News Cast for July 1st:

Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel Stephen held a press conference in his office on Friday with a request of people in the county to talk with state lawmakers and Governor Ron DeSantis to assist the Attorney General in helping to change laws regarding drug trafficking and usage. Stephen referenced this past Tuesday where three people, ranging in age from 20’s to 30’s overdosed on powerful drugs such as heroin and in some cases, lacing it with fentanyl which gives an already potent drug an extra kick. Stephen says on that day, all of the county’s resources were being used on these cases. In terms of laws, one thing that he feels can be done right away is administering stiffer penalties for people who sell these drugs. Stephen referenced the fact that up until six months ago, there wasn’t an issue with heroin use or selling in Okeechobee; now there’s a heroin related death once a month.

Will it be renovation or rebuilding? Will it be relocating or adding and then rebuilding? Or is it a combination of a few of those options? These all apply to the future of Fire Station #2 in the Treasure Island area of Okeechobee County. At last week’s county commissioners’ meeting, Okeechobee County Fire Chief Ralph Franklin discussed possible locations for the building of a new Fire Station #2; something that was originally approved at a previous meeting. However, commissioners discussed other options including enlarging the current station, renovating it, building a new one on a new site, demolishing it and rebuilding it on the same spot or renovating the current station and adding on to it. Chief Franklin will now see about costs for these options to see which is the best option and the issue will be brought back at a later meeting, possibly at the July 11th meeting. Franklin says another concern regarding this issue is the need for another rescue unit in that area. While the thirty-four year old Fire Station #2 is still usable by firefighters and emergency crews, there are concerns regarding the foundation where the building stands.

A report of a grass fire caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters Wednesday afternoon. Crews were called to an area on NW 144th Street a little after 4:30 and found a small clump of wood burning slowly. Investigators say a storm had just passed and they believe the fire was caused by a bolt of lightning that struck the area. Crews got the fire extinguished in just a few minutes while using a hundred gallons of water to put out the fire. No one was hurt and no structure damages.

A St. Lucie County woman is facing considerable prison time for wire fraud and embezzlement. According to the US Attorney’s office, 28 year old Sabrinea Lallonie Brooks pled guilty early last month to seven counts of wire fraud, a count of access device fraud and a count of forged security from Apex Billing, LLC of Port St. Lucie, Dream Center for Recovery in Palm City, Supportive Health Care Services in Leesburg and Wellness Center of Palm Beach, billing companies Brooks worked for between 2014 and 2015. According to evidence presented, Brooks used a variety of methods, including intercepting credit card payments from customers and using false pretenses with treatment providers regarding payments to illegally obtain over $873 thousand dollars in total proceeds. Brooks will be sentenced July 26th in US Federal Court in Fort Pierce and she’s facing up to twenty years in prison on each wire fraud count, fifteen years for access device fraud and ten years for forged security.

On the arrest report:

30 year old Eliseo Simon Fonseca of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for battery and threatening his wife during a domestic dispute. His bond has not been set.

32 year old Jonathan Francis Cullen of Lantana was arrested for resisting arrest after he was caught driving recklessly. His bond is set at $750 dollars.

39 year old Yoel Fernandez-Hernandez of Hialeah was arrested for contempt of court during his hearings on petit theft, criminal use of someone else’s identification, grand theft and fraud and larceny. He’s being held without bond.

44 year old Cristian Omar Garcia of Palm Beach was arrested for contempt of court during his hearing on past charges of driving on a revoked license. He’s being held without bond.