9-Month Investigation Uncovers Conspiracy to Smuggle Drugs into Jail, 3 Arrested, Including Siblings

TAVARES, Florida—The Lake County Sheriff’s Office has arrested three people and is looking for a fourth person, it says conspired to smuggle drugs into the Lake County Detention Center, better known as the Lake County Jail or LCJ.

LCSO announced Friday it arrested Victoria Morrison, 24, of Lady Lake, Robert Morrison, 28, of Leesburg, and Anthony Arnold, 37, of Fruitland Park and a warrant has been issued for the arrest Patrick White, 40, of Okahumpka, according to a press release. Victoria Morrison and Robert Morrison are brother and sister, LCSO Lt. Fred Jones told Inside Lake.

According to LCSO, Victoria Morrison attempted to “introduce” fentanyl, methamphetamine and suboxone into LCJ with the help of her boyfriend, Tevaughn Johnson, who was locked up in the Marion County Jail. While cooperating with her brother, who was incarcerated at LCJ and two other inmates, Arnold and White, Victoria Morrison attempted to smuggle the drugs in, but they were intercepted by detectives before they entered the jail, the press release states.

For the next nine months, detectives investigated and intercepted contraband before it made its way into the jail. The probable cause affidavits are sealed and no other information is being released at this time.

Victoria Morrison was serving felony probation when she was arrested Thursday for trafficking in methamphetamine more than 28 grams, conspiracy to traffick in methamphetamine more than 28 grams, possession of suboxone with intent to deliver within 1,000 feet of a school and conspiracy to introduce contraband into a detention facility. Due to the probation violation, she is being held on no bond. Her boyfriend, Tevaughn Johnson, 29, was moved from the Marion County Jail to federal custody on a firearms violation and no charges were filed yet in this case; LCSO has forwarded the information to the U.S. Marshals.

Arnold, who was arrested last year for strangling and raping a woman, is scheduled to go to trial next month, and Victoria Morrison’s brother, Robert, who has been held in the Lake County since June 2022 on a tampering with evidence charge and possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, are each facing additional charges of conspiracy to possess contraband in a detention facility and unlawful use of a two-way communication device and are being held on no bond. White, who was released from LCJ in December 2022, is wanted for the same charges.

Man Accused of Killing Family in 2019 DUI Christmas Eve Crash Leaves Trial for Lunch and Never Comes Back, Found Guilty in Absentia

TAVARES, Florida—A man on trial this week for killing three members of the same family on Christmas Eve 2019 is on the run after leaving his trial during a lunch break and never coming back—and was convicted the same day, according to Lake County Clerk of Court docket information.

Zachery Maurice Waldo, 36, is accused of killing Christopher Smith, 44, his wife, Jessica Smith,35, and their daughter Hailey Smith, 13, all of Eustis. Their son Hunter, just 11 years old, was the sole survivor in the vehicle his family was riding in. Christopher and Jessica died on the scene of the Christmas Eve 2019 crash and Hailey died on Christmas Day 2019.

Waldo was driving a 2019 Dodge Ram eastbound on Dixie Avenue, approaching Dozier Court when a 2018 Toyota Corolla being driven Christopher Smith attempted to make a left turn on Dozier Court. The front of the Ram struck the right side of the Corolla, killing the couple and injuring Hailey and Hunter, Leesburg Police Capt. Joe Iozzi said in 2019.

The event data recorder (EDR) for the Ram recorded the Ram’s speed at 84.5 mph one tenth of a second from the time of impact, but just 2 seconds before, the Ram was traveling at 96.3 mph, according to a report. The posted speed limit is 35 mph, and a witness told LPD the Ram did not slow down, and the brake lights did not illuminate. A witness also put Waldo behind the wheel just before the crash and DNA confirmed, Iozzi said.

Waldo and his passenger, Kevin Cunningham, 33 at the time, were taken to Ocala Regional Medical Center for their injuries. LPD obtained hospital records and Waldo was found to have an alcohol level twice the legal limit, along with amphetamines and benzos in his system, according to the report.

Upon searching the Ram, LPD found a loaded Ruger .40 caliber handgun stolen from Mount Dora, six sandwich bags containing 157.8 grams of marijuana and six cell phones, according to the report.

Lake County Courthouse PHOTO: Inside Lake

LPD obtained a warrant for Waldo’s arrest in August 2020 and he was nabbed by Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies and the U.S. Marshals. They were performing surveillance and spied Waldo get into a black Dodge SUV. Waldo drove out of a neighborhood on Chain O Lakes Road and rolled a stop sign at County Road 44, according to an arrest affidavit. An LCSO deputy attempted a traffic stop and Waldo sped off, running other vehicles off the road. Multiple USMS and LCSO units attempted to stop Waldo and he struck an LCSO patrol car and crashed through a fence on Tall Oak Court, the affidavit states.

Waldo fled on foot and hid in the bushes of a home on Grand Island Oaks Circle and asked for a ride from a man returning home from work. The man denied him the ride and Waldo took off again and jumped over a fence to Laurel Crest Court. He was found lying on the ground wearing nothing but underwear, the affidavit states.  

He was charged with a litany of offenses from the crash and his apprehension and was taken to the Lake County where he was released three days later on $148,000 bond.

He disappeared Tuesday, on the second day of his trial and he was tried and found guilty in absentia. If you have information on Waldo’s whereabouts, call Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS.   

Lady Lake Police Release More Details in Applebee’s Shooting, Victim Identified

LADY LAKE, Florida—Lady Lake Police Department continues to investigate a shooting that left a man dead early Tuesday morning.

In a press release late Wednesday afternoon, LLPD Deputy Chief Jason Brough said a man, identified as Dishaun Marquis Hudson, 38, of Leesburg was seated outside at a patio table with a group of people at Applebee’s, 1009 Bichara Boulevard, Lady Lake. Hudson walked into the parking lot where at least three  gunshots were fired and vehicle left.

Dishaun Hudson was shot and killed following an altercation at the Lady Lake Applebee’s early Tuesday morning. PHOTO: Lady Lake Police Department

After the shots were fired, several customers of the restaurant fled out the back door and Hudson walked around to a side door used by employees. A female who was with Hudson tried to get him to leave, Brough said, but Hudson went into the building. A verbal altercation took place inside the restaurant and when Hudson reached into his pants a male patron shot him. The male patron has a concealed carry permit, according to Brough.

Hudson died at the scene and the male patron is cooperating with investigators, Brough said; the male patron has not been publicly identified.

“The investigation is ongoing and charges will be determined after the investigation in complete,” Brough said in the press release.

Accused Bank Robber Nabbed by Leesburg Police Several Blocks from the Scene of the Crime

LEESBURG, Florida—A man is custody after Leesburg Police Department found him running several blocks from a busy bank that was robbed Monday morning, according to LPD Capt. Joe Iozzi.

Brandon J. Hooks, 38, of Lady Lake is accused of giving a teller a note indicating he was robbing Wells Fargo, 2271 Citrus Boulevard just after 9:30 a.m. Monday. Hooks, who was wearing all black, did not brandish a gun, Iozzi said.  

The teller complied and LPD responded to the scene after receiving multiple robbery alarms and confirming the robbery with a bank employee by phone. Hooks fled the scene and an undercover detective observed Hooks, wearing black shorts and a white muscle shirt, walking and then running west on Tally Box Road, just south of Tally Road, Iozzi said.

Officers responded to the scene and took Hooks into custody; he was found with a large amount of cash that was later identified as the same money stolen from the bank, according to Iozzi. An employee of the bank identified Hooks and said he removed the black shirt he was wearing during the robbery; the shirt was found on a wooded footpath off Tally Road.

Hooks was arrested for second degree bank robbery and his booking information was not available at press time.

Hook was arrested in 2017 for robbing a Wells Fargo in Lady Lake; according to Sumter County Clerk of Court online docket information, he pleaded no contest and was released in March 2022. The documents in that case were not available at press time, it is unclear what sentence he received and why the case was in Sumter County.

Fruitland Park First Friday Market Set to Begin this Week

FRUITLAND PARK, Florida—A new, daytime monthly market is set to begin this Friday in Fruitland Park.

Orange Blossom Market Co. has partnered with the City of Fruitland Park to create the Fruitland Park First Friday Market. The market is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the first Friday of each month at Fruitland Park City Hall, 506 West Berckman Street and will run through May, taking a break during the sweltering summer months and kicking back off in September, Orange Blossom Market Co. Founder and Organizer Sheena Willis told Inside Lake.

“The market will be a place where locals can come together with small businesses from within their community to purchase fresh foods and unique finds in an atmosphere where guests will look forward to attending again,” Willis said.

More than 30 vendors will be on site with produce, handmade wares, baked goods and food trucks. Some of the vendors include Bite Out Of Hunger, specializing in dips and salsas, Sugar Valley Farms with its full line of maple products and Lady T Lemonade with its specialty fruit-infused lemonades.

Vendor spots are closed for the inaugural market this Friday, but Willis is accepting applications for the April market, she said. If you are interested in becoming a vendor at future Fruitland Park First Friday Markets, visit, Fruitland Park First Friday April application.

Man, Angry Over a Ride, Accused of Slapping Deputy’s Hand and Disorderly Intoxication

LEESBURG, Florida—A man apparently angry that a pair of Uber delivery drivers would not take him anywhere, slapped a deputy’s hand, got tased and went to jail Saturday night, according to an arrest affidavit.

 A Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputy was flagged down in the 11000 block of Huggins Street in the Bassville Park area of Leesburg by two females around 10:30 pm. Saturday. The pair told the deputy they arrived at a home on Huggins to pick up a package and they were approached by Jemerh Tyrik Cosby, 26, who lived at the home. Cosby, who they said appeared to be very intoxicated, reportedly became angry when he found out the pair did not transport passengers and beat the vehicle’s windows and screamed there was going to be a serious problem if they did not give him a ride, the affidavit states.

LCSO responded to the home and observed Cosby sitting in the carport and was instantly “greeted with a barrage of obscenities from the arrestee.” Cosby shouted obscenities at the deputy for several minutes and “continuously got directly in my face,” the deputy noted in the affidavit. The deputy pushed Cosby back several times and Cosby finally slapped the deputy’s hand away and the deputy tased him. Cosby fell to the ground and was taken into custody for battery on a law enforcement officer and disorderly intoxication. He was transported to the Lake County Jail, where he  was released on $6,000 bond

Man, 21, Killed in ATV Crash

LEESBURG, Florida—The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating an ATV crash that killed a Leesburg man Saturday afternoon.

The 21-year-old man struck a pole while riding an ATV around 5:15 p.m. and was pronounced dead on the scene at Veech Road and Pruitt Street near Leesburg, FHP Lt. Channing Taylor said in a press release.

It is unknown if the man was riding the ATV on the roadway, or if he was wearing a helmet. There was no other information available at press time because FHP’s traffic homicide investigator was sent to additional fatal crashes that occurred soon after the ATV crash, Taylor said.

FHP is also investigating a fatal crash in Fruitland Park that killed a suspect fleeing Lady Lake Police Department.

Troopers Investigating Fatal ATV Crash Near Leesburg

LEESBURG, Florida—An ATV crash has killed at least one person Saturday afternoon, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Troopers are investigating the crash at Veech Road and Pruitt Street that occurred around 5:20 p.m., FHP Lt. Channing Taylor said in an email; no other information has been released. There is a roadblock in the area.

This is a developing story.

2 Killed in 6-Vehicle Crash on Turnpike Friday Morning

HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Florida—The crash that shut down the southbound lanes of Florida’s Turnpike most of the day Friday resulted in the deaths of two people, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

At 7:15 a.m. Friday, a 2020 Toyota Corolla being driven by a 23-year-old Tallahassee woman was traveling southbound on Florida’s Turnpike in the inside lane near mile marker 286 when she failed to stop for traffic ahead. She rear-ended a 2022 Chevrolet Equinox being driven by a 69-year-old Ocala man. The Chevrolet left the roadway and the right rear of the Chevrolet struck the left rear of a 2014 Jeep Cherokee being driven by a 67-year-old woman of Port Richey, FHP Lt. Tara Crescenzi said.

The Chevrolet then struck a guardrail, rotated and struck a Dodge Ram 2500 head-on being driven by a 31-year-old Inverness man; the Chevrolet continued southbound and became wedged underneath the trailer of a 2018 tractor-trailer being driven by a 35-year-old Dunnellon man. The driver of the Chevrolet and his passenger, a 68-year-old Ocala woman, were both pronounced deceased on the scene.

After the initial impact between the Toyota and the Chevrolet, the Toyota rotated and struck a 2020 tractor-trailer being driven by a 34-year-old Anthony man. The Toyota became engulfed in flames, Crescenzi said.  

The driver of the Toyota and the Jeep were transported to a local hospital with minor injuries; the driver and passenger of the Dodge and the drivers of the two tractor-trailers were not injured. Everyone involved in the crash stayed on scene and the crash remains under investigation, Crescenzi said.

Pedestrian Killed on CR 473 Near Leesburg Late Thursday Night

LEESBURG, Florida—A 41-year-old Groveland man was killed Thursday night while walking in the southbound lane of County Road 473 near Lake Drive, according to Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Tara Crescenzi.

Shortly after 10:30 p.m., a 2012 GMC Acadia being driven by a 38-year-old Leesburg man was traveling southbound on County Road 473 when it struck the Groveland man, killing him. The Leesburg man told troopers he did not see the man walking in his lane, Crescenzi said in a press release.

The Groveland man was pronounced deceased on the scene and the Leesburg man suffered minor injuries. The crash remains under investigation.

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