News Cast for December 4th:

A now former Highlands County Sheriff’s deputy is facing charges of attempted sexual battery and armed kidnapping in connection with incidents earlier this fall. Spokesperson Scott Dressel says former deputy Zachary Lehman, who was on duty at the time, was arrested late last month for sexually assaulting an off-duty female colleague in October. Lehman then reportedly pulled the female deputy back to him with force after she tried several times to get away from him. Dressel says the whole department is in shock and disbelief over this considering Lehman was a model deputy up until now. Lehman resigned from the department after his arrest and subsequent placement on administrative leave. He is free on a $25 thousand dollar bond.

Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River will soon have much needed new uniform waterway markers. At their last meeting, Okeechobee County Commissioners awarded a bid of just over $35 thousand dollars to Fort Pierce-based Summerlin’s Marine Construction to remove and replace these waterway markers or buoys, which regulate the speed and wake limits of vessels. Parks and Recreation Project Coordinator Tiffany Gould says this has been a project three years in the works after her department received reports of damaged buoys and there was no guideline on installing new buoys, but through working with Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC), they could re-permit the new markers with current state statutes. Gould says besides being the lowest bid, Summerlin’s Marine Construction’s sterling reputation working with the county was ideal for this project. Gould says the new markers will not only ensure safety, but allow citations issued by law officers to be upheld in court.

A traffic stop turned into a drug related arrest for an Okeechobee man Sunday afternoon. Deputies stopped a Jeep passenger vehicle, driven by 23 year old Joseph Marshall Barber, on the 35 hundred block of Highway 441 North a little before 2:30 for not stopping at a stop sign. Deputies say Barber avoided eye contact and his hands were shaking when he was asked for his license and registration and there was a strong smell of marijuana emanating from the vehicle. Deputies conducted a search of the vehicle and in Barber’s wallet was a baggie containing methamphetamine. A rag had methamphetamine wrapped up in it and a small black container had marijuana in it. Barber was arrested and charged with marijuana and methamphetamine possession. He was released after posting a six thousand dollar bond.

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local woman in county jail on charges of battery on an elderly person in connection with an incident Sunday afternoon. Deputies responded to a home the 16 hundred block of Highway 70 West just after 2:30 and met with a 75 year old homeowner who stated that her roommate, 45 year old Francisca Gonzalez, pulled her hair and scratched her face after she refused to leave when she was asked to. Deputies say the incident arose from an argument the two women were having and Gonzalez has hit her multiple times in the past. Gonzalez was arrested, charged and booked into county jail. Her bond has not been set.

Okeechobee County firefighters teamed up with Florida Forest Service crews to battle a grass and brush fire Sunday. Firefighters were called to the 19 hundred block of SE 137th Way shortly before one o’clock and found an acre of mixed grass and brush burning with a couple of large burn piles also burning in the Blackened area. Firefighters got the blaze controlled in about an hour with no one getting hurt and no damages. Investigators say the landowner had been burning some yard debris and it got out of control.

A Fort Pierce man and Florida Highway Patrol officer is in serious condition after a vehicle accident yesterday morning. FHP investigators say 31 year old Mithil Patel was standing on the eastern paved shoulder of Highway 95 near North Ridge Road in Martin County just before 7:30 when the driver of a Chevrolet Express van rear ended an Audi A3 sedan, causing the Audi to rotate clockwise and strike Patel. FHP Investigators say the Audi was moving slowly due to a lane closure from a previous accident. The impact caused Patel to end up on the grass shoulder behind the Audi. Patel was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital in West Palm Beach for treatment. Others involved in the accident were treated for minor injuries. It remains under investigation.

On the arrest report:

29 year old Paulino Ramirez Martin of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for driving without a valid license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $250 dollar bond.

39 year old David Ryan Law of Okeechobee, and member of the Coquina Water District Board, was arrested for possession of marijuana after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

32 year old Travis Murray Lee McCrummen of Okeechobee was arrested for burglary of an unoccupied dwelling and failing to appear in court. He’s being held without bond.

26 year old Jonathan Torres of Okeechobee was arrested for obstructing without violence and trespassing. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

43 year old Juan Garcia Lopez of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving and driving without a valid license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

47 year old Robert Lee Hilger of Okeechobee was arrested for making harassing phone calls to Austin Sewer and Septic, resisting arrest and violating probation. He was released after posting a two thousand dollar bond.

28 year old Bryan Daniel Corwin of Okeechobee was arrested for burglary of an unoccupied dwelling. His bond is set at $15 thousand dollars.

30 year old Megan Salina Hair of Okeechobee, an inmate in county jail, was arrested for battery on a fellow inmate. Her bond is set at five thousand dollars.

45 year old Sigfredo Estrada of Okeechobee was arrested by police for driving on a suspended license and being a habitual offender of it after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a thousand dollar bond.