On Wednesday, April 6, 2016, Polk County Sheriff's detectives arrested on 40-year-old Monicia Antonia Brown for one count Unarmed Burglary (F-2) and one count Grand Theft (F-1) for illegally and fraudulently occupying a vacant residence in Poinciana.
According to the affidavit, on February 12, 2016, PCSO deputies responded to 400 Athabasca Court in Poinciana while conducting a petit theft investigation on the same street, and spoke with Brown. While speaking with her, deputies detected the odor of marijuana emanating from within the home. During a search of the home, deputies found multiple bags containing marijuana, marijuana seeds, and related paraphernalia, such as grinders, bongs, and burnt joints. Brown told deputies all of the drugs and paraphernalia was hers, and that she is a "spiritualist" and uses marijuana regularly. She was arrested for possession of marijuana and paraphernalia. When asked about who lived in the home, Brown replied she rents the home from someone and was paying her landlord via direct-deposit.
Due to inconsistencies in Brown's statements to deputies about her occupation of the home, after she was released from jail on the marijuana charges (after posting bond), they responded back to the house to investigate further. Brown changed her story and told deputies she paid someone $7,000 cash to live in the home for seven months. She was unable to provide proof of payment or a valid lease, or contact information for the homeowner.
A search of the property appraiser's website revealed the owner of the home is Augustin Pierre-Louis, of Jamaica, New York. Deputies called Mr. Pierre-Louis and met with him during his most recent visit to Florida. He told deputies nobody should be in the home, and that it is vacant. Deputies and Pierre-Louis responded to the home - nobody answered the door, and Mr. Pierre-Louis confirmed someone had changed the deadbolt lock. Deputies found a phone number for Brown, called her, and asked her to respond. When she arrived, she produced a fraudulent lease without a name, stating she could occupy the home from October 2015 until September 2016.
Pierre-Louis reiterated that the home is vacant and he has not given anyone permission to live in it. Brown was placed under arrest and booked into the Polk County Jail. She told deputies she receives $700/month in government assistance.
"You just can't make this stuff up. Our deputies spoke with this suspect in an unrelated theft investigation, smelled marijuana, arrested her, and went back out because they had a gut feeling she wasn't being honest about living in the home. We will continue to seek out and arrest those who are 'squatting' in vacant homes. If you have suspicions about vacant homes being illegally occupied, please contact law enforcement." - Sheriff Grady Judd