One phony deputy arrested, one sought
Bradenton police detective Jim Curulla has arrested one Holmes Beach man and is actively seeking another man from Bradenton Beach. Curulla told NewsManatee, The Islander’s news partner, that both men were dressed like Manatee County Sheriff's Office deputies and represented themselves as such when they attacked a man in Bradenton and stole his wallet and cell phone.
According to Curulla, on Aug. 3, the unnamed victim parked his vehicle in Fisherman's Landing Apartments in Bradenton.
When the victim exited his vehicle, he began talking to an acquaintance and was then surprised and tackled by three males, who said they were sheriff's deputies and that he was under arrest.
The victim said he was handcuffed and held down as they removed his wallet, with $100 dollars inside, and took his cell phone.
The victim said the "deputies" were wearing dark-colored T-shirts and green cargo pants with full duty belts, including badge, gun, pepper spray and a walkie-talkie.
A NewsManatee source said one of the "deputies" said he got the "cop equipment" from a friend who is a Manatee County Sheriff's Office deputy - and MCSO internal affairs is said to be checking out that report.
Curulla told NewsManatee that one of the men with a walkie-talkie spoke into it, but the victim didn't hear a response.
The victim, who was still handcuffed, said the three would-be "deputies" left in an unmarked silver Toyota 4-Runner with his wallet and cell phone.
The victim's acquaintance, who also was not named, witnessed the incident and knew the first name of one of the suspects, Evan Zappola, 24, of 209 67th St., Holmes Beach.
The victim identified Zappola from a photo lineup and Zappola was arrested Friday, Aug. 10.
Also identified and still at large is Samuel Lott, 19, of Bradenton Beach.
Anyone with any information on Lott is urged to call Curulla at the Bradenton Police Department, 941-932-93001, ext. 311, or Crime Stoppers at 1-866-634-TIPS (8477).
Callers to the Crime Stoppers tip line may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.
Mike Quinn is publisher of NewsManatee.com.