OKEECHOBEE — Investigators with the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) are seeking the public’s help in locating a registered sexual offender who has apparently absconded.
OCSO Public Information Officer Michele Bell said Hector Velasquez, 41, has not registered with her and has not changed the address on his Florida driver’s license or Florida ID card.
“We tried to verify his address Oct. 19 and a couple of times after that, but another person in that home said he no longer lives there,” said Mrs. Bell. “I received information he had been arrested in Tennessee on Oct. 17. But, the charge was not extraditable so he was released.”
She said Velasquez was arrested there on a misdemeanor charge of violation of probation – driving under the influence.
At that time, she added, he was registered in Okeechobee County. In fact, he has been registering locally since 2003.
“We don’t know when he left. But, he does have family in the area,” offered Mrs. Bell.
When an offender changes address, they are required by state law to change their driver’s license or Florida identification card within 48 hours.
According to Mrs. Bell, Velasquez was arrested locally Aug. 3 on a felony charge of possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) and a misdemeanor charge of driving while license suspended (DWLS) with knowledge.
He was supposed to be in court on those charges on Oct. 29, but he did not show up. So, a warrant charging him with failure to appear will now be issued, said Mrs. Bell.
On Aug. 24, Velasquez was again arrested in Okeechobee County. This time he was arrested on a felony DWLS charge. His sentencing on that charge is set for Monday, Nov. 9.
Mrs. Bell said he will also be charged with failure to change his driver’s license.
She went on to point out it’s also a third-degree felony for someone to assist a sexual offender in eluding law enforcement and for someone to withhold information; harbor or attempt to harbor a sexual offender; or, provide false information.
“Basically, if they are lying to us they’re going to jail,” said Mrs. Bell.
If you have information on the whereabouts of Velasquez, you are asked to contact Mrs. Bell at 863-763-5521.
Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News