As fugitives go, James Christopher Raposa is not the sort of guy who’s likely to keep you up nights. But Sheriff Rick Staly played a role in his original arrest last August and again in his re-arrest on a fugitive warrant earlier this week, and is crediting his weekly video feature highlighting fugitives his sheriffs are seeking for success in such apprehensions.
Raposa was sentenced to six months’ probation in August following a guilty plea on an impaired driving charge. The 21-year-old resident of Press Way in Palm Coast was arrested last May–by Staly. It was a Friday evening, when the sheriff customarily conducts his weekly patrols. Staly reported to a deputy that Raposa had taken off from a traffic light and been clocked going 72 in a 50 on State Road 100.
Paula Priester, the deputy who took over the investigation, immediately smelled alcohol and pot in Raposa’s surroundings, according to her arrest report. He himself (as did his two passengers) said he’d smoked some pot but not had anything to drink that day. He looked unsteady on his feet and failed the several steps of the field-sobriety exercises. Two breathalizer tests proved him right: they tested zero both times. But that particular test doesn’t measure impairment from pot.
He was charged with DUI alcohol or drugs, pot possession and operating a vehicle without a driver’s license he could show Priester. The latter two charges were dropped. He was sentenced on the DUI charge.
All went relatively well for four months, with the probation term set to expire last Feb. 3. But two months before his probation was up, a probation report found him in violation of most of the conditions of his release. He’d not obtained a substance abuse evaluation, hadn’t completed an alcohol-safety education course or completed the victim awareness program, hadn’t performed his required 50 hours of community service, twice failed to report to his probation officer, failed to pay his court-mandated fees, and failed a urine test, which showed he’d continued to smoke pot.
Probation conditions are tough and very burdensome, but probation officers don’t like sending their wards back to jail. They try to work with probationers–except when the violations begin to pile up and show more disregard than compliance. So on Dec. 20, Raposa’s probation officer filed the violation report.
On Dec. 27, County Judge Melissa Moore-Stens issued a warrant for Raposa’s re-arrest. It’s not clear to what extent the Sheriff’s Office tried to find him, but on March 2, Staly featured Raposa on his weekly “Fugitive Friday Bingo,” a video feature he posts to the Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page. The feature is also posted on the Sheriff’s web page, which CrimeStopper links to from advertising on sites that include FlaglerLive.
Eight days after Raposa was featured on that edition of Fugitive Friday, someone called in a tip that Raposa was at 86 Ulaturn Trail in Palm Coast. The call was rapid, and the caller cut it off immediately after calling in the tip. Dispatchers looked up Raposa in a database, found his active warrant, and dispatched deputies. Raposa himself opened the door. He was arrested.
On Monday, the Sheriff’s Office played up the arrest in a press release, without mentioning Staly’s role in Raposa’s initial arrest.
“The video series is working,” Staly was quoted as saying. “Our Fugitive Unit does a great job tracking down these offenders but no one knows where they are better than family members or friends. In this case, we tracked him faster thanks to the help of our community. Now he is off the streets and in jail where he belongs.”
Since the video feature’s inception in November 2017 (just weeks after the CrimeStopper ads on this site started linking to the videos), nearly 45 percent of the featured fugitives have been apprehended.