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For Immediate Release

May 14, 2009 Northern District of Florida
Assistant Chief Deputy Frank Chiumento (850) 942-8395;
USMS Headquarters Public Affairs (202) 307-9065
Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force Arrests Sex Offender
Tallahassee, FL – Members of the U.S. Marshals Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force had an early morning start today after traveling from Tallahassee, FL to Eastpoint, FL in search of Anthony Joseph Erario. Erario was wanted by the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office in Florida for the offense of Capital Sexual Battery on a Child under the Age of 12. Task Force members located the 63 year old Erario at a residence on North Bayshore Drive in Eastpoint, Franklin County where he was arrested by task force members without incident. Erario is currently incarcerated at the Franklin County Jail where he awaits extradition to St. Lucie County.

Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force members then received an urgent request from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office for help in apprehending Billy Joe Howard, 18, of Davenport, Florida for the offenses of Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer, Resisting Arrest with Violence, and Violation of Probation on charges of Burglary and Grand Theft. The Polk County Sheriffs Office alleged that Howard assaulted a Polk County Deputy Sheriff during an arrest attempt in which Howard “body slammed” the deputy sheriff and fought off a Polk County K-9 dog before escaping on foot. Task Force members responded to Perry, FL where the Perry Police Department and the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office assisted Task Force members in arresting Howard at the Tidewaters Apartment Complex located at 500 S. Warner Ave in Perry, FL. Howard was booked into the Taylor County Jail and will eventually be returned to Polk County to face his charges.

Task Force members then continued working on the fugitive investigation of Joe Griffis, a 53 year old male who escaped from the Apalachee Center in Tallahassee on May 4, 2009. Today’s investigation by task force members developed intelligence that Griffis was possibly in the Baton Rogue, Louisiana area. Task Force members immediately contacted U.S. Marshals in Baton Rogue and provided them with the new intelligence. U.S. Marshals from the Baton Rogue Division immediately began following the leads and within hours, located Griffis at approximately 4:00PM today at the La Quinta Inn at 2333 South Acadian Thruway in Baton Rogue. Griffis was uncooperative with the arresting marshals by resisting arrest and a taser was deployed to successfully apprehend him. Griffis will be held in the Baton Rogue Jail awaiting extradition back to Tallahassee, FL. Prior to his arrest today, Griffis, who has a prior conviction for Homicide, Armed Robbery, Armed Kidnapping, and numerous Sex Offenses, had been the target of several local law enforcement agencies since his escape. This case was referred to the local U.S. Marshals sponsored task force following his escape and was worked by numerous task members from various agencies who participate with the task force on a full-time basis. This is one of the main advantages of this joint task force in that it brings together the collective resources of numerous law enforcement agencies working together in pursuit of violent felons.

The United States Marshals Service spearheads the Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force which is comprised of law enforcement officers from the U.S. Marshals Service, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Tallahassee Police Department, Leon County Sheriff’s Office, Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office, Gadsden County Sheriffs Office, and the State Attorney’s Office.