Probation officer speaks out about actions

Posted at 11:13 PM, May 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-18 23:21:05-04

LEE COUNTY - A man who was in charge of supervising homeless sex offenders is sounding after a Four In Your Corner investigation. He defends why he told the offenders to live in the woods.

Robert Taylor and Eddie Pruna both admit they molested young children. Sex offenders like them have a difficult time finding a place to live. When they were evicted from their home in 2012, their probation officer at the time, Bernardo “Tito” Nieves, told them to live in the woods. Pruna tells us, “He said come at Ortiz behind the Seventh Day Adventist Church in the woods."

After we reported this, Nieves lashed out at us claiming we were, “insinuating he did something wrong." Nieves went on to write, "I found Pruna and Taylor a residence in Lehigh Acres with another sex offender…they had to leave…(so) we had to find them another location…away from society and not near a neighborhood. The location on Ortiz was exactly that."

Then, a year later, when deputies kicked them out of those woods, Nieves apparently stood up for them.

Robert Taylor tells us Nieves, “Came out with the paperwork in his hand saying there is no law in this state saying sex offenders can't be homeless."

Nieves wanted us to know during his 16 year career with the Department of Corrections (D.O.C.) that he was a highly awarded probation officer. We requested information from the D.O.C. and found he was also slapped with a written reprimand in November of 2012 for not checking up on a sex offender. It states, 'You were notified by sex offender….that he was moving… you did not investigate…for a period of 14 days in violation of policy.’ That policy required him to verify each new address within two days.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s website, Vasquez has been listing his home address at his former workplace, Walsh Trucking on Ortiz Avenue. The owner, Steve Walsh, says Vazquez never lived at the worksite but he did park his van there. Walsh says, "It doesn't run, it has no air, I think he just stored stuff in it.”

Vasquez was arrested in January for shoplifting and is still in jail. We asked the Lee County Sheriff's Office if they knew where he was living prior to his arrest but they haven't gotten back to us yet.