Tag Archives: Police

Eyes on the road – 05-15-2019

The Florida Department of Transportation and Manatee County posted the following notices for the week of May 13:

Avenue C: Right-of-way restoration in Bradenton Beach continues along Avenue C, including installation of a stormwater infiltration system and driveway restoration. Once restoration is completed, paving will begin.

Coquina Beach: Manatee County is paving the south end of the Coquina Beach parking lot in Bradenton Beach. The south lot will be closed during the work.

Palma Sola Causeway on Manatee Avenue/State Road 64 at the boat ramp: The Manatee County Palma Sola Boat Ramp is closed for construction activity.

For more information about the pipeline replacement projects on the island, go online to amipipereplacement.com.

For the latest road watch information, go online to www.fl511.com or dial 511.

BBPD arrests Bradenton woman for coin, jewelry thefts

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Rene Lee of Bradenton

Ten counts of pawning rare coins and jewelry valued at more than $80,000 landed a woman in Manatee County jail May 6.

Rene Lee of Bradenton was arrested at her residence in the 10600 block of Cortez Road West on five counts of dealing in stolen property and five counts of giving false information to a pawn broker.

She posted a $10,500 bond two days later and was released from jail.

Bradenton Beach Detective Sgt. Lenard Diaz said Lee stole and pawned vintage coins — silver dollars, half dollars and a 1964 proof set of dimes, nickels and pennies — and jewelry, including gold and diamond rings, earrings, necklaces and pendants.

The items were stolen from her former employer’s condo at Runaway Bay, 1801 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach.

The owner reported the items missing in April.

The rare items, including “large bags of coins” and jewelry, have been difficult to value, “but the best we’ve been able to come up with is more than $80,000,” Diaz said.

Lee told police the rare items were given to her as gifts from her employer.

According to Diaz, Lee was given a key to the condo so she could clean the residence and her boyfriend could work there for a week.

By November 2018, “the defendant no longer had permission to be in her condo,” but items began to disappear, including $50,000 in rare coins taken from the victim’s safe.

The affidavit states Lee received $4,200 for the victim’s property at Maddog and Buccaneer Pawn in Bradenton in March and April. Only some of the victim’s property has been returned, Diaz said.

Lee’s arraignment is set for 9 a.m. Friday, June 7, at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

Streetlife – 05-15-2019

Anna Maria

May 2, 875 N. Shore Drive, Rod & Reel Pier, theft. A taxi driver took a passenger from Walmart on Cortez Road in Bradenton to the Rod & Reel Pier. The passenger said he lost his debit card and had no way to pay the $80 tab.

May 4, 600 block of South Bay Boulevard, felony criminal mischief, $1,000 or more. A man reported the back window of his vehicle was intentionally broken. The estimated repair cost was $2,500.

Anna Maria is policed by MCSO.

Bradenton Beach

April 28, 200 Bridge St., anchorage, grand theft less than $5,000. A man went to the police station to report his anchoring system stolen from his sailboat. He said he knew the name of the man who stole the system, reported it and said the man had gone to Key West.

May 1, 100 block of Fourth Street South, burglary to a vehicle. A woman reported two backpacks taken from a vehicle at her home contained $700 cash, a passport, immigration documents, clothes and two pairs of sunglasses, all worth $950. Both backpacks with all contents were later found nearby in the water.

May 1, 100 block of Seventh Street South, burglary to a vehicle. A woman reported a vehicle in her carport was burglarized after she left for work. She reported cash envelopes with $62 and shift reports for work were missing.

May 1, 2513 Gulf Drive N., Circle K, trespass warning. A man attempted to get one employee to send a second employee to the parking lot to talk to him. Due to a prior domestic dispute, the employee requested the man be trespassed from the store and parking lot. A BBPD officer trespassed the man.

May 2, 117 Bridge St., the Fish Hole, suspicious circumstances. An officer was dispatched to the Fish Hole for a possible robbery in progress after an employee who was emptying the trash outdoors said a man told him to empty the cash register and leave the money in the trash can. The employee went inside and called 911. The man left the area. Police searched but did not locate the man.

May 2, 118 Bridge St., Sports Lounge, assault. A man who appeared intoxicated made derogatory comments toward customers and threw ice at a person. He was asked to leave by the bartender/manager and called her derogatory names as he went out. He returned, saying he should get a gun and shoot up the bar, and was sent outside, where he tried to put his foot through a window to gain entry. He eventually passed out. The bartender filed a criminal complaint against the man and also requested a trespass warning be filed against him if he returned.

May 8, 100 block of Second Street North, domestic battery. A woman went to a man’s residence to retrieve some personal items and a verbal argument ensued. The woman said the man opened her car door and struck her in the face with his right hand. The man’s father was present and said he stepped between the car and his son. The woman filed a criminal complaint.

May 3, 2200 block of Gulf Drive North, arrest. A car was idling with keys in the ignition on Gulf Drive North. The tag returned a capias from an earlier assault and alerted that the suspect was considered a safety threat. A man, who approached carrying a can of gasoline and saying he was out of gas, was identified as the suspect and turned over to the MCSO. He was transported to the Manatee County jail.

Bradenton Beach is policed by the BBPD.

Cortez

No reports.

Cortez is policed by MCSO.

Holmes Beach

April 28, 5400 Marina Drive, Seaside Laundromat and More, theft. A man said that while he was doing laundry, a woman took his key ring and keys.

April 30, 3400 block of Sixth Avenue, theft. A man reported a black bicycle and a red Igloo cooler stolen from his carport. He valued the property at $200.

April 30, 3900 E. Bay Drive, Publix Super Market, theft. A woman reported her unlocked bicycle stolen from the bike rack while she shopped. The bicycle was valued at $200.

May 4, 200 block of 72nd Street, noise ordinance. A man complained of a loud party at another residence behind his home. Officers took decibel readings, notified the renters of the noise ordinance and issued a citation.

Holmes Beach is policed by HBPD.

Street life is based on incident reports and narratives from the BBPD, HBPD and MCSO.

Streetlife – 05-08-2019

Anna Maria

April 20, 600 block of Alameda Road, possession of less than 20 grams, possession of drug paraphernalia. An officer observed two people in a truck and detected the odor of marijuana. A search recovered less than 20 grams of cannabis and drug paraphernalia. The officer issued citations.

April 26, 503 Pine Ave., Anna Maria General Store, trespass. The owner of the Anna Maria General Store reported a woman sitting on the store patio and harassing patrons. She was trespassed for 12 months from the property. She boarded a trolley and left.

Anna Maria is policed by MCSO.

Bradenton Beach

April 22, 103 Gulf Drive, Circle K, trespass warning. A man left his backpack outside the store and as he left, the backpack was gone. He demanded the clerk look at the video surveillance. When the clerk refused, the man threatened him. Police were called and issued a trespass warning to the man.

April 25, 200 block of Bay Drive North, vehicle burglary. A man told BBPD a checkbook with no more than 25 blank checks was stolen from his vehicle. Two checks had been cashed at an Amscot in Bradenton for a total of $475.

April 25, 115 Bridge St., Fish Hole Miniature Golf, stolen property. A man reported his cellphone was stolen while he was playing miniature golf. The GPS tracking located the phone on Longboat Key, and a Longboat Key officer searched the area, but did not find the phone.

April 26, 2506 block of Avenue B, property damage. A man reported damage to his vehicle parked in the alley behind a residence. An estimated $2,000 in damage was done to the front bumper, hood and front grill.

Bradenton Beach is policed by the BBPD.

Cortez

No reports.

Cortez is policed by MCSO.

Holmes Beach

April 25, 5626 Gulf Drive, Harrington House Beachfront Bed and Breakfast Inn, theft. The owner of Harrington House reported a black bicycle valued at $250 was stolen from a tenant at the property.

April 27, 5416 Marina Drive, Restless Natives, criminal mischief. An employee of another business in the Island Shopping Center reported two men wrestling in front of Restless Natives, breaking the storefront glass window, then leaving. The damage was estimated by officers at about $800. The management for the center responded and secured the business.

April 27, 3900 block East Bay Drive, outstanding warrant. A man was observed by officers yelling at people at the trolley stop. When officers checked his information, it was determined he had an outstanding Manatee County warrant. He was taken into custody and transported to the Manatee County jail.

Holmes Beach is policed by HBPD.

Street life is based on incident reports and narratives from the BBPD, HBPD and MCSO.

Jury convicts man for murder of girlfriend’s toddler

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David Vickers testifies in his defense April 25 on charges in the death of a 17-month-old boy. A jury found Vickers, who lived at the time of the murder in Holmes Beach, guilty of in less than two hours of deliberations. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell
Luca Sholey smiles ear to ear on a playground with mom, Melissa Wolfe. Islander Courtesy Photo

A jury found David Vickers guilty of second-degree murder and child neglect in the August 2017 death of a Holmes Beach toddler.

Vickers’ five-day trial at the Manatee County Judicial Center in Bradenton concluded April 26 with the convictions in less than two hours. Twelfth Circuit Judge Lon Arend presided and the jury consisted of two women and four men.

Luca Sholey was 17 months old Aug. 23, 2017, when he died from a lack of oxygen after suffering four broken ribs and other injuries to the chest, mouth, lips and ears, according to medical testimony at the trial.

Testimony for the state came from the toddler’s mother, Melissa Wolfe, her father Donnie Wolfe, Luca’s father Eric Sholey, Holmes Beach Police Sgt. Tom Fraser, Manatee County EMS and information technology employees and medical experts.

Vickers was the only witness called for the defense. He took the stand and spoke softly.

Vickers lived at the time with girlfriend Melissa Wolfe and her children, Luca and his 3-year-old sister, in Donnie Wolfe’s apartment in Holmes Beach. Vickers moved in with them in June 2017.

Vickers testified that to save money, he offered to watch Luca and the daughter — that he fed and got the children ready for bed most nights.

Melissa Wolfe, who was looking for a caregiver, was working as a waitress six days a week, supporting Vickers and the children.

The defendant told the jury that at that time he was addicted to narcotics.

The evening of Aug. 21, 2017, Vickers said he took fentanyl and fell asleep on the toddler.

When he awoke several minutes later, he found himself on top of Luca, who was discolored and not breathing.

He previously told police he found Luca in his crib and told the jurors he’d lied because he was scared, afraid of going back to prison.

Vickers also said he loved Luca and never harmed him. The defense blamed some of the child’s previous injuries on an accidental fall down the stairs, but admitted Vickers was not “ready” to be a proper caregiver — on drugs and just out of prison.

The medical experts, however, concluded the injuries were consistent with abuse — such as the bruised chest, broken ribs, fingernails dug into his mouth and squeezed cheeks.

On cross-examination, Vickers admitted to contacting an old girlfriend the week the child died, fearing he would be kicked out of the family apartment despite plans to marry Melissa Wolfe, saying he had “a problem with fidelity.”

Wolfe and Vickers obtained a marriage license Aug. 18, 2017.

Vickers also acknowledged he videotaped Luca experiencing respiratory distress that day, but did not tell Melissa or the toddler’s father, who regularly inquired about the children, including that evening.

Vickers called 911 and attempted to administer CPR until a West Manatee Fire Rescue firefighter arrived and took over life-saving measures.

Luca was resuscitated, but later died in the hospital, according to trial testimony.

Vickers was arrested in October 2017 on charges of murder, neglect and aggravated manslaughter.

He has been in the county jail since his Aug. 24, 2017, arrest for a revoked driver’s license and possessing marijuana.

He was re-arrested Aug. 30, 2017, for stealing a laptop and stereo from Melissa Wolfe.

The murder and neglect charges came after Holmes Beach police, Manatee County Sheriff’s Crimes Against Children and Florida Child Protective Services found evidence of child abuse, including an autopsy showing a swollen brain and broken ribs in various stages of healing.

Vickers faces life in prison. A sentencing hearing is expected this month.

According to a news release from the state attorney’s office, the prosecutor plans to seek a sentence of life in prison as a reoffender.

“That’s what happens when you’re found guilty of killing a child,” Campoli said.

Vickers was a felon convicted of property-related crimes. He was released from prison May 18, 2017.

“The loss of a child is always tragic to the family and to the community,” Assistant State Attorney Dawn Buff said, adding how senseless it was to lose “a beautiful being.”

Buff and Assistant State Attorney Lauren Benson handled the prosecution.

“It’s an honor to walk the family through the process and seek justice for Luca,” Buff added.

The prosecutors dismissed the aggravated manslaughter count after the jury verdict was announced.

“Guilty as charged,” said attorney Joe Campoli after the verdict, adding he believed the state had “a very strong case.” Campoli was Vickers’ trial attorney, appointed as a regional public defender.

 

Mom speaks out after murder verdict

In Melissa Wolfe’s words:

Hearing the verdict was a bittersweet moment. My son finally got justice.

The trial was painful and hard but my family and I are eternally grateful to the state attorney’s office, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, the Holmes Beach Police Department and everyone involved in this case for all the compassion and dedication to achieving justice for my son.

We are beyond thankful to the jury for coming to the verdict that they did.

It restores my faith in humanity.

My heart goes out to (David Vicker’s) mother as well, in a way she lost her son too. She is a kind woman. And I know it was hard for her, too.

Right now, my family is still just trying to heal from the devastating loss of my son.

Bradenton woman arrested for DUI

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Teresa O’Neill, 58

Holmes Beach police arrested a Bradenton woman for impaired driving in a 2015 Porsche without headlights or taillights after dark.

Teresa O’Neill, 58, was arrested at 8:23 p.m. April 11 in the 3200 block of East Bay Drive after HBPD stopped her for traffic violations.

During the stop, officers noticed a child in the vehicle and HBPD called child protective services to ensure the safety of a 14-month-old boy.

In a search of the vehicle, HBPD found a purse in the front seat containing 5.3 grams of marijuana and marijuana pipe. O’Neill told police she smoked marijuana earlier that day.

She provided breath samples measuring 0.041 and 0.038 blood-alcohol content. She also submitted a urine sample for testing. Driving under the influence laws prohibit a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 or higher.

O’Neill was booked at the Manatee County jail, where she was evaluated by a Manatee County Sheriff Office DUI specialist, who concluded it was unsafe for O’Neil to drive due to her impairment.

HBPD suggested DUI, possession of marijuana and paraphernalia charges against O’Neill. Formal charges are pending the decision of the 12th Judicial Circuit Office of the State Attorney.

O’Neill posted a $1,120 bond and was assigned an 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 14, arraignment at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

Holmes Beach license plate cameras incite readers

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Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer points April 25 to a screen in his vehicle depicting an alert from recently installed license plate reader equipment. Islander Photo: ChrisAnn Silver Esformes

“Big Brother in paradise. Who would have thunk it?”

So reads one of the comments posted by people on social media regarding recently installed equipment designed to photograph license plates as vehicles pass through Holmes Beach.

The system alerts the Holmes Beach Police Department to license plates of vehicles that could be stolen or driven by someone with a revoked or suspended license, according to HBPD Chief Bill Tokajer.

“Chances are, someone with a suspended license has also done other things,” Tokajer said. “We get a lot of people that we arrest for other crimes, such as narcotics, that have suspended licenses.”

There are two cameras installed on Manatee Avenue, two cameras on Gulf Drive and one on East Bay Drive.

The cameras capture the rear of the vehicle and the tag, but not the driver’s photo.

Tokajer said April 25 that the software system does not track and store the license plates of everyone who crosses the city boundaries. Rather, the service, provided by Vigilant Solutions of Livermore, California, sends “alerts” to the HBPD, which verifies the information through Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation databases before reacting.

“They don’t just see that it comes up as a hit and pull a car over,” he said. “They only pull the car over after they have checked that it is still a car of concern, still a person of concern.”

A camera installed on Manatee Avenue alerted the HBPD April 18, several hours after the system went live, of a tag on a stolen vehicle from Orlando heading west into Holmes Beach, then alerted again as the vehicle crossed into Bradenton Beach.

BBPD located the car and the HBPD assisted in the stop near the Gulf Drive Cafe on Gulf Drive. The car was an unreturned rental and no arrest was made, although the vehicle was reported stolen Feb. 25 by the rental company.

The rental company was contacted and the car was towed.

“We pulled the car over two months after it was reported stolen,” Tokajer said. “Using a car and not paying for it is a valid stolen car. So the system did its job.”

Another media outlet reported a similar instance occurred in November 2018, in Contra Costa County, California, when the driver of a rental car that was reported stolen in October was detained in November, after the sheriff’s department received an alert.

The driver filed a federal lawsuit in December 2018 against the sheriff’s department, alleging his civil rights had been violated, also claiming a warrantless search of his car had been conducted and excessive force had been used.

“The license plate reader did its job,” Tokajer said. “The failing in this was the state’s fault by not removing the car out of the database.”

The chief said the HBPD has been getting hits on the system about every five minutes and must discern whether to investigate.

“We are not going to be pulling a car over every five minutes. We’re doing other things,” Tokajer said.

He said an investigation would be prompted if, upon verification, the information provided by Vigilant matches the information in state and federal databases.

People also have commented that the cameras are another way for the city to incur revenue from traffic infractions, such as speeding or running a red light.

“This is not a camera that is put there to gain revenue,” Tokajer said. “This is an investigative tool to alert us to the criminal element that is coming on the island.”

Streetlife – 05-01-2019

Anna Maria

April 16, 300 block of Pine Avenue, possible marijuana found. An officer investigating a crash came upon a leafy green substance. The substance was seized and destroyed.

April 21, 100 block of Spring Avenue at the beach access, felon in possession of a firearm, possession less than 20 grams, possession of drug paraphernalia. A sheriff’s deputy observed a truck with a female passenger blocking the beach access. There was an odor of marijuana. A male returned, and the deputy searched the truck. Officers located a loaded firearm, less than 20 grams of marijuana, two crack pipes and two partially burnt marijuana cigarettes. The male was charged with firearm possession by a convicted felon and the female was charged with possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis and paraphernalia.

Anna Maria is policed by MCSO.

Bradenton Beach

April 10, 1800 Gulf Drive N., La Costa Condominiums, grand theft second-degree. An owner at La Costa said he parked his Toyota Rav4 in guest parking and went to the beach, leaving the car unlocked and the keys on the front floorboard. When he returned, the vehicle was gone. Witnesses and surveillance footage showed a man driving the vehicle. Later, the vehicle was located in east Manatee County, where it was damaged during a police pursuit. The driver was arrested.

April 14, 700 block of Gulf Drive North, property damage. A man called the BBPD to report a pickup truck knocked over a fire hydrant near the Wicked Cantina and Imperial House condominiums. Utility workers were dispatched.

Bradenton Beach is policed by the BBPD.

Cortez

No reports.

Cortez is policed by MCSO.

Holmes Beach

April 20, 3900 E. Bay Drive, Publix Super Market, theft. Officers responded to a report that two men took beer without paying. Officers took a description of the men and checked surveillance video. The beer was valued at $41.50.

April 22, 3200 block of East Bay Drive, camping citation. A man was found asleep in his car in the parking lot of the Anna Maria Island Center shopping plaza. When officers told him to leave, his car battery had died and the vehicle was out of gas. An officer took him to buy gas and jumped the car and then the man left the area.

Holmes Beach is policed by HBPD.

Street life is based on incident reports and narratives from the BBPD, HBPD and MCSO.

License plate readers activated in Holmes Beach

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The HBPD-LPR alert April 18 for a stolen car. Islander Photo: Courtesy HBPD/Chief Bill Tokajer

Smile! You’re on candid camera.

Camera equipment designed to photograph license plates as vehicles drive by in Holmes Beach is up and running.

Trained officers also have hit the road.

Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer said April 17 that the equipment, attached to utility poles, is “up and running.”

Officers and staff are undergoing training through April 30 and the chief is coordinating the process to share tag information with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The system allows HBPD to track and document license plates of vehicles entering and exiting the city for added security, according to Tokajer.

In January, the city commission authorized the equipment purchase from Vetted Security Solutions of St. Petersburg and another contract for software with Vigilant Solutions of Livermore, California.

The city paid Vetted $105,240. And, upon the first completed year of service, the city will pay Vigilant an annual fee of about $2,625.

This cost includes $525 for five cameras from Vetted, which the city owns.

There are two cameras installed on Manatee Avenue, as well as two on Gulf Drive and one on East Bay Drive.

… and LPR alerts HBPD on first stolen vehicle

It appears to be working.

A stolen vehicle was identified April 18, less than three hours after new license plate reader equipment went live in Holmes Beach.

A camera installed on Manatee Avenue alerted the HBPD at 7:05 p.m. of the tag on a stolen vehicle from Orlando heading west into Holmes Beach, then alerted again on the south camera on Gulf Drive as the driver headed into Bradenton Beach.

BBPD located the car and the HBPD assisted in the stop near the Gulf Drive Cafe on Gulf Drive, although no arrest was made.

HBPD Chief Bill Tokajer explained that the car was an unreturned rental and, although it was reported stolen Feb. 25, the company was contacted by phone and allowed the renter to extend the contract.

No arrest was made.

Tokajer said his patrol officer was on another call when the alert came into dispatch, but they put out the stolen car report at about 8 p.m., after it was verified.

By 9 a.m. April 20, the HBPD was alerted of another stolen vehicle entering the city.

“This just goes to show that, like I’ve said before, not everyone who comes to Holmes Beach is a welcome guest,” Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer said. “Someone who steals a car is not intending to come to the island to go out to dinner.”

Sex offender registers 
address on Perico Island

A 31-year-old male sex offender registered a temporary address in the 1200 block of Spoonbill Landings Circle on Perico Island.

Convicted of child pornography in September 2017 in Caroline, Maryland, the offender reported the address to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, according to an April 17 email from the agency.

The FDLE registry shows other sex offenders in the area as of April 19:

  • A 57-year-old male offender in the 4200 block of the 129th Street West in Cortez.
  • A 54-year-old male offender in the 100 block of Crescent Avenue in Anna Maria.
  • A 60-year-old male offender in the 100 block of Ninth Street North in Bradenton Beach.

Sex offenders must register permanent and temporary addresses as well as transient locations unless otherwise ordered by a court.