FBI investigating former Edison instructor

Charlotte Sun (Port Charlotte, FL) – Saturday, May 18, 2013

Handlon

Handlon

PUNTA GORDA — A former assistant instructor at Edison State College Charlotte Campus is under investigation by the FBI on charges of child pornography.

He faces multiple sexual battery charges in Charlotte County after he reportedly engaged in sexual activity with underage girls, including a relative. He’s accused of having sex with the underage relative, both electronically and physically, according to a Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office report.

Quinton Paul Handlon, 42, of Tallahassee, was charged Thursday in Charlotte County with sexual battery on a victim under age 12. On Thursday, a charge of lewd and lascivious battery on a victim between the ages of 12 and 16 was added for another victim, who was 13 when the act allegedly occurred. He also faces four counts of sexual battery by a custodian against a victim between the ages of 12 and 18.

According to the report, he was sexually involved with the relative over the course of five years from the time the girl was 11 years old. He also allegedly committed a sex act with her friend on an overnight trip in 2009.

However, the case stretches across several jurisdictions and involves different agencies, including the FBI, which conducted a undercover operation from October 2012 through April 15, secretly posing as the victim on her account. Emails during this time contain acknowledgment of receipt of child pornography, the report states.

The victim stated that most of the physical sexual acts occurred while she was at her grandparents’ Port Charlotte home, the report states.

But Handlon is alleged to have engaged in sexual conversations with the girl, sometimes contacting her while he was working at the Florida Department of Revenue in Tallahassee, according to the report. FBI agents determined the source of the email through the IP address, a report states.

Phone calls to the Department of Revenue in Tallahassee were not returned Friday.

Handlon allegedly instructed the victim to take pictures and make videos on a phone he had provided for her. If he was dissatisfied with what she sent him, he would threaten to take her phone away, a report states.

Handlon would also encourage the victim to ask her friends to send him photos and videos and engage in sexual acts with him and the victim, according to the report. On April 14, while unknowingly speaking to an undercover FBI agent, he asked for a sexually explicit photo of the victim’s 4-year-old sister.

In a conversation with an undercover federal agent on March 30, Handlon allegedly said he was bored at work and came up with a business plan to build a website especially for the victim with videos and photos of a sexual nature.

‘We can build the site around you,’ he wrote. ‘As we build, we can make more and more girls until we have a booming business.’

The CCSO became involved in the case April 15 when the victim gave her friend, ‘B,’ access to her account. The report states ‘B’ showed her mother some of Handlon’s comments and the mother immediately alerted the CCSO.

The mother said ‘B’ had also been sexually battered by Handlon when the girl accompanied the victim on an overnight trip to Universal Studios in 2009 under Handlon’s supervision.

At the time, Handlon allegedly pushed ‘B’ down on the bed and committed sexual acts with her. Debbie Bowe, spokeswoman for the CCSO, said the girl was likely 11 years old during the trip, depending on what time of year it was. Bowe said the exact time of year is unknown at this time.

According to the report, another victim was 13 when Handlon is alleged to have taken her for a ride in his car. While they were riding, the victim said Handlon was rubbing various parts of her body against her will. He continued to touch her inappropriately even though she continued to slap his hand away.

According to the report, Handlon’s sister, now 35, filed charges against him in 2005 after she woke up from an alcohol-induced slumber to find Handlon had removed her bathing suit and was on top of her performing a sex act. However, the woman never pursued the charges against him because she said that no one in her family would stand behind her, according to the report.

Before working at the Federal Department of Revenue, Handlon worked at Edison State College in Punta Gorda from the beginning of 2012 until he resigned on Feb. 28, according to Edison spokeswoman Teresa Morgenstern. He provided group and individual instructional support for specialized academics, according to his job description.

Handlon was arrested in Leon County on May 8 and transported to the Charlotte County Jail, where he is being held without bond. His criminal arraignment is set for July 17 at 9 a.m. at the Charlotte County Justice Center in Punta Gorda.

Three arrested in grow house bust

Charlotte Sun (Port Charlotte, FL) – Saturday, May 18, 2013

052013_weed_3PORT CHARLOTTE — A routine stakeout Sunday took an unexpected turn when deputies got a whiff of some potent purple haze marijuana thriving inside an elaborate grow house on the 21300 block of Hepner Avenue, according to a Charlotte County Sheriff’s report.

Three were arrested in a drug bust Thursday, which yielded 122 marijuana plants with a total weight of 178.5 pounds of pot, according to the report.

Clyde Wiley ‘Bucky’ Dennis, 43, of the 5000 block of Melbourne Street, Port Charlotte; Omar Eduardo Sanchez, 55, of the 21300 block of Hepner Avenue (where the bust occurred), Port Charlotte; and Ryan Adam Smith, 28, of Peekskill, N.Y., were charged with trafficking in more than 25 pounds of marijuana, cultivation of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

052013_weedThe CCSO deputies who originally discovered the grow house were looking for someone on an outstanding warrant when they smelled the marijuana coming from the home, according to the report. They notified the CCSO Narcotics Unit, which took over the investigation.

On Thursday, a SWAT team raided the residence. Two men, later identified as Sanchez and Smith, dressed in full-body chemical suits, ran out a side door and were attempting to dispose of their suits behind a shed in the back when they were taken into custody, the report shows.

The CCSO narcotics unit found a large-scale operation inside the home, with every room being used to grow marijuana, the report states. Each room had high-tech equipment like high-output grow lamps that were suspended from the ceiling, modified ventilation systems with additional air-conditioning units, and commercial hydroponic fertilizers. The electricity had been diverted from the meter and was running out of the ceiling, according to the report.

052013_weed_2The report details how deputies observed Dennis coming to and from the home on several occasions, including on previous dates. While the narcotics unit was searching the home Thursday, Dennis again drove up to the residence in his pickup, the report states. Based on his activity there and his alleged involvement in the operation — including statements he made to a deputy, his possession of keys to the home — he also was arrested.

All three men were taken to the Charlotte County Jail. Dennis and Smith were released Friday after posting $28,500 bond each. Sanchez still was being held at the jail, also on $28,500 bond.

Two men arrested in Placida robbery

Charlotte Sun (Port Charlotte, FL) – Friday, May 17, 2013

Recine

Recine

PLACIDA — Two Rotonda West men were arrested Wednesday in connection with the armed robbery of a local convenience store Tuesday evening, as well as a Rotonda residential burglary that occurred a few nights prior, according to the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.

Karl William Recine, 26, of the 100 block of Annapolis Lane, and Matthew Ryhan McNanna, 25, of the 100 block of Rotonda Circle, both face charges of burglary of an occupied dwelling and grand theft auto, after they allegedly stole a motorcycle from a Rotonda West residence Sunday night and used it in connection with a robbery Tuesday at Barracuda Bill’s Mobile convenience store in Placida.

McNanna also was charged with armed robbery with a firearm, grand theft, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and committing a second-degree felony while wearing a hood or mask after detectives believe he was the helmet-clad robber who held the store clerk at gunpoint around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday with a sawed-off shotgun and made off on a motorcycle with a backpack filled with an undisclosed amount of cash, according to a sheriff’s report.

‘(The victim) is still a little shook up about the whole thing,’ said Vince Vuolo, a cashier at Barracuda Bill’s, on the 8600 block of Placida Road. ‘He’s not sure if he wants to work the 3 (p.m.) to 11 (p.m.) shift anymore, and I don’t blame him.’

McNanna

McNanna

Another clerk told authorities he was on his way to work when he saw a motorcycle with dual headlights traveling at high speed. This was shortly after the robbery.

Detectives believed the motorcycle matched the description of a green 2001 Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle that reportedly was stolen early Sunday morning from a residence on the 200 block of Annapolis Lane in Rotonda West.

The CCSO street crimes division began watching Recine’s Annapolis Lane residence Wednesday because there was a warrant out for his arrest and he lived near where the burglary occurred, a report stated.

Around noon Wednesday, a woman driving a Saturn reportedly picked up both Recine and McNanna at Recine’s house. Detectives pulled the woman over for running a stop sign on Rotonda Circle, the report shows. Inside the vehicle, they reportedly found a blue bag containing two bricks and clothes matching the robbery suspect’s description, along with black spray paint and the same type of red bank-deposit pouch used at Barracuda Bill’s.

McNanna later told detectives that he stood as lookout when Recine stole the green motorcycle, and that he helped Recine push it to his house on Annapolis Lane and spray-paint it black, a report stated.

McNanna reportedly told detectives he and Recine had planned the robbery together because Recine needed $800 for bond money. He said they put bricks in the bag to sink the evidence, the report shows.

McNanna claimed Recine had committed the robbery, but detectives believed McNanna did it because he better matched the witness’ description and knew too many details of the crime, according to the report.

McNanna and Recine were arrested Wednesday night. In addition to the other charges, Recine was charged with being a principal in the first degree to armed robbery with a firearm, along with an unrelated charge (from the warrant) of failure to appear, on the original charges of possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Both were held without bond at the Charlotte County Jail.

Man ‘bugs out’ at carwash

Charlotte Sun (Port Charlotte, FL) – Thursday, May 16, 2013

Murray

Murray

CHARLOTTE HARBOR — A Palmetto man was arrested Tuesday at a local car wash after he allegedly started an altercation with employees when they couldn’t get the bugs off his pickup, according to a Charlotte County Sheriff’s report.

Thomas Marion Murray Jr., 45, was charged with two counts of battery after allegedly starting a disturbance at the Touch of Class Car Wash on the 4700 block of Tamiami Trail.

Murray told deputies he paid $35 for the wash and bug-removal treatment, but the vehicle was not free of bugs after it was washed. Murray reportedly said he requested that his pickup be cleaned two more times, and still was not satisfied.

A manager told Murray there was nothing more staff could do and asked him to leave the property, the report states. Murray refused, and then got into a heated argument with the manager, according to the report.

The argument got physical when Murray allegedly ‘bowed up’ to the manager, chest-bumping him and poking him with his finger.

At that time, other employees at the car wash reportedly became involved, stepping between the two to break up the fight. Murray pushed one of them and grabbed another by the throat, the report shows. Several employees finally pushed Murray into a Christmas palm in the waiting area, which ended the altercation.

Murray reported the incident to deputies around noon, saying he had been punched in the chest by a car wash employee, according to the report.

The deputy determined Murray was the primary aggressor and arrested him. The report noted that while taking inventory of Murray’s pickup, the deputy found a Colt .380 semiautomatic handgun and 11 rounds of ammunition.

Murray was taken to the Charlotte County Jail, where he was released Wednesday after posting $3,000 bond.

Defense says: Melissa Harding-Jones to stand trial

Charlotte Sun (Port Charlotte, FL) – Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Harding-Jones

Harding-Jones

PUNTA GORDA — The woman charged in connection with the 1999 death of 4-year-old Pilar Rodriguez finally will stand trial in September, after nearly two years of failed plea deals, her defense attorney, Robert Barrar, said Tuesday.

Attorneys on both sides appeared before 20th Judicial Circuit Judge Amy Hawthorne during a pretrial conference Tuesday at the Charlotte County Justice Center. Hawthorne officially will set the trial date Aug. 28.

Assistant State Attorney Daniel Feinberg and Barrar still are trying to hammer out the details before the trial, which is expected to take place sometime in September, and to last for more than two weeks.

Melissa Harding-Jones, the only person charged in the case, faces a count of aggravated manslaughter of a child. Harding-Jones, who was not present for Tuesday’s conference, officially was charged in August 2010. She lives in Lake Stevens, Wash., and is married with two children.

Pilar, whose body never has been found, was in the care of her baby sitter, Harding-Jones, formerly Melissa Cooper — who brought the child to Punta Gorda from Hollywood, Fla. — and her then-boyfriend, Keith Wilson.

According to a motion filed in August 2012, prosecutors will try to show that Wilson beat the child to death; however Harding-Jones is the only suspect currently charged in the case.

Two plea deals have failed so far — Harding-Jones backed out of one in June 2011, and then a judge rejected a proposed agreement in September of that year.

Barrar said he is prepared to go to trial, but anticipates selecting a jury will be a challenge.

‘This is going to be a tough trial selection because it is such a high-profile case,’ Barrar said. ‘There are not too many people over the age of 20 that haven’t heard of this case.’

Barrar said he wants to interview all 50 potential jurors individually, although Hawthorne recommended giving the potential jurors a questionnaire. A panel of six jurors will decide whether Harding-Jones is guilty.

Barrar said he his bringing in witnesses from all over the U.S., as far away as Wisconsin, to testify on Harding-Jones’ behalf.

Feinberg said jurors will have to review hours of defendant testimony recorded on different occasions over the course of a decade.

Report: Woman replaces drugs with water

Charlotte Sun (Port Charlotte, FL) – Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Bramble

Bramble

LEE COUNTY — A 24-year-old Port Charlotte pharmacy technician was arrested Wednesday in Lee County for allegedly stealing liquid narcotics and replacing them with sterile water while working at HealthPark Medical Center in Fort Myers.

Jessica Danielle Bramble, of the 22300 block of Oceanside Ave., faces charges of adulterating a drug for distribution, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, and grand theft of a controlled substance, after she reportedly removed narcotics from a drug -dispensing machine at the hospital.

Bramble’s current employment is listed as a pharmacy technician at Lemon Bay Drugs North in North Port, according to a Lee County Sheriff’s report.

The medication-dispensing system at HealthPark maintains an electronic database that stores the user’s identity, via fingerprint, the report states. Bramble allegedly used her finger ID in order to obtain the narcotics, then replaced them with water -filled capsules.

Bramble was accused of more than 40 instances of stealing drugs from 2011 to 2012, the report states. The majority of those transactions involved Dilaudid, a derivative of morphine, according to the report.

Three employees who were present when Bramble allegedly was caught stealing the narcotics from the dispensing machine corroborated some of the allegations against Bramble and identified her from a photo lineup, according to the report.

Bramble told investigators in a telephone interview Feb. 1 that she stole the drugs for a family member who had both a medical condition and a drug addiction, the report shows. She reportedly said she would replace the drug with sterile water from vials around the hospital. She said she used sterile syringes to remove the drug from the capsules, then placed the narcotic fluid in empty capsules she found in the pharmaceutical waste can, according to the report.

Employees at Lemon Bay Drugs North declined to comment on Bramble’s employment status Monday.

As of Monday, Bramble’s pharmacy technician license was cataloged as active on the Florida Department of Health website and she was listed as working for the North Port pharmacy.

Investigators say Bramble admitted to similar thefts at Gulf Coast Medical Center in Fort Myers.

In a statement, Lee Memorial Health System officials said Bramble’s activity was flagged immediately and they launched an investigation, but did not find any patients who were impacted by her alleged drug activity.

Following the investigation, the hospital conducted a comprehensive review of employee handling of controlled substances to make sure that procedures were followed.

Bramble was arrested Wednesday and taken to Lee County Jail. She was released Thursday after posting $4,500 bond.

Bramble could not be reached for comment.

Man’s death stuns neighbors

Charlotte Sun (Port Charlotte, FL) – Saturday, May 11, 2013
Brown

Brown

PUNTA GORDA — Carl Edward Patrick, or ‘Ed’ as his friends called him, had a tough exterior. Neighbors said the 54-year-old Punta Gorda man often rode his Harley-Davidson to his favorite local haunt and lived a ‘biker lifestyle.’

However Patrick’s hardened shell melted like butter in the presence of children, and anytime the neighborhood youths were playing outside, he would stop, set his kickstand and come over for a few minutes to chat with the kids.

‘He adored my 20-month-old daughter, Serenity,’ said Chris Boyd, who lives just down the street on Oliphant Lane. ‘Anytime we were outside he would stop and talk to us. He was a really nice guy.’

Friends and neighbors were shocked to hear of Patrick’s death Friday.

Patrick was riding his motorcycle around 10 p.m. Thursday when he was hit and killed while traveling south on U.S. 41 near Con-stitution Boulevard, south of Fort Myers, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report.

The woman who hit him dragged his body and his motorcycle for about three miles before she was stopped by a Lee County Sheriff’s deputy, the report shows.

‘I just hope that he died quickly,’ neighbor Scott Ditota said with tears in his eyes. ‘He was a good person, and I hate to think that he suffered.’

_cfimg7730133258668959858

Patrick

Donna Lynne Brown, 54, of Estero, reportedly was charged with DUI manslaughter, DUI with property damage, hit and run with death, DUI and careless driving, in connection with the accident that resulted in Patrick’s death. She was taken to the Lee County Jail, where she is being held on $70,000 bond.

Brown is scheduled to appear in court June 10.

According to the FHP report, Brown did not see Patrick while making a U-turn at Constitution, and struck the rear of Patrick’s Harley-Davidson. After impact, Brown reportedly failed to stop at the crash scene and continued on U.S. 41 for approximately three miles, dragging Brown and his motorcycle under her Lexus SUV.

An LCSO deputy witnessed sparks coming from the undercarriage of her vehicle and pulled Brown over just north of Corkscrew Road, according to the report.

Patrick’s friend Brandon Logsdon, 21, was shocked when he heard the news.

‘Ed wasn’t just another biker,’ Logsdon said. ‘Ed was my neighbor and Ed was my friend.’

Logsdon and his stepfather, Patrick’s neighbor Ditota, remembered Patrick with fondness. They teared up, then chuckled at the thought of Patrick’s prized goats terrorizing the neighborhood.

‘He loved those goats, but they would always jump the fence and get out,’ Ditota said. ‘Once I came home and one of them was sitting on my couch in the garage.’

Logsdon said while Patrick’s farm animals annoyed the adult neighbors by eating up their landscaping, they delighted the neighborhood children.

‘Ed loved those animals so much because they were the link to the kids,’ Logsdon said. ‘He loved when the kids would come up the street to his house to see his animals.’

Logsdon said Patrick was a great friend.

‘He was laid back and friendly,’ Logsdon said. ‘People talk about karma, but it doesn’t apply in this case. Ed was one of the good guys.’

Authorities seize 85-90 farm animals

Charlotte Sun (Port Charlotte, FL) – Friday, May 10, 2013

Cauz

Cauz

SOUTH OF PUNTA GORDA — New details have emerged in the animal -cruelty investigation that turned into a marijuana grow house bust April 23, according to Charlotte County Animal Control.

Pablo Cauz, 49, of the 32600 block of Oil Well Road, Punta Gorda, could face animal neglect and cruelty charges after authorities seized nearly 90 animals from his farm, including many that were malnourished and abused, according to Animal Control.

Eight of those animals later died.

‘Some were euthanized,’ said Animal Control Officer Reannon Juergensen. ‘It would have been cruel to keep them alive. The others were so far gone, they just didn’t make it.’

Animal Control officers found a grisly scene when they arrived at Cauz’s home April 23, after receiving complaints from neighbors that his livestock was being neglected.

PHOTO PROVIDED BY CHARLOTTE COUNTY ANIMAL CONTROL Nearly 90 animals were reportedly malnourished and mistreated at a farm off of Oil Well Road in Punta Gorda.

PHOTO PROVIDED BY CHARLOTTE COUNTY ANIMAL CONTROL
Nearly 90 animals were reportedly malnourished and mistreated at a farm off of Oil Well Road in Punta Gorda.

Juergensen described 85 to 90 animals loose on the 2.5-acre property. There were pigs, goats, chickens and one horse, in addition to two baby alligators that were kept as pets in an outdoor tub.

‘It was a sad sight,’ Juergensen said. ‘There were a multitude of issues; animals were underweight and malnourished, and the living conditions were deplorable.’

Juergensen said Cauz was feeding the animals buckets of what she described as ‘rotting slop.’ She said maggots had gotten into the sealed food containers and were seeping out of cracks.

‘He was feeding the animals , but the food was unsubstantial and unsafe to eat,’ she said.

The animals also were living in unsafe conditions and existing among garbage, nails and construction materials that posed a threat to their health, Juergensen said.

In addition to the animals , Animal Control officers found a marijuana grow house in a detached garage containing more than 80 plants and nearly 10 pounds of marijuana, a previous Charlotte County Sheriff’s report stated. Deputies arrested Cauz, who reportedly told a CCSO detective that he set up the marijuana grow house for personal use.

PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE CHARLOTTE COUNTY ANIMAL CONTROL The Charlotte County Animal Control found 85 to 90 animals living in deplorable conditions at a farm on Oil Well Road in Punta Gorda April 23.

PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE CHARLOTTE COUNTY ANIMAL CONTROL
The Charlotte County Animal Control found 85 to 90 animals living in deplorable conditions at a farm on Oil Well Road in Punta Gorda April 23.

Cauz was charged with manufacturing marijuana, possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana and illegal possession of an American alligator. He currently is being held at the Charlotte County Jail on $42,500 bond.

The alligators were turned over to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, but the other animals were taken in by Animal Control.

Animal Control completed its investigation Thursday and sent its findings to the 20th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office. Samantha Syoen, spokeswoman for the SAO, said the office is reviewing the investigation and will decide whether Cauz will face additional charges in the next couple of weeks.

As for the surviving animals , all but three dogs have been adopted to new homes.

‘You can tell (the dogs) are damaged,’ said Lori Johnson, who works at the Animal Welfare League in Charlotte Harbor. ‘You go to pet them, and they immediately cower.’

Johnson said the dogs will not be adoptable until they complete an animal -rehabilitation program.

Business owner recovering after tractor mishap

Originally published in Charlotte Sun (Port Charlotte, FL) – Saturday, May 4, 2013

Handi-House-Screen-Room

Judy Massing, 63, owner of Massing Sheds & Garages, is recovering after she was run over by a tractor and trapped facedown in the dirt outside her business.

PORT CHARLOTTE — The owners of Covertrends, a flooring business in Port Charlotte, like to keep the store quiet. Eerily quiet, with no white noise from a radio and no one talking on a phone in the background.

Unless there is a customer in the flooring shop, one could hear a pin drop.

But Thursday afternoon, co-owner Chad Wilson’s soundless office was filled with the screams of a neighbor in trouble.

Judy Massing, 63, owner of Massing Sheds & Garages, was facedown in the dirt outside her business, screaming for someone to help her after she got trapped under a tractor with a front-end loader.

Wilson heard the woman’s screams and came out to see what happened.

‘She was pinned from her ribs and her neck under a 15,000-pound tractor ,’ Wilson said.

Wilson immediately called 911, then ran to get a jack from one of his work trucks. He and Massing’s husband, Larry Massing, jacked the trailer up off her.

‘We didn’t want to touch her because it was obvious that she was injured, but we relieved the pressure and she stopped screaming, so I think it helped,’ Wilson said.

Wilson said Judy was using the tractor to move one of the sheds located on the property. He said when she went to unhook one of the chains, the back wheel knocked her to the ground, ran over her and then hit the shed, pinning Judy under the front wheel of the vehicle. The tractor eventually stalled out, but Judy still was trapped underneath.

Charlotte County Fire/EMS responded to the scene around 3 p.m. Wilson said a rescue team jacked the trailer up farther, then loaded Judy on a stretcher.

A helicopter landed on Toledo Blade Boulevard between U.S. 41 and State Road 776, and Judy was airlifted to Blake Medical Center in Bradenton with serious injuries, according to Dee Hawkins-Garland, Fire/EMS spokeswoman.

Greg Summerall, who works for the Massings, said Judy suffered a broken collar bone, broken ribs, a broken pelvis and a partially collapsed lung.

‘She is in (the) ICU, but she’s doing fine,’ Summerall said. ‘She will probably want to come back to work Monday — that woman is tough.’

Trina Casa, owner of the building, 929 Tamiami Trail, where Covertrends is located, said Judy was lucky Wilson likes to sit in silence.

‘She is just so lucky he was here and likes the quiet,’ she said. ‘There was no one else to hear her.’

‘The neighborly thing to do’: Bounty hunter holds burglary suspect at gunpoint

Originally published in the Charlotte Sun Wednesday, May 8, 2013

bountyhunter050913

SUN PHOTO BY MERAB-MICHAL FAVORITE
Morris Emory stands in front of the home on Harbor Boulevard in Port Charlotte where he prevented a burglary from occurring by holding the suspect at gunpoint until deputies could arrive early Friday morning.

PORT CHARLOTTE — Some residents get welcomed to a new neighborhood with cookies or cake. Sometimes, it’s a simpler gesture, like a wave hello or a knock on the door and a friendly greeting.

The first time Juan and Maria Martinez met their neighbor across the street, it was at 3:30 a .m. Friday, and he was holding a man at gunpoint in the middle of their driveway.

‘Usually when you welcome someone new to the neighborhood, you usually bring a pie or something,’ Maria said. ‘This guy brought a gun and stopped our car from being burglarized! It’s not the norm, but I’ll take it.’

The couple had lived at their home on Harbor Boulevard for only about two months before becoming a target of an alleged burglary. Alvin Anthony Jeanty, 37, of the 2100 block of Bragg Street, Port Charlotte, reportedly was burglarizing their van when he was caught by their neighbor, Morris Emory.

Emory, 45, lives across the street and is a self-professed night owl. As a professional bounty hunter, Emory tends to keep strange hours, and said he often paces around his home in the middle of the night. Sometimes he goes outside to smoke a cigarette, even though he’s trying to quit.

Emory was smoking in his garage around 3:15 a .m. Friday morning, he said, when he saw Jeanty trying vehicle doors to see if they were unlocked. When Jeanty got to the Martinez home, he was able to gain access to their van, Emory told authorities.

Emory put out his cigarette and pulled his Glock .40 handgun from its holster. He told his roommate to call 911 and headed across the street.

When Emory got to his neighbor’s driveway, he reportedly saw Jeanty’s leg sticking out of the van and a light moving around inside.

Emory ordered him to ‘get out of the car and get on the ground,’ pointing the gun at Jeanty and holding him there until deputies arrived, he said.

In his mind, it was the neighborly thing to do .

‘I just thought, I’d want them to do the same for me,’ Emory said. ‘Nine times out of 10, by the time CCSO gets to the scene, the thief is gone, then you have to go through a manhunt and all that.’

When Juan walked outside and saw Emory pointing the Glock at Jeanty, it was the first time the neighbors had ever met.

‘It was wild,’ Juan said. ‘It really took me by surprise, but it also gave me a new outlook on things . I see it as an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive.’

Deputies soon arrived and told Emory to put the gun back in his holster.

As a bail bondsman, Emory said he has a ‘working relationship’ with the Sheriff’s Office. He doesn’t recommend that citizens without professional training hold suspects at gunpoint.

Jeanty was arrested on charges of burglary, and loitering and prowling, and was taken to the Charlotte County Jail. He later bonded out. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The Martinezes, both ordained ministers, said they want to talk to Jeanty and help him ‘get on the right track.’

‘We are all part of the same community,’ Juan said. ‘We are all basically neighbors — we should all be helping each other.’

As for Emory, Juan has a more traditional way of repaying his selfless deed.

‘I can’t wait to cook up a nice dinner and take him over a plate and say thank you,’ Juan said. ‘It looks like my wife is seasoning up something real good right now.’