Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Firearm Charge Nets Career Criminal 10 Years

A man who was found carrying a loaded gun after leading deputies on a high-speed chase that ended when he crashed his vehicle into a tree in Immokalee has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Billie Roberts Garcia, 25, 320 Ethel Frank Court, Immokalee, received the sentence as part of a negotiated plea agreement at a hearing in Collier County Circuit Court on Monday.

Garcia is a documented career criminal with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.

The sentence was in connection with his Dec. 8, 2007, arrest on a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Garcia was arrested after a deputy spotted him driving erratically on Lake Trafford Road. Garcia sped off when the deputy attempted to pull him over, leading the deputy on a high-speed chase that ended when Garcia crashed his vehicle into a tree near the intersection of North 18th Street and Roberts Avenue. Garcia attempted to crawl away, but was unable to because he injured one of his legs in the crash.

A loaded .380-caliber semiautomatic pistol was discovered in Garcia’s pocket when deputies arrested him. Deputies also found crack cocaine and drug paraphernalia inside Garcia’s vehicle.

In addition to the firearm possession charge, Garcia was charged with fleeing and attempting to elude, carrying a concealed firearm, felony driving with a suspended license, possession of cocaine, possession of narcotics paraphernalia, and DUI with property damage

Garcia pleaded no contest to those charges at a separate hearing on April 13. At that same hearing he also entered pleas to charges of battery on a person detained (two counts), resisting arrest with violence and battery on a law enforcement officer stemming from three separate arrests.

While an inmate at the Collier County jail, Garcia attacked another inmate on Jan. 21, 2008. On Feb. 8, 2008, he posted bond and was released from custody. On March 8, 2008, he failed to appear for a court date and no bond bench warrant was issued for his arrest. The warrant was served on May 16 and Garcia has remained in custody without bond. On Aug. 15, 2008, Garcia again attacked another inmate. He fought with a corrections deputy on Aug. 19, 2008.

At Monday’s court hearing, Circuit Judge Frank Baker adjudicated Garcia guilty on all charges. He sentenced Garcia as a habitual felony offender on the firearm possession charge.

Garcia was also sentenced as a prison release reoffender to five years in prison on the resisting arrest with violence charge. And he received 60 months in state prison on the remaining felony charges. All of the sentences are to be served at the same time.

Garcia’s legal problems are not over, investigators said.

On April 2, 2008, while a fugitive from justice in Collier County, Garcia was arrested in Broward County on charges of battery on a law enforcement officer, possession of cocaine and possession of narcotics. He bonded out of jail and then failed to appear for a Broward County court appearance on May 27. Garcia will be returned to Broward to face these charges before being transported to state prison.