his investigation, Detective Slingerland identified two suspects, 20-year-old Jevaris Nathan Dortch and 20-year-old David Julian Murrell, both from Floral City. Based upon the investigation, Detective Slingerland believes robbery was the motive behind the shooting.

"In less than 24 hours after the incident, arrest warrants were obtained for both Dortch and Murrell, and they were taken into custody by 5 p.m. on December 28.
“Cases like these are devastating for our community,”
 said Sheriff Prendergast. “Although, the first victim in this case was lucky to survive, another was murdered during this failed robbery. Thanks to the diligent work of Detective Slingerland, our community now has some answers and our victims will have justice. Consequently, these two young defendants will spend the rest of their lives in prison because of their poor decisions.”

Their charges are as follows: (No Bond)
Jevaris Dortch (DOB 08/09/2001): Premeditated Murder, Attempted Premeditated Murder, Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, and Shoot/Throw Deadly Missile into Dwelling/Conveyance.
David Murrell (DOB 1/04/2001): Premeditated Murder, Attempted Premeditated Murder, and Shoot/Throw Deadly Missile into Dwelling/Conveyance.

At this time, our investigation into this deadly shooting is continuing. Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to contact our office and speak with our Major Crimes Unit by calling (352)249-2790. Citizens may also report information anonymously by calling Citrus County Crime Stoppers at 1-888-ANY-TIPS.
Posted on 29 Dec 2021