Category Archives: Sarasota / Southwest Florida

Burglar Caught Sleeping on the Job – Literally!

Dion Davis, the Sleeping Burglar

Dion Davis, the Sleeping Burglar

Dion Davis must have worn himself out breaking into a Nokomis, Florida, home. The cleaning lady found him sleeping, next to a bag of jewelry he had looted from the home, and called police. He was still out cold when deputies arrived, and they were able to take a picture of him asleep on the victim’s bed, booty lying next to him.

Dion Davis

Dion Davis

Sounds like he was high, probably on an opiate or other depressant. That’s not going to be a legal defense to the Burglary of a Dwelling and Theft charges he’ll be facing.

I recently questioned a local deputy who testified that there were no cameras available for him to take pictures when he was called out to investigate. It’s a shame, he could end up missing out on the best evidence photo, ever.

Fishermen Pull 10-foot Alligator Out of Gulf of Mexico

Don't Molest Gators!

Don’t Molest Gators!

Some men fishing from a Sarasota pier saw a gator in the surf, and pulled him out before authorities could get to the scene. They could be facing charges, it is illegal to take, feed, bother or otherwise molest a gator in Florida, even one in the ocean (it’s not unusual for gators to take a swim- they don’t mind the salt.)

Remember, if a nuisance alligator seems threatening, call FWC!

Captured Gator, via WFLA

via NBC-2 : http://www.nbc-2.com/story/26482685/10-foot-alligator-caught-in-gulf-waters-off-venice-charges-possible#.VA_UjfmwKRo

The Dirtiest Trick, Revisited

A few weeks ago, I posted about what I believe to be the dirtiest trick utilized by law enforcement in their poorly-run internet sting operations: using pictures of OLDER decoys to supposedly catch pedophiles. I have personally seen cases where decoys of legal age were used to entice would-be consenting adults. I got an email yesterday that in another sting operation, in Orange County, agents were using images of decoys as old as 25 to entice their targets. I wish I could say that I was surprised. The sad truth is they claim to be chasing pedophiles, but they are using adults to lure people. There’s nothing wrong with meeting a 25-year-old on the internet, it’s the lie they slip in claiming the decoy is much younger that they use to arrest the sucker. While we don’t want adults traveling to meet underage children, our law enforcement resources are being misspent if we are pursuing people who are not actually looking to meet underage partners. The reality is even more harsh, as Florida’s draconian sentencing laws often don’t fit the crime. (See Marissa Alexander re: 10/20/Life)

Here’s a link to the image of the 25-year-old decoy: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BzLomEB8bi2PTjZra3gtSFRyc0E/edit

Commentors have pointed me to the governingus.com blog that specifically follows these cases. It’s worth checking and they recently linked to a story out of Tampa by a reporter who really does some journalism and challenges the authorities. Noah Pransky used to work in the Fort Myers market, before moving on to a bigger market. We’ve linked to his stories on before on crimcourts, when he did a great expose on misuse of red light ticketing. Imagine that, the Fourth Estate keeping an eye on government intrusion.

Pransky, who is not on the defense side, unlike the author of this blog, says it perfectly, “Law enforcement may have crossed the line in going after some men who weren’t breaking the law at all.” He continues, “While many of those arrested will ultimately get well-deserved time behind bars, even if a few men were wrongly targeted by officers who were abusing their power, that’s too many victims. Those men will never be able to fully clear their names, even if their found not guilty, which is why we’re fighting for transparency, and your right to know that police aren’t engaging in entrapment.”

That reporting is especially important as the government goes further and further to invade our lives, and to keep secrets from our citizens: http://www.wired.com/2014/06/feds-seize-stingray-documents/

http://www.wtsp.com/story/news/investigations/2014/04/15/pinellas-polk-sex-stings-public-record-refusal/7749057/

Another Sex Offender Sting in Sarasota County This Week

This internet sting is the second one conducted by the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office in less than a year, this week netting 30 arrests, including a couple from the Fort Myers area. Like the local Operation Spiderweb sting conducted in Lee County last year, suspects range in age from 21 to 64. I discussed Operation Spiderweb here on Crimcourts a few months back.

Something that stood out in the NBC-2 story on this operation, is that the Sarasota Sheriff, Tom Knight, specifically addresses the issue of entrapment. He states that he believes these individuals have done it before. I don’t know what evidence he has of that, but it goes directly to predisposition, which could negate entrapment. He goes on to say, “We didn’t ask anyone to meet us, they contacted us.” That goes to who initiated the contact, which is also an important consideration where entrapment may be an issue.

I point out the Sheriff’s comments specifically to contrast them to Operation Spiderweb by LCSO. Several of the defense attorneys in town have gotten together to compare fact patterns, and we have seen several cases where the investigators initiated contact. Some of these contacts occurred in adult forums that specifically prohibit juveniles from viewing. That’s a major issue for demonstrating predisposition. Unlike the example given in Sarasota, where the detectives placed a post specifically claiming to be 14 years old, Detectives responded to adult posts. It appears that the Lee County detectives failed to observe the basic safeguards against entrapment. That’s bad police work, and runs the risk of creating crime where crime would not have existed. That’s a violation of our Due Process protections. It’s also worth noting that at least one of the suspects arrested in the previous Sarasota sting was found not guilty at trial.

Perspective on the Sarasota cell phone charger arrest situation from a former cop

Darren Kersey – Phone Charger

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune has had great coverage for what could have been a little story, kudos to them.  Also for presenting both sides of the story: http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20121116/COLUMNIST/311169999

Sarasota Police Chief claims to regret cell phone arrest

Darren Kersey – exonerated charger

The war homeless has gained some unwanted national attention for the City of Sarasota, and now the Police Chief has expressed misgivings about the homeless man arrested for using a public outlet to charge his cell phone.  According to the update in the Herald-Tribune, Chief Mikel Hollaway is quoted as saying, “I don’t want a physical arrest for something like this,” indicating that he would prefer a summons to be issued.  There are two problems with that statement.

  1. There were 10 – 15 other homeless people arrested the same day for myriad offenses, some as minor as smoking in the same park.  The outward policy of the department does not appear to take a hands cuffs-off approach to enforcement among the homeless.
  2. The more serious concern is the Chief doesn’t address the more serious problem that his sergeant arrested someone without probable cause.  The judge found no probable cause at court the next morning, because it was a public outlet!  The Chief should be most concerned with his officers arresting people illegally.

Darren Kersey, the phone charger, is also quoted in the article, and he thinks the arrest was retaliatory for him taking a picture of officer’s car when the officer was arresting another homeless person in the same park. 

Keep in mind, it costs taxpayers for every arrest law enforcement makes.  Jails are for more expensive than homeless shelters.  And since Mr. Kersey couldn’t afford to bond out, he missed going to his job the next day, and lost that job.  He has a small daughter who is undoubtedly getting government assistance, too.  Sarasota is feeding the cycle of the downtrodden.  Meanwhile, the City of Sarasota is also intent on giving away free electricity, setting up free charging stations for electric cars.  These charging stations were literally just installed a month ago.  #badcops

http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20121113/ARTICLE/121119842