Ocala, Florida — All charges against two men who allegedly planned an attack on the Eustis Police Department have been dropped.
Ocala Post obtained an eight-page memorandum from the State Attorney’s Office that outlines why the charges were dropped.
In May, Christopher M. Conger, 32, and Jeremy Robertson, 29, were arrested after the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said they received a tip that the two were planning an attack on the EPD with a grenade rocket launcher.
The tip came from Brandon Stevens, an inmate who was arrested by MCSO on an outstanding Lake County warrant.
While at the Marion County Jail, Stevens had asked to speak with a detective about unspecified crimes; however, he was not contacted and was transferred to the Lake County Jail. Once he was transferred, he asked to speak with a detective with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
Stevens was interviewed by a Lake County Detective, but Stevens’ statements were not recorded. The detective also failed to write a report on the interview.
A Lake County Detective then passed the information on to MCSO.
Stevens claimed that he saw missile containers in a floor safe located in a shed on the property, located at 17459 Southeast 260th Avenue. He said that he saw Conger return the “rocket launcher” to the floor safe, and then he discussed the alleged attack on the Eustis Police Department.
According to the memo, Eustis Police Chief Gary Calhoun said that he was familiar with Steven’s and his family. The chief was also aware that Stevens had a long history of mental health issues that would cast doubt on any statement he made to authorities. He also said he was not contacted about the matter by MCSO.
The memo also states that, after MCSO received the information from the LCSO about the statements that Stevens made, they did not interview him. Instead, they went to the property and confirmed that there was a shed on the property, the container was built into the floor, and that there may have been some sort of “booby trap” device on the property. The “shed” turned out to be a multi-room shed that was being lived in. Based on these observations, and the unrecorded statement of Stevens, a search warrant was obtained.
MCSO investigators remained on the property while the search warrant was being obtained. The search warrant was approved by the State Attorney prior to the judge signing it.
Upon execution of the search warrant, Robertson and Conger were found in the multi-room shed.
The floor safe only contained a few pieces of paper, a photo of a man who lived on the property, and some photos of women.
The memo noted that the dimensions of the safe were not mentioned in any reports, but photos showed that the safe was not large enough to hold the items described by Stevens.
Also on the premises, investigators found 22 firearms, several containers of black powder , two bullet proof vests, powder and crack cocaine, more than a pound of marijuana, prescription pills, scales, and other drug paraphernalia.
The memo states that none of the drugs or weapons were found in plain view.
In the “Under charging decisions” section, the memo states:
“All current charges stem from the items found after the initial search warrant. If those charges were litigated, the Court would likely be presented with the question of the validity of the first search warrant. The failure of the law enforcement officers to conduct an interview of the source prior to applying for the warrant in order to verify and document his very serious accusations would present a serious problem in an argument in support of the validity of the warrant.”
The sheriff’s office said they had probable cause for Conger’s and Robertson’s arrest and they were charged accordingly. They said they presented the case to the State Attorney’s Office, who ultimately chose not to prosecute Conger and Robertson for these offenses.
Sheriff Chris Blair said, “I believe that the Eustis Police Department is still standing today because of the agency’s actions to interrupt criminal activity by these two individuals that could have possibly caused death and destruction to a number of innocent people.”
Full, unedited details of this case, including, but not limited to, all charges and why the charges were dropped, can be viewed here.