Hoover convicted; sentencing set for June 30

OKEECHOBEE — An Okeechobee man who was released from prison in August of 2015 could possibly be returning to the Department of Corrections (DOC).

A six-member jury Tuesday, May 23, took about two hours to find Tom Douglas Hoover guilty on felony charges of grand theft-motor vehicle, criminal mischief with a prior conviction and possession of burglary tools. He was also convicted on one misdemeanor count of trespassing.

Hoover, 28, will be sentenced Friday, June 30.

Tom Douglas Hoover

Assistant state attorney Don Richardson, who prosecuted the one-day trial, said Hoover could be sentenced to a maximum sentence of 15 years.

Hoover was sent to prison Nov. 1, 2012, after being convicted of burglary, grand theft-motor vehicle, possession of burglary tools and two counts of criminal mischief. He was sentenced to serve four years in the DOC.

Hoover was arrested March 5, 2016, for breaking into a storage container on N.W. 306th Street and trying to steal an all-terrain vehicle by hot wiring it. In the process, he badly damaged the 2007 Suzuki King Quad’s ignition, stated an arrest report by Deputy James Hartsfield, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO).

The property owners had game cameras around the camp that apparently captured pictures of the suspect, who was later identified as Hoover.

The man in the pictures, noted Deputy Hartsfield, was a “… white male wearing a white shirt with a backpack and blue latex gloves on his hands. The suspect looked like he may be carrying a set of bolt cutters.”

Deputy Hartsfield explained in his report the padlocks on the container were cut.

“(The owner)  inspected the four-wheeler and discovered the wires leading to the keyed ignition switch had been cut in an attempt to bypass the ignition switch,” explained the deputy. “It should be noted there was a cable attached to the ATV and it was still intact.”

Deputy Hartsfield also noted the padlocks on the container were valued at $200 and the damage to the ATV’s ignition cost $534 to repair.

Hoover was represented by defense attorney Armand Murach, from the public defender’s office of the 19th Judicial District.

“I thought the defense attorney did an excellent job,” stated Mr. Richardson.

“And, I appreciate the jury’s service.”

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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