An Ocala man and a Summerfield man with a checkered legal past are behind bars in connection with a stolen vehicle.
Marion County sheriff’s deputies were called Sunday to the Microtel Inn & Suites, located at 1771 S.W. 134th St. in Ocala, after a man reported his vehicle missing. The victim told deputies that 22-year-old Zachary Alan Hamel, of Ocala, had taken the vehicle. He said he had met Hamel the night before and given him a ride to the hotel, a sheriff’s office report states.
The victim said Hamel had asked him for his car keys at about 11:15 a.m. so he could get his belongings. The victim said he gave him the keys but told him to bring them back when he was finished and didn’t give him permission to drive the vehicle, the report says.
The victim said after several minutes had passed he thought Hamel was taking too long so he want to investigate and discovered that his vehicle was missing. He said there was another person with the victim he knew only as “Frankie G.”
Deputies reviewed video surveillance footage of Hamel walking out of the Microtel to the victim’s vehicle and talking with 20-year-old Michael Joseph Pent Jr., who lives at 8575 S.E. 128th Place in Summerfield. The two appeared to be “debating” before getting into the vehicle and driving away, the report says.
Deputies spoke with the person who sold the vehicle to the victim, who reported that it came equipped with a GPS tracker. The former owner said it was parked near the intersection of Hwy. 25 and S.E. 132nd Terr. in Ocklawaha.
Deputies responded to area and located the vehicle sitting behind a cottage residence in the 13000 block of Hwy. 25. They spoke with the man renting the cottage, who said that both Hamel and Pent had arrived in the vehicle and were inside his residence, the report says.
The man told deputies that Pence was driving the vehicle and Hamel was riding in the passenger seat when they arrived. He said it was “unusual” for anyone to park behind his house and then gave deputies permission to enter the residence to locate the suspects when commands to exit went unanswered, the report says.
After deputies entered the residence, Hamel announced that he was in the bathroom and came out when ordered to do so. Pent was then found hiding in the shower, the report says.
Hamel, who lives at 11267 S.W. 76th Terr. in Ocala, told deputies the victim had given him permission to drive his vehicle “to see his mom and run errands.” When asked to identify the victim, Hamel provided two incorrect first names, the report says.
After being read his rights, Pent admitted to driving the vehicle from the hotel with the understanding that Hamel was allowed to use it. Later, Pent said he had told Hamel he didn’t want to be “part of this situation.” When asked why, he said he “had a feeling” something wasn’t right about Hamel borrowing the car. When asked why he was hiding, he responded that “he doesn’t like cops,”, the report says.
Both Pent and Hamel were placed under arrest, transported to the Marion County Jail and charged with grand theft of a motor vehicle. Both were being held on no bond and are due in court Oct. 20 at 9 a.m. to answer to the charges, jail records show.
Pent is no stranger to the Marion County legal system. In August, he was arrested on a drug charge after the vehicle he was riding in was stopped for running a stop sign while pulling out of the Queen’s Garden Resort motel in Ocala. He also was arrested in May after a shooting at a Summerfield residence. In that incident, the victim told deputies that Pent had been “rolling up marijuana” while a gun was on his lap. He said the gun fell to the floor and Pent picked it up and it went off, a sheriff’s office report states.