News Cast for April 19th:

Yesterday an Okeechobee man was sentenced to what looks like a lifetime in prison in connection to a host of crimes he was convicted of committing two years ago. An Okeechobee County court judge sentenced 49 year old Mark Glen Deschamps to a total of 45 years in prison after being convicted in January for manslaughter in the stabbing death of his then girlfriend, 25 year old Flavia Munoz of Okeechobee and attempted first degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon on 40 year old Duane Thomas, also of Okeechobee, the man Munoz was seeing behind Deschamps’ back in October, 2016. He was convicted earlier this month in a separate trial for possession of a deadly weapon by a convicted felon in that incident. Prosecutor Ashley Albright, who brought in expert witnesses at the sentencing hearing to help secure a long prison sentence for Deschamps, says he believes justice was served for the Munoz family, specifically Munoz’s mother Elizabeth, who spoke at the hearing . Some members of Deschamps family were present at the sentencing, including Deschamps’ son, Mark Junior, who expressed regret for the Munoz family and their loss. Deschamps was sentenced to thirty years for the manslaughter charge and the lesser charges, aggravated battery and assault, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon and improper execution of a firearm all carried a total of fifteen years’ prison time, which will be served concurrently after he serves the thirty year sentence for manslaughter.

Six people were arrested in connection with a major drug and ammunition bust Tuesday morning in Douglas Park. Narcotics officers from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department teamed up with members of other units, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and searched a home on the eleven hundred block of NE 16th Avenue a little before eight o’clock and seized several units of marijuana, cocaine, some controlled substances, loaded magazines, drug paraphernalia and three thousand dollars in cash. Sheriff Noel Stephen says the home had been under surveillance for some time as part of an ongoing investigation. This home has been the scene of multiple drug arrests and visits by law enforcement for over thirty years and Stephen says even with Tuesday’s successful raid, it’s likely to be the scene of more bad times in the future. Officers arrested 32 year old Karionne Helena Pruitt, 53 year old Gregory Jackson, 29 year old Mark Wesley Garland Junior, 32 year old Techalin Joseph, 29 year old Megan Courtney Jones and 26 year old Nicole Lataye Futch, all from Okeechobee. Most of them were charged with illegal drug possession while Joseph was charged with ammunition possession by a convicted felon. All, except Pruitt are being held in county jail without bond. Pruitt, who was charged with possession of fentanyl with intent to sell near a place of worship, is being held in lieu of a one hundred thousand dollar bond.

A call from a concerned neighbor regarding an unauthorized burn caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters Sunday morning. Crews were called to a home on the 35 hundred block of NW 6th Avenue a little after 10:30 and found the property owner had torn down a single wide mobile home and was burning the wood from it. Firefighters at the scene say the fire was contained and there was a machine and water source on site in case the fire got out of control. However, the property owner was told he could not burn the treated material because of the chemicals that would be released into the air. Firefighters assisted the owner in extinguishing the fire. No one was hurt and no structure damages.

A now former housing authority employee based in Stuart pled guilty last week in US Federal Court to charges of stealing government funds. 49 year old Cynthia Cabrera of Port St. Lucie pled guilty to one count of theft of government funds after it was discovered she unlawfully received $75 thousand dollars in benefits from the Housing Choice Voucher Program while she worked as a bookkeeper at the Stuart Housing Authority from 2009 thru 2015. Court records say Cabrera submitted fraudulent annual applications, where she inaccurately reported her total income and assets and inaccurately reported the number of people living in her home and their incomes. Cabrera’s sentencing is set for June 12th, where she’s facing a maximum of ten years in prison and fines of up to $250 thousand dollars.

On the arrest report:

27 year old David O’Brien Phillips of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for grand theft. He was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

41 year old Beatrice Perez-Beltran of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a valid license. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

32 year old Bo Kenneth Blake Moore of Okeechobee was arrested for failing to pay child support. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

19 year old Alondra Nicole Cespedes of Okeechobee was arrested for giving false information to law officers after she falsified a police report regarding a recent domestic incident. She was released after posting a $750 dollar bond.