Fatal Crash Shuts Down U.S. Highway 27 in Clermont

CLERMONT, Fla.—A fatal crash has shutdown several lanes of U.S. Highway 27 at Schofield Road, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The crash occurred at 5:10 p.m. Friday and involves a vehicle and a motorcycle; the motorcyclist was pronounced deceased on the scene, FHP said. All northbound lanes and one southbound lane of U.S. Highway 27 are shutdown.

This is a developing story. 

Lake-Sumter State College Foundation Honors Hall of Fame Recipients and Distinguished Alumni Tuesday Night, Including Inside Lake’s Own Marilyn Aciego

LEESBURG, Fla.—The Lake-Sumter State College Foundation honored its Distinguished Alumni and Hall of Fame recipients Tuesday night in a ceremony held at the Everett A. Kelly Convocation Center at the college’s Leesburg campus.

Nine individuals and a community organization were recognized for their achievements and contributions to the community in front of a large crowd that enjoyed a three-course dinner and video testimonials from the recipients.

Each year, the LSSC Foundation Board of Directors select the recipients from nominations made by the public to receive distinguished alumni awards. For the first time its 12-year history, two people were awarded the prestigious Professional Achievement Award, and one of the recipients was Inside Lake’s Publisher Marilyn Aciego.

Aciego discovered her passion for journalism at Lake-Sumter State College after taking a media class and later became editor of both The Angler and The Odyssey, LSSC’s student publications. She was hired by the Daily Commercial while she was still a student at LSSC and worked her way up to the lead cops and courts reporter. She covered numerous stories that gained national interest, including the death of beloved Sheriff Chris Daniels, a murder committed by identical twins and the disappearance of Trenton Duckett. Aciego’s coverage of these stories lead to appearances on Nancy Grace dozens of times and an episode of Evil Twins on Investigation Discovery.

Lake-Sumter State College Foundation 2023 Hall of Fame recipient Toni Upchurch and Distinguished Alumni recipient Marilyn Aciego.

She left the Daily Commercial in 2009 and began working for an international media organization in an entry-level position and was named Florida bureau chief just three years later. In 2010, she joined recently-retired attorney James Hope to write local stories for Hope’s Lake Legal News magazine, rising to editor-in-chief and then partnering with Hope to start the online edition that focused on breaking crime and public safety news.

In 2021, Aciego and Hope dissolved their partnership and Aciego rebranded Lake Legal News to Inside Lake and began covering general news along with crime news.

“Lake County was becoming a news desert,” Aciego said. “I knew it was time to start Inside Lake.

It was these achievements that earned Aciego the prestigious Professional Achievement Award and Tuesday night she shared that honor with Sandra Wilson, a 1989 graduate of LSSC.


Lake-Sumter State College Foundation Distinguished Alumni and Hall of Fame 2023

  • Marilyn Aciego—Distinguished Alumni, Professional Achievement Award
  • Sandra Wilson— Distinguished Alumni, Professional Achievement Award
  • Pat Atley— Distinguished Alumni, Scholar Award
  • Christine Boodhoo— Distinguished Alumni, Valor Award
  • Juliana Green— Distinguished Alumni, Community Engagement Award
  • Andrew LoFaro—Distinguished Alumni, Graduate of the Last Decade Award
  • Toni Upchurch— Hall of Fame, Faculty Award
  • Kevin Yurasek— Hall of Fame, Staff Award
  • Patrick Ryan— Hall of Fame, Athletics Award
  • The Live Well Foundation of South Lake— Hall of Fame, Community Partner Award

Turnpike Crash Claims 2 Lives Saturday

CLERMONT, Fla.—The Florida Highway Patrol in investigating a crash that killed two people Saturday afternoon on Florida’s Turnpike in Clermont.

The crash, involving a 2001 Chevrolet Silverado, occurred at 2:30 p.m. near mile marker 280 in the southbound lanes and killed the driver and one passenger; a second passenger was transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center with serious injuries, according to Trooper Migdalisis Garcia.

This is a developing story.

FWC Launches Online Reporting Tool to Help Combat Deadly Turtle Virus

LAKE COUNTY, Fla.—The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has launched a public reporting tool to help in its research on a virus that is killing Florida freshwater turtles.

FWC has been studying turtle fraservirus (TFV1) since 2018 and is now asking the public to report any sick or dead turtles to help them combat and understand this deadly virus. TFV1 has been found in Lake County, in addition to several other counties in Central Florida, but it could be present throughout the state, FWC warns; it has been identified in softshells, cooters, sliders and snapping turtles.

Signs a turtle could be infected:

  • Appears sluggish, unresponsive or reluctant to flee.
  • Stays in shallow water or beached on banks for prolonged periods of time.
  • Head and neck outstretched flat along the ground.
  • Sunken, swollen crusty and/or cloudy eyes.
  • Reddened skin on head, neck, limbs or bottom of shell.
  • Swims irregularly (sideways, in circles or is unable to submerge)
  • Sick sofshell turtles are slow and lethargic. PHOTO: FWC

In 2021, FWC enacted an executive order prohibiting unpermitted taking and transporting of softshell turtles and yellow-bellied sliders to reduce the spread of TFV1, Turtles should not be captured and transported to a new location even if they seem healthy.

To report a dead or sick turtle, click here.

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.


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.

Man, 18, Struck and Killed on Busy Road Near Clermont

FOUR CORNERS, Fla.—A Davenport man was killed while walking in the westbound lanes of U.S. 192 late Monday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Just after 10 p.m. Monday, a 2014 Toyota Camry being driven by a 58-year-old Clermont woman was traveling westbound on U.S. 192 approaching Town Center Boulevard in the outside lane when the Davenport man walked into the westbound lanes, FHP Lt. Tara Crescenzi said in a press release.

The Camry struck the teen, and he was pronounced deceased on the scene. The Clermont woman was transported to AdventHealth Four Corners ER with minor injuries. The crash remains under investigation.

Man Arrested for Murder Last Week by Eustis Police Stabbed by Inmate also Being Held for Murder

TAVARES, Florida—Austin Hill, the man arrested last week in the murder of Wseni “Haitian Black” Laguerre, was stabbed multiple times by another inmate at the Lake County Jail Sunday; and the man accused of stabbing him is well-known to Lake County law enforcement.

Around 8:30 p.m. Sunday, a Lake County Sheriff’s Office detective responded to the jail after detention staff reported an inmate had been stabbed. Hill, 26, was stabbed multiple times in the back, neck and face and video surveillance clearly showed his attacker was Dustin “Chico” Perdue, 27, according to an arrest affidavit.

Only Inside Lake extensively covered Perdue’s numerous arrests for armed robbery in 2022 in Clermont, unincorporated Mount Dora and Tavares and in February 2023, he was charged with murdering Alejandro “Alex” Garcia in Tavares April 8, 2022. Perdue’s nephew, Octavious Marquis Reed, 23, was also charged in the murder.

According to the affidavit, Hill told LCSO he was talking with another inmate when Perdue came up behind him and struck him multiple times in the back and neck and finally on his left temple. Perdue then went upstairs to his cell and Hill followed him to confront him. Hill walked back downstairs, and Perdue attacked him a second time. He told a detective the weapon was a sharp, small, metal object and the handle was a t-shirt. The weapon was found Monday when detectives returned to LCJ to interview other inmates who may have witnessed the attack.

The attack, which began at 7:11 p.m., was captured on video and clearly showed Perdue committing the crime. Detectives also listened to a call Perdue made to a female just minutes before the attack.

“During the conversation, the inmate advises the female that he was about to go to the box (Disciplinary Confinement). The female questions the inmate who states, ‘l can’t really um talk…you know the news?’ to which the female says, ‘OK. The new…oh, OK. Alright, baby.’

The inmate then states, ‘Yeah, he just came in my…(unintelligible.)’ Later in the conversation the inmate tells the female that he would be given 30 days and would then probably be going to AC confinement for ‘like eight months.’ The inmate then tells the female. “You know I’m not just fixing to fight this dude. So, I’m going to get 30 days in the box.’

Perdue was charged with attempted murder on Tuesday and remains in LCJ.

Previous stories

Arrest Made in Eustis January Murder – Inside Lake

Armed Robbery Suspect and Nephew Charged in 2022 Tavares Murder – Inside Lake

Search Warrant Nets Trafficking Amounts of MDMA, Cocaine; Squatter Arrested

CLERMONT, Florida—A squatter is in the Lake County Jail after Clermont Police Department executed a search warrant at a vacant home Thursday.

After receiving a report of suspicious activity at the vacant home located at 657 Winding Lake Drive, CPD responded to the home and found several individuals who could not provide proof they lived in the home, including D’angel Terry Pugh, 20, according to CPD.

Officers spotted narcotics and a gun in plain view and the CPD Crime Suppression Unit secured a search warrant for the home. During their search they found copious amounts of drugs, including 361 grams of MDMA, 62 grams of cocaine, 150 grams of marijuana and a small amount of prescription pills, in addition to the gun and a pill press, CPD said in a social media post.

Multiple bags of pills and loose pills were found spread out on a dining room table with a “Joker” imprint, along with the pill press and a hammer with a colorful residue that appeared to be used to crush pills, the affidavit states. A clear bag with 62 grams of cocaine was also found on the table, and a pink HP laptop displaying a “transaction page” on the screen was also found and when officers put the laptop in standby mode, they found the name “D’angel,” according to an arrest affidavit.

CPD found evidence Pugh was staying in a bedroom and in that bedroom, they found a small baggie of mushrooms, stuffed in a white shoe, and a cell phone. Pugh did not take ownership of the drugs, but did admit the laptop was his, “However, everything located on the table was in plain view and it would be impossible to say that one did not observe the narcotics at and around the table due to the volume,” the arresting detective noted in the affidavit.

Pugh was arrested for trafficking in MDMA, trafficking in cocaine and possession of paraphernalia. He is being held in LCJ on $301,000 bond.

Ham Radio Field Day at Lake County Institute of Public Safety Showcases Lake Amateur Radio Association’s Ham Communication

TAVARES, Florida—The Lake Amateur Radio Association (LARA) hosted its annual Ham Radio Field Day event June 24 and 25 at the Lake County Institute of Public Safety, drawing enthusiasts from far and wide. The event, captured in a captivating photo, featured the club’s president, Glenn Casselman, and his spouse, Laura, who is also a Ham radio enthusiast. The picturesque location provided the perfect backdrop for a day filled with showcasing mobile command vehicles from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Lake County Fire Rescue, and, of course, the Lake Amateur Radio Association.

Established in 1952 by a group of Lake County/City radio amateurs, LARA has steadily grown over the years and now boasts a membership of more than 130 dedicated individuals. Not only do they own their own property, but they have also constructed a state-of-the-art clubhouse onsite. LARA’s primary focus lies in the fun hobby of Ham radio and service to the community. Furthermore, the club’s three VHF repeaters and three UHF repeaters, some of which are linked to Echolink, DMR and the IRLP network, enable worldwide communications, amplifying the club’s impact and reach.

PHOTO: Mark O’Keefe/Special to Inside Lake

The Ham Radio Field Day event at the Lake County Institute of Public Safety serves as a testament to LARA’s commitment to promoting the invaluable role of amateur radio in emergency situations. The event not only highlighted the association’s advanced communication capabilities but also fostered a sense of camaraderie among radio enthusiasts and local public safety agencies. As LARA continues to expand its membership and community involvement, their dedication to serving as a vital link during times of crisis remains unwavering. For more information, visit

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