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News and Investigations

News & Investigations

News Releases and Public Information

Welcome to the Polk County Sheriff's Office News Room, where the Public Information Officers (PIO's) post all of the information that they release to the news media. PIO's act as liaisons between news media organizations and the Sheriff's Office. The PIO's routinely release timely and accurate information and Crime Stoppers bulletins, and respond to routine and "breaking news" media inquiries. News releases and Crime Stoppers information can be found on this page.

PCSO's full-time Public Information Officers are Brian Bruchey, Carrie Horstman, and Alicia Manautou. The Public Information Officers can be reached by sending an e-mail collectively at

The recent news releases sent out by the PIOs can be found here, and archived releases (older than 2017) can be found here.

Jan 7, 2022

Lake Wales sales clerk arrested for selling alcohol to teen

Media Contact: Alicia Manautou, PIO

A sales clerk in Lake Wales was arrested Thursday, January 6, 2022, after he sold alcohol to an 18-year old who was working with Polk County deputies. It was the only illegal sale of alcohol during six stops at Lake Wales stores, which is a part of PCSO's ongoing Operation Pop Top. The campaign conducts the undercover checks to ensure that stores are compliant with state law, which prohibits the sale of alcohol to anyone under the age of 21.

"Stores in the county know we do this; we don't try to hide that fact. We want them to be aware that we will continue to do these operations so that the stores and employees aren't selling alcohol illegally."- Grady Judd, Sheriff

Arrested on Thursday was 29-year old Rashaud Lyndell Freeman of Lake Wales. He was working in the Shell store at 1349 SR 60 East, Lake Wales, when he made the illegal sale.

The five other Lake Wales stores visited Thursday which refused to sell to the Explorer were:

• Racetrac located at 2422 US 27
• GATE Petroleum located at 2950 Ridge Way
• Wawa located at 23623 US 27
• Lily Citgo located at 20500 US 27
• Central Citgo located at 19509 US 27

The deputies are assisted by PCSO Explorers who attempt to purchase alcohol at the stores. The Explorers program is comprised of students who are interested in a career in law enforcement.

The Explorer who took part in the checks was an 18-year old.