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Cuban National, Convicted Felon, Found in Possession of AR-15, Five Separate Arrests in Hernando County

HERNANDO – Earlier this month, RNRF published an article that cited a November 16th, Center for Immigration Studies’ determination that Hernando County was at risk of losing federal law enforcement funding. The article infuriated Sheriff Al Nienhuis who blasted RNRF on the agencies Facebook Page, calling us “Fake News.” Nienhuis also attacked the quasi-government organization for erroneously reporting Hernando County as a “Sanctuary City” and requested that they remove the designation from their website. But what led to the organization’s decision to begin with? (ORIGINAL ARTICLE)

In an attempt to put the accusations to rest, RNRF requested information on all undocumented or illegal aliens who are arrested and booked into the Hernando County Jail. Surprisingly, the Sheriff’s Office doesn’t keep specific inmate immigration records in an easily accessible database. A spokesperson tells RNRF that even if we requested a keyword search of their database, we would receive a response that is “. . . probably too large to even begin to check for redactions without a substantial deposit.” So, basically there is absolutely no practical way for the community to track undocumented or illegal aliens through the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.

By chance, a viewer brought to our attention the arrest of 31-year-old Leandro Escalona, a Cuban National who has been arrested at least 5-times in Hernando County since 2011. Escalona’s past charges include possession of marijuana with intent to sell, manufacture or deliver, multiple DUI’s, felony violation of probation, several driving on a suspended license, and on December 17th Escalona was arrested for being in possession of a firearm, fleeing to elude, DUI, and being a habitual offender. During a search of Escalona’s vehicle, deputies discovered a fully loaded AR-15 with additional ammunition nearby.

RNRF inquired about Escalona’s charges and asked if ICE had been contacted to investigate the suspect’s immigration status. HCSO Spokesperson Michael Terry replied, “The Inmate was arrested on 12/17/18 on the below charges and bonded by Big Deal Bail bonds – however, while awaiting actual release, ICE was notified due to him being born in Cuba. As a result, ICE placed a hold/warrant and as such, the Bail Bond was revoked by the Bondsman on 12/18/17. He never actually left the building due to the ICE hold/warrant. ICE will come and get this Inmate once he is finished with his charges or until a bond is placed.”

A review of past court cases on the Hernando County Clerk’s Website makes no mention of immigration issues during the prosecution of his numerous charges.

We asked the Sheriff’s Office if they contacted ICE after Escalona’s prior arrests and if they could provide documentation on those requests, but we have yet to receive a response.

We spoke with Tom Bird of the Department of Homeland Security, but due to the holidays and decreased resources, he was unable to review the case at this time.

It should be noted that 22 Cuban Nationals were arrested last year, during a multi-agency investigation into a Cuban drug trafficking organization called “Hydro Hustlers.” Three suspects were arrested in Hernando County. (CLICK HERE FOR FULL STORY)

The Center of Immigration Studies has since removed Hernando County from their list of jurisdiction at risk of losing federal funding.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ™2013 – 2017 RNRF Incorporated.


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  • I love how they say a viewer brought this to our attention and not even giving you the right details this is fake news just to let you know

    Thursday, 28 December 2017, 11:58 am
  • I see he is eating very well here in the states! you can see a good 30+lbs difference from picture 1 to picture 5

    Wednesday, 27 December 2017, 11:41 pm
  • Thanks Tom for keeping us informed,we wouldn’t know otherwise.

    Wednesday, 27 December 2017, 7:10 pm
  • The revolving door of justice spins its wheels again

    Wednesday, 27 December 2017, 5:05 pm
  • I still say it is our justice system these judges get paid and take alot of breaks to make these decisions waste of money

    Wednesday, 27 December 2017, 11:10 am
  • He’s the dope supplier for the dawn center, that’s why. Ol’ KNEE-HIGH pays him directly!!

    Wednesday, 27 December 2017, 10:05 am
  • It is interesting to see that the bonds were posted and according to the clerks office the defendant is on bond at the present time. The court file shows no surrender by the bondsman, I see he is in jail but the bonds went through to the clerks office. If in fact the bondsman pulled the bonds before being released the SO should have given the bonds back to the bondsman, or since the bonds were transferred to the clerk there should be a bondsmans statement of Surrender as required by the Insurance Commissioner which is form DFS-H2-1542 per 69B-221-100 (2) of the Florida Insurance Code. The clerk also send a Notice to Appear to the bondsman on December 20. 2017, to have the defendant in court on January 9, 2018.

    Wednesday, 27 December 2017, 9:54 am
  • Send him back to Cuba and he can take the sheriff with him

    Wednesday, 27 December 2017, 9:52 am
  • I could provide more details showing that Hernando county is a sanctuary city. The utilities department hired an out of state firm to build a parking structure. The firm hired illegal immigrants to do the work on Hernando county buildings and the director of the utilities dependent knew this. I called the HCSO and an ICE check was requested, the director of the utilities department was IRRATE that HCSO was called and an ICE check was requested. The two men doing the work already had a deportation hearing scheduled so the deputy let the two individuals go free. Later that day I was reprimanded by my boss for calling HCSO and requesting an ICE check.

    Wednesday, 27 December 2017, 12:27 am
    • And who are you to check about the individual if you weren’t present at the time that this was all so call said

      Wednesday, 27 December 2017, 9:10 pm
    • I have no doubt in my mind that this happens. Thank you for doing what is right. This county is corrupt, from the top all the way down. Our deputies are the most useless people who can’t even comprehend the laws they took an oath to enforce.

      Thursday, 28 December 2017, 12:20 pm
  • He’s had court cases in this county with paper arrests since 2007. For the last ten years this county has known his is an illegal and they have done nothing about it. This is why Hernando County is a sanctuary county, no matter what Sheriff Nut House says or does. Neither do the judges, accept withhold adjudication.

    HERNANDO Misdemeanor CLOSED


    Date 05/11/2007

    1 901.36.1 PROVIDING FALSE NAME TO LAW ENFORCEMNT OFCR 05/30/2007 Court: Adjudication Withheld
    2 320.02.1 NO MOTOR VEHICLE REGISTRATION 05/30/2007 Court: Adjudication Withheld


    Tuesday, 26 December 2017, 5:59 pm
    • Did you just call the sheriff nuthouse? I thought I was the only one that felt that way. Actually he’s an ass hat but I like the name you gave him too.

      Wednesday, 27 December 2017, 12:18 pm
  • I know who I’m NOT voting for sheriff !!!

    Tuesday, 26 December 2017, 5:58 pm
  • Fake news

    Tuesday, 26 December 2017, 5:38 pm
  • Ok sheriff, WTF! Sanctuary Hernando county,vote the sheriff out of office!!!!!!

    Tuesday, 26 December 2017, 5:36 pm
  • Yes, you got it……..shootem, hangem and send him back to Cuba. Case closed

    Tuesday, 26 December 2017, 5:26 pm
  • This guy uses a number of aliases and it’s noted in the clerks files that he is known to not be a US citizen, for the last few years.

    Tuesday, 26 December 2017, 5:06 pm
  • Send him home to the loving arms of the Communist government in Cuba.

    Tuesday, 26 December 2017, 5:05 pm

    Tuesday, 26 December 2017, 4:59 pm

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