Sex offender charged with failing to register Waldo address

Published: Friday, January 7, 2011 at 10:16 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 7, 2011 at 10:12 p.m.

A tip from an FBI agent led deputies to a sex offender from Maine who apparently had moved to Waldo after contacting women in Alachua County on Facebook, authorities said.

Alachua County sheriff’s Detective Brandon Kutner got the FBI tip that Gary Leroy Gardner, 39, had convictions that included the sexual battery of a minor under the age of 14.

Sheriff’s spokesman Art Forgey said the tip also included information from Gardner’s Facebook account that he had been using the social media site to contact single women in the Gainesville area and had recently taken a bus to Alachua County to visit a woman.

According to Forgey, Facebook removed Gardner’s account after being notified about his criminal history.

Kutner said probation officers in Maine told them that Gardner was staying or living with a woman in Waldo whom he considered to be a new girlfriend. Investigators said at least one resident in the home where Gardner was staying is considered a vulnerable person who would be unable to consent to sexual activity.

Deputies arrested Gardner Thursday afternoon in Waldo on the charge of failing to register with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Sex Offender Registry after he had been in the state for more than five days.

The case against Gardner was forwarded to the State Attorney’s Office to determine if failing to register qualifies him to be classified as a sexual predator in Florida.

Gardner was being held at the Alachua County jail on Friday.

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