Michael Celello

Man guilty of fatally shooting roommate, dumping his body in Everglades

 

Michael Celello

Michael Celello

A Sebring man was found guilty earlier this month of shooting and killing his roommate in 2016 then stealing his Lexus with the man’s body in the trunk.

Michael Celello was convicted of second degree murder with a firearm, grand theft and tampering with evidence. Celello, 59, faces life in prison.

Celello dumped the body of Michael Cerillo in the Everglades off Alligator Alley after shooting him five times in his bed at their home in Sebring.

 

The two often argued.

Assistant State Attorney Steve Houchin told jurors that Celello had become irritated with Cerillo’s constant criticism of him.

Celello reached a breaking point after the latest argument on the night of June 28, 2016.

He grabbed a gun under the couch, walked to the bedroom and shot Cerillo then wrapped his body in a sheet and loaded it into in the back of the Lexus. On the way to the Everglades, he picked up a friend then headed to the swamp to dump the body.

After dumping the body, Celello stopped at a service plaza in Broward County. His friend, passed a note to an employee at the station, asking him to call the police because she had just seen her friend dump a body in the Everglades.

The clerk called the Miccosukee Police Department and an officer later stopped the Lexus and arrested Celello.

On Saturday, jurors deliberated for about two hours before finding Celello guilty. Circuit Judge Peter Estrada will sentence Celello in the coming weeks.

State Attorney Brian Haas thanks all law enforcement agencies, including the Highland County Sheriff’s Office, and Assistant State Attorney Houchin for their work on the case.

 

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Ezekial Ortiz

Winter Haven man, 65, sentenced to 15 years for lewd battery on a teen girl

 

Ezekial Ortiz

Ezekial Ortiz

A 65-year-old Winter Haven man was sentenced to 15 years in prison last week for sexually assaulting a teenage girl.

Ezekial Ortiz was convicted as charged by a jury in September of lewd battery, transforming material harmful to minors, and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.

Circuit Judge Neil Roddenbery sentenced Ortiz to 15 years followed by five years of sex offender probation.  He was arrested by Winter Haven Police in 2016. Assistant State Attorney Randall Daugustinis prosecuted the case.

State Attorney Brian Haas thanks Assistant State Attorney Daugustinis and Winter Haven Police detectives for their work on the case.

 

 

 

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Jose Vargas

Lakeland man sentenced to life for sexually assaulting 12-year-old girl

Jose Vargas

Jose Vargas

A 39-year-old Lakeland man who sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl in 2016 was sentenced to life in prison on Friday.

Before the sentence, Jose Vargas, standing in an orange jumpsuit, and his lawyer, asked Circuit Judge Neil Roddenbery for leniency. Assistant State Attorney Courtney Durden countered that Florida statute required a sentence of life.

Roddenbery listened to both sides then ordered Vargas to serve life in prison.

In October, jurors took 80 minutes to find Vargas guilty.

The case broke in September, 2016 when the victim told her teacher about repeated sexual assaults. The teacher then notified the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

State Attorney Brian Haas thanks ASA Durden and Polk County Sheriff’s detectives for their work on the case.

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Humberto Cueto

Lakeland man sentenced to 25 years for molesting girl

 

Humberto Cueto

Humberto Cueto

A 31-year-old Lakeland man was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Monday for molesting an 11-year-old girl.

Humberto Cueto pled no contest to attempted sexual battery and lewd molestation. Circuit Judge Keith Spoto sentenced Cueto to 25 years in state prison as a minimum mandatory, meaning Cueto is not eligible for any type of gain time, followed by 10 years of probation. Once released, Cueto must be required to register as a sexual predator.

Assistant State Attorney Courtney Durden prosecuted the case.

Cueto was arrested by Lakeland Police in 2018.

State Attorney Brian Haas thanks ASA Durden and detectives from the Lakeland Police Department for their work on the case.

 

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