Former PC employee Michael Johnson sentenced to 8 years, makes full restitution

Panama City’s former community development director pled no contest to Grand Theft, Money Laundering and 19 counts of Official Misconduct Thursday and was sentenced to 8 years in prison, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Circuit Court Judge Timothy Register accepted the plea and handed down the sentence in the case prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Peter Overstreet.

Above: Prosecutor Peter Overstreet, right, addresses Circuit Court Judge Timothy Register during Michael Johnson’s sentencing Thursday. Below: The defendant signed paperwork returning property to the city Thursday during sentencing before being fingerprinted.

“Actions like these where the public trust is violated simply will not be tolerated,” Basford said. “The defendant was a government employee who used his position to enrich himself. Working with the Panama City Police Department throughout the investigation we were able to prepare a case that was strong enough that the defendant is not only being punished, but the stolen funds are being recovered.”

The plea was predicated upon the defendant surrendering $113,000 found on his property by the FBI, surrendering money he funneled into his personal bank account, and returning properties and vehicles he bought with stolen funds. He also must forfeit his City retirement plans.


Overstreet said the evidence showed the defendant had control of an account at Hancock Bank for the Friends of After School Assistance Program, Inc., since 2012.  The defendant diverted approximately $470,000 intended to be used for the City’s After School Assistance Program (ASAP) to his personal account for his own use. ASAP offers learning opportunities to low-income youths and their families who are at-risk of educational failure and who need a safe haven after-school program.

“Panama City investigators contacted us early on and what we found is that the defendant used the money to purchase a number of vehicles and properties within the city,” Overstreet said.  “It was egregious. He clearly redirected public funds to himself over a number of years, tried to hide it, and for justice to be served he now has to pay a price.”

Basford credited the Panama City Police Department and city officials for their investigation when the fraud was brought to their attention, as well as involving the SAO early on so the agencies and the FBI could work in concert on a complicated financial case and ultimately recover the stolen funds.

For additional information contact Mike Cazalas at

Longtime lawman Dave Edmondson rejoins SAO

A veteran lawman and investigator who retired from the State Attorney’s Office 18 months ago has brought his skills back to the SAO, where he will work as an investigator.

State Attorney Larry Basford announced that Dave Edmondson, whose career included 13 years of service to the SAO, has returned as an investigator working out of the Gulf and Calhoun offices.

State Attorney Larry Basford, right, welcomes veteran lawman Dave Edmondson back to the SAO.

“We are excited about Dave Edmondson rejoining our team,” Basford said. “Our investigators are a key component of what we accomplish, and they work directly with prosecutors preparing cases. When we can add someone with the experience and skills that Dave carries, everybody benefits.”

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Edmondson began his law enforcement career in 1991 with the Sneads Police Department, moving from there to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office before joining the State Attorney’s Office about 15 years ago, working out of the Marianna office.

He retired in 2021 but after 30 years in law enforcement, he felt something pulling him back.

“I really think that I can help,” Edmondson said. “I sat on the sidelines for a while and I just decided I really wanted to do something to help and continue to serve the people in this circuit.”

Edmondson began his career as a patrolman, worked property and sex crimes as an investigator, was part of a multi-agency drug task force for more than 10 years and worked undercover as well. His “favorite,” he said, was when he served on a SWAT team.

For additional information contact Mike Cazalas at

Guilty verdict, 30-year sentence for Fentanyl trafficker

Circuit Judge Timothy Register has a sidebar with, left to right, Prosecutor Frank Sullivan, the defense attorney and co-prosecutor Nichole Pieper while a BCSO bailiff observes.

A Panama City woman found guilty as charged Wednesday of Trafficking in Fentanyl was sentenced to 30 years in prison, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

A Bay County jury found Danielle Michelle Cooper, 38, guilty of Trafficking in Fentanyl (14 grams or more but less than 28 grams), and Possession of Paraphernalia. Prosecutor Frank Sullivan said the 30-year sentence handed down by Circuit Court Judge Timothy Register following the verdict was the maximum. The first 15 years are minimum-mandatory.

Prosecutor Frank Sullivan shows jurors how the defendant flung a baggie of Fentanyl out her truck window during opening statements.

“Fentanyl is poisoning our community and we are committed to prosecuting these cases and getting it off our streets,” said Sullivan, who also credited the Bay County Sheriff’s Office for the evidence it gathered.

Sullivan called 4 witnesses and presented evidence proving the defendant was in possession of more than 14 grams of Fentanyl when case agent Phillip Hill and deputies served a search warrant on her home Oct. 9, 2021. It was Hill who was wearing a GoPro camera that would provide crucial evidence.

Hill was the first witness and testified deputies had a search warrant in hand and were waiting for the defendant to return home. When she pulled into the driveway, so did deputies, who identified themselves.

Hill testified he saw the defendant throw a plastic baggie out of the driver’s window. A GoPro body camera he was wearing captured that sequence of events, and the video was played for jurors. Sullivan was able to freeze-frame the video and capture an image of the baggie in the air. It was recovered and found to contain Fentanyl.

The defendant did not take the stand, but a passenger in the truck she was driving testified as co-counsel Nichole Pieper observed.





Former Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jasmin Clack, now with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, testified she searched the defendant after she was taken into custody and found a baggie containing Fentanyl in her bra.

Basford thanked the Bay County Sheriff’s Office for its continued pursuit of drug traffickers and the strong evidence in this case.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at, or call 850-381-7454.

Woman arrested in 2020 for failure to appear and drug charges is convicted in abstentia after failing to appear for trial

PORT ST. JOE – A Marianna woman accused of trying to smuggle methamphetamine into the Gulf County Jail after her 2020 arrest for Failure to Appear, also failed to appear for her trial on those charges Tuesday.

The trial went on without Vicki Trickey, 62, and the jury took 4 minutes to return verdicts of guilty of Introduction of Contraband into a County Detention Facility, Possession of Methamphetamine, and Possession of Paraphernalia. Circuit Court Judge Devin Collier set a sentencing date for March 16. She faces up to 5 years in prison.

Vicki Trickey failed to appear for her trial Tuesday.

Collier also issued a hold-without-bond pickup order for the defendant for Failure to Appear for her trial.

Judge Collier instructed jurors on the defendant’s absence and court procedure before the trial began.

“The Defendant, Vicki Wood Trickey, has voluntarily absented herself from this trial,” he said. “The Court warned the Defendant that her failure to appear for trial may result in the trial being conducted without her physical presence.

“As such, the Court has determined that the trial will proceed without the Defendant’s presence; my legal decision in this regard must not influence your verdict one way or the other.”

Gulf County Chief Prosecutor Tracy Smith presented witnesses and testimony from the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office and the Gulf County Detention Facility proving that the defendant was stopped by deputies Nov. 2, 2020. A routine check showed the defendant was wanted for Failure to Appear on an unrelated charge and she was taken into custody.

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At the jail, the evidence showed, the defendant was searched for contraband and was found in possession of a medicine bottle containing two small baggies with methamphetamine.

State Attorney Larry Basford thanked the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office and jail staff for their thorough work in finding the contraband during the booking process.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at, or call 850-381-7454.

4 Life sentences for man who sexually attacked child repeatedly

A Bay County man found guilty of repeatedly sexually battering and molesting a child was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Jacob Lee Hudson, 40, was found guilty Tuesday of 4 counts of Sexual Battery on a Child under the age of 12, 10 counts of Lewd or Lascivious Molestation, and 1 count of Lewd or Lascivious Conduct. Circuit Judge Shonna Young Gay gave the defendant Life in prison on each of the Sexual Battery charges, 25 years minimum-mandatory on each of the Lewd or Lascivious Molestation charges, and 5 years on the final offense.

Jacob Lee Hudson at time of most recent arrest

The 4 Life sentences are to be served consecutively, while the remaining charges will be served concurrently with the first Life sentence. Hudson had previously been sentenced to 7 years in prison for a 2004 Lewd and Lascivious Conduct conviction.

Prosecutor Barbara Beasley presented witnesses and evidence proving that Bay County Sheriff’s Office deputies were called on Aug. 1, 2019, after a woman found out the defendant had been buying the victim gifts.

Deputy Sean Simonson, who responded to the call, talked to the woman about her suspicions and then made contact with the defendant. Simonson testified the defendant stated, “I’m not admitting or denying anything.”

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The child was interviewed and examined by members of the Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center Child Protection Team the same day and it was determined she had been sexually assaulted on multiple occasions. The defendant was arrested that night.

Jacob Lee Hudson at time of his 2011 release from prison.

“This was really good work by Deputy Simonson because when he asked the defendant if he had anything to say, and got that response, he immediately put that in his report and documented it and was able to testify to it,” Beasley said. “It helped give credibility to the allegations both early in the investigation and during trial.”

Basford thanked the Bay County Sheriff’s Office for its handling of the initial call and investigation, and the GCCAC for its role and handling of the victim’s interview.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at, or call 850-381-7454.

Man convicted of setting house on fire, fighting responding officers

A Parker man who witnesses heard muttering he set a house on fire because his gas can “was his only weapon” was found guilty as charged Thursday, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Lance Allan Johnson, 64, was found guilty of Second-Degree Arson, Resisting an Officer with Violence, and Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer after about an hour of deliberations. Circuit Court Judge Brantley Clark set sentencing for March 1.

Lance Johnson was found guilty of setting the fire that destroyed this home.



Prosecutor Dustin Miller said the day of the arson started with the defendant calling a news outlet and making a threat to commit violence.

“He followed that up later in the day by setting his residence on fire and striking a deputy who was attempting to arrest him,” Miller said. “Thursday, a Bay County jury held him accountable for his actions.

“The State takes these crimes seriously, and I am proud of all the work from the multiple agencies on this case,” Miller continued. “A guilty verdict wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of law enforcement.”

Lance Johnson

Miller called 9 witnesses, including Parker and Springfield police as well as Bay County Sheriff’s Office deputies who were involved in the arrest and investigation. The evidence included pictures of the structure, which was destroyed by the fire.

The testimony and evidence proved the defendant started a fire in the rear bedroom of the Ethlyn Road structure on March 11. Two witnesses saw the defendant leaving the residence at the time of the fire and heard him saying, “the gas can was his only weapon, to let (the structure) burn.”

A BCSO deputy testified he tried to take the defendant, who had an outstanding warrant, into custody but he resisted, pulled away, and then struck him in the chest with his elbow.

Basford pointed out the collaboration between the various agencies is an example of the area’s public safety work ethic, and results in prosecutors having a stronger case to prosecute.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at, or call 850-381-7454.

Wausau man guilty of trafficking in Meth

CHIPLEY – A man snared by the Washington County Drug Task Force in 2021 was found guilty Tuesday of possessing and trafficking in methamphetamine, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

A Washington County jury needed only 17 minutes to find William Lowell Rogers, 50, of Chipley, guilty as charged of Trafficking in Methamphetamine (more than 28 grams) and Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Sell.

William Rogers

Chief Circuit Court Judge Christopher Patterson set sentencing for March 27.

Under Florida’s drug sentencing laws, the defendant faces a minimum-mandatory 7-year sentence – and up to 30 years – in addition to a $100,000 find on the Trafficking conviction.

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Washington County Chief Prosecutor Megan Ford called four witnesses and presented evidence proving that the Washington County Drug Task Force and Washington County Sheriff’s Office served a search warrant on the defendant’s home Sept. 12, 2021. The search warrant came after a series of controlled buys at the home by law enforcement.

Testimony and evidence showed that the defendant – the only person in the home – denied there were any drugs there. But the search turned up 37 grams of methamphetamine.

Basford thanked Washington County authorities for the task force’s work and the strong case put together for prosecution.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at, or call 850-381-7454.

Guilty verdict, 30-year sentence for Fentanyl trafficker

The State put on 2 witnesses and entered 18 pieces of evidence, but it was a few minutes of video and the defendant’s own statements that helped a jury reach a guilty verdict in only 7 minutes Thursday, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Prosecutor Frank Sullivan addresses the jury during opening statements.

Charles Kevin Dawson, Jr., was found guilty of Trafficking in Fentanyl (4 grams or more but less than 14 grams), Possession of Oxycodone, Possession of Amphetamines/Methamphetamine, Possession of a Controlled Substance, and Possession of Paraphernalia.

Sentencing followed the verdict, and Prosecutor Frank Sullivan noted the defendant’s criminal record, which includes a Sexual Battery in 2008 and Failure to Register as a Sexual Predator.

“I would point out obviously that the defendant has a criminal history that includes a previous capital offense,” Sullivan said to Circuit Court Judge Brantley Clark. “The State is asking for the maximum on the Trafficking in Fentanyl.”



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Judge Clark agreed, sentencing the defendant to 30 years on the Trafficking charge and 5 years each on the other drug charges, to be served concurrently with the Trafficking sentence. The defendant was given time served on the paraphernalia charge.

Sullivan presented witnesses and evidence that proved the defendant was in possession of a variety of drugs when Bay County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jeremy Head led a team serving a search warrant on his room at a Youngstown hotel Feb. 18, 2021.

Video from a GoPro camera showed the entry into the room, where deputies could see 2 Crown Royal bags in plain sight on the bed. The defendant and a woman were in the room, and the defendant quickly told deputies the woman “doesn’t know anything about this.”

The two were taken out of the room and during a search deputies found drugs in the Crown Royal bags and other places, including a plate underneath the bed. They also found mail addressed to the defendant at that address.

“What this case is going to come down to is did the defendant possess the drugs? It’s as simple as that,” Sullivan told jurors in his closing argument. “Ladies and gentlemen, this isn’t a complex case. There isn’t a lot of different pieces of evidence. But what there is proves the defendant is guilty.”

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at, or call 850-381-7454.

Fentanyl trafficker found guilty, sentenced to 10 years

A Bay County jury took 19 minutes Friday to find a woman guilty as charged of trafficking in fentanyl and heroin, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Stephanie Anne Hoskins, 55, of Panama City Beach, was found guilty of Trafficking in Fentanyl (4 grams or more), Trafficking in Illegal Drugs (4 grams or more), and Possession of Paraphernalia. Circuit Court Judge Brantley Clark sentenced the defendant to 10 years in prison, with a minimum-mandatory 3 years under Florida’s drug sentencing statutes. She was also fined $100,000.

Prosecutor Josh James called three witnesses and put on evidence proving the defendant and her roommate were under investigation for selling drugs by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Division in June, 2021.  A Department of Corrections probation officer conducted a walk-through of the home June 28, 2021, and found a methamphetamine pipe.

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The defendant and co-defendant both consented to a search, and Deputy Gage Cowart testified they recovered 6.02 grams of a heroin/fentanyl mixture. The defendant admitted to deputies that they were “cutting” the heroin with fentanyl – which is cheaper and stronger – and dividing it into 20 packages of 1/3 gram each to increase their profit.

“This is one of those cases where people think they are buying heroin but without their knowledge it’s laced with fentanyl,” James said. “And that’s extremely dangerous because fentanyl is a lot more potent and deadly than heroin and that is where the overdoses are happening.”

The Centers for Disease Control lists fentanyl overdoses as the leading cause of death for Americans between 18-45 years of age.

“A lot of those overdose deaths are a result of people thinking they’re buying heroin or meth when it’s secretly laced with fentanyl,” James said. “Dealers do it for a larger profit margin while putting people at risk.”

Basford credited the Sheriff’s Office for its work seeking out fentanyl dealers and helping to get them off the streets.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at, or call 850-381-7454.

Death sentence for Caylor in 2008 murder, sexual battery of a child

For the second time in 13 years, Matthew Lee Caylor was sentenced to death Thursday for the 2008 murder and sexual battery of a 13-year-old girl in a Panama City motel, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Chief Circuit Judge Christopher Patterson issued the sentence with a 13-page Sentencing Order that concluded, “The Court finds that the aggravating factors in this case far outweigh the mitigating circumstances.”

The defendant was convicted of First-Degree Murder, Sexual Battery Involving Great Physical Force, and Aggravated Child Abuse in Oct., 2009, and sentenced to death by an 8-4 jury vote. The case was one of dozens across the state where new sentencing hearings were ordered after a 2016 Florida Supreme Court ruling that death sentences required unanimous votes.

“I originally prosecuted and convicted the defendant 13 and a half years ago and I remember well the agony caused by his horrific actions,” Basford said. “I also remember the tireless efforts of the Panama City Police Department and others to investigate and solve this case. In 2009 a Bay County jury and Judge Dedee Costello decided that death was the appropriate sentence for sexually battering and killing this child.

“Judge Patterson, after reviewing the records and hearing all the other relevant evidence has also found that the death sentence was and is proper in this case,” Basford continued. “I agree.”

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The victim, 13, and her family were living in a westside hotel where the defendant also was staying. Evidence and witnesses at the 2009 trial proved Caylor sexually battered the victim in his room and then strangled her to death. He hid her body under the bed, where it was found 2 days later.

The defendant was already in custody on an unrelated charge and admitted to the crimes.

The defendant was granted a new sentencing hearing in 2017. Prior to the second penalty phase, the defendant waived his right to a jury for the sentencing hearing, meaning the judge would determine the sentence based on the evidence.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at, or call 850-381-7454.