Okeechobee City Councilman arrested

OKEECHOBEE — An Okeechobee City Councilman was arrested on an Okeechobee County felony warrant Thursday morning for alleged offenses that occurred outside of council meetings.

Okeechobee City Councilman, Michael Gerald O’Connor, was arrested May 24 at 8:17 a.m. by Okeechobee Police Department Detective, James Pickering, on an Okeechobee County felony warrant charging him with tampering with or harassing a witness, victim or informant and a misdemeanor charge of battery.

Councilman Mike O’Connor

The arrest warrant, issued on May 23, states that on May 19, O’Connor knowingly used intimidation or physical force, or threatened another person, or attempted to do so, or engaged in misleading conduct toward another person, with intent to hinder, delay or prevent the communication to a law enforcement officer of information relating to the possible commission of a criminal offense, and the official investigation or official proceeding affected involves the investigation or prosecution of a misdemeanor, in violation of Florida Statute 914.22; and that he intentionally touched or struck a person against that person’s will or did intentionally cause bodily harm to a person, in violation of Florida Statute 784.03(1).

His bond was set at $5,500. He has since been released on bond.

Okeechobee’s City Administrator, Marcos Montes De Oca issued an advisory notice to the office of Florida Governor Rick Scott stating, “We are advising your office of the arrest of one of our Okeechobee city councilmen, Mike O’Connor, on May 24, 2018, pursuant to a criminal complaint filed with our local police department. I have enclosed a copy of the arrest affidavit for review.”

The letter continued, “Councilman O’Connor is presently serving as a duly elected councilman, with his term of office ending with the November 2020 election cycle.”

The letter concluded, “It appears the incident complained of is a domestic matter, unrelated to Councilman O’Connor’s Office and duties with the City of Okeechobee; it is however, a felony arrest. Therefore, our city attorney advises that your office may elect to suspend Mr. O’Connor from office pursuant to Ch. 112.51, Florida Statutes. The City of Okeechobee is not advocating a position either way, and will abide by whatever course of action your office takes.”

The arrest affidavit attached to the letter stated he was arrested at his residence that morning. During transport to the Okeechobee County Jail, O’Connor reportedly asked if the arrest stemmed from a video that he had allowed OPD Detective Sergeant Bettye Taylor to retrieve. Det. Pickering confirmed O’Connor’s inquiry, to which he reportedly responded, “I guess I shouldn’t have given it to her then.”

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