Men detained for picking berries charged on felony warrants

OKEECHOBEE — Two Okeechobee men were arrested on two separate days for their alleged harvesting of saw palmetto berries without a permit. Both men were also arrested on felony warrants.

George Nelson Timmes Jr., 31, was arrested Aug. 24 on a misdemeanor charge of harvesting an endangered plant without permit. He was subsequently arrested on an Okeechobee County felony warrant charging him with aggravated assault, kidnapping – inflict bodily harm upon or to terrorize the victim or another person, and a misdemeanor charge of battery. His bond was set at $61,500.

George Nelson Timmes Jr., 31

According to an arrest report by Deputy Cody Hurst, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office, at 10:03 a.m. on Aug. 24, he was dispatched to Southeast 30th Parkway and the railroad tracks in regards to a suspicious persons complaint.

Upon his arrival Deputy Hurst saw a white male and female seated on the south side of the road. Deputy Hurst reported that as he exited his patrol vehicle, he noticed an open white bag with what appeared to be saw palmetto berries next to the man.

Deputy Hurst asked the man, who self-identified as Timmes, if he was in possession of a Native Plant Harvesting Permit. Timmes reportedly responded that while he was in the woods he became sick, defecated himself and his permit was in his soiled pants.

The report noted that Timmes was not in possession of either the Native Plant Harvesting Permit or his alleged soiled pants.

The report concluded that Timmes was arrested, transported and booked into the Okeechobee County Jail on the aforementioned charges. All of the saw palmetto berries were collected, photographed and turned in as evidence.

The second saw palmetto berry related arrest came on Monday morning.

Thomas Wayne Gibson, 33, Northeast 31st Terrace, was arrested by Deputy Robert Gonzalez on misdemeanor charges of harvesting endangered plant without permit, trespass on property other than structure or conveyance and resisting officer without violence. He was also arrested on two DOC felony warrants charging him with two counts of violation of probation – dealing in stolen property, violation of probation – giving false information to a secondary metals recycler and violation of probation – giving false information to a pawnbroker. He is being held without bond.

Thomas Wayne Gibson, 33

According to an arrest report by OCSO Deputy Robert Gonzalez, at 9:42 a.m. on Aug. 26, he was dispatched to the 32000 block of U.S. 441 North in regards to a suspicious vehicle complaint. Dispatch reportedly informed Deputy Gonzalez that an unknown subject in a red vehicle was illegally harvesting saw palmetto berries.

Upon arrival, Deputy John Fisher and Deputy Gonzalez canvassed the area in an attempt to locate the vehicle and shortly after found a vacant red 2004 Lincoln Navigator at the 2100 block of Northwest 344th Street. As he exited the patrol vehicle, Deputy Gonzalez reportedly saw a man, identified as Gibson, wearing a gray tank top with what appeared to be saw palmetto berries being carried over his left shoulder in a fenced property on the southwest intersection of Southwest 21st Lane and Southwest 344th Street.

Deputy Gonzalez reportedly tried to make contact with Gibson as he walked towards the Lincoln Navigator but when Gibson saw Deputy Gonzalez he began to run south through the fenced-in property. Deputy Gonzalez then reportedly saw Gibson throw what appeared to be the saw palmetto berries off his shoulder and onto the ground. Deputy Gonzalez began to pursue Gibson on foot before having to relay a description and direction of travel to Deputy Fisher.

The report continued that Deputy Fisher saw Gibson jump the fence of the property and run towards Northwest 21st Lane but was apprehended by law enforcement shortly after. The report noted that OCSO dispatch confirmed Gibson had two outstanding Okeechobee County felony warrants.

The owner of the property then approached Deputy Gonzalez and informed that he had driven from Palm Beach County to check on his property. The property owner informed law enforcement that no one was supposed to be on the property as he had a “No trespassing” sign posted on his fence line, which apparently was no longer there.

The report concluded that the saw palmetto berries were located in a plastic container on the property left by Gibson. Samples of the berries were collected to be turned in as evidence while the rest were turned back over to the property owner. Photographs of the berries were also taken to be turned in as evidence. The red Lincoln was turned over to John’s Towing Service and Gibson was arrested, transported and booked into the Okeechobee County Jail on the aforementioned charges.


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