A drug smuggler who skipped his June 2013 sentencing hearing in Lorain County Common Pleas Court was arrested Thursday in Plant City, Fla.
Bondsman Tony Horn, of Lorain-based T-Bonds, said he tracked John Davis to a trailer park outside of Tampa after flying to Florida earlier this week to search for the 54-year-old who was free on a $200,000 bond when he disappeared.
Horn said he used Social Security payments and packages of food Davis’ mother was sending to her son to locate him in the trailer, which wasn’t hooked up to any utilities. He said it appeared that Davis almost never left the trailer.
“I had to go way, way down deep to find him,” he said.
Horn said he spent a good deal of time watching the trailer until he was certain he had found his man before calling the U.S. Marshals Service and Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies to make the formal arrest.
When Davis answered the door, Horn said the man claimed his name was Wayne, but police were able to use a portable fingerprint scanner to determine it was the fugitive he was looking for.
Once his identity was confirmed, Davis was taken into custody and was being held at the Hillsborough County Jail on Thursday, according to jail records. Horn said Davis didn’t put up a fight when he was arrested.
A Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman said there is no formal report on Davis’ arrest because he was taken into custody on a warrant.
Lorain County prosecutors will now seek to have Davis extradited to Ohio so he can be formally sentenced. He faces a mandatory eight-year prison sentence when he returns to Ohio.
Davis’ attorney, Jack Bradley, has previously said his client was in poor health and had feared he wouldn’t live to see the end of his case but had always reported for his court dates before failing to show up for sentencing.
Bradley and county Prosecutor Dennis Will did not return calls seeking comment Thursday.
Davis pleaded no contest in February 2013 to trafficking in marijuana and other charges stemming from his March 2011 arrest when Ohio Highway Patrol troopers caught him with roughly 188 pounds of marijuana on the Ohio Turnpike.
After Davis missed his sentencing, prosecutors began the process of claiming the bond money that had been put up by Access Bail Bonds. T-Bonds served as the local agent in Lorain County for Access, Horn said.
County Common Pleas Judge Christopher Rothgery issued orders in July, October and January requiring that the $200,000, which would be split evenly between Will’s office and the patrol, be forfeited.
But in March, prosecutors and Allegheny Casualty Co., the surety company backing the bond, cut a deal to buy the bonding companies more time to locate Davis. That agreement required the $200,000 to be deposited with county Clerk of Courts Ron Nabakowski’s office and held until June 20.
If Davis wasn’t in custody by then or the companies failed to make a convincing argument why the bond shouldn’t be forfeited, the money would be turned over to the government, the agreement said.
Horn said he appreciated that the court gave him and the other companies involved another chance to find the missing man. He said Davis’ capture will now allow the companies to seek the return of most of the money posted for the bond.