Tag Archives: Police

Bradenton woman gets probation for $80K coin heist

Two years probation was meted out Oct. 4 to a Bradenton woman who pawned rare coins and jewelry stolen from her former employer valued at more than $80,000.

Rene Lee of Bradenton pleaded no contest to five counts of dealing in stolen property and five counts of giving false information to a pawnbroker. She had faced 100 years in prison.

Twelfth Circuit Judge Frederick Mercurio found Lee guilty and entered the plea-bargained probation sentence, including a 10 p.m.-6 p.m. curfew.

“This lady stole a lot of money. That’s it? That’s ridiculous,” Bradenton Beach Detective Sgt. Lenard Diaz said Oct. 8, after hearing about the sentence.

Lee pawned vintage coins and jewelry stolen from her former employer’s condo at Runaway Bay, 1801 Gulf Drive N.

Diaz said he would be contacting the victim and the state attorney about the sentencing. Only some of the victim’s property was returned, he added.

Lee was assessed $618 in court costs and fines.

Intoxicated man gets 30 days in county jail

Richard Walsh of Bradenton was sentenced to 30 days in Manatee County jail for striking two police officers after causing a disturbance at a Holmes Beach restaurant.

Twelfth Circuit Judge Frederick Mercurio handed down the sentence Oct. 4 after Walsh pleaded no contest to batteries against law enforcement officers, resisting arrest with violence, assault, trespass and disorderly intoxication.

Walsh struck an officer in the eye and kicked another as he was placed in a police squad during a June 2018 disturbance at the Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe at the Manatee Public Beach, 4000 Gulf Drive.

Walsh’s attorney, Colleen Glenn of Bradenton, asked for community supervision without incarceration, saying Walsh was under the influence of alcohol, suffered from multiple sclerosis and met with rehabilitation program representatives who deemed him program-appropriate.

The judge ordered the jailtime and 18 months probation, including an evaluation, treatment program, anger management class and a restriction against non-prescribed drugs or alcohol.

Walsh received credit for time served.

Streetlife – 10-09-2019

Anna Maria

        Oct. 4, Bayfront Park, 316 N. Bay Blvd., trespass warning. A Manatee County sheriff’s deputy on patrol at 2:45 a.m. observed a person covered with a sheet, seated next to several bags of clothes. As the deputy approached, the woman lifted the sheet from her head. The deputy explained she was in the park after hours, issued her a trespass warning and asked her to leave. She complied.

Oct. 7, 200 block of Palmetto Avenue, burglary to unoccupied structure. A man called MCSO and reported two sheds on his property were ransacked while he was out of town for two weeks. Nothing was stolen.

Anna Maria is policed by MCSO.

Bradenton Beach

No reports.

Bradenton Beach is policed by the Bradenton Beach Police Department.


No reports.

        Cortez is policed by MCSO.

Holmes Beach

        Oct. 3, 4900 block of Gulf Drive, battery. Holmes Beach police were flagged down by witnesses to a fight between a man and his girlfriend in a carport. Witnesses told police the man headbutted the woman, placed her into a headlock and threw her on the ground. Another man, who tried to intervene, was punched in the face. The argument apparently started when the girlfriend objected to how the boyfriend spoke to her children. The man denied the allegations. Officers arrested the man for domestic battery. Due to children being present, police notified an abuse hotline.

Oct. 8, Beach Bistro, 6600 Gulf Drive, forgery. A check issued by the restaurant’s accountant for $46.40 was altered, changing the check amount to $4,850 as well as the payee’s name. The bank was notified and HBPD is investigating.

Oct. 8, Manatee Public Beach, 4000 Gulf Drive, warrant. A woman was arrested on a warrant for a probation violation out of Sarasota County.

Holmes Beach is policed by the HBPD.

        Streetlife is based on incident reports and narratives from the Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach police departments and the MCSO.

Streetlife – 10-09-2019

Anna Maria

        Sept. 25, 300 block of Iris Street, found property. A 2002 Chevy Suburban was in for repairs and the shop owner failed to return the SUV owner’s calls. Manatee County Sheriff’s Deputy Joann Parkinson tracked the vehicle to a parking lot on 14th Street in Bradenton. The SUV owner went to the lot and picked up the vehicle.

Oct. 1, 100 block of Oak Avenue, suspicious circumstance. MCSO deputies were dispatched to a report about a suspicious person. No such person was found.

Anna Maria is policed by MCSO.

Bradenton Beach

No reports.

Bradenton Beach is policed by the Bradenton Beach Police Department.


Sept. 23, 3800 block of 116th Street Court West, assault. A woman reported a past assault in her home and at a grocery store.

        Cortez is policed by MCSO.

Holmes Beach

        Sept. 27, 500 block of Manatee Avenue, Baker Act/license. Holmes Beach police stopped a 23-year-old Bradenton woman for failing to stop at the intersection on Gulf Drive before turning east. An officer determined her license was suspended and placed her under arrest. She told police her license was not suspended and began to cry. At the station, she told police she was not feeling well and that she needed medication. The officers released her from arrest, warned her for the traffic violation and issued a citation for the suspended license. She was transported to Blake Medical Center in Bradenton for treatment.

Sept. 28, Waterline Marina Resort & Beach Club, 5325 Marina Drive, larceny. Two fishing rods valued at $280 were taken from a man’s boat left overnight at the marina. Police were checking a video camera for evidence.

Sept. 29, Manatee Public Beach, 4000 Gulf Drive, battery. Three males were making inappropriate comments about a woman, who then told her family. One of the men then pushed and twisted the neck of one of the complainant’s family members. The three men say the family was recording the men on a cell phone. A witness who observed the argument reported no physical contact. Police submitted a request to the state attorney’s office because the victim asked to press charges against the alleged offender.

Holmes Beach is policed by the Holmes Beach Police Department.

        Streetlife is based on incident reports and narratives from the Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach police departments and the MCSO.

HBPD arrests man for meth possession

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Holmes Beach police arrested a man with past ties to Anna Maria Island for possessing meth following an accident in the Walgreens parking lot.

Nicholas Lee Armstrong, 39, of Bradenton, was arrested Sept. 23 on felony charges of possessing a controlled substance and as a habitual traffic offender at 3200 E. Bay Drive.

Armstrong had lived in Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach during the past five years, according to police and court records.

Officer Jason Higgins reported he approached Armstrong, who told him he’d moved a car and backed into another. The officer reported Armstrong was fidgety and sweating.

Armstrong said his girlfriend owned the vehicle he’d moved and that he was trying to get cellphone reception to call her and ask about insurance.

Meanwhile, Armstrong agreed to a search of the vehicle, in which police found 11.1 grams of meth and other unidentified pills in a container labeled, “This belongs to Shelby Edwards.”

Through database searches, Officer Jason Higgins determined the vehicle was not insured and Armstrong was a habitual traffic offender.

Armstrong said he was behind the wheel only to re-park a vehicle his girlfriend had left parked askew. He also told police the meth was not his.

He was transported to the Manatee County jail, where he was released on a $3,000 bond.

His arraignment is set for 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 18, in the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

DUI arrestee sentenced to jail, three years probation

A Bradenton man was sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years probation for driving under the influence in Holmes Beach.

Michael Burke-Phillips pleaded no contest to possessing more than 20 grams of marijuana and guilty to the DUI — a third violation within 10 years after a prior conviction.

Twelfth Circuit Court judges heard the DUI count Aug. 9 in Sarasota County and the marijuana count Sept. 23 in Manatee County and found him guilty.

In addition to jail and probation, Judge David Denkin suspended Burke-Phillips’ driver’s license for 10 years.

Holmes Beach police arrested Burke-Phillips in January for driving impaired and possessing 68 grams of candy containing THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, after stopping the man for swerving and running a red flashing light at Manatee Avenue and Gulf Drive.

Burke-Phillips also entered an agreement with the court, outlining requirements of his probation, including treatment, court appearances, counseling, alcohol/drug tests and fee payments.

On the drug possession count, Burke-Phillips was sentenced to yearlong, concurrent probation and his driver’s license was suspended for six months. His probation includes 25 hours of community service. He must report to a probation officer by Oct. 2.

For both counts, Burke-Phillips was assessed $2,901 in fines and court costs, according to court records.

Evidence prompts review of 10-year-old undetermined death

Kelly Osborn finally will get what she’s sought for 10 years — a new look at the 10-year-old investigation of her daughter’s death in a Bradenton Beach motel room.

Ed Brodsky, 12th Circuit State Attorney, said his office is taking the case “under review.”

“Her father brought us additional information he wanted us to consider,” Brodsky told The Islander in a phone interview Sept. 19, calling the information “new” evidence.

Bradenton Beach police found Sheena Morris dead Jan. 1, 2009, hanging in the shower in her room at the BridgeWalk motel, 100 Bridge St.

Authorities first concluded her death was by suicide, but later the District 12 Medical Examiner’s Office changed its finding to “undetermined.”

“It’s something that I hadn’t seen before,” Brodsky said of the new evidence, but he declined to specify what David Morris disclosed, citing ethical considerations.

The District 12 Medical Examiner’s Office first ruled the manner of death a suicide Jan. 14, 2009, and BBPD closed its death case, prompting Morris’ mother, Kelly Osborn, to publicly protest the decision and point to Morris’ fiance, Joe Genoese of Indian Rocks Beach, as a suspect in her daughter’s death.

Genoese denied his involvement and authorities have not said he was suspected of any wrongdoing.

The most recent prosecutor’s review has no timetable for completion, said Brodsky, who expects to reach out to BBPD, as well as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The prosecutor also emphasized the death investigation is under review, “not reopened.”

Brodsky explained the context, saying the evidence follows a December 2018 report by independent forensic experts on lividity and a January letter from the medical examiner “kind of disagreeing with these experts.”

Dr. Michael E. Berkland, a discredited forensic pathologist, and crime scene technicians Janice Johnson, King Brown and Dawn Watkins, all of Pensacola and working for the family without compensation, prepared the 2018 report.

Their report relies on a photograph from the crime scene showing a pattern of lividity — blood that settles after death — on Morris’ back and buttocks that appears to be from a wicker chair in the motel room.

The report concludes that Morris was moved to the shower after she died and the death scene was staged.

Their findings contradict reports in 2013 authored by the FDLE and 12th Circuit Assistant State Attorney Arthur Brown III that support the suicide determination.

While the state attorney’s office has now decided to look at the case again, BBPD has remained steadfast that the evidence — including a lack of evidence suggesting strangulation — supports the suicide finding.

“The case stands where it’s been. It is closed,” Bradenton Beach Police Detective Sgt. Lenard Diaz said Sept. 18.

FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger weighed in Sept. 11 on the lividity report from the independent forensic experts.

“Last month, we did receive information from the state attorney’s office. We understand how painful this loss is for her family, however, upon review, there is no additional information that would cause the case to be reopened at this time. Our case remains closed.”

“Nothing has changed,” Plessinger said Sept. 18.

Streetlife – 10-02-2019

Anna Maria

        Sept. 13, Bayfront Park, 316 N. Bay Blvd., trespass warning. A Manatee County sheriff’s deputy observed a car in a parking space and a man sitting at a picnic table afterhours. A deputy warned the man for trespassing and said he could not return for a year. The man left in his vehicle.

Sept. 17, Sandbar Restaurant, 100 Spring Ave., theft. A woman took a walk on the beach while waiting to be seated for dinner, leaving her bag at the restaurant. When she returned, the bag was gone. She valued the bag and its contents at $2,000.

Sept. 23, 400 block of Magnolia Avenue, property damage. A Waste Management truck lifted a recycling bin and, while emptying it, the contents went airborne, landing on a pickup truck and causing an estimated $2,000 in damage.

Anna Maria is policed by MCSO.

Bradenton Beach

        Sept. 21, Silver Surf Resort, 1301 Gulf Drive N., assault. A 37-year-old Orlando man was arrested while vacationing with his girlfriend and children. The woman told Bradenton Beach police she had asked the man to slow his drinking and the man threatened to burn her with a cigarette. The woman told an officer she feared the man would hurt her, as he had in the past.

Sept. 20, Circle K, 2513 Gulf Drive N., recovered stolen vehicle. A 32-year-old Bartow man was arrested after Bradenton Beach police found him parking a vehicle reported stolen from Polk County. The man told police he borrowed the car from a friend. Manatee County sheriff’s deputies and Holmes Beach police assisted with the arrest.

Bradenton Beach is policed by the Bradenton Beach Police Department.


No reports.

        Cortez is policed by MCSO.

Holmes Beach

        Sept. 20, Manatee Public Beach, 4000 Gulf Drive, alcohol/public urination. Holmes Beach police officers noticed an improperly parked vehicle and a man urinating at the front of the vehicle. The officers also observed a male passenger with an open beer. Police cited the men for ordinance violations and arranged for a tow because neither man had a valid driver’s license. The men were picked up by a friend.

Sept. 20, 3200 block of East Bay Drive, camping. A 44-year-old woman was found sleeping on a trolley bench with a blanket and bags of personal items. She was released after she was issued a notice to appear in court for the violation.

Sept. 21, Manatee Public Beach, 4000 Gulf Drive, assist. Holmes Beach police assisted the Palmetto Police Department by arresting a 50-year-old man who allegedly battered his wife two days earlier. Police learned the man was at the beach and arrested and transported him to the Palma Sola Causeway, where a Palmetto officer picked up the subject.

Sept. 26, 7400 Marina Drive, dog bite. A man tried to grab a small dog by the collar, and the dog bit the man’s hand.

Holmes Beach is policed by the Holmes Beach Police Department.

        Streetlife is based on incident reports and narratives from the Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach police departments and the MCSO.

Former island resident charged with murder

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Two hooded men enter the Green Galaxy Smoke Shop in Bradenton where the clerk was killed Sept. 17. Amado Zeppi, left, was arrested Sept. 18 on Longboat Key. Islander Photo: Courtesy MCSO
Law enforcement was still looking for a fourth man as of Sept. 23 in the Sept 17 murder of Mohammed Hamed at the smoke and vape shop in Bradenton. Islander Photo: Courtesy MCSO
A makeshift memorial for murder victim Mohammed Hamed greets customers Sept. 18 at the Green Galaxy Smoke Shop where he worked at 3212 First St. W., Bradenton. Islander Courtesy Photo

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office arrested a man with Anna Maria Island-Longboat Key ties for the Sept. 17 murder of a 23-year-old Bradenton smoke shop clerk.

Amado Zeppi, 20, of Bradenton, the alleged shooter, was arrested after his shift at 10:45 p.m. Sept. 18 in the parking lot where he works, the Shore restaurant, 800 Broadway St., Longboat Key, less than 24 hours after the fatal shooting and robbery at the smoke shop.

Zeppi, formerly of Bradenton Beach, is charged in connection with the murder of Mohammed Hamed, who was operating the Green Galaxy Smoke and Vape Shop at 3212 First St. W., Bradenton, when Zeppi and the other suspects arrived at the store.

Zeppi is shown in store video shouldering an SKS — Soviet semi-automatic carbine — rifle fitted with a bayonet.

Two other men were arrested Sept. 20 for the robbery-turned-murder and investigators are looking for a fourth suspect.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested James L. Brewer, 19, of Bradenton, and Michael C. Hepner, 21, of Palmetto, Sept. 20 on the same charge as Zeppi.

MCSO was alerted to the incident by Hamed’s brother, who was monitoring store surveillance cameras from a remote location in Tampa, watched and called law enforcement.

MCSO alleges that Hepner drove Brewer, Zeppi and the fourth man to the shop. Brewer was first to enter, apparently in an attempt to distract the clerk. Brewer ran back and waited in the vehicle as Zeppi — armed with the rifle and bayonet — and the fourth man, with their faces covered, entered the shop.

Hamed’s brother watched as Hamed was forced to the back room to open a safe. The men filled a bag with items, according to the sheriff’s office reports.

While in the back room, Zeppi allegedly struck Hamed with the bayonet and the gun discharged, killing Hamed. The men then returned to the vehicle, which left the scene with Hepner behind the wheel.

The three suspects are being held at the Manatee County jail without bond.

Zeppi previously lived in the 2400 block of Avenue B in Bradenton Beach, according to police and court records.

He faces a second-degree murder charge and probation violations. His bond was revoked for alleged probation violations, according to MCSO and 12th Circuit Court records.

Public information officer Randy Warren said the robbery attempt and homicide involved a fourth man who wore a blue jacket with an “Aero 87” insignia, as shown in a video and photographs released by the department after the killing.

Holmes Beach and Longboat Key police assisted in the investigation after cameras at the smoke shop helped identify Zeppi. MCSO tracked his whereabouts on the HBPD and LBK license recognition cameras.

Zeppi, a repeat offender, pleaded no contest in April 2018 to charges relating to an October 2017 break-in at a Holmes Beach residence.

In that incident, HBPD arrested Zeppi as he loaded an SUV with TVs and kayaks on Palm Harbor Drive, carrying Mace and a knife. He swore and spit at police and was arrested on numerous charges, including armed burglary, grand theft, battery to a law enforcement officer, possessing burglary tools and criminal mischief.

The judge sentenced Zeppi to five years of drug offender probation for the October 2017 burglary and ordered a concurrent sentence for a separate case against him stemming from a July 2017 HBPD drug and paraphernalia arrest.

Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call the MCSO at 941-747-3011 or Manatee County Crime Stoppers at 866-634-8477 (TIPS).

Streetlife – 09-25-2019

Anna Maria

      Sept. 9, Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive, Baker Act. A Manatee County sheriff’s deputy found a juvenile sitting under an oak tree with a rope. The juvenile female had messages written on her hand and arm indicating she planned to harm herself. She agreed to be taken to a medical facility. The deputy transported her and contacted her mother.

Sept. 10, Anna Maria City Pier, 100 S. Bay Blvd., assist. MCSO deputies assisted a U.S. Coast Guard investigator after a tugboat operator lost control of a  barge. The barge struck the middle of the pier walkway while delivering materials to the T-end. Damage was estimated at about $20,000.

Sept. 12, 200 block of Oak Avenue, suspicious incident. An unknown person or persons cut and removed a window screen. A deputy determined no entry was made.

Anna Maria is policed by MCSO.

Bradenton Beach

      Sept. 14, Circle K, 103 Gulf Drive S., trespass warning. Two men and one woman were issued trespass warnings after Bradenton Beach police arrived to find the men fighting on the store’s front porch. One of the men was bleeding. Emergency personnel treated the man, but he refused to go to the hospital, saying it was a prior work-related injury and not that bad. The three people were told not to return to the property for a year.

Sept. 16, Circle K, 2513 Gulf Drive N., towed vehicle. The manager reported a vehicle left on the property, saying she believed it belonged to a person who had been trespassed a week earlier. The vehicle was towed.

Bradenton Beach is policed by the Bradenton Beach Police Department.


      Sept. 14, 3600 block of 115th Street West, fight. An argument ensued between neighbors after a man parked his motorcycle. The woman who lived next door to the man pulled his finger. The man took his hand away and declined to press charges.

      Cortez is policed by MCSO.

Holmes Beach

      Sept 11, 600 block of Key Royale Drive, theft. A couple reported they paid a contractor $5,000 in advance to build a retaining wall, lay pavers, level and fill areas in their yard with concrete and lay turf at a $6,295 estimated price. The contractor failed to complete the work as promised. Holmes Beach police gave the property owner an affidavit to complete and return to the HBPD.

Sept. 11, Eat Here, 5315 Gulf Drive, trespass warning. A Holmes Beach officer issued a trespass warning to a 49-year-old man found sleeping under a trailer. The man left the area.

Sept. 15, 500 block of Manatee Avenue, camping. A 57-year-old man was found sleeping on a bench with a bottle of whiskey hanging out of his pocket. He told the officer he’d taken the free bus to the island but missed the bus going back. The man was issued a notice to appear in court for violating the camping ordinance.

Holmes Beach is policed by the Holmes Beach Police Department.

        Streetlife is based on incident reports and narratives from the Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach police departments and the MCSO.