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Ocala

Dunnellon man back in jail hours after bonding out

Christopher Michael Lanford

A Dunnellon man was arrested on theft and drug charges just hours after bonding out of the Marion County Jail.

Christopher Michael Lanford, 30, of 5363 SW 160th Court, was released at 3:11 a.m. Sunday after being held 3½ days on drug and weapon charges. Later that morning, Marion County sheriff’s deputies charged him with stealing from Wal-Mart last month.

A deputy responded Friday to the Wal-Mart at 9570 SW Hwy. 200 in Ocala, where a security employee showed video surveillance of Lanford and another man – 28-year-old Richard Taylor William Taylor Jr. of Lake City – arriving at the store around 3 p.m. April 21. The video shows Lanford place a generator worth $297 and a multi-tool set worth $188 in his cart and leave the store without paying, according to the sheriff’s office report.

The employee can be seen confronting Lanford in person, but she was unable to stop him because she didn’t have a witness and was by herself. Lanford can be seen going out the door and passing all points of sale with the unpaid merchandise, the report said.

Taylor was arrested Friday. Meanwhile, the deputy received information about the possible identity of the suspect and viewed a photo of this person and it appeared to be the same man in the video. A photo lineup was shown to the employee, who positively identified Lanford as the suspect. A criminal records check showed Lanford with convictions for grand theft auto in 2007 and petit theft in January 2020, according to the report.

Multiple units responded to Lanford’s residence Sunday morning and encountered him standing near a black pickup truck. When told to show his hands, Lanford threw something under the truck before he was arrested. The item was retrieved it and it was a small plastic baggie with a gray colored substance that field tested positive for heroin, the report said.

Shown a printed picture from the Walmart surveillance video, Lanford admitted it was him. He said he was told by Taylor that the items in the cart were paid for. Lanford said he didn’t throw the baggie with heroin under the truck, and that he only threw a light bulb, according to the report.

Lanford was charged with second-degree petit theft (third or subsequent offense) and possession of heroin. He was released later in the day on $4,000 bond.

Earlier last week, Lanford was charged with possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, possession of heroin, possession of methamphetamine, possession of a weapon or ammunition by a convicted felon, driving with a suspended license (third offense), and failing to register a motor vehicle.

At around 12:45 p.m. May 20, a deputy observed Lanford driving a vehicle without a license tag attached. A search of the vehicle turned up the drugs and three rounds of .22 ammunition. Lanford was arrested and taken to the Marion County Jail, where he was released early Sunday on $13,500 bond. He’s due to appear in Marion County Court on June 16.

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