This week a Collier County man from Immokalee was arrested for drunk driving in a golf cart when deputies tried to pull him over. According to reports, Alex Acevedo saw the cops, pulled over, tossed a can out the side of his cart, and then sped off. He got to a nearby residence, tossed his cell phone to someone before being detained. Deputies indicate he smelled strongly of alcohol, had trouble maintaining his balance, and refused to do exercises. He was arrested and charged with DUI and Resisting an Officer.
Notably, Mr. Acevedo actually got lucky. He could have been charged with Fleeing, which is a felony. The golf cart is technically a vehicle, and he left the stop– fleeing does not require high speeds– so he could have been charged with a felony in addition to the misdemeanor resisting charge. That’s probably some fair discretion to leave it at DUI, it’s not like he was on a high speed frolic! Again, the attempt to get away from the original charge was worse than the underlying offense.
Apparently, fleeing in a golf cart is not that unusual. A couple years ago in Martin County, several men fled a stop. One of them ran onto a golf course, stole a cart from some golfers as they played, and continued to flee. As golf carts are not very fast, he was “immediately” captured by deputies and taken into custody. Newsweek covered that case, and cited several other recent occurrences. So, fleeing on a golf cart is not that rare, but I suspect escaping on one doesn’t happen very often.
Police say Dr. Jozsef Piri did not know Roberto Fonseca-Rivera, of Boston, but they have charged him in Fonseca-Riveras homicide along Vermont Rte. 103 in November, 2019. Details are still limited, but police say they have surveillance footage, GPS data, pictures, and other evidence that indicate Dr. Piri was driving his pickup directly in front of Fonseca-Rivera’s delivery truck the day he was killed. Fonseca was found shot to death in the head and neck in his truck, which had been pulled to the side of the road. They zeroed in on the silver Toyota pickup not long after the homicide, and believe Dr. Piri was driving a truck matching that description in the area at the time (he lived in Connecticut and was returning from Vermont.).
Dr. Piri has been arrested in Naples, where he worked as a doctor for Physician’s Regional Hospital. He is awaiting extradition to Vermont where he will face murder charges. The fact pattern suggests a possible road rage situation, but that’s unclear as there are so few details so far.
*UPDATE: I found a story from the time of the incident where Vermont Police released a photo of the Toyota pickup they had been looking for. It’s not clear what connection Dr. Piri may have to the truck. Notable, the photo released clearly shows a person sitting in the passenger seat, which means if the truck was involved, there must be a witness. Also, it happened in the middle of the day, between 1 and 1:30 p.m.
Anthony Steven Guevara was arrested and charged with two felonies for allegedly hacking into the voter registration system, and changing the address information for Governor Ron DeSantis back in October, shortly before the election. DeSantis found out when he showed up at the poll to vote, and was initially turned away (though he was eventually permitted to vote). Guevara is being prosecuted in Collier County, where he lives.
It was revealed this week that Mr. Guevara’s attorney Mike Carr has sought to subpoena Governor DeSantis to testify. At a pretrial conference this week, he sought to have the judge order the Governor to appear, anticipating that he would not. The judge declined to do in advance, but indicated he may order him to comply with the subpoena at trial. The prosecutor countered that service by certified mail may not be sufficient or verifiable, which may mean that the Governor is not compelled to testify.
The Defense had sought to resolve the case by putting Mr. Guevara into the diversion program, also known as deferred prosecution. Some great reporting by Stefany Matat reveals that the prosecutor told the defense that they were not offering diversion because Governor DeSantis would not agree to it. The Florida Constitution requires that prosecutors take the victim’s wishes into account, so it is not unusual that they would decline to offer diversion where a victim did not consent. The State did make a probation plea offer for 24 months, but that offer was set to expire earlier this week. (The details of the plea negotiations are a little bit of a peek behind the curtains that is not usually available on a criminal case, which ups the interest level, here.) The case has been set for a possible trial the week of April 26, though trials are very restricted right now due to Covid, and could end up being pushed back. It remains to be seen if the Governor will be in attendance, as sought by Guevara’s defense.
Florida gonna Florida. (It’s a verb now.) Man, you gotta respect someone when they need their cup of joe.
Naples Police reported a man was pantsless and playing with himself when a woman came out on to her condo balcony to drink her coffee. He yelled up at her, insinuating that he had been watching or stalking her, then he laid down on a lounge chair and played with himself. Naples Police identified and arrested the suspect, Jousua Echezarreta, and charged him with exposure of sexual organs, loitering, resisting and officer and stalking. Creepy.
This time in Naples, a man was arrested and charged with striking a police dog. As in the case we reported this morning, a man named Dwayne Croker Jr. was running from the cops for other alleged crimes and got the K-9 released on him. Like our friend from North Fort Myers, he was probably fending off the dog when he hit it. So, instead of getting a misdemeanor paraphernalia charge- he ended up getting three! One for resisting for running from the cops, another for striking the K-9, and he still got the paraphernalia charge. As is so often the case, the cover up is worse than the crime!
I also not the CCSO sent up a helicopter. That’s quite an expense for a couple of misdemeanors, and it was a dog that eventually located and led to his detention. No indications of any injuries on this one.
A string of Florida robberies were dubbed the “Ninja Robberies” because the robbers dressed in black clothes and masks that were similar to ninja garb. A group of men, several from Immokalee, are accused of a series of nine armed robberies stretching from Collier County all the way to Orlando. Several men were convicted in Orlando and sentenced to several years each in prison for charges there. A couple of robbers have also pled to multiple charges in Collier and have been sentenced to 40 years for their involvement. Now on trial is Andres Perez, who is facing 37 different counts in Collier County, including Racketeering, Armed Home-Invasion Robbery, Carjacking and many more. Perez is accused of being the mastermind of the Ninja robberies. He faces life in prison in a trial that is expected to take several weeks. I would not be surprised if some of the co-defendants take the stand to testify against him as a condition of their plea deals.
Mayira Okheda-Garsia may not look the part, but this femme fatale has been charged with masterminding an armed robbery plot against her ex-boyfriend in Collier County. The victim said that Okheda and three masked, armed men busted through his sliding glass door and robbed him at gunpoint. He said the men were wearing bandannas and held him at gunpoint while they took his gold jewelry. His roommate came in, and all four offenders fled in a Toyota Camry.
Deputies located the Camry, which took off. After a chase, the vehicle stopped and the occupants fled, though the driver was caught. Deputies called in aviation and K-9 units to conduct a search, and ultimately located Okheda hiding under a trailer. They caught a third suspect, Devante Sparks, when he texted Okheda’s phone to let her know he had made it
home… they went to his house and picked him up. The fourth suspect is still on the run. All the suspects are facing charges for armed home invasion robbery and theft, and the driver, Kameron Williams, also faces charges for high-speed fleeing. Arrest records indicate both Okheda and Sparks have gang affiliation.
The case reminds of the Brittany Stubbs, who lured a local businessman with the promise of sex. She had planned for her boyfriend and his brother to rob the man, but the robbery went south and the man was shot and killed. All were charged with first-degree felony murder. Stubbs flipped on the co-defendants and got a 25-year sentence, while the brothers were both sentenced to mandatory life in prison. In this case, fortunately nobody was shot, but it is a life felony. In both cases, the defendants were young and some really poor choices effectively ruined their lives and those of others.
Poor Rocky Cale was arrested this week for pulling aquatic weeds. Rollin ‘Rocky’ Cale, 75, and some other members of the Model Yacht Club removed some aquatic weeds two months ago so they could launch their john boat to maintain some buoys. Apparently, this was the protocol that had been in place for years for maintaining that section of the lake. There is a Florida statute that requires a permit to remove aquatic weeds, Sec. 379.501, and makes it a misdemeanor if the person does it due to “reckless indifference or gross careless disregard,” though that does not seem to be the case for Mr. Cale, as he and his group had apparently believed that they were authorized for the removal. It looks like a bad arrest.
The backstory is that Cale, as head of the Marco Island Community Sailing Center, had earlier disputes with parks manager Samantha Malloy and the city, who had ultimately locked out the Sailing Club during that dispute. So the legal action being taken now smacks of retribution for the earlier dispute, and the city is investigating how it went down. It may have started as a littering complaint for the weeds that had been pulled and were sitting there, as Malloy first contacted code enforcement, who apparently referred her to FWC, and there was a littering charge the State Attorney decided not to pursue. It is all a lot of overzealous enforcement brought on by a pile of weeds… weeds that Cale helped dispose of after he was contacted. This should have been resolved with a phone call, not by involving law enforcement.
The sad thing is, this poor 75-year-old man, who has volunteered countless hours to his community through the sailing club and the model yacht group, etc, had to go to jail over this. It was an inadvertent infraction by a whole group of people, and there certainly doesn’t seem to be the ‘reckless indifference’ necessary to sustain the charge. Mr. Cale was completely cooperative, and had no idea there was a prohibition on the plant removal. And instead of just giving him a summons with a court date, they issued a capias warrant and had him arrested and booked into jail. On top of that, the Marco Eagle reports that the weeds were scheduled to be sprayed and destroyed. He basically did them a favor, but no good deed goes unpunished. Every government official involved in this arrest should be ashamed of themselves. Sad.
As early voting gets underway in the 5 county 20th judicial circuit, which includes Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry, and Glades counties, I though I’d take an opportunity to weigh in on a local race that I feel strongly about. I am writing to endorse James Chandler, who is running for Circuit Judge. I have gotten to know Mr. Chandler well over the last several years, and think he would be an excellent choice for the circuit judge position. Mr. Chandler and I both worked at the State Attorney’s office when we moved to Southwest Florida. After I went into private practice, I had cases against Mr. Chandler and found him to be fair as a prosecutor.
Chandler later went into private practice, where he handles not only criminal defense, but also civil matters such as family law. That’s important, as our circuit judges can end up handling both criminal and civil cases: Mr. Chandler has the background to handle both. Mr. Chandler is someone that I would frequently discuss my criminal cases with, for strategies and legal insight, and I feel Mr. Chandler understands the and will protect the rights and fairly adjudicate the cases of all who would appear before him. He has shown himself to be a skilled courtroom attorney, including a high-profile case we covered here in Crimcourts. Mr. Chandler has the experience, temperament, and the intangibles to be an excellent judge, and I fully endorse him for Circuit Judge.
After nearly a month of trial, and a second day of deliberation (the jury went home after a couple hours of deliberations yesterday evening), Lisa Troemner has been found not guilty of second degree murder. There was a chance the jury could have given her a lesser charge, but the Defense’s justifiable use of force case persuaded them, or at least gave them a reasonable doubt. In addition to Ms. Troemner testifying to her relationship with Trevor Smith, she stated that she was scared of him, that he was abusive and controlling, even violent the evening leading up to the killing (he had a BAC over .30). The Defense also presented expert testimony that she was suffering from battered spouse syndrome and even forensic expert testimony that indicated there had been a struggle at the apartment. The State countered with a week’s worth of rebuttal testimony, including counter-experts regarding battered spouse syndrome, and testimony from friends and family of Trevor Smith that in fact Troemner was the jealous, controlling party.
Troemner was facing life in prison if convicted of second degree murder, but she will likely be out of jail this afternoon. This is a huge win for Donald Day and the defense team, and another big Collier County loss for the State already this year… and expensive after a month of trial. Troemner had been in custody since the date of the arrest, in December, 2014. There was the possibility of a lesser charge, but the jury decided completely in her favor, complete acquittal. There is no appeal on a not guilty verdict.
First reported by Hot Story: https://twitter.com/hotstorycrime/status/962027561055219713