Two Ocklawaha men were arrested on weapons charges Tuesday morning after they were found sleeping in a truck with a sawed-off shotgun between them at the Hope Boat Ramp on Lake Weir.
Joseph James Behal, 31, of 9591 SE Hwy. 464C, was charged with possession of a short-barreled gun, rifle or machine gun and possession of stolen property. Joshua Michael DeFrangesco, 32, of 9525 SE Hwy. 464 C, was charged with possession of a weapon by a convicted Florida felon.
A Marion County sheriff’s deputy conducting a security check on the boat ramp, located at 16050 SE 115th Ave. in Weirsdale, observed a 2002 red Ford truck with out a license plate and a black Chevy truck with a New York tag backed into parking spaces in an area specifically marked for vehicles with boat trailers attached, according to the sheriff’s office report.
The deputy saw two men sleeping in the red truck. The black truck had a busted-out windshield that appeared to be freshly broken. The boat ramp is open exclusively to Marion County passholders. Due to the way the vehicles were parked, one of the vehicles not having a tag, the other vehicle having a damaged windshield, and the park being for passholders only, the deputy believed a crime had occurred, was occurring, or was about to occur, the report said.
A deputy arrived to assist with the investigation and the two deputies approached the vehicle. One observed what appeared to be a rifle sitting barrel-down between the center console and the front-seat passenger, later identified as Behal. The firearm appeared to be shorter than the typical rifle and shotgun, which led the deputy to believe it may be modified or sawed-off and shorter than the legal barrel limit of 18 inches, according to the report.
The firearm was well within arm’s reach of the driver, later identified as DeFrangesco. The deputies woke up Behal and DeFrangesco, removed the firearm and measured it. The Winchester L400 MK II 12-gauge was 13 and 1/8 inches, the report said.
DeFrangesco told the deputies he is a convicted felon and a records search showed he was convicted of assault and battery in South Carolina, according to the report.
Behal said the sawed-off shotgun belonged to him and was given to him when he was 12 years old. He said about eight months ago, he used a grinder to shorten the length of the barrel because “it looks cooler.” Behal said he knew he shouldn’t have shortened the barrel, the report said.
Behal said he had two more firearms in the bed of his truck, which was the black Chevy. DeFrangesco said he also had a gun in the bed of Behal’s truck, according to the report.
A records check revealed one of the firearms in the back of Behal’s truck was reported stolen. Behal said he purchased it for $250 from a “buddy of a buddy” whom he only knows as “Travis.” He said he did a check “online” that did not show him the firearm was stolen, the report said.
Behal and DeFrangesco are both being held in the Marion County Jail on $10,000 bond and are scheduled to appear in Marion County Court on Nov. 24.