Mount Dora

FHP Releases Details in Friday Morning Fatal Crash Near Mount Dora

ORANGE COUNTY, Florida—The Florida Highway Patrol has released details about the crash that killed a 28-year-old man before sunrise Friday morning.

The Sumterville man was traveling southbound on Orange Blossom Trail, also known as U.S. Highway 441, on a 2007 Harley Davidson Road King, when he was struck by 2007 Kia Sedona attempting to make a left turn onto Orange Blossom Trail off Willow Street, about 5 miles from the Lake County line around 6: 25 a.m. The intersection is in Orange County but has a Mount Dora address.

The left side of the Sedona struck the front of the motorcycle, killing its rider. The driver of the Sedona, a Mount Dora man, was transported to AdventHealth Apopka with minor injuries, according to FHP Lt. Tara Crescenzi.

The crash closed all the southbound lanes and one northbound lane of Orange Blossom Trail for several hours and remains under investigation.

Previous story on Friday’s fatality.

Motorcycle Fatality Closes Most of Orange Blossom Trail Near Mount Dora Friday Morning

ORANGE COUNTY, Florida— A fatal crash has closed the southbound lanes and the inside northbound lane of Orange Blossom Trail at Willow Street, about 5 miles from the Lake County line Friday morning, according to Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Tara Crescenzi.

The intersection is in Orange County but has a Mount Dora address.

The crash involves a 2007 Kia Sedona being driven by a 37-year-old Mount Dora man and a 2007 Harley Davidson being ridden by a 28-year-old Sumterville man. The crash occurred around 6:25 a.m., killing the motorcycle rider and the Mount Dora man was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Crescenzi said.

The crash is still in the preliminary stages of the investigation and FHP has not released how the crash occurred.  

This is a developing story.

Update.

Tavares Police and LCSO Join Forces for Operation Aware

Operation Aware will provide wristbands and a database for first responders and the special needs community.

TAVARES, Florida—Two law enforcement agencies have joined forces to provide a new tool to the community that will give first responders valuable information when responding to calls for service in the special needs community.

Nearly a year in the making, Tavares Police Department began its Operation Aware initiative in November 2021 and has since teamed up with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office to provide wristbands to members of the community that may require a different response from law enforcement.

“We are big on community policing,” TPD Public Information Officer Courtney Sullivan told Inside Lake last year. “There are always ways we can be better,” she said, “and there are always opportunities for the community to teach us how to better serve them.”

Operation Aware is a “total approach” to the issues facing the special needs community and will provide education, outreach and follow up,” Sullivan said.

Newly-appointed Tavares Police Chief Sarah Coursey worked with Sullivan to get this program up and running. “Operation Aware is near and dear to my heart; it gives us the opportunity to serve our community in a unique way when our response requires a different approach,” Coursey told Inside Lake.

The wristbands are available for community members who have intellectual and developmental disorders, including, but not limited to, autism, dementia. PTSD and Alzheimer’s, according to Sullivan. Loved ones and caregivers are encouraged to reach out to TPD or LCSO and register special needs individuals to get them a wristband and enter them into the database.  

The bright blue wristbands will immediately let law enforcement officers know they are interacting with an individual with special needs, and provide them with vital information including names, addresses, emergency contacts and medical conditions. Officers and dispatchers will have access to the information and individual addresses will be flagged so the officer is aware of any special circumstances before they arrive to the call. Officers will know if the individual is non-verbal, has a sensitivity to lights and sirens and any other pertinent information that would be helpful to officers. They will also help reunification by giving officers and deputies information immediately that can be shared with media outlets and on social media, Sullivan said.  

The wristbands will also be a tool for the public; they will have a number and a QR code that can be scanned and will inform the public to call 9-1-1. The wristband never needs to be charged.    To register, please visit https://tavares.org/1327/Operation-Aware or https://lcso.org/oa/

Man Arrested in Attempted Murder of Security Guard Wednesday

UMATILLA, Florida—The Lake County Sheriff’s Office has made one in arrest in the attempted murder of a security guard during an armed robbery earlier this week.

Travontae Shavar Harley, 33, of Mount Dora is accused of entering Hot Spot, 37415 State Road 19, Umatilla shortly before 6:30 p.m. Wednesday with an unidentified black male. The security guard of the internet gaming location, commonly known as “fish games” immediately engaged the pair and the security guard was shot. He was airlifted to a local hospital and his condition is unknown.

The pair of robbers fled the scene in a dark-colored pickup truck and were not apprehended.

According to an arrest affidavit, another internet gaming location was robbed recently, and a phone was found in the path of the robbers’ getaway vehicle. A data extraction was performed on the phone that revealed images of cards belonging to Harley, along with the owner account name similar to Harley’s social media accounts.

Travontae Harley PHOTO: Lake County Sheriff’s Office

LCSO Street Crimes Unit pulled over a 2020 Nissan Frontier Friday and Harley was taken into custody. A receipt to a gas station was found and surveillance video showed Harley and another black male entering the parking lot of a gas station in a black Frontier about three hours before the shooting. The pair is seen walking into the store wearing pants and shoes that matched the robbers, according to the affidavit.

Harley was taken into custody and arrested for attempted murder while engaged in a robbery, armed robbery, false name to law enforcement, possession of amphetamine and two counts of violation of probation for stalking and criminal mischief. He is being held in the Lake County Jail on no bond.

LCSO is still searching for the second subject, if you have information, call Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS.

LCSO Sergeant Paid Prostitute $80 for Trysts, Unsealed Court Documents Reveal

TAVARES, Florida—A Lake County Sheriff’s Office sergeant arrested last month for soliciting prostitution paid the person $80 per encounter, according to a probable cause affidavit unsealed by County Judge Sarah Jones earlier this month.

LCSO was tipped off to Sgt. Scott Stone’s activities by a woman who told an LCSO captain and a detective her friend of four years confided in her that a “Sgt. Stone” with LCSO was paying the friend to have sex with him in public places. The friend is not named in the affidavit and is referred to as he/she or “the source” throughout the affidavit. Inside Lake will be referring to this person as “the source” for the remainder of this article.

After conducting surveillance on the source, the captain and detective approached the source at a store and conducted an interview. The source said the pair met on a domestic dispute call and exchanged numbers in June 2021. Within two days Stone sent the source a photo of him standing in front of a mirror completely nude, according to the affidavit.

The source did not send a return photo and said about a day later Stone contacted the source to hang out. The source agreed and Stone picked the source up in his personal vehicle. Stone asked the source if they were interested in sex and the source agreed. The source asked where at Stone reportedly replied Home Depot and they stopped at Circle K at the corner of County Road 44 and County Road 473 and Stone made a withdrawal from the ATM.  

The couple went to Home Depot and proceeded to have unprotected oral sex and intercourse, according to the affidavit. Stone then paid the source $80.

In January Stone again contacted the source and the pair met at Walgreens, 11101 U.S. Highway 441 and attempted intercourse. Again, Stone paid $80. Later in January, Stone met the source at an abandoned home in Leesburg while on duty; the home was outside his assigned sector. The source said Stone was in full uniform and parked his marked patrol unit behind the home. The pair touched each other, and Stone did not remove his uniform, and told the source he was nervous because he was on duty.

Stone was interviewed in late April and admitted having sex with the source but denied paying for it. He was asked if he had phone conversations with any known criminals or prostitutes and he reportedly said, “to his knowledge nothing he wouldn’t be afraid Jesus would see.” Investigators found text messages between Stone and the source.

Stone: When is the last time you had sex?

Source: Last night.

Stone: That’s really hot!! For pay?

Source: I have not showered yet but was gonna bath (sic) but I can wait just for you.

Source: Yes.

Source: I have bills.

Stone: Ugh. That’s SO SO HOT!!

A warrant was issued for Stone’s arrest in July and Stone, a 17-year veteran of LCSO turned himself in to the Lake County Jail, LCSO Lt. John Herrell said in a press release last month. He was released from LCJ on $1,000 bond. His next court date is scheduled for Sept. 12.

Stone is currently under internal investigation and is suspended without pay, LCSO Lt. Fred Jones said.  

More Charges For Armed Robbery Duo

TAVARES, Florida—Two men facing numerous charges for robbing three stores in Lake County have now been charged with robbing one more.

 Dustin “Chico” Perdue, 27, of Tavares and Patrick “YG” Brown, 22, were arrested early Aug. 5 after an Astatula traffic stop led to evidence in a robbery of a Clermont gas station just 23 minutes before the stop.

They now stand accused of robbing Golden Ox Liquors 305 East Burleigh Boulevard, Tavares around 10 p.m. June 30. Perdue and Brown are accused of approaching the cash register, pointing guns at the victim and demanding money. The victim complied and the robbers grabbed an undisclosed amount of cash and tried to flee through the Golden Ox Bar that was filled with patrons. They realized their mistake and fled through the front door, according to a report.

Patrick Brown, left; Dustin Perdue PHOTO: Lake County Sheriff’s Office

Perdue and Brown have been charged in four robberies, including stores Clermont, Mount Dora, unincorporated Mount Dora and Tavares. They are being held in the Lake County Jail on no bond.

Perdue is also suspected of murdering Alejandro “Alex” Garcia at Caroline Court Apartments in Tavares on April 8.

Pair of Accused Robbers Facing More Charges, One Suspected of Tavares Murder, Police Say

MOUNT DORA, Florida—The duo accused of robbing a Clermont gas station last week are facing more charges in connection with robberies in the City of Mount Dora and unincorporated Mount Dora and Tavares Police say one of the men is a suspect in a murder.

Dustin “Chico” Perdue, 27, of Tavares and Patrick “YG” Brown, 22, were arrested early Aug. 5 after an Astatula traffic stop led to evidence in a robbery of a Clermont gas station just 23 minutes before the stop.   

In that case, Perdue and Brown stand accused of pointing guns at a store clerk at Circle K, 190 U.S. Highway 27, Clermont, and demanding money just before 11 p.m. Aug. 3. The clerk opened two registers and the suspects stole cash and change, some of it rolled, totaling $134 according to an arrest affidavit.

The red Volkswagen Beetle they were riding in was pulled over for an equipment violation by Astatula Police Department and a gun was spotted in plain view. Upon searching the car, police found a second gun, clothes and rolled change consistent with the robbery. The pair were arrested and held in the Lake County Jail on $101,000 bond. Inside Lake is not naming the driver of the car because she has not been charged with a crime. She is cooperating with law enforcement, according to affidavits in the case.

On Tuesday, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office added an armed robbery to charge to the pair, stemming from a robbery in unincorporated Mount Dora Aug. 2. LCSO responded to Triangle Food Mart, 3865 North Highway 19A on a report of an armed robbery.

The victim told deputies two black males wearing masks, hoodies and gloves entered the store, brandished handguns and made threats. They took $200 worth of Newport cigarettes, $40 and one of the victim’s cell phones. They fled the store and got into a red Volkswagen Beetle.  

Patrick Brown, left; Dustin Perdue PHOTO: Lake County Sheriff’s Office

Also on Tuesday, Mount Dora Police Department charged the pair in connection with a robbery in its city. According to that affidavit, on July 30, Perdue and Brown robbed Little Sammy’s, 446 North Highland Street. In that case, the pair is alleged to have entered the store armed with their faces covered and demanded money from the two clerks. They took cash from the registers and several cartons of Newport cigarettes and demanded the clerks open the safe. The clerks said they had no way to open the safe and one of the robbers jiggled the handle with his bare hand, according to the affidavit. MDPD collected DNA evidence from the handle and are awaiting results from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Both suspects saw one of the clerks attempt to push the panic button on his belt and they fled the store. As they ran out, one of them, later identified as Perdue, struck the victim across the face with his gun. The entire incident was captured on the store’s video surveillance system.  One suspect was wearing a pair of black Nikes with red soles and the shoes were later tied to Brown.

In the case, Perdue and Brown are each facing an additional armed robbery charge and Perdue is also facing a charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

Detectives with MDPD, LCSO and Tavares Police Department interviewed the driver of the Beetle earlier this week and she admitted to being the driver in five armed robberies with Perdue and Brown—three in Tavares, in addition to both robberies in Mount Dora. She said she never profited from the crimes and was only the driver. She also gave detectives details about the crimes and identified Brown’s shoes, according to the affidavit. She is being treated as a witness at this time, but may be charged later, detectives told her.

Image of some of Dustin Perdue’s tattoos. PHOTO: Lake County Sheriff’s Office

Perdue soon may have a much more serious charge to face. TPD Lt. Sarah Coursey told Inside Lake he is a suspect in double shooting that killed a man in April. Alejandro “Alex” Garcia Jr., 29, was killed around 8 p.m. April 8 at Caroline Court Apartments, 1000 East Caroline Street. Another man was shot multiple times and survived his wounds.  

Garcia’s murder was just two months after Perdue was released from state prison after serving nearly 10 years for burglary and theft charges.  

Brown also recently served time in state prison; he was released just over three months ago after serving just under two years for burglary and grand theft charges out of Polk County. He was released after Garcia’s murder and is not a suspect.

Perdue and Brown are both being held in LCJ on no bond. If you have any information on Garcia’s murder or any of the robberies, call Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS.  

Our coverage on Perdue and Brown’s arrests last week. https://insidelake.com/2022/08/05/pair-of-armed-robbers-suspected-in-multiple-crimes-arrested-police-say/

Justice for Justis, Man Convicted of Murdering Girlfriend’s Teenaged Daughter in 2018

DeLAND, Florida—The man accused of raping and killing a Mount Dora High School student in 2018 was convicted of her murder and sentenced to life in prison Monday, according to 7th Judicial Circuit State Attorney R.J. Larizza’s office.

Justis Marie Garrett, 16, was reported missing April 13, 2018, after she failed to return home from Mount Dora High School that day, according to a charging affidavit. Her mother’s boyfriend, Robert Nixon Kern Jr. told his girlfriend and police that he took Justis from her home in Sorrento and dropped the girl off at school, but she never made it to any classes. Five days later, on April 18, Garrett’s decomposed body was found partially clothed in a wooded area off Gasline Road in DeLand. Bleach was found on her remains and her clothes.

DeLand Police Department investigated and found that Kern never dropped Justis off at school and instead cell phone records showed Kern’s phone and Justis’ phone traveled directly from Justis’ home in Sorrento to the area of Gasline Road in DeLand, where her body was found. Records also revealed Kern’s phone went to the crime scene on April 16, 2018, and stayed there for more than an hour, according to the affidavit.

Robert Nixon Kern Jr. PHOTO: Volusia County Corrections

Numerous pieces of physical evidence, including clothing and vegetation also linked Kern to the teenager’s murder.

In February 2019, Kern was arrested on fraud charges in New York and was later confronted with the evidence against him in Justis’ murder and questioned about a fake Instagram account “redneck_retarded” that he used to communicate with Justis in a sexual and romantic manner, posing as an 18-year-old, the affidavit states. Kern admitted his phone and email address were used to create the account, but said he allowed a 15-year-old boy to use the phone. Internet history on Kern’s phone also showed he searched terms such as “kidnapped” and “what are the best drugs to make someone unconscious, in addition to sexually explicit websites.

Soon after, Kern invoked his right to an attorney and stopped the interview. He was booked into the Volusia County Jail May 24, 2019, where he was held on no bond.

The jury of eight women and four men took less than 30 minutes Monday to convict Kern of first-degree murder and tampering with evidence, and he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“This was a complicated circumstantial case. The defendant raped and murdered a 16-year-old child and left her body in a remote wooded area. The prosecutors prevailed and today we got Justice for Justis,” Larizza said in a statement.

Altercation in Mount Dora Parking Lot Lands “Pastor Pete” in Jail  

MOUNT DORA, Florida—A Tavares man known as “Pastor Pete” was arrested Thursday after a man he got into several arguments with accused him of throwing a box cutter through the man’s open SUV window, injuring his ear, according to an arrest affidavit.

Pedro “Pastor Pete” Custodio, 52, of Tavares, was identified by the victim as the man he argued with in the parking lot of Lowe’s, 18795 U.S. Highway 441, Mount Dora shortly before 10 p.m. Thursday. The victim told police Custodio argued with him in the parking lot and approached his vehicle. At one point someone from Custodio’s vehicle threw something at the victim’s grey SUV and it shattered the back window, according to the affidavit.

Custodio continued arguing with the victim, he told police, and Custodio threw a box cutter through the victim’s open driver’s side window, and it injured his left ear, the affidavit states. Custodio returned to his vehicle and the victim followed his vehicle to get license plate information, he told police. Another altercation ensued, and Custodio is alleged to have punched the victim’s SUV near the headlight; the victim told Mount Dora Police he feared for his life, called for help and continued to follow Custodio’s vehicle.

The first altercation was captured on Lowe’s video surveillance, but the second one was obscured by trees, according to the affidavit.

The victim lost Custodio in Eustis and MDPD caught up with the victim on Old Mount Dora Road. They stopped at a nearby dealership and Custodio was identified by Eustis Police Department, according to the affidavit. Custodio admitted throwing the box cutter through the window and he was arrested for throwing a deadly missile into an occupied vehicle and transported to the Lake County Jail, where he was released on $15,000 bond.

In June 2020, Custodio was arrested for battery on a disabled adult and driving while license suspended. In that incident he was accused of battering a resident of the “quasi group home” he ran in Tavares. He claimed self defense and when Tavares Police officers asked why he did not call 9-1-1, he reportedly said, “(Expletive) you, if I hit you, you’d shoot me because that’s all cops do.”

The charge was dropped later that year after the victim could not be located, according to an announcement of no information document filed in the case.

Leesburg Man Found Sleeping in Stolen Car in Mount Dora Facing Multiple Charges

MOUNT DORA, Florida—A Leesburg man found sleeping in a stolen vehicle is facing 10 charges after running from Mount Dora Police early Monday morning, and police say he needed three doses of Narcan after becoming unresponsive following the foot chase.

MDPD responded to 2785 West Old U.S. Highway 441, near Spin City Laundry just after 2:30 a.m. Monday to investigate a suspicious vehicle, according to an arrest affidavit.

They found a man, later identified as Andrew Ray Begeot, 29, of Leesburg sleeping in the driver seat with a syringe filled with brown liquid on the passenger seat. Begeot identified himself by a name later determined to be false and officers asked Begeot to get out of the vehicle. He exited the vehicle and began running, the affidavit states.

After a brief chase, Begeot was apprehended and became unresponsive; officers requested EMS and administered three doses of Narcan to Begeot while they waited. At some point Begeot told officers he took methamphetamine and heroin. Lake EMS responded to the scene, and they took over care of Begeot, and an officer followed when Lake EMS transported him to AdventHealth Waterman in Tavares. Officers on the scene found the license plate on the vehicle was stolen from Altamonte Springs and the vehicle was stolen from Orange County, according to the affidavit.

MDPD began to inventory the car and found the syringe on the passenger seat contained Fentanyl, in addition to finding a plastic pen with residue on it, a marijuana grinder and six cell phones.

MDPD dispatch later advised the name Begeot used had a Marion County warrant for grand theft. He was medically cleared and arrested for two counts of dealing in stolen property, grand theft of a motor vehicle, possession of a Fentanyl, possession of burglary tools, attaching license plate not assigned, driving with an expired license, resisting without violence and possession of drug equipment. Around 2:30 p.m. Begeot admitted his real name and he was also charged with false name to law enforcement. He is being held in the Lake County Jail on $9,000 bond.

This is Begeot’s fourth arrest in 2022; in February he was arrested by Eustis Police Department for possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. Those charges were dropped in April. Also in April, MDPD arrested him twice, once for trespassing and a second time for resisting without violence and possession of drug paraphernalia. He pleaded no contest in May to all three charges and was sentenced to time served.

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