Office of The State Attorney, Fifth Judicial Circuit, Florida
Serving the Citizens of Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion, and Sumter Counties
Office of The State Attorney, Fifth Judicial Circuit, Florida
Serving the Citizens of Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion, and Sumter Counties

Newsroom

FATHER AND SON SENTENCED TO LIFE AND 20 YEARS RESPECTIVELY FOR KIDNAPPING CASE

(Citrus County, FL) In a recent case handled by the Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney's Office, 32-year-old Eric William Johnson was sentenced to 20 years in the Florida Department of Corrections after pleading guilty for his involvement in a series of alarming and criminal actions that transpired, including kidnapping, burglary of a dwelling with a deadly weapon, and impersonating a law enforcement officer.

(Citrus County, FL) In a recent case handled by the Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office, 32-year-old Eric William Johnson was sentenced to 20 years in the Florida Department of Corrections after pleading guilty for his involvement in a series of alarming and criminal actions that transpired, including kidnapping, burglary of a dwelling with a deadly weapon, and impersonating a law enforcement officer.

Today, Johnson’s father, 71-year-old Maynard David Selvog, was found guilty on all charges as a principal to kidnapping while armed and burglary of a dwelling while armed.  

“The sentence of twenty years and life serves as a beacon of deterrence and a testament of our commitment to protecting our citizens,” said William “Bill” Gladson, Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney. “Posing as law enforcement and forcibly entering someone’s home is not only a breach of trust but a perilous assault on civil liberties. The acts of both Johnson and Selvog undermine the very fabric of justice and endanger the safety and security of our community.”

On July 19, 2023, Johnson, accompanied by Selvog as a getaway driver, traveled to an acquaintance’s residence in Homosassa. Upon arrival, Johnson walked up to the door of the camper with an AR-15-style air-powered gun, knocking while announcing “Citrus County Sheriff’s Department.” He then proceeded to enter the camper, point the weapon at the occupants inside, and demanded they exit the camper.

Believing Johnson was an armed law enforcement officer, both victims complied with the demands. Once outside, they realized that Johnson was not an actual officer and attempted to call 9-1-1. Johnson immediately attempted to take the phone away which resulted in a struggle. During the struggle, the second victim was able to run to the parent’s home on the same property for help.

Johnson then chased after the victim, kicking in the door of the home. The victim, along with the homeowner, was able to successfully disarm Johnson. After a lengthy struggle, Johnson then retreated and fled the scene with Selvog. Shortly after, Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) deputies were able to locate Selvog, who eventually informed officials that Johnson was hiding in a nearby shed.

CCSO Deputies then found Johnson, armed with another firearm, engaged them in a standoff. After failing to comply with law enforcement’s orders, a K-9 was deployed. Johnson made a shocking attempt to harm the law enforcement K-9 during this confrontation, before deputies were able to move in and apprehend him. Both Johnson and Selvog were arrested as a result of this investigation. 

The successful prosecution of this case was a result of the meticulous work of Assistant State Attorneys Nicholas Caporicci and Kaitlyn Mannis.

 

Published 02/07/2024.

HERNANDO COUNTY MAN FOUND GUILTY OF CHILD SEX OFFENSE CHARGES

(Hernando County, FL) Yesterday, a jury found 42-year-old Christian Bert Fischer guilty of Traveling to Meet a Minor.

(Hernando County, FL) Yesterday, a jury found 42-year-old Christian Bert Fischer guilty of Traveling to Meet a Minor.

“Not only was it disturbing that Fischer willingly agreed to meet up with a minor for sexual gratification, but he brought items with him that would have enabled him to carry out his deranged fantasies,” said William “Bill” Gladson, Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney. “If you come across someone online who is attempting to entice a juvenile, don’t wait – contact law enforcement immediately. Your tip can help ensure a safer digital community for our children.”

On January 20, 2022, a citizen who had created a fictitious profile account posing as a minor child on social media to communicate with and identify people who seduce, solicit, lure, or entice children to engage in unlawful sexual conduct was contacted by Fischer online.

Fischer messaged who he thought was a 13-year-old boy. During the message exchange with the citizen, Fischer not only acknowledged the age of the child but went on to ask if they had ever been with anyone sexually.

After continuing to communicate with the child through increasingly explicit messages, Fischer planned to meet up with the minor at a local store.  Once at the store, the citizen confronted Fischer on his purpose there and his intentions to meet with the juvenile for sexual gratification. The citizen then called law enforcement to respond. The interaction was recorded and eventually turned over to local officials at the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO).

Authorities with the HCSO responded to the location and were informed by the citizen of the nature of the meeting with Fischer, who had fled prior to their arrival.  However, the citizen stated to deputies that Fischer had discarded a bag into the trash bin before fleeing. Deputies retrieved the bag which contained a box of chocolates, a bottle of chocolate syrup, and one bag of gummy rings.

Officials located Fischer shortly after, who was in possession of another bag that contained a hairbrush, condoms, and an enema. During an interview, Fischer admitted to knowing the person he was talking to was only 13 years of age. Additionally, he confessed to sending sexually charged messages to the minor and attempting to meet up with the child.  

Investigators had enough evidence and subsequently arrested Fischer for traveling to meet a minor, use of a computer to seduce, solicit, or lure a child, unlawful use of a two-way communications device, and possession of marijuana.

This case was successfully prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Angelina Rodeo and Ben Larison.

 

Published on 02/07/2024.

GIAMPA SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR SEXUAL BATTERY

(Lake County, FL)- Joseph Andrew Giampa was sentenced to life in prison in a Lake County courtroom earlier today.

(Lake County, FL)- Joseph Andrew Giampa was sentenced to life in prison in a Lake County courtroom earlier today.   

Giampa, through his defense attorney, conveyed an offer to serve the rest of his natural life in prison.  At the request of the victim’s family, and with the interests of the child victim in mind, the Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office agreed to this resolution. Under this agreement, Giampa will spend the remainder of his life in prison, without the possibility of parole.

“Resolution in less than 100 days is proof that Florida’s capital punishment statute for sexual battery of children is effective,” commented Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Bill Gladson.   “By passing this law, the Florida Legislature and the Governor have sent a message that Florida has zero tolerance for those who prey upon our most vulnerable and that the punishment will be certain, swift and severe.”

Giampa, was indicted by a grand jury in December 2023 for six counts of Sexual Battery Upon a Person Under Twelve Years of Age and three counts of Promoting a Sexual Performance by a Child.   Shortly after Giampa was indicted, State Attorney Bill Gladson filed a Notice of Intent to Seek the Death Penalty in the case, pursuant to Florida Statutes 794.011(2)(a) and 921.1425.  The decision to pursue the highest penalty reflected the gravity of the charges.  The Notice was the first such notice filed in Florida, pursuant to new legislation, which allows predators who commit sexual battery on young children to be punished by death.

Our office will continue to hold those who violate our laws accountable for their actions and ensure that victims of crime have a voice in the criminal justice system.

Assistant State Attorney Nicholas Camuccio and Katie Cosden successfully prosecuted the case.

 

Published 02/02/2024.

DEATH PENALTY SOUGHT IN PADDOCK MALL HOMICIDE ARREST

(Marion County, FL)- State Attorney Bill Gladson, announces the filing of a death penalty notice in the case against 39-year-old Albert J. Shell Jr.

(Marion County, FL)- State Attorney Bill Gladson, announces the filing of a death penalty notice in the case against 39-year-old Albert J. Shell Jr.  

Last week, Shell was indicted by a grand jury in a significant development related to the Paddock Mall Homicide case. The charges include premeditated First-Degree Murder with a Firearm, two counts of Attempted Second-Degree Murder with a Firearm, and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.

Given the severity of the crime and its impact on the community, the Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office has filed a notice that it intends to seek the death penalty pursuant to Florida Statutes 921.141 (6)(b), 921.141 (6)(c), 921.141 (6)(h), and 921.141 (6)(i).

The decision is reflective of the gravity of the alleged offenses and the impact on the victims and their families. The State Attorney’s Office acknowledges the sensitivity of this matter and the impact it has on the community. Our commitment to ensuring justice and holding criminals accountable for their actions remains unwavering.

As legal proceedings unfold, our office asks for respect for the legal process and the privacy of those involved. We will continue to work diligently to bring this case to a just resolution.

 

Published 02/02/2024.

GELONESE SENTENCED TO LIFE FOR CRIME COMMITTED AFTER PRISON RELEASE

(Marion County, FL) This morning, the Honorable Judge Pope sentenced 45-year-old Rocco Dominic Gelonese to Life in the Florida Department of Corrections for his crimes.

(Marion County, FL) This morning, the Honorable Judge Pope sentenced 45-year-old Rocco Dominic Gelonese to Life in the Florida Department of Corrections for his crimes.  

“This sentencing of a repeat offender to life is a firm declaration that habitual lawlessness will not be tolerated in our community,” stated William “Bill” Gladson, Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney. “Our commitment to justice and public safety remains unwavering.”

Earlier this month, jurors rendered a guilty verdict in the case involving Gelonese, who had just been released from prison less than a month before his crime spree. He faced serious charges related to the August 7, 2022, incident that occurred at the JC Penney store located in the Paddock Mall.

While in the store, Gelonese was observed attempting to leave without paying for a significant quantity of children’s clothing and a pair of shoes. Upon fleeing from store employees, he attempted to forcefully enter a van while threatening the occupants with harm if they did not comply with his demands.

Subsequently, Gelonese continued his crime spree by approaching another victim in their car, attempting to forcibly enter and demand money before fleeing. Law enforcement, with the assistance of witnesses and victims, was able to positively identify Gelonese through a photo lineup and arrest him a few days later.

Gelonese, with a prior criminal record, was charged with Burglary of a Conveyance with Assault, Burglary of an Occupied Conveyance, and Petit Theft. Due to his Prison Releasee Reoffender (PRR) status, he faces substantial minimum mandatory sentences, including a Life sentence.

Assistant State Attorney Tucker O’Neill successfully prosecuted this case.

 

Published on 01/31/2024.

INVERNESS MAN SENTENCED IN FATAL 2021 HIT AND RUN

(Citrus County, FL) Yesterday afternoon, 37-year-old Mark Anthony Wieder was sentenced to 30 years in the Florida Department of Corrections for the death of a Citrus County woman.

(Citrus County, FL) Yesterday afternoon, 37-year-old Mark Anthony Wieder was sentenced to 30 years in the Florida Department of Corrections for the death of a Citrus County woman.

Back in December 2023, jurors rendered a guilty verdict in the fatal hit-and-run case against Wieder. Jurors deliberated for nearly 45 minutes before finding Wieder guilty on charges of failing to stop at a crash involving a death.

“As I said previously, the gravity of a fatal hit and run cannot be overstated. Kathryn Gosman’s death left her family shattered, as made clear from her husband’s testimony today,” commented William “Bill” Gladson, Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney. “Thirty years incarcerated is nothing compared to a life taken, but we hope Kathryn’s family can finally begin to heal from the suffering caused by Wieder.”

Wieder was originally arrested by Florida Highway Patrol troopers on April 7, 2022, following an incident on February 25, 2021, when 45-year-old Kathryn Gosman tragically lost her life in a hit-and-run on South Cascade Avenue. The victim, a dedicated worker at Angelo’s Pizzaria, was delivering pizzas to support her ill mother when she was fatally struck and left over 100 feet from the original impact site.

The Florida Highway Patrol’s investigation revealed that Wieder’s vehicle, a GMC Sierra pickup, exhibited damage consistent with the crash. Paint transfer analysis further linked the vehicle to Wieder’s GMC Envoy.

During the investigation, Wieder claimed he thought he had hit a deer. He failed to stop to inspect the damages and continued to a store without reporting the incident to authorities. The diligent work of FHP Corporal Brian Dokendorf subsequently led to Wieder’s arrest on April 7, 2023.

This case was successfully prosecuted by Assistant State Attorneys Blake Shore and Tara Hartman.  

 

Published on 01/30/2024.

CUNNINGHAM FOUND GUILTY DESPITE BEING ABSENT FROM TRIAL

(Citrus County, FL) On Friday, January 26, 2024, in a Citrus County courtroom, jurors found 38-year-old Glenn Talmage Cunningham guilty on four counts of Transmission of Harmful Material to a Minor and two counts of Computer Pornography to Seduce, Solicit, Lure, or Entice a Child to Engage in Any Illegal Act. Cunningham did not appear in court during his trial.

(Citrus County, FL) On Friday, January 26, 2024, in a Citrus County courtroom, jurors found 38-year-old Glenn Talmage Cunningham guilty on four counts of Transmission of Harmful Material to a Minor and two counts of Computer Pornography to Seduce, Solicit, Lure, or Entice a Child to Engage in Any Illegal Act. Cunningham did not appear in court during his trial.

Back in March of 2023, Cunningham was arrested by Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) officials during CCSO’s High Tech Crimes Unit undercover Internet Crimes Against Children operation called Operation Lucky Strike. The operation was aimed at apprehending internet cyber predators who attempted to engage in sexual activity with a child.

“Our office commends the diligence of law enforcement in ensuring the safety of our youth by conducting operations such as this,” said William “Bill” Gladson, Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney. “This verdict removes another predator off our streets. We will continue to work alongside our law enforcement counterparts to prosecute those who exploit and endanger children.”  

As part of the operation, law enforcement officials posed as minors on websites waiting to be solicited through online messages by child predators, who would send sexually explicit pictures, messages, and detailed requests of various sexual activities they wanted to perform with the child.

During the operation, law enforcement officials were contacted by Cunningham, who had knowingly texted and called who he believed to be a 14-year-old female child. After sending two graphic images and continuously contacting the decoy, officials had enough evidence to arrest Cunningham.

An arrest warrant was issued and CCSO deputies made contact with Cunningham shortly after. Cunningham told officials that he believed he was speaking to an adult, despite the numerous pieces of evidence showing he acknowledged the person to be only 14 years of age via a chat forum and text messages. Additionally, Cunningham admitted to sending the decoy pornographic images of male anatomy.

This case was successfully prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Blake Shore and Elizabeth Colombrito.  

 

Published on 01/29/2024.

HAMILTON FOUND GUILTY OF LEWD AND LASCIVIOUS BATTERY OF CHILD

(Marion County, FL) Shortly before 1 p.m. today, jurors rendered a guilty verdict in the courtroom of the Honorable Judge Brigham during the trial of 34-year-old Frederick Lamar Hamilton.

(Marion County, FL) Shortly before 1 p.m. today, jurors rendered a guilty verdict in the courtroom of the Honorable Judge Brigham during the trial of 34-year-old Frederick Lamar Hamilton.

After nearly 45 minutes of deliberations, jurors found Hamilton guilty on all eight charges, including multiple counts of Lewd and Lascivious Battery of a Child 12 Years of Age but less than 16 Years of Age.

“Children teach us many things – resiliency being one,” said William “Bill” Gladson, Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney. “The victim in this case not only coped with the traumatic challenges of this insidious adult taking advantage of them, but the victim persevered through to make sure Hamilton was held responsible for his repulsive crimes.”  

In October of 2020, Hamilton was arrested by Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) deputies after a thorough investigation alleging sexual misconduct between Hamilton and the victim. Just a month prior, the victim’s mother contacted law enforcement about the sexual abuse after being made aware of the crime.

During an interview, the victim disclosed to officials numerous reports of sexual abuse committed by Hamilton, spanning from the time the victim was 12 years of age until the age of 17 years old.

The victim told investigators that the abuse included numerous instances where Hamilton would sexually batter them at various locations, including an Ocala church that Hamilton presided over.  Additional witness testimony collected supported the victim’s statement of abuse. 

Detective Scala with MCSO made contact with Hamilton to speak with him regarding the allegations. During the interview, Hamilton admitted to having sexual contact with the victim on multiple separate occasions. Hamilton was subsequently arrested and booked into the Marion County Jail.

Hamilton’s sentencing hearing will be scheduled at a later time.   

This case was successfully prosecuted by the unwavering dedication of Assistant State Attorney Elizabeth White.

 

Published on 1/24/2024.

 

INDICTMENT IN LEKENDRE HALL HOMICIDE CASE

(Lake County, FL)- State Attorney, William “Bill” Gladson, announces the indictment of Kevin Harrison and Destiny Pendleton.

(Lake County, FL)- State Attorney, William “Bill” Gladson, announces the indictment of Kevin Harrison and Destiny Pendleton.  
 
Harrison has been indicted for First Degree Murder involving the December 27, 2023, death of Lekendre Hall.  
 
Harrison’s sister, Pendleton, was also indicted for Accessory After the Fact and Evidence Tampering in connection with the death. 
 
The Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office emphasizes its commitment to seeking justice in this case. The charges brought against Kevin Harrison and Destiny Pendleton reflect the serious nature of their alleged involvement in the tragic death of Lekendre Hall.  
 
As the case moves forward, our office will continue to work diligently to bring this case to a just resolution.  

 

 
About State Attorney Gladson: 
William “Bill” Gladson was elected State Attorney for the Fifth Judicial Circuit in November 2020 and took office January 2021. He is a former law enforcement officer and career prosecutor with over 20 years of trial experience. As State Attorney, Gladson leads a team of over 250 employees who serve the citizens of Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion, and Sumter counties, an area encompassing more than 1.2 million people. 

 

Published on 1/18/2024

MARION MAN FACING LIFE FOR CRIME COMMITTED THREE DAYS AFTER PRISON RELEASE

(Marion County, FL) Last week, Assistant State Attorney Tucker O’Neill with the Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney's Office secured a guilty verdict for a series of alarming crimes involving 45-year-old Rocco Dominic Gelonese.

(Marion County, FL) Last week, Assistant State Attorney Tucker O’Neill with the Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office secured a guilty verdict for a series of alarming crimes involving 45-year-old Rocco Dominic Gelonese.  
 
“Gelonese’s case demonstrates the importance of a collaborative effort between law enforcement and the community in maintaining public safety,” said William “Bill” Gladson, Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney. “Our office remains committed to pursuing justice and ensuring the safety of our citizens.” 
 
Gelonese, who had just been released from prison only three days prior to his crime spree, faced serious charges related to the August 7, 2022, incident that occurred at the JC Penney store located in the Paddock Mall.  
 
While in the store, Gelonese was observed attempting to leave without paying for a significant quantity of children’s clothing and a pair of shoes. Upon fleeing from store employees, he attempted to forcefully enter a van while threatening the occupants with harm if they did not comply with his demands.  
 
Subsequently, Gelonese continued his crime spree by approaching another victim in their car, attempting to forcibly enter and demand money before fleeing. Law enforcement, with the assistance of witnesses and victims, was able to positively identify Gelonese through a photo lineup and arrest him a few days later. 
 
Gelonese, with a prior criminal record, was charged with Burglary of a Conveyance with Assault, Burglary of an Occupied Conveyance, and Petit Theft. Due to his Prison Releasee Reoffender (PRR) status, he faces substantial minimum mandatory sentences, including a Life sentence. 
 
The sentencing for Gelonese is scheduled for January 31, 2024. 
 

Published on 01/18/2024