News Releases

2 Homosassa men face multiple charges

News Release

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Media contact: Karen Parker, 386-758-0525

Two Homosassa residents were arrested Oct. 21 by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers and Citrus County Sheriff's Office deputies on multiple violations of venomous reptile, gun and drug laws.

Nathan Andrew Wilkerson (DOB 05/25/90) and Thomas Wayne Hale Jr. (DOB 01/07/91) were arrested after being served search warrants at their residence on Bennett Point.

"We went into the house looking for venomous snakes," said Lt. Steve Farmer, FWC investigations supervisor. "The Citrus County Sheriff's Office contacted us after they had investigated a home-invasion robbery at this residence. The detectives conducting that investigation saw numerous containers housing live snakes scattered throughout the residence.

"The detectives were concerned that some of the snakes could be dangerous, so they contacted the FWC. We checked Mr. Wilkerson and found he didn't have any of the permits required to possess venomous reptiles or reptiles of concern, such as Burmese pythons," Farmer said.

In their search of the residence, FWC and Citrus County deputies discovered numerous violations. Wilkerson and Hale were charged with:

(by FWC)

  • Possession of venomous reptiles without a permit (3 counts: Eastern diamondback rattlesnake, pygmy rattlesnake and cottonmouth);
  • Possession of conditional species without a permit (Burmese python);
  • Unsafe caging conditions (4 counts);
  • Failure to identify a species of special concern. (The snake did not have the required passive integrated transponder or "microchip" embedded.)

The above charges are second-degree misdemeanors, according to FWC officials.

(by Citrus County Sheriff's Office)

  • Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon (2 counts);
  • Possession of a firearm with serial numbers removed/altered;
  • Felony drug possession (marijuana packaged to sell, prescription drugs not assigned, drugs not properly labeled);
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia;
  • Felony animal abuse (multiple counts, turned over to Citrus County Animal Control officers).

"This is an outstanding example of our two agencies working together," Farmer said. "We wouldn't have known about this case without the help of the Citrus County Sheriff's Office detectives investigating another case."

FWC Facts:
According to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife-Associated Recreation, 66.1 million people engage in wildlife observation, spending about $38.5 billion per year.

Learn More at AskFWC