By Ashley Cox

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10)–The Polk County Sheriff’s Office Special Victims Unit, along with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, conducted a Halloween sexual offender/predator compliance initiative during the month of October, 2021. The operation was aimed at ensuring compliance with Florida’s registration laws for convicted sex offenders and sex predators (FSS 775.21 & 943.0435) within Polk County*. Detectives charged 16 suspects with failure to comply with sex offender registrations laws and/or violation of probation.

“Our detectives work hard year-round to keep track of convicted sexual offenders and predators who reside in Polk County to ensure they remain compliant with the law. Our community is concerned about predators and offenders being around children, and rightly so, especially during events and holidays like Halloween. That is why every year we conduct initiatives like this one. These 16 suspects learned the hard way that we take every one of the requirements seriously, and failure to comply will result in an arrest,” said Grady Judd, Sheriff

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There are 1,255 Sexual Offenders and 142 sexual predators registered in Polk County. These offenders and predators are checked every quarter by Polk detectives to ensure they are in compliance with Florida’s sexual offender/predator registration laws. The state requirement is for a check to be completed at least once a year. During the initiative Polk County Sheriff’s Office SVU detectives accomplished the following:

• Compliance checks conducted: 334
• Compliance checks – in compliance: 316
• Compliance checks – not in compliance: 18
• Hours dedicated to this operation: 195
• Arrests: 16
• Warrants issued: 2

During the third quarter of 2021 (July, August, September) preceding October, detectives arrested 29 Sex Offenders or Predators for various violations and confirmed compliance for 1,255 sex offenders and 142 sex predators.

The following is a list of those arrested (16) during this compliance initiative, and a summary of their offenses during the Month of October:

Kevin Melito, 57, of 433 Perch Place, Lakeland. Melito is a sexual predator based on a 1999 Polk County conviction for sexual battery on a child under 12-years-old. Melito was arrested in October for possessing and using unregistered social media accounts on YouTube and Instagram.  Melito was charged with two counts Failure to Comply with Sex Offender Registration laws.

Christopher Bretzlaff, 50, of 1138 McCampbell Road, Auburndale. Bretzlaff is a sexual offender based upon a 2011 Polk County conviction for promotion of child pornography. Bretzlaff violated the conditions of his felony sexual offender probation by possessing and using an unregistered social media account on YouTube and for viewing online pornography. Bretzlaff was arrested and charged with Violation of Probation.

Tyler Knight, 31, of 1138 McCampbell Road, Auburndale. Knight is a sexual offender based upon a 2018 Polk County conviction for traveling to meet a minor for sex and lewd and lascivious battery on a victim between 12-15 Years of Age. Knight violated the conditions of his felony sexual offender probation by possessing an unregistered Play Station account which would allow him to communicate with minors online. Knight was arrested and charged with Violation of Probation.

Nelson Vega Fantauzzi, 54, of 609 Fisher Court, Kissimmee. Fantauzzi is a sexual offender based upon a 1993 conviction out of the State of New Jersey for Sexual Assault. Fantauzzi failed to notify his change of address to either the Polk County Sheriff’s Office or the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle within 48 hours. Fantauzzi was arrested and charged with two counts of Failure to Comply with Sex Offender Registration Laws.

James Steele, 48, a transient. Steele is a sexual offender based upon a 1993 Osceola County conviction for lewd and lascivious conduct with a child under 16-years-old. Transients are required to register every 30 days. Steele failed to notify his change of address to either the Polk County Sheriff’s Office or the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle within 48 hours. Steele was arrested and charged with two counts of Failure to Comply with Sex Offender Registration Laws.

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Lloyd Dewayne Vann, 39, of 5008 Quercus Loop, Winter Haven. Vann is a sexual offender based on a 2016 Polk County conviction for child abuse/engage in sexual performance. Vann failed to notify his change of address to either the Polk County Sheriff’s Office or the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle within 48 hours. Vann also provided false registration information on August 13, 2021 and September 13, 2021 by registering a transient address instead of an actual address. He also failed to register vehicles he owned. During an unrelated investigation, on October 1, 2021, Vann was arrested for Domestic Violence Battery by Strangulation, Tampering with a Witness, and False Imprisonment following an altercation with a female victim. On October 6, 2021, he was additionally charged with six counts of Failure to Comply with Sex Offender Registration Laws.

Anthony Michael Shaw, 28, of 3800 Highway 17-92 W # 13, Haines City. Shaw is a sexual offender based on a 2019 Polk County conviction for possession of child pornography. Shaw violated the conditions of his felony sexual offender probation by possessing and using an unregistered social media account on Instagram and viewing online pornography. Shaw was arrested and charged with Violation of Probation.

Michael Steven Wade Strickland, 38, of 1833 Canal Road, Lake Wales. Strickland is a sexual offender based on a 2010 Holmes County conviction for lewd and lascivious battery on a victim between the ages of 12 and 15-years-old. Strickland failed to notify his change of address to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle within 48 hours. During an unrelated investigation, Strickland was arrested for Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Knowingly Driving on a Suspended License. He was additionally charged with one count of Failure to Comply with Sex Offender Registration Laws.

Robert Edward Reese, 44, a transient near New Tampa Highway and County Line Road in Lakeland. Reese is a sexual offender based upon a 2007 Marion County conviction for lewd and lascivious molestation of a victim between the ages of 12 and 15-years-old. Transients are required to register every 30 days. Reese failed to register his address to either the Polk County Sheriff’s Office or the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle 48 hours. Reese was arrested in Hillsborough County for a Polk County warrant for two counts of Failure to Comply with Sex Offender Registration Laws.

Francisco Rodriguez, 52, of 131 Diamond Ridge Blvd, Auburndale. Rodriguez is a sexual offender based upon a 1999 conviction out of the State of New York for Rape-1st Degree.  During an unrelated investigation, Rodriguez was arrested on October 8, 2021 for petit theft and trafficking in stolen property when he attempted to recycle stolen metal. He posted bond and left the jail before registering his change of address. Rodriguez was arrested two days later (10-11-21) for two counts of Failure to Comply with Sex Offender Registration Laws.

Jose Esparza, 44, of 5916 Woodale, Lakeland. Esparza is a sexual offender based on a 2000 Polk County conviction for lewd and lascivious molestation of a victim between the ages of 12 and 15-years-old. During his last registration on April, 22, 2021, Esparza failed to register vehicles owned. During an unrelated investigation, Esparza was arrested for Possession of Methamphetamine, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. He was additionally charged with two counts of Failure to Comply with Sex Offender Registration Laws.

Angel Nieves, 50, of 615 Wallaby Lane Kissimmee. Nieves is a sexual offender based on a 1989 conviction out of New York for Attempted Rape – 1st Degree. Nieves failed to report to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office during his required month of September 2021. Nieves was arrested for Failure to Comply with Sex Offender Registration Laws.

Dennis Henslee, 57, of 4761 Carl Boozer Road, Haines City. Henslee is a sexual offender based on a 2015 Polk County conviction for sexual battery. Henslee failed to report to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office during his required month of August 2021. Henslee was arrested for Failure to Comply with Sex Offender Registration Laws.
Charles Fred Howard, 63, of 1004 Indiana Street SE # 222, Fort Meade. Howard is a sexual offender based on a 2010 conviction out of the State of Kentucky for Rape – 3rd Degree. Howard failed to register two vehicles owned. Howard was arrested for two counts of Failure to Comply with Sex Offender Registration Laws.

Jerome Carter, 55, of 5322 Rock Dove Trail, Lakeland. Carter is a sexual offender based upon a 1986 Polk County conviction for lewd and lascivious conduct with a child under 16-years-old. Carter failed to notify his change of address to either the Polk County Sheriff’s Office or the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle within 48 hours. Carter was arrested and charged with two counts of Failure to Comply with Sex Offender Registration Laws.

Wilfredo Camacho, 34, of 442 Perch Place, Lakeland. Camacho is a sexual offender based upon a 2008 Polk County conviction for sexual battery on a child under 12-years-old. Camacho is on active sexual offender probation with the Florida Department of Corrections. During a probation check, Camacho possessed Butalbital, a controlled substance, and was arrested for Possession of Butalbital and Violation of Probation.

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*Convicted sex offenders and sex predators are required by Florida law to register and maintain updated information regarding the following identifying information: name; social security number; age; race; sex; date of birth; height; weight; tattoos or other identifying marks; hair and eye color; photograph; address of legal residence (or temporary residence); electronic mail addresses; Internet identifiers and each Internet identifier’s corresponding website homepage or application software name; home telephone numbers and cellular telephone numbers; employment information; driver’s license or Florida ID information; the make, model, color, vehicle identification number (VIN), and license tag number of all vehicles owned.