Author: PoliceOne Members

By Mike Ferguson The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — One man is in jail and a deceased police officer’s ashes have been recovered, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Daniel Antonio Nolasco Cardona, 27, from Honduras, is being charged by the Sheriff’s Office with four counts of criminal mischief, four counts of burglary of a dwelling, four counts of conspiracy to commit burglary of a dwelling, four counts of an unlawful two-way communication device, two counts of grand theft and one count of destruction of a monument. Cardona was arrested Tuesday in Miami.

Cardona is accused of committing four burglaries in the South Lakeland area, including taking the urn with the ashes of former Lakeland Police Department Officer Curtis “Buddy” Newsome. Cardona has also been accused of committing at least 14 other burglaries in at least nine other counties.

“They specifically picked neighborhoods that were high-end communities — very nice homes,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a news conference Wednesday. “Buddy Newsome and I actually grew up in the same area of Lakeland. He was a few years younger than me, but I watched him grow into a great police officer and a wonderful man.”

Cardona was in the U.S. on a tourist visa, Judd said. According to Judd, Cardona had two passports and three sets of identification — two of which are fake. The burglaries were being committed with cars rented in South Florida.

“He began to rent cars and commit burglaries in cars he rented all throughout Florida,” Judd said. “He would sneak into homes, take things and go back to Miami. He didn’t stay anywhere for an extended period of time, but he made one mistake: He came to Polk County.”

The Sheriff’s Office and Florida Department of Law Enforcement worked with nine other agencies throughout the state to arrest Cardona. Cardona also is accused of crimes in Brevard, Citrus, Hernando, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Sarasota and St. John’s Counties. Judd said there could be other suspects and further charges.

“It was well-organized and planned out,” Judd said. “They took a lot of property.”

The ashes of Newsome were found intact. Newsome spent 28 years with LPD before retiring more than a decade ago and helping start “Faith Riders,” a motorcycle group at First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland. Newsome died of cancer in 2015.

“The sheriff said this was a miracle,” said the widow, Michele Newsome. “It’s miraculous, and I agree 100 percent. I knew God was in control. I knew Sheriff Grady Judd was in control. There are no words. ‘Thank you’ doesn’t seem adequate enough.”

The crimes that happened in Polk County, Judd said, consisted ofinvolved property and cash. Judd suspects thatCardona assumed the urn was made of gold and could have been melted down.

“I’ve been in this business my entire adult life,” Judd said. “This is one of the more special events. We deliver so much bad news from this podium. It’s exciting to be able to deliver some good news.”

©2018 The Ledger (Lakeland, Fla.)

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