EAST OF PUNTA GORDA — The Charlotte County Sheriff’s agriculture detective and FWC officers’ surveillance finally paid off early Thursday with the arrest of 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. Arrested were Mark Allan Erickson, 48, and a 15-year-old boy, both of the 47600 block of Bermont Road and Cody Michael Gordon, 19, of the 7900 block of Estates Drive, North Port. The CCSO 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 at Evans Farms Orange Grove on Bermont Road and Babcock Ranch. At 1:30 a.m., Erickson, the boy and Gordon were observed arriving on an all-terrain vehicle, driving over the Evans Farms fence and continuing on to Babcock Ranch. When they exited, Gordon and the boy 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 a felony if livestock are on the property. The Babcock Ranch cattle manager, along with the manager of Evans Farms, 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 an officer. The boy was charged with two counts of trespassing and one felony count of breaking/injuring a fence. Erickson remains in jail on $23,500 bond. Gordon was release on $6,500 bond, and the boy was released to a parent and a given a court date.
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