By Tamas Mondovics

Hillsborough County Sheriff Office’s (HCSO) detectives see no shortage of crime that keeps them busy, but the recent arrest of seven men between the ages 55 and 84 for lewdness at a County Park in Ruskin is definitely one for the books.

According to Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer, Debbie Carter, detectives from the Special Investigation Division, Selective Operations Section conducted undercover operation at Heritage Park in Sun City in southern Hillsborough County. The investigations were in response to information that parts of the public park were known to be meeting places for lewd activities.

Area residents and visitor to the park located at 3030 S US Hwy. 41 in Ruskin have been complaining about perverts frequenting the family-friendly facility, meeting up for sex acts, which they said sometimes happens on the park benches or in their cars.

During the undercover operation, utilizing male undercover detectives, the seven individuals were arrested for various charges including Battery, Exposure of Sexual Organs and Entering and Remaining in a Place for Lewdness.  

The men arrested included Lanny Losure, 75 of Parish, Cecil Richardson, 74, of Sun City, Robert Schneider, 84 of St. Petersburg, Frank Brooks, 78, of Sun City, Joseph Martinez, 55 of Ruskin, Douglas Brown, 57 of Palmetto and James Pacitto, 79 of Millville NJ.

Schneider, the oldest in the bunch, has reportedly been put on probation in Pinellas County for exposing himself six years ago. The men were charged with Battery, Entering or Remaining in a Place for Lewdness. Local park goers hope that the men got the message and that the recent arrest will stop the indecent activities in their park. Officials said that their meet up at the park was not all that difficult as the men connect through websites and private chat rooms.

While the recent arrests raised awareness of the activities in the park, and has seemingly halted the “hook ups”, the sheriff’s office emphasized that it was good detective work and most importantly the public’s vigilance and assistance working with law enforcement that helped clean up the park; at least for now.

For information about the HCSO, visit hcso.tampa.fl.us or call 247-8200.