13 years later, man back in Starke to face sexual battery charges

Published: Friday, February 22, 2013 at 6:18 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 22, 2013 at 6:18 p.m.

After 13 years, the Bradford County Sheriff’s Office charged a man suspected in two counts of sexual battery against minors on Friday.

A warrant for the arrest of Juan Oquendo Jr., 49, was originally signed in 2000 by then Judge Larry Turner, according to Bradford Sheriff’s Capt. Brad Smith. Oquendo has been on the most wanted list in Bradford County since the warrant was issued.

Oquendo worked in Bradford County as an officer at the Union Correctional Institute, Smith said, but had already resigned and left the area when the allegations against him surfaced.

Smith said a detective at the time had information that Oquendo may have moved to Puerto Rico or New York, and that the department was unsure whether Oquendo knew about the charges against him.

A woman in Puerto Rico, who Smith said may be a potential victim of Oquendo, saw Oquendo’s information on the Bradford County website and sent the department an email. Detective Lt. Gail Russell took over the case and confirmed the suspect’s whereabouts with the tipster, according to Smith.

Russell then coordinated with the FBI and authorities in Puerto Rico to detain the suspect and have him extradited back to Bradford County to face the charges.

The FBI escorted Oquendo to Jacksonville, where Bradford deputies took him into custody. They will attempt to interview him, Smith said, and then place him in jail.

Oquendo is being held on a $100,000 bond.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top