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30 Suspects Arrested During Investigation Focused On Protecting Children From Sexual Offenders And predators – Operation Child Protector III

Polk County Sheriff’s Office:
Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested 30 suspects during a two week long investigation that focused on sexual predators who target children and convicted sexual predators and offenders who are required to comply with Florida’s registration laws, including current restrictions in place based on their status. During the initiative, undercover detectives posed as children on social media platforms, mobile apps, and online dating sites to investigate those who prey upon and travel to meet children for unlawful sexual activity. Detectives also conducted a review of sexual offender/predator compliance with Florida’s registration laws and specifically focused on convicted sex offenders and sex predators with prior child victims (FSS 775.21 & 943.0435) within Polk County.* PCSO was assisted in the effort by the Auburndale Police Department, Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Department of Corrections, and the Office of the State Attorney 10th Judicial Circuit, State Attorney Brian Haas. In all, detectives arrested 30 suspects, who face a total of 75 felony and 2 misdemeanor charges which include: traveling to meet a minor for sex, attempted lewd battery, use of a computer to seduce a child, unlawful use of a two-way communication device, transmission of material harmful to a child, sexual battery, burglary, and failure to register as a sex offender. “We will continue to conduct proactive operations like this to ensure our children are safe. Thank you to our detectives and partnering agencies for your hard work to ensure our children are safe from predators who sexually abuse, groom, and corrupt our children. I say it all the time – parents need to be ‘all up in their child’s business’ when it comes to electronic devices that give them access to online gaming, mobile applications, texting, or the internet. Check their devices regularly, and ensure parental controls are enabled to keep predators like these away from your kids.” – Grady Judd, SheriffDuring the investigation of those who communicated online to have sex with minors, ten of the suspects communicated and engaged with, in a sexual manner, who they thought were children online. Two suspects showed up at an undercover location in Polk County at separate times to meet who they thought were children, to sexually batter them. Two of the suspects did not communicate with undercover detectives, but with an actual 14 and 13-year-old whom they traveled to sexually batter. Detectives obtained warrants for six other suspects; one was arrested in Polk County, one was arrested in Indian River County, one was arrested in Hillsborough County, one was arrested in Colorado, and two are still wanted. Seven of the suspects sent sexually explicit images and/or videos to who they thought were 13, 14, or 15-year-old girls, or a 13-year-old boy. Arrested: 25-year-old Jose Armando of Davenport On February 13, 2023, detectives investigated a report of a 14-year-old girl who had been sexually battered by an adult. During the investigation, detectives learned that Armando had been communicating with the victim through social media and then arranged to travel to her to have sex. Armando drove to the victim’s parents’ home and picked up the 14-year-old, drove her to his home where he sexually battered the child. Armando told detectives that he met the child online and communicated with her through Instagram. He admitted to driving to the victim’s house, picking her up, and taking her to his house where he sexually battered her. Armando was arrested for:·       One count sexual battery (F2)·       One count traveling to meet a minor for sex (F2)·       Interference with child custody (F3) He is currently in the Polk County Jail being held on a $21,000 bond. 28-year-old Zackery Childress of Lakeland On February 15, 2023, detectives investigated a report of a 13-year-old girl who had been sexually battered by an adult. During the investigation, detectives learned that Childress had been communicating with the victim through an online dating app and then arranged to travel sexually batter her. Childress told the victim that he had two sexually transmitted diseases, but was on medication, and still wanted to have unprotected sex with her.  Childress drove to the victim’s parents’ home and entered the 13-year-old’s bedroom through a window and sexually battered the child. Childress told detectives that he met the child online and communicated with her through SnapChat. He admitted to driving to the victim’s house, entering her bedroom through a window, and sexually battering the child. Childress was arrested for:·       One count sexual battery (F2)·       One count traveling to meet a minor for sex (F2)·       Once count criminal use of a two-way communication device (F3)·       Two counts burglary of a dwelling (F2)·       One count of unlawful sex with STD (M1) He is currently in the Polk County Jail being held on a $71,000 bond. 25-year-old Leo Cintron of Lakeland On February 7, 2023, Lewis engaged in an online conversation on a social networking site with an undercover detective who was posing as a 13-year-old boy. During the conversation, the “boy” told Cintron several times that he was only 13. Citron told the boy he still wanted to meet up and then graphically described the sex acts he wanted to perform.  Cintron traveled to the undercover location expecting to have sex with the 13-year-old boy. He admitted to detectives he knew the person he was talking to was 13. Cintron was working as an umpire and referee for college and high school sports. He was booked into the Polk County Jail and charged with:·        One count traveling to meet a minor for sex (F2)·        One count lewd battery (F3)·        One count criminal use of a two-way communication device (F3)·        One count use of a computer to solicit a child for sex (F2)  He was released after paying a $21,000 bond.  40-year-old Steven Hubbard of Ocala On February 11, 2023, Hubbard engaged in an online conversation on a social networking site with an undercover detective who was posing as a 14-year-old girl. During the conversation, the “girl” told Hubbard several times that she was only 14. Despite knowing he was communicating with a minor, Hubbard sent sexually explicit images to the detective as well as instigated sexually explicit conversations.Detectives obtained an arrest warrant for Hubbard for:·       One count criminal use of a two-way communication device (F2) ·       Three counts transmission of harmful material to a minor (F3).  He was arrested by Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and then transported to the Polk County Jail where he is currently be held with a $3,000 bond. Hubbard told detectives he worked as a carnival/fair ride operator. 55-year-old Richard Kwolek of Barefoot Bay, Florida On February 11, 2023, Kwolek engaged in an online conversation on a social networking site with an undercover detective who was posing as a 14-year-old girl. During the conversation, the “girl” told Kwolek several times that she was only 14. Despite knowing he was communicating with a minor, Kwolek sent sexually explicit images to the detective as well as instigated sexually explicit conversations. Detectives obtained an arrest warrant for Kwolek for:·       One count criminal use of a two-way communication device (F2) ·       Four counts transmission of harmful material to a minor (F3)·       One count use of a computer to solicit a child for sex (F2). He was arrested by Indian River County Sheriff’s Office and was released on $6,000 bond. 37-year-old Thomas McIntyre of Lakeland On February 9, 2023, McIntyre engaged in an online conversation on a social networking site with an undercover detective who was posing as a 14-year-old girl. During the conversation, the “girl” told McIntyre several times that she was only 14. Despite knowing he was communicating with a minor, McIntyre sent a sexually explicit video and several audio files to the detective as well as instigated sexually explicit conversations.  Detectives obtained an arrest warrant for McIntyre for:·       One count criminal use of a two-way communication device (F2) ·       Thirteen counts transmission of harmful material to a minor (F3)·       One count use of a computer to solicit a child for sex (F2). PCSO detectives located McIntyre and arrested him. He is currently in the Polk County Jail and being held with a $19,000 bond. 45-year-old Justin Sturtevant of Pueblo West, Colorado On February 6, 2023, Sturtevant engaged in an online conversation on a social networking site with an undercover detective who was posing as a 14-year-old girl. During the conversation, the “girl” told Sturtevant several times that she was only 14. Despite knowing he was communicating with a minor, Sturtevant sent a sexually explicit image to the detective as well as instigated sexually explicit conversations. Detectives obtained an arrest warrant for Sturtevant for:·       One count criminal use of a two-way communication device (F2) ·       One count transmission of harmful material to a minor (F3)·       One count use of a computer to solicit a child for sex (F2). Sturevant was arrested in Colorado and will be transported to Polk County at a later date. He is employed as a corrections officer with the Colorado State Penitentiary at the Cañon City Colorado Facility26-year-old Samuel Zoellner of St. Petersburg On February 6, 2023, Zoellner engaged in an online conversation on a social networking site with an undercover detective who was posing as a 15-year-old girl. During the conversation, the “girl” told Zoellner several times that she was only 15. Despite knowing he was communicating with a minor, Zoellner sent sexually explicit images and video to the detective as well as instigated sexually explicit conversations. Zoellner traveled to the undercover location expecting to have sex with the 15-year-old girl. He was booked into the Polk County Jail and charged with:·        One count traveling to meet a minor for sex (F2)·        One count lewd battery (F3)·        One count criminal use of a two-way communication device (F3)·        One count use of a computer to solicit a child for sex (F2) ·        Three counts transmission of harmful material to a minor (F3)·        Resisting with violence (F3)·        Resisting without violence (M1) He is currently in the Polk County Jail being held with no bond. Zoellner is a sex offender with a prior criminal history that includes a Michigan conviction for a sex offense with a minor.  Outstanding Warrants: 35-year-old Bradley Hines of Pinellas Park On February 6, 2023, Hines engaged in an online conversation on a social networking site with an undercover detective who was posing as a 13-year-old girl. During the conversation, the “girl” told Hines several times that she was only 13. Despite knowing he was communicating with a minor, Hines sent several sexually explicit images to the detective as well as instigated sexually explicit conversations. Detectives obtained an arrest warrant for Hines for:·       One count criminal use of a two-way communication device (F2) ·       Eight counts transmission of harmful material to a minor (F3) 59-year-old Kenneth Niedt of Seffner On February 7, 2023, Niedt engaged in an online conversation on a social networking site with an undercover detective who was posing as a 13-year-old girl. During the conversation, the “girl” told Niedt several times that she was only 13. Despite knowing he was communicating with a minor, Niedt instigated graphic sexually explicit conversations. Detectives obtained an arrest warrant for Niedt for:·       One count criminal use of a two-way communication device (F2) One count transmission of harmful material to a minor (F3)Sex Offenders/PredatorsThere are 1,237 sexual offenders and 146 sexual predators registered in Polk County. These offenders and predators are checked every quarter by Polk detectives to ensure they are in compliance with Florida’s sexual offender/predator registration laws. The state requirement is for a check to be completed at least once a year. During the initiative Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives identified 27 individuals who were not in compliance with their registration responsibilities. Of those, 22 were arrested and eight had prior failure to comply with registration requirement charges. Arrest warrants have been issued for the remaining five violators. Registered Sex Offenders/Predators Arrested: Kevyn Baker, 24, who resides at 2255 Pump Rd. in Mulberry, was arrested for failure to register a permanent residence and providing false registration information. He was transported to the Polk County Jail where he was released after paying a $20,000 bond. Baker’s prior criminal history includes a sexual assault of a 15-year-old. Brian Bowne, 48, who resides at 8336 Chance Dr. in Lakeland was arrested for failure to register a vehicle. At the time of his arrest, Bowne was out on bond for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He is currently in the Polk County Jail and is being held with no bond. Bowne’s prior criminal history includes a sexual assault of a 15-year-old. Rickardo Brown, 28, who resides at 706 Limber Ln. in Lakeland was arrested for failure to register a vehicle. He is currently in the Polk County Jail and has a $1,000 bond. Brown’s prior criminal history includes false imprisonment of a 16-year-old with sexual intent. John Burgess, 47, who resides at 4202 Shadow Wood Dr. in Winter Haven was arrested for failure to register a vehicle. He was transported to the Polk County Jail where he was released after paying a $1,000 bond. Burgess’ prior criminal history includes sexual assault of a child under 16-years-old. Damien Clark, 29, who is a transient in the area of S.R. 17 and Snively Ave. in Winter Haven was arrested for failure to register a new address within 48 hours. He is currently in the Polk County Jail and is being held with no bond. Clark’s prior criminal history includes a South Carolina conviction for Sexual Exploitation of a Minor. Dana Chiasson, 59, who resides at 140 Cory Ct. in Auburndale was arrested for failure to report a change of residence. He was arrested in Warren County, North Carolina and will be transported to Polk County at a later date. Chiasson’s prior criminal history includes a New York conviction for sodomy of a child under 12-years-old.  Patricia Colbert, 68, who resides at 1014 Baycrest Dr. in Lakeland was arrested for failure to register a vehicle. She was transported to the Polk County Jail where she was released after paying a $1,000 bond. Colbert’s prior criminal history includes lewd and lascivious acts against a child under 16-years-old. Russell Crousore 59, who resides at 11 Cactus Cir. E. in Winter Havenwas arrested for failure to register a vehicle. He was transported to the Polk County Jail where she was released after paying a $1,000 bond. Crousore’s prior criminal history includes a Nevada conviction for open and gross lewdness against a 13-year-old child. Jim Davari, 72, who resides at 5816 Lake Grove Dr. in Lakeland, was arrested for failure to report employment. He was transported to the Polk County Jail where he was released after paying a $1,000 bond. He started a self-employed business in 2018, Canine Command, where he boards and trains dogs for customers but reported his status as retired. Davari’s prior criminal history includes lewd or lascivious molestation against a child between the ages of 12-15. Wayne Estey, 53, who resides in the area of S. Frontage Rd. and Clark Rd. in Lakeland was arrested for failure to comply with registration requirement of reporting every 30 days. He was transported to the Polk County Jail where he is being held with no bond. At the time of his arrest, Estey was on probation for failure to comply with registration requirements. His prior criminal history includes a New Jersey conviction for criminal sexual contact with two juvenile victims. Richard Gunter, 42, who resides at 1300 N. 71st Ave. in Hollywood, Florida was arrested for failure to register a temporary address and six counts of video voyeurism. One December 13, 2022, PCSO detectives began an investigation into a report of an adult victim being videoed in a bathroom against her will. The victim was undressing in the bathroom when she noticed a small recording device clipped to a belt handing in the bathroom closet. The belt belonged to Gunter.  Gunter is a registered sexual predator and had been temporarily staying at the victim’s parent’s vacation home in Frostproof. He failed to report his temporary address as required by law. He also failed to report several internet identifiers, one Instagram account and two Facebook accounts. Gunter is currently in the Polk County Jail and being held with a $46,000 bond. His prior criminal history includes sexual battery with a weapon against a child under 16-years-old and lewd and lascivious acts against a child under 16-years-old. Gerald Kelly, 76, who resides at 929 Avon Ave. in Lakeland, was arrested for failure to register a vehicle. He was transported to the Polk County Jail where he was released after paying a $1,000 bond. Kelly’s prior criminal history includes lewd and lascivious acts against a child under 16-years-old. Michael Levieux, 54, who resides at 3515 Oakland Rd. S. in Lakeland,was arrested for failure to update a new address within 48 hours, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was transported to the Polk County Jail where he is being held with a $6,500 bond. Levieux’s prior criminal history includes an Illinois conviction of criminal sexual assault against a 6-year-old. Donald McIntyre, 48, who resides at 534 Perch Pl. in Lakeland, was arrested for failure to register internet identifiers. He was transported to the Polk County Jail where he is being held with no bond. McIntyre was on probation at the time of his arrest for attempted indecent assault of a child under 16-years-old. His prior criminal history includes sexual battery against a victim under 12-years-old and lewd and lascivious acts against a child under 16-years-old. David Rodgers, 38, who resides at 3589 Lazy Lake Dr. in Lakeland, was arrested for failure to register two vehicles. He was transported to the Polk County Jail where he was released after paying a $2,000 bond. Rodgers’ prior criminal history includes an Alabama conviction for rape of a 15-year-old. Carol Rood, 59, who resides at 1834 Venus St. in Lakeland, was arrested for failure to register internet identifiers. She was transported to the Polk County Jail where she was released after paying a $2,000 bond. Rood’s prior criminal history includes lewd and lascivious acts against a child under 16-years-old. Jose Sosa, 37, who resides at 1910 Saturn St. in Lakeland, was arrested for a violation of probation. He was transported to the Polk County Jail where he is being held with no bond. At the time of his arrest, Sosa was on probation for charges in Hardee County. His prior criminal history includes false imprisonment, sexual battery of a child under 13-years-old, and previous failure to comply with sex predator registration requirements. Johnny Taylor, 42, who resides in the area of Central Ave. and 1st St. in Winter Haven, was arrested failure to register as a sex offender within 48 hours of his release from prison and failing to register a new address with the FDHSMV within 48 hours. He was transported to the Polk County Jail where he is being held on a $10,000 bond. Taylor’s prior criminal history includes lewd and lascivious acts against a child under 12-years-old.  Theodore Thorner, 47, who resides at 3925 Old Tampa Hwy. in Lakeland, was arrested for failure to possess a valid Florida identification and failure to register a vehicle within 48 hours. He was transported to the Polk County Jail where he was released after paying a $2,000 bond. Thorner’s prior criminal history includes use of a computer for sex with a minor.  James Warren, 42, who resides at 604 Haynes Rd. in Lakeland, was arrested for failure to register two vehicles. He was transported to the Polk County Jail where he was released after paying a $1,000 bond. Warren’s prior criminal history includes sexual battery and lewd and lascivious acts against a child under 16-years-old. Johnathan Whitfield, 54, who resides in the area of S.R. 33 and Interstate 4, was arrested for failure to comply with registration requirement of reporting every 30 days. He was transported to the Polk County Jail where he is being held on a $1,000. Whitfield’s prior criminal history includes sexual battery against a victim under 12-years-old and lewd and lascivious acts against a child under 16-years-old.  Albert Wright, 46, who resides at 3237 Timberline Rd. in Winter Haven, was arrested for failure to report a vehicle. He was transported to the Polk County Jail where he was released after paying a $1,000 bond. Wright’s prior criminal history includes sexual battery and previous failure to comply with sex offender registration requirements.  Outstanding Warrants: Johnny Clark, 49, whose last known address is 1910 Saturn St. in Lakeland has a Polk County arrest warrant for failure to report a change of address. His prior criminal history includes lewd and lascivious acts against a child under 16-years-old.  Alexis Diaz-Toledo, 27, who resides at 3779 Appaloosa Rd. in Lake Wales, has a Polk County arrest warrant for failure to update his new residence. His prior criminal history includes lewd and lascivious acts against a child between the ages of 12-15 and lewd and lascivious acts against a child under 16-years-old. Todd Johnson, 54, (address unknown) has a Polk County arrest warrant for failure to report a change of address. His prior criminal history includes produce, direct, or promote sexual performance by a child. Shane Malpass, 29, who resides in the area of Sleepy Hill Rd. and Galloway Rd. in Lakeland, has a Polk County arrest warrant for failure to update a new address within 48 hours. His prior criminal history includes lewd and lascivious acts against a child under 18-years-old. Terrell Timmerman, 66, who resides in the area of New Tampa Hwy. and Gay Rd. in Lakeland, has a Polk County arrest warrant for failure to comply with registration requirement of reporting every 30 days. His prior criminal history includes a Michigan conviction from criminal sexual conduct with a child between the ages of 13-15.*Convicted sex offenders and sex predators are required by Florida law to register and maintain updated information regarding the following identifying information: name; social security number; age; race; sex; date of birth; height; weight; tattoos or other identifying marks; hair and eye color; photograph; address of legal residence (or temporary residence); change of electronic mail addresses; Internet identifiers and each Internet identifier’s corresponding website homepage or application software name; home telephone numbers and cellular telephone numbers; employment information; driver’s license or Florida ID information; the make, model, color, vehicle identification number (VIN), and license tag number of all vehicles owned.
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