Feb 24, 2015

Fugitive captured in Clark sentenced to 25 years in Florida

A Florida fugitive who tried faking his death before being captured in Clark has been sentenced to 25 years in prison.

David Leon Lashley, 51, received the prison time on Jan. 8 in Alachua County, Fla., Circuit Court. He was convicted of four felony counts relating to an attempt to entice a parent to consent to a child’s participation in a sexual act, traveling to meet a minor for the purpose of engaging in a sex act, using a communications device to facilitate a felony and failing to appear for court.

David Leon Lashley, after his 2013 arrest in Clark
Lashley had been arrested in a 2012 Florida law enforcement sting called, “Operation Tail Feather.” It involved officers going on dating websites and posing as parents who were looking for someone to teach their children about sex.

Lashley responded to an officer pretending to be the mother of an 11-year-old girl with explicit messages saying what he wanted to do with the child, the Gainesville, Fla., Sun reported. He traveled from his home in Lake City, Fla., to Gainesville, expecting to meet the woman and her daughter, but he was instead arrested by police, the Sun reported.

Lashley later posted bond while awaiting trail. However, on the morning of Feb. 7, 2013 — the same morning he was due in court for a change of plea hearing — Lashley’s family reported he’d gone missing while boating in the Gulf of Mexico. A U.S. Coast Guard team of boats and an airplane spent 10 hours looking for Lashley, but found no sign of him.

Ultimately, federal authorities discovered Lashley had actually made his way to Clark and started working at a ranch under the alias of “Wesley Byrd.” A task force made up of U.S. Marshals, members of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Investigative Service and Park County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Lashley on May 20, 2013.

He was returned to Florida and kept behind bars until a two-day trial in October, the Gainesville Sun reported. Lashley had claimed he was entrapped by the sting operation, but the jury disagreed, finding him guilty on all counts after an hour and 15 minutes of deliberations, the Sun reported.

The Florida Department of Corrections website lists Lashley's current release date as March 18, 2035.

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