NAPLES — If you're a convicted car thief cruising around in a stolen car, it would be smart to pay the I-75 toll on Alligator Alley-- especially if you don't have a driver license.
But Jesus L. Boneta of Boynton Beach blew through the $2.50 toll, setting off the booth's blue flashing lights, and looked right at a trooper before leading him on a chase, weaving in and out of traffic before crashing and making a run for it.
On Tuesday, Collier Circuit Judge Judge Baker sentenced Boneta, now 27, to 15.4 months in a state prison after he pleaded no contest to feeiing and attempting to elude police. The no valid driver's license charge was dropped as part of a plea agreement.
Baker adjudicated him guilty and gave him credit for time served in the county jail since his arrest on June 14.
State prison records show Boneta hadn't even been out of prison for two years when he was nabbed. Records show he was sentenced to 1 1/2 years in prison in August 2005 for willfully fleeing and eluding law enforcement officers in January of that year. He'd also been sentenced to four years and two months in state prison on seven other charges from 1999, including burglary, burglary of a construction site, grand theft auto and possession of burglar's tools.
Collier County Sheriff's Reports give this account:
About 11:30 a.m. on June 14, a state trooper at the west toll plaza at mile marker 100 on Interstate 75 saw a 1997 Ford Escort drive through the Sun Pass lane, activating the blue flashing lights that indicate the $2.50 toll wasn’t paid. The trooper reported that as the vehicle passed, Boneta made eye contact with him.
He tried to stop the car, but Boneta continued eastbound, "cutting in and out of traffic." The trooper checked the license and discovered the car was stolen from Charlotte County. He continued the chase until ordered to cancel the pursuit out of concern for the safety of other drivers.
Later, authorities received a call about a possible crash near mile marker 56, where a driver was seen fleeing the car and jumping over a fence. Collier deputies, assisted by a helicopter, helped search for the driver, but couldn't find him. Later, as the trooper was filling out a report near the crashed car, authorities received a call about a man walking on the side of the road at mile marker 52. Miccosukee police picked him up and the trooper who originally pursued him identified him as the toll-booth runner. While at the Miccosukee police station, reports say, Boneta threatened an officer during a profanity laced tirade.