Saturday, September 13, 2008

Commissioner Storter Responds To Story

Commissioner Says Glades Sheriff Not Responsible For Catching Thief

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- A news story appeared this week in community newspapers regarding a theft of items from Glades Commissioner Donna Storter Long in March 2007.

The Sunday Morning News did not print the story. Over the years we have noticed the Glades Sheriff's office does not provide news releases to news media. Mrs. Storter alleges that Sheriff Whiddon made special efforts to get this story of the conviction of the thief to local print newspapers.  Mrs. Storter replies:

Dear Editor:

Re headlines: Man pleads guilty in County Commissioner�s theft

First off, would this have made headlines if it did not involve a county commissioner or another elected official? How often do we read of the sentencing of other Glades County criminals when the victim is not a public official? Was this a political ploy? 

One newspaper editor informed me that [Glades Sheriff] Whiddon's office submitted it to them--it was not solicited by the newspapers.  Whiddon knows my husband has made a campaign contribution to (and is supporting) Tony Wilson for Sheriff of Glades County.

I am the victim and the one whose efforts led to the arrest of Ronald Tracy Williams, who, by the way, did NOT plead guilty to the crime.

We had arrived home after a week�s vacation on  March 24, 2007 about 9:30 pm.  When I realized our home had been invaded and articles were missing, I called 9-1-1 and Deputy Crosswell who is assigned to my Ortona �zone�, arrived within 10 minutes.  He examined the perimeter of my home, found no evidence of any disturbance that would indicate a forced entry and he created the offense report.

Investigator-deputy Terrence. Deese was called and arrived within an hour or so.  He attempted to lift fingerprints from my computer cover and said he found the diamond-shaped imprints of a rubber kitchen-type glove.  He too looked around the premises and took no more fingerprints. 

During the burglary of our home the perp removed firearms, electronic computer equipment and other personal items, some discovered missing later when I began carefully examining and searching my office.

I expressed my suspicion of Tracy Williams because of his prior reputation and record and because years before I had given his disabled sister a key to our home so she could feed my cats when we were away from home occasionally overnight.   Sometimes she returned the key, and sometimes she did not.  She was not feeding our cats while we were gone in March 2007.  But I did not have the spare key that I had given her because she had not returned it the last time she fed my cats.

On Monday March 26, I contacted Transunion and Experian and requested that a Fraud Alert be placed in my and my husband�s consumer credit files to prevent the possibility of identity theft because  I was not sure exactly what private documents and information were compromised in the invasion my home. That action was the ultimate reason the thief was caught.]

He attempted to use my husband�s Discover Credit card and in fact successfully used it at the Citgo convenience store in LaBelle (in Hendry County not Glades) by using the card reader at the gas pump and punching in our zip code he well knew it-he is the son of our neighbor.  No ID was required so the fraud alert did not kick in.

However, he proceeded to Wal-Mart in Lehigh Acres (Lee County) and he was unable to use the card; Discover called us, I called the Glades S.O., and after about two weeks, Wal-Mart provided a copy of their video that incriminated Tracy Williams. 

The video showed when Tracy Williams arrived in the parking lot, when he entered the store, when he attempted to use my husband�s credit card, and when he left the store. 

He was subsequently arrested a couple of weeks later.  The clothing he was wearing in the Wal-Mart video was found in his home.  Also, evidence identified from another theft in our neighborhood was found in his home, but, the investigator did not confiscate those items even though they were identified by the other victim.

Because the charges for burglarizing our home were not filed in a timely manner, he was released with no bail, after a very short incarceration. About 4 months later,  while he was out awaiting trial for burglarizing our home, he was arrested for another burglary in Ortona, along with his partner in crime, Julius �Gopher� Wright.

Tracy did not plead guilty to the burglary of my home.  His lawyer �bargained� for him using his testimony against Wright as leverage.  He pled �no contest� to grand theft and �no contest� to credit card fraud.  His penalty was finishing up a total of 364 incarceration days for both crimes (he is out of jail and at large now), he agreed to pay restitution for the amount our insurance did not cover, four years probation, and he cannot come on our property.

No doubt he quickly and easily sold the items he stole from us including (among other things) two pistols,  computer hardware (and software) and electronic devices.  I assure you the street value was much higher than the restitution he has agreed to pay.

People, be warned.  You must be proactive in guarding your home and your identity.  For the rest of our lives my husband and I will be paying LifeLock to keep a fraud alert and monitor on our credit information. Until you have been burglarized and robbed, you cannot realize how vulnerable you are and how violated you feel. 

After the offense report was filed, nothing was done to identify (much less apprehend) the perpetrator of this crime against us and our home; we did not hear from the Sheriff�s Office again until I called them about the Discover card fraud. You may have received, as I had, the email going around about filing a fraud alert.  I assure you, it is effective.

The fraud alert I filed is the only reason Tracy was caught. Nobody "tracked him down".  Wal-Mart provided the evidence.

5 comments:

  1. Anonymous12:21 PM

    I find it funny that this story that is good makes the paper, but the incompetent actions of the Department like the killing of Deputy "Nero" (police Dog) on September 2, 2008 and the two prisoner that escaped though an unlocked gate/door was never called into the press. WHY?

    Seem like they only want the good to be known. Must be an Election Year.

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  2. Anonymous6:20 PM

    LIVING IN THE SAME COMMUNITY, IT IS GOOD TO HEAR WHAT HAPPENED FOR SURE.
    THAT WILLIAMS LIVES VERY NEAR HER. WONDER IF HE WAS STALKING HER? SHE RELATED THEY HAD BEEN GONE A WEEK. DID HE HAVE SOME OTHER SOURCE TO KNOW THEY WERE OUT OF TOWN, OTHER THAN WATCH THEM GO BY? SO WHAT IF IT WAS IN THE NEWS. IT DOESNT MAKE THE VICTIM LOOK BAD. IT IS GOOD SHE RESPONDED TO THE NEWSPRINT AND WARNED OTHERS WHAT CAN HAPPEN.

    THE VICTIM HAS BEEN VERY PUBLIC ON SHARING HER ADDRESS AND TELEPHONE NUMBERS FOR POLITICAL REASONS.
    NOW JUST WHEN DID THIS GUY PLEAD, WAS IT MONTHS AND MONTHS AGO AND WE ARE JUST NOW HEARING ABOUT IT, OR WAS IT RECENTLY?

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  3. In response to this "letter to the editor" from Mrs. Storter: I can understand being upset with the fact that you feel violated for the occurrence of Tracy robbing your home, I've been there before myself. The one thing that I have a question about is what the other robbery that allegedly involved a co-defendant had to do with your home. The fact that you put that other individual's name out in the media when that person had nothing to do with your home seems a bit bitter. Maybe I'm wrong. Has that other person been convicted of anything yet? It takes a Judge and jury to determine if that person is guilty. Not a county commissioner. I will soon be working in the court system myself and have seen many cases such as this where a person was legally sued in court for slander and/or defamation of character for saying such a comment. I'm not sticking up for anyone. If they did it, they did it; but the point of the matter is: Until they are convicted, DO NOT judge. I don't believe that any of us have a law degree (yet) and I think is it up to Judge Lundy and a fair and bias jury to decide if someone is guilty. If these people have done wrong, God will deal with them in the end. I, too, once lived in Ortona and know quite a few people and frankly don't like some of those people but I do not want to take the responsibility of judging someone's life onto my shoulders. Judge Lundy will judge and then God will be the ultimate judge. This is just a case of knowing who you can trust. DO NOT INCRIMINATE PEOPLE on your own. It is not your decision. Holding a county seat does not exclude someone from practicing the same respect for human life and freedom that everyone else does. I know how the politics are in that county and they are not always fair but that is the way it has been for a long time and I don't see it changing anytime soon. Just take a step back (I know that is easier said than done), and think how it would feel if you were in this other person's shoes. It is very hurtful when someone makes up a story about you or judges you when they don't really know what is going on. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK. If not for that person's sake, for your own because you never know who may be reading this and feel that what you said is defaming that person's character, pride, and self. Thank you.

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  4. Anonymous12:03 PM

    On Tuesday, September 2nd, the community suffered a great loss. Glades County Police Service Dog, Nero, was shot and killed in Okeechobee County. The unfortunate incident was a result of negligence and inattention and could have been avoided. Due to the dog’s handler recently resigning from the Glades County Sheriff’s Office after handling Nero for almost three years, he was being housed at another deputy’s residence after a stint at the vet’s office. The deputy housing Nero is an experienced Canine Handler and has been employed with the Seminole Police Department as such until his recent switch to begin working for the Glades County Sheriff’s Office. While the deputy was working, his minor daughter, without the supervision of a qualified handler or adult, was allowed to handle the six year old Belgian Malinios. The girl took the service dog outside lacking the judgment to have the dog on a leash. The Police Dog then began to chase a cat which ran back to their neighbor’s house. As a direct result of this incompetence, the neighbors felt it necessary for them to protect their cat and shot K9 Nero, leaving him fatally wounded.

    I can only hope that in today’s world, with the dependence on liability, that the Glades County Sheriff’s Office has learned its lesson. This avoidable incident has left several hearts broken and millions of tears shed, not to mention the loss that the community has suffered. Canine Nero was funded by the Glades County Community through donations and fundraisers which took several thousands of dollars to purchase Nero and initiate the Canine program. It is amazing that an incident of this nature has not been made available to the public. After all, the public funded Nero and aside from his former handler was the biggest supporter of the dog and program. With this being an election year, it is not unreasonable to think that this embarrassing incident is being swept under the rug like so many others to include the recent escape of two inmates from the Glades County Jail. How is a Police Service Dog being shot and killed because of complete negligence and two inmates escaping from a new state of the art facility after a lock was left unsecured not made available to the public? We have a right to know!!!

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  5. Anonymous9:07 PM

    what was taken in storter's robbery? Nothing ever said other than some credit card

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