Citing a lack of evidence, Sarasota sheriff's deputies have abandoned their investigation of criminal mischief allegations against state Sen. Jim Boczar's son, who was accused of vandalizing a bathroom in an ice cream shop.
Sharon Jones, owner of Forget Me Not Ice Cream, said in July that a boy she said was Boczar's son had been in the bathroom before she discovered wallpaper had been torn from the bathroom wall and stuffed in the toilet. She followed the boy to the movie theater next door, took him back to her shop and called deputies.
Meanwhile, Boczar showed up and took the child away, Jones said. She said she followed Boczar outside, where he pointed at his senator's license tag and told her not to forget it. "
"And just try to do anything to me,'
" she said the senator told her.
Jones estimated the damage to her shop at $127. It was not the vandalism that bothered her as much as the senator's attitude, she said.
"Most average parents, I hope, would say, "What did my child do? Why are you holding him here?' He didn't even ask. He showed no concern," she said. "In my day and age, my mother would have strung me up."
Boczar told the Times in July that he pointed to his tag only so Jones would know he could be easily found if she wanted to send deputies after him.
On Friday, Boczar said: "I don't find it terribly surprising that the police closed the investigation. The simple reason for that is the particular individual would have to face the scrutiny of cross-examination if she went forward with the claim."
Lt. Bill Stookey, Sarasota Sheriff's spokesman, said the investigation was closed because Jones and another witness could not identify Boczar's son in a photo line-up. Another witness, who said he saw the exchange over the license plate, decided he did not want to get involved, Stookey said.
That witness told officers that "both parties were acting childish." He said he could not believe two adults could "act stupid over something that cost maybe $40 to repair," a sheriff's report states.
Jones said she was unable to identify the boy because officers brought in his yearbook and his appearance had changed.
"They brought it in when I was extremely busy and I had to glance at the pictures. It was a month after (the incident) and the yearbook was a year old," she said. "And this kid was sporting a new hair style."
Boczar was critical of the Times for writing about the investigation. "If Jefferson was alive today, he wouldn't give the First Amendment to for-profit newspapers," he said.
_ Staff writer Jack Reed contributed to this story.