PORT RICHEY — George Vera, a 65-year-old Pasco County Commission candidate, went stalking the streets for child molesters Thursday but got himself arrested on charges of theft and impersonating a police officer.
A government gadfly who has been arrested nearly two dozen times, Vera said he was an undercover cop searching Clover Drive for child molesters. An arrest report quotes him saying "he was going to take over this town, New York style, and the first one he caught was going to get a broomstick up his a--."
The once-failed Republican commission candidate also flashed a badge and said he was a county commissioner, running northwest Pasco's District 5. That seat is held by Jack Mariano. Vera has said he intends to run against Mariano in the 2012 election.
It's not known whether Vera found any child molesters. But during his search, he did find a television and propane grill in his neighbor's home that he said he wanted, Port Richey police said, adding that Vera walked through the patio to steal them.
Vera was charged with grand theft, burglary and impersonating an officer. He remained in the Land O'Lakes jail Friday afternoon in lieu of $25,000 bail.
A message left for Hilda Lopez, Vera's former campaign treasurer, was not returned.
Vera's Thursday arrest marks his 22nd in Florida. He has been convicted of exposing sexual organs, driving under the influence, obstructing an officer and a half-dozen driving infractions. He was arrested late last month for making a false report to the Port Richey police, claiming a man had assaulted him with a baseball bat.
Vera was jailed a week after first running for the commission in 2007 on a charge he tried to give an unwilling 12-year-old girl a hug outside the Holy Ground homeless shelter, where he lived. The charge was dropped. He did not win the seat.
Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 869-6244 or firstname.lastname@example.org.