POINCIANA — In 2009, the Florida Department of Corrections conducted a study on recidivism rates for convicted felons who had been released from a state prison between 2001 and 2008, and the report showed 51.8 percent of inmates returned to prison within three years — more than half of all released felons.
Osceola County got a taste of that in recent days, when two convicted felons ended up back on the wrong side of the law, though for very different reasons.
The first was Anton Alicea, who at age 21 was already a registered felon, and who got arrested again on Nov. 2, charged with shooting into an occupied vehicle.
He was accused of firing shots into a car on Pleasant Hill Road in Poinciana last month, after what the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office says may have been a drug deal gone bad.
Alicea was also charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, discharging a firearm from a vehicle, improper exhibition of a firearm, and perjury when not in an official proceeding.
Anyone who has been convicted of a felony is banned by federal law from possessing any firearm or ammunition. The law dates back to 1968, the year that Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. were assassinated.
Now the federal punishment for felon gun possession is up to 10 years in prison. The only exception to this rule is when an individual has had their civil rights — including their right to vote, serve on a jury, and own a firearm — restored by the state where they got convicted of the felony.
The investigation into Alicea’s arrest started on Oct. 23, after the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office got a call about shots being fired into a car near the intersection of Pleasant Hill Road and Reaves Road in Poinciana.
The men who contacted detectives were Roberto Torres and Andrew Castillo, who told deputies they had been called by a friend, who asked them to meet him at the intersection of New Castle and Elbridge Road in Poinciana.
The friend told both men he’d been robbed during a drug transaction and needed help. His friends confronted the men accused of robbing him, the sheriff’s office noted.
“When Torres and Castillo arrived, they got into a physical altercation with the individuals who robbed their friend,” noted Twis Lizasuain, public information officer for the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, in her report on the arrest. “When they left the area, they were followed by two vehicles and further up the road, one vehicle began shooting into their car.”
The passengers were not injured by the shots.
Following an investigation into the shooting, detectives determied that Alicea had been the one who shot at Torres and Castillo, and he was brought in for questioning, Lizasuain said. Detectives would later decide that Alicea lied to them during the interrogation.
“When he was brought in for questioning, he lied to investigators,” Lizasuain said.
The investigation, though, led detectives to conclude that Alicea had used his mother’s car during the alleged shooting indicent.
On Nov. 2, detectives obtained a felony warrant for Alicea’s arrest. Alicea, of 318 Aldershot Court in Poinciana, was booked into the Osceola County Jail.
That same week, another felon was taken back into custody, though not for a violent offense.
Osceola County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Paul R. Salinas, 46, of St. Cloud for failing to re-register as a sex offender.
In May of 2009, Salinas was convicted of sexual battery, and was currently on probation. Florida statutes require sex offenders to register with local law enforcement within 48 hours of establishing a new residence, and failure to comply is a third degree felony.
Salinas did not register his change of address, deputies say, and after an investigation the sheriff’s office learned he was living in the area of King Oak Villas in St. Cloud.
“Deputies conducted a traffic stop and took Salinas into custody,” Lizasuain noted. “He is charged with failure to register as a sex predator and violation of probation.”
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