Charges dropped following Leonard plea

Following a plea to several felonies, the state dropped charges against Charles H. Leonard last week in 15 of 20 or more burglary cases opened following a chase and search through Cortez in December by several law enforcement agencies.

Notices that “criminal charges will not be filed” were entered in the court record May 14 and May 15 by assistant state attorney Pamela Buha in 15 separate burglary files.

Leonard signed an acknowledgement and waiver of rights in April to four grand theft auto charges, armed burglary with a firearm and burglary to a structure.

A hearing June 27 will determine his penalty — the maximum being life, minimum 10 years — but Leonard’s plea “requests a sentencing hearing with a cap of 22 years in the department of corrections.”

Two additional cases against Leonard still are being investigated by the Manatee County State Attorney’s Office.

“I believe there’s one file that he’s not entered an admission,” which is still being investigated, and “another one there’s been a plea,” Buha said.

Leonard is being held in Manatee County jail without bond on a parole violation from a previous sentencing in September 2010, stemming from a July 2010 arrest for fleeing and eluding police in a stolen car.

His December arrest involved several units of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, a helicopter and a K-9 unit, and Bradenton and Palmetto police departments.

According to sheriff’s office reports, a small handgun was found inside the stolen vehicle Leonard had been seen driving. After the arrest, he reportedly admitted to stealing the car and other vehicles, and to numerous burglaries.

Leonard’s sentencing will be at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 27, before Twelfth Judicial Circuit Judge Janette Dunnigan at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.