By Lee Williams
SARASOTA - A homeless man spent the night in jail Sunday after police arrested him for charging his cellphone in a public picnic shelter at Gillespie Park.
Darren Kersey, 28, was charged with theft of utilities after Sarasota Police Sgt. Anthony Frangioni spotted him charging his phone at about 9:20 p.m. Sunday. Unable to come up with the $500 bail for the misdemeanor, Kersey had no choice but to stay in jail.
In his arrest report, Frangioni wrote that he told Kersey that the “theft of city utilities will not be tolerated during this bad economy.” Frangioni also told Kersey that he should charge his phone at local shelters, according to the report.
But Monday morning Circuit Judge Charles Williams threw the case out, saying Frangioni lacked the legal justification to make the arrest.
Frangioni, a 14-year veteran of the Sarasota Police Department, did not return calls or emails seeking comment for this story. Neither did City Manager Thomas Barwin.
Click here to read the Probable Cause Affidavit in the arrest of a man on utility theft charges in Gillespie Park.