PUNTA GORDA, Fla.- The Charlotte County Sheriff's Agriculture detective and FWC officer’s surveillance finally paid off early Thursday with the arrest to two men and a juvenile boy. CCSO and FWC for nearly a year have received complaints from farm and ranch owners regarding continual property and fence damages, trespassers, and livestock getting out. Authorities arrested 48-year-old Mark Allan Erickson, 15-year-old suspect and 19-year-old Cody Michael Gordon for the crimes.
The CCSO Ag detective and three FWC officers spent a considerable amount of time for about a year trying to catch the persons responsible. Thursday’s surveillance was set up atEvans Farms Orange Grove, 53001 Bermont Road, andBabcock Ranch, 8000 S.R. 31. At 1:30 a.m.; their efforts finally paid off. Erickson, Bowker and Gordon arrived on an all-terrain vehicle, drove over the Evans Farms fence and continued onto the Babcock Ranch. When they exited, Gordon and Bowker held down the fence for Erickson to drive over it. At this time the officers surprised the trio. Erickson attempted to flee on the ATV but was stopped by an FWC officer. All were handcuffed and transported to the Charlotte County Jail. The ATV is being seized for forfeiture.
Based on Florida law, damaging a fence is afelonyif livestock are on the property. The Babcock Ranch cattle manager along with the manager of Evans Farms; both wanted to press charges since they went onto both properties.
Erickson and Gordon were both charged with Felony Breaking/Injuring a Fence plus two counts of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor, and two counts of Trespassing. Erickson was additionally charged with Resisting and Officer. Bowker was charged with two counts of trespassing and one felony count of Breaking/Injuring a Fence.
Erickson remains in jail on $23,500 bond; he is a convicted felon and this is his fourth booking. Gordon was release on $6,500 bond and Bowker was released to a parent and a given a court date.