TAVARES, Fla.—Three more victims have come forward with accusations against a school safety officer arrested for child rape last month.
James Wolfe, 50, has been behind bars since his arrest Aug. 18 after the Department of Children and Families reported allegations of sexual abuse to Groveland Police Department.
“After a thorough investigation, Groveland Police detectives were able to confirm elements of the allegation and 50-year-old James Wolfe was arrested and charged with sexual battery, engaging in sexual battery with a child under 18 years of age and giving obscene material to a minor,” GPD spokesperson Sarah Panko said in an email last month.
Wolfe was employed as a school safety officer at Mount Dora High School at the time of his arrest and is a former Altamonte Springs police officer.
Following the investigation and Wolfe’s arrest, GPD began working with Altamonte Springs Police Department to identify more victims and three more victims came forward, Panko told Inside Lake.
Wolfe’s abuse of children may have spanned several years, and he is facing a total of 31 charges in Lake County, including 10 counts of sexual battery of a child, 10 counts of sexual battery, eight counts of lewd or lascivious molestation, and one count of giving obscene material to a minor. He continues to be held at the Lake County Jail on no bond.
LEESBURG, Fla.—A Mount Dora man is facing a slew of charges after ramming a stolen vehicle into a Lake County Sheriff’s Office cruiser, fleeing to Sumter County, striking multiple stop sticks and fleeing back into Lake County where he was finally apprehended Sunday afternoon.
Henry Lee Gamble-Coleman, 26, was spotted around 5 p.m. in Leesburg by LCSO deputies in a vehicle stolen from Eustis, according to an arrest affidavit. Deputies attempted to pull Gamble-Coleman over near the intersection of South 14th Street and South Street and Gamble-Coleman “rapidly” accelerated and struck the passenger side of a K9 cruiser. He fled westbound on State Road 44 under the watchful eye of Eagle One, LCSO’s helicopter and traveled into Sumter County into a neighborhood on Heritage Boulevard.
Deputies again tried to stop Gamble-Coleman and he fled again, striking stop sticks with both passenger-side tires. He continued to flee and struck stop sticks on the driver’s side and turned back onto State Road 44, where he fled toward Lake County, the affidavit states.
Gamble-Coleman continued to flee at a low speed and deputies, fearing he would wreck, shut down the intersection of State Road 44 and County Road 468 and Gamble-Coleman turned onto Weber Avenue, a dead-end street, according to the affidavit.
He pulled into a parking lot on Weber Avenue, exited the stolen vehicle and fled on foot. A K9 handler released K9 Murphy and Gamble-Coleman was apprehended and taken into custody. He refused to identify himself but was later identified using “law enforcement resources” according to the affidavit.
He was arrested for aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, grand theft auto, fleeing to elude, resisting without violence, driving while license suspended and failure to identify to law enforcement. He was transported to the Lake County Jail where he was booked for at least the 13th time since 2019. He is being held on $16,000 bond.
LEESBURG, Fla.—Leesburg Police Department has released the name of the pedestrian killed in a crash Sept. 8.
Stanley L. Rollins, 59, Mount Dora, was crossing U.S. Highway 441, near Mt. Vernon Road, just after 4:30 p.m. Sept. 8, 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.
Rollins was pronounced deceased on the scene; the crash remains under investigation.
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.
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.
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.
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 Lakefirst 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.
GROVELAND, Florida—A Lake County Schools school safety officer assigned to Mount Dora High School has been arrested for multiple sex offenses involving a child, according to Groveland Police Department.
James William Wolfe, 50, of Groveland, was arrested Friday after the Department of Children and Families (DCF) reported allegations of sexual abuse to GPD, said Sarah Panko, spokesperson for GPD.
“After a thorough investigation, Groveland Police detectives were able to confirm elements of the allegation and 50-year-old James Wolfe was arrested and charged with sexual battery, engaging in sexual battery with a child under 18 years of age and giving obscene material to a minor,” Panko said in an email.
The abuse may have spanned for several years and similar crimes may have occurred in Altamonte Springs and GPD is working with Altamonte Springs Police Department to identify more victims, according to Panko.
“Allegations of this kind are deeply disturbing, and officers acted swiftly to make an arrest,” Panko said.
Wolfe was hired by Lake County Schools (LCS) in August 2021 and worked as a custodian at Seminole Springs Elementary School and later at Pine Ridge Elementary. On Aug. 9, of this year, he began working as a school safety officer at Mount Dora High School, according to LCS.
Wolfe is facing 10 counts of engaging in sexual battery with a child over 12 and under 18, 10 counts of sexual battery and one count each of giving obscene material to a minor and lewd or lascivious touching of a minor.
GPD is asking anyone with information about Wolfe to call them at 352-429-4166 or Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS.
MOUNT DORA, Florida—A pedestrian believed to be walking in the road was killed early Sunday morning following a collision with a motorcycle, according to Mount Dora Police Chief Michael Gibson.
Around 1 a.m. Sunday, Brandon Crunk, 38, was riding a motorcycle on County Road 19A near Progress Boulevard when he collided with a pedestrian, identified as Jason Bowlin, 42. The impact killed Bowlin and Crunk was transported to a local hospital, where he remains in critical condition, Gibson told Inside Lake.
“At this stage of the investigation, it is believed the pedestrian was walking in the roadway,” Gibson said in an email.
MOUNT DORA, Florida—Mount Dora Police Department is investigating a crash that claimed the life of a 2-year-old boy and sent his mom to the hospital Thursday afternoon.
MDPD has not released names, but a gofundme and accompanying social media post identified mom and son as Kaley Paladino and her youngest son, Guy Wesley Paladino, of Tavares.
Guy Wesley Paladino, 2, who was called Wesley by family and friends, was transported to Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children following the tragic crash on State Road 46, where he later succumbed to his injuries and his mom, Kaley Paladino, was transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center with severe injuries.
Little information is being released about the crash, as it is still under investigation, MDPD Chief Michael Gibson told Inside Lake. Paladino was driving a Dodge minivan when she collided with a semi with a flatbed trailer, Gibson said. The driver of the semi was not injured.
The investigation is ongoing and at press time, neither driver had been ticketed or charged, according to Gibson.
“Because of the nature of the investigation, we (MDPD) will not release investigative information until (it is) complete and reviewed by the State Attorney’s Office,” Gibson said in an email to Inside Lake.
“Guy Wesley was known for his cool calm demeanor and ever-present smile, always up for a hug which he could hold for hours. Kaley is known for her generous loving spirit and family first attitude,” the gofundme states.
At press time, the fundraiser had raised nearly $31,000 of its $100,000 goal.