Around the County

Operation Poison Control Results in 21 Arrest Warrants, 50 Charges

TAVARES, Florida—A six-month long undercover drug investigation targeting fentanyl traffickers has wrapped up with the arrests of 15 people and six more are on the run, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

A joint operation between LCSO’s Special Investigations Bureau, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the City County Investigation Bureau— which includes police officers from Clermont, Eustis, Leesburg and Mount Dora—uncovered a variety of illegal narcotics being distributed throughout the county, including trafficking amounts of deadly fentanyl, methamphetamine, cocaine and MDMA.


Law enforcement developed information from the public to aid in the investigation and obtained warrants for 21 individuals on a total of 50 charges that range from trafficking in narcotics to minor possession.

“Operations like this and the many we have done in the past save lives. I’m proud of the dedication and commitment of our undercover agents to keep Lake County safe,” Said Sheriff Peyton Grinnell.

Six people involved in the case have eluded authorities and are still being sought: Scottie Crosby, George Medina, Jason Simpson, Kourtney Smith, Tyson Smith and Derrick Walker.


Few Details Released in Leesburg Crash that Killed Pedestrian Friday, Investigation Ongoing

LEESBURG, Fla.—Leesburg Police Department has released few details about the crash that killed a pedestrian on U.S. Highway 441 Friday afternoon.

The pedestrian, a 59-year-old male of Mount Dora, was crossing U.S. Highway 441, near Mt. Vernon Road, just after 4:30 p.m. Friday, when he was struck by a silver 2010 Nissan traveling north on U.S. Highway 441 and being driven by Alexander Aguilar, 19, of Leesburg, according to LPD Capt. Joe Iozzi. The investigation into the crash closed several lanes of traffic on U.S. Highway 441.

The pedestrian was pronounced deceased on the scene and his name still has not been released pending notification of next of kin, Iozzi told Inside Lake. The crash remains under investigation.

Leesburg Police Investigating Fatal Crash Involving Pedestrian Friday Afternoon

LEESBURG, Fla.—Leesburg Police Department is investigating a fatal crash involving a pedestrian that occurred late Friday afternoon.

The crash occurred at U.S. Highway 441 and Mt. Vernon Road and closed the inside lanes of U.S. Highway 441; the center and outside lanes are open, according to a social media post by LPD around 5 p.m. Friday. Police are urging motorists to use caution in the area.

This is a developing story.

Clermont Police Bust Tampa Man with “Blatantly Counterfeit” $100 Bills

CLERMONT, Fla.—A man wanted in Tennessee for passing counterfeit money and already on probation in Hillsborough County, was arrested Tuesday, along with a teenager, after Clermont Police Department found him with counterfeit $100 bills, according to an arrest affidavit.

Shortly before 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, CPD responded to Advance Discount Auto Parts, 2655 East Highway 50, on a report of people passing counterfeit bills. The caller described one of the suspects, the affidavit states.

About 20 minutes later, members of CPD’s Crime Suppression Unit spotted a white Nissan pull into the parking lot of Auto Zone, 200 West Highway 50, bypass several parking spots in front of the building and park on the side, out of view, the arresting officer noted in the affidavit.

A CPD sergeant watched the vehicle from an unmarked unit and witnessed a total of three individuals exit the car and enter the store and one suspect returned to the car. Each individual made the trip alone, and one of the individuals matched the description of the suspect in the original call, according to the affidavit.

CPD approached the lone individual in the car and identified her as a juvenile female; her name was not released. Officers entered Auto Zone and found Malik Shamari Jones, 20, of Tampa, trying to leave the store with some items and the second individual, identified as Norvis Jerimane Heflin, 17, also of Tampa, was standing at the register, according to the affidavit.

Jones initially resisted and when a sergeant drew his taser, Jones complied and went to the ground and Heflin complied when he was ordered to the ground. Jones was searched and found with a $100 counterfeit bill in his wallet and Auto Zone employees said Jones and the juvenile female used a total of six counterfeit $100 bills to purchase items. CPD took possession of those bills that were “blatantly counterfeit.”

Heflin was still standing in line when police entered the building, but he was found in possession of two counterfeit bills and arrested for that; he was also arrested for uttering forged instruments and petit theft for the incident at Advance Discount Auto Parts. He was turned over to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

While detaining the juvenile female who was found in the Nissan, police smelled marijuana and upon searching the car, they found more counterfeit bills and receipts from other businesses. Jones was arrested for four counts of uttering forged bills, resisting without violence, four counts of contributing to the delinquency of a child and petit theft. He is being held on no bond due to being on probation in Hillsborough County. He likely will not be extradited to Tennessee because the warrants states Tennessee will extradite only within a 250-mile radius.

The Villages Golf Cart Driver in Serious Condition Following Collision with Car

THE VILLAGES, Fla.—A 89-year-old man is in serious condition after driving his golf cart into the path of a car Tuesday morning, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The 89-year-old man of The Villages was driving a golf cart northbound on a golf cart path shortly before 8 a.m. when he turned left in front of a car near Woodridge Drive in Sumter County, according to FHP.

The golf cart driver struck the left side of the car, being driven by a 69-year-old Lady Lake man. The golf cart driver was seriously injured; the Lady Lake man and his 69-year-old female passenger were not injured, FHP said.

Motorcyclist Killed After Running Stop Sign in Unincorporated Leesburg

LEESBURG, Fla.—A Leesburg motorcyclist was killed Monday after he ran a stop sign in unincorporated Leesburg, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The 84-year-old man was riding a 2007 Harley-Davidson motorcycle eastbound on El Presidente Boulevard when he failed to stop at the stop sign at U.S. Highway 27 while attempting to make a left turn around 2:10 p.m., Trooper Migdalisis Garcia said in a press release.

The motorcycle entered the direct path of a 2015 Toyota Corolla traveling southbound on U.S. Highway 27 and being driven by a 31-year-old woman of Stone Mountain, Georgia. The front of the Corolla struck the left side of the motorcycle, fatally injuring the motorcycle rider. He was transported to Orlando Health South Lake Hospital- Blue Cedar, where he was pronounced deceased. The driver of the Corolla was not injured.

Anonymous Tip and K-9 Alert Result in Mount Dora Man’s Arrest

MOUNT DORA, Fla.—An anonymous tip to Mount Dora Police Department late Tuesday night proved true when officers pulled a car over and found exactly what the tipster said would be in it, according to an arrest affidavit.

The Lake County Communications Center received a call from an anonymous female at 11:55 p.m. Tuesday, who said a silver Dodge Charger with a motorized scooter attached to the back would be traveling to the area of Jackson Avenue and Simpson Street and picking up a man who was in possession of cocaine and methamphetamine. The caller said the Charger would be traveling to a hotel in Leesburg and provided the license plate, the affidavit states.

Officers canvassed the area and were unable to find the vehicle until approximately 45 minutes later when a K-9 handler observed it leaving Wawa, 17700 U.S. Highway 441. The car had an obscured license plate and was pulled over, according to the affidavit.

The driver was identified as Ernest Tate Jr., 55, “a known narcotics dealer,” the affidavit states, and the passenger was identified but Inside Lake is not naming her because she was not charged with a crime. The officer walked K-9 Mac around the vehicle, he alerted, and the car was searched. Police found 13 small bags each with approximately .5 gram of a rock-like substance that field-tested positive for cocaine, another bag that contained 4 grams of powder cocaine, 3.5 oxycodone hydrochloride pills and six bags that contained a total of 3.6 grams of methamphetamine, along with a scale, empty bags and $110 in small denominations, according to the affidavit.

Tate was arrested for possession of cocaine with intent to sell, possession of methamphetamine, possession of oxycodone and possession of drug equipment. He was transported to the Lake County Jail, where he was released on $10,000 bond.

Teen Found with Gun at Eustis vs. Leesburg Football Game Thursday Night

EUSTIS, Fla.—An Orlando teen was arrested at Thursday night’s Eustis High School football game after Eustis Police Department school resource officers recognized him from a prior incident and then found him with a gun, according to EPD Chief Craig Capri.

Officers recognized J’son Rashad Cyprian, 18, when he entered the EHS campus for its game against Leesburg High School Thursday and approached him to speak with him about the February incident. Cyprian allegedly lied about his name and date of birth and upon searching Cyprian, officers found a loaded Ruger .380 with a scratched-off serial number, according to an arrest affidavit.

“This is just another example of the great work the men and women of Eustis Police Department do, day in and day out. Our officers are proactive and engaged,” Capri told Inside Lake. “School safety is a priority for us.”

During questioning, Cyprian admitted jumping the fence at EHS in February with an unidentified juvenile and fighting an EHS student in a bathroom. In that incident, Cyprian and the unidentified juvenile jumped the fence near the football field and went into an upstairs men’s bathroom in building 5 and battered the victim when he entered the bathroom. A student, who was not publicly identified, entered the bathroom a few minutes later and also threw some punches, according to the affidavit. After the altercation, Cyprian and the unidentified juvenile ran toward the back of the school, hopped the fence and fled.

Most of the incident, including when Cyprian and the unidentified juvenile jumped the fence and entered the campus, was captured on video.

Police were unable to positively identify the two suspects just after the incident but did locate an Instagram account belonging to one of the suspects, finally identified as Cyprian Thursday night.

Cyprian was arrested on numerous charges, including battery, disruption of a school function, trespassing on school grounds and burglary with battery stemming from the February incident, in addition to possession of a firearm on school grounds, alteration of a firearm serial number and giving false information to a law enforcement officer.  He is being held in the Lake County Jail in $114,000 bond.

Inside Lake first reported on Cyprian in April after he was arrested for fleeing Mount Dora Police Department following vehicle burglaries that were captured on a resident’s camera. A gun with an altered serial number was found in the vehicle Cyprian was driving, along with drum magazine with 69 rounds. Cyprian was facing eight charges in that case; he pleaded no contest to fleeing and eluding and the other seven charges, including the gun and ammunition charges, were dropped.

Previous story 4 Teenagers Arrested Sunday After Mount Dora Resident Catches Their Misdeeds on Camera – Inside Lake

Woman, 21, Caught on Tavares High Campus and Lied About Being a Student, Deputies Say

TAVARES, Fla.—A 21-year-old woman was caught on the Tavares High School campus last week and lied to a school resource deputy (SRD) about her age and status, according to an arrest affidavit.

Acting on a tip Friday, a Lake County Sheriff’s Office SRD found Dakota Marie Adams, 21, of Tavares, within the fenced portion of THS near the auditorium and confronted her around 11 a.m. Adams allegedly lied to the deputy and said she was 19 and a senior at the school. She also said she did not have her driver license, but the SRD found it in her wallet, the deputy noted in the affidavit.

Adams was arrested for trespassing on school grounds and giving false information to a law enforcement officer. She was transported to the Lake County Jail, where she was released on $2,000 bond.

Astor Store Manager Arrested for Refund Scam

ASTOR, Fla.—The manager of a Dollar General store is facing a felony theft charge after being arrested by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office for a refund scam, according to an arrest affidavit.

On Friday, LCSO responded to Dollar General, 24150 State Road 40, Astor on a report of a theft. When the deputy arrived, a loss prevention director told the deputy she began investigating Nancy Marie McDonald, 51, of Astor, for an unusual amount of refunds totaling $925 that were processed in July and August.

The loss prevention director said McDonald admitted to taking items of the shelves, processing refunds and pocketing the cash. McDonald said she had been doing it since March and provided the loss prevention director with a written statement, according to the affidavit. Video surveillance also showed McDonald’s scam.

McDonald admitted her misdeeds to the deputy and said she gave the money to a former employee, but the former employee did not know where the money was coming from. McDonald was arrested for grand theft and transported to the Lake County Jail, where she was released on $2,000 bond.

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