FDLE members recognized for exceptional performance

For Immediate Release
August 21, 2023
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) members from throughout the state were honored in Tallahassee today for their outstanding performances last year.  A special medals ceremony was held at the close of the event.
FDLE Commissioner Mark Glass, Deputy Commissioners Shane Pollard and Matt Walsh, Chief of Staff Shane Desguin and members of FDLE leadership congratulated the award winners for key accomplishments, contributions to criminal justice, money saving ideas and productivity.
FDLE Commissioner Mark Glass says, “The exceptional service FDLE’s members provide every day to Florida’s citizens and our criminal justice partners is because of the integrity the members have for our law enforcement profession and their respect for our communities and partners. It is an honor to recognize FDLE’s members for the outstanding quality of their work.”
Award winners are as follows:
Jose Perez Special Agent of the Year – Steven Harris, Special Agent, Fort Myers Regional Operations Center (FMROC), Sebring Field Office
In 2022, Harris was the lead agent in a complex investigation that dismantled a criminal enterprise that had been distributing large amounts of fentanyl and methamphetamine throughout the state. Harris coordinated with multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution, the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Homeland Security’s division of Homeland Security Investigations, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to conduct a lengthy and exhaustive investigation that resulted in more than two dozen first-degree felony charges related to racketeering, drug trafficking and violent offenses.  In a separate major case, Harris also secured the arrest of a suspect in a 2015 Clewiston homicide investigation. Agent Harris became certified in cellphone forensics, volunteered to take on assignments in addition to his own case load, and his professionalism and experience make him a valuable asset to the FMROC region and FDLE as a whole. 
Jessie B. Dobson, Jr. Distinguished Member of the Year – Marcella Scott, Crime Laboratory Analyst Supervisor, Jacksonville Regional Operations Center (JROC)
After serving as a Biology Section supervisor for over 20 years, Scott was selected as the Florida Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Tracking Program administrator in October 2021 to implement the statewide database for survivors to track the location, processing status, and storage of each SAK throughout the entire criminal justice process. Her comprehensive outreach effort included personally contacting every law enforcement agency, medical facility, crime laboratory, rape crisis center, and Child Protection Team in the state. Scott conducted trainings and worked to pilot the program in three phases and successfully went statewide two months ahead of the July 1 deadline.
Forensic Scientist of the Year – Brooke Hoover, Crime Laboratory Analyst, Jacksonville Regional Operations Center (JROC)
In 2022, Hoover produced the most units of work for JROC’s Biology section.  She testified in two high profile homicide cases involving child victims which had extensive interest within the Jacksonville region. Both cases were difficult, both emotionally and in the collection of DNA evidence, and she worked these cases quickly and to an exceptional degree. Hoover consistently received praise from prosecuting attorneys for her professionalism and commendable testimony under stressful situations. She is valued for her dedication and resourcefulness in assisting with cold case investigations, for which she was nominated for a “DNA hit of the year award.” Hoover played a key role in an initiative to analyze pending casework by utilizing a team of highly efficient members to maximize productivity on aging burglaries. The success led to plans to expand the initiative statewide to improve turnaround time without compromising quality. 
Outstanding New Member – Ryan Nielsen, Telecommunications Consultant, Investigations and Forensic Services
Nielson joined FDLE in 2022 and quickly demonstrated his capabilities, organizational skills and motivation by successfully managing the agency's radio transition project. He effectively managed the logistics and deployment of over 2,500 new radios statewide, including vehicle installations. Nielson also managed the deployment of communication units and a mobile emergency communications tower during Hurricane Ian, assisted in the integration of new radios in the aviation fleet and worked towards modernizing the aviation video downlink system. Nielson has received accolades from colleagues around the state and he has built strong relationships with state partners and counterparts in the communication industry, solidifying FDLE's leadership role in emergency communications.
Contribution to Criminal Justice – Electronic Storage Detection (ESD K-9) Program:
K-9 Maple and handler Special Agent Supervisor Stephanie Cassidy, Pensacola Regional Operations Center (PROC);
K-9 Rocket Handler and handler Special Agent Aida Limongi, Tallahassee Regional Operations Center (TROC);
K-9 Baxter and handler Task Force Agent Georgie Torres, Orlando Regional Operations Center (OROC);
K-9 Layla and handler Special Agent Ritchie Kaplan, Tampa Bay Regional Operations Center (TBROC);
K-9 Cache and handler Special Agent Justin Gilmer, Fort Myers Regional Operations Center (FMROC)
FDLE’s ESD K-9 Program leads the nation and our state in the field of Electronic Storage Detection. FDLE ESD K-9 teams are positioned throughout the state to assist law enforcement partners and the community with the detection of electronic storage devices. Additionally, the K-9s serve as comfort and support dogs to victims and have provided presentations and interactions with children and the community. In 2022, FDLE ESD K-9s were deployed 150 times, resulting in important evidence seizures, making significant contributions to criminal justice by assisting various law enforcement agencies in many different cases.
Distinguished Team of the Year – Fort Myers Regional Operations Center (FMROC) Regional Law Enforcement Coordination Team (RLECT):
Eli Lawson, Special Agent in Charge; Tracy Maurer, Assistant Special Agent in Charge; Roshale Gaytmenn, Chief of Forensics; Larry Long, Special Agent Supervisor; Rebecca Petrunis, Special Agent Supervisor; Grant Wagner, Special Agent Supervisor; Jen Licata, Crime Laboratory Analyst Supervisor; Kelly Andriano, Crime Intelligence Analyst; Jamie Friebel, Crime Intelligence Analyst; Holly Williams, Crime Intelligence Analyst; Shelby Garrison, Crime Intelligence Analyst; Mary Christofano, Business Manager
In preparation for the September 28, 2022 arrival of Hurricane Ian, members of the FMROC Regional Law Enforcement Coordination Team (RLECT) reported to overnight duty at the FDLE Fort Myers office and rode out the storm. They slept in the office building on cots and in sleeping bags through howling winds, torrential downpours, air conditioning units flying off the roof, and the possibility of the building flooding. Despite the challenging conditions, uncertainty and concern for their families and homes, the team remained committed to their mission. After the storm’s landfall, RLECT immediately went to work, performing mission critical tasks for Mutual Aid while facilities and resources were severely taxed. Their valuable assistance to members and the community was critical during the early hours of the agency’s hurricane response.
Innovation of the Year – Melissa Seifert, Crime Laboratory Analyst Supervisor, Pensacola Regional Operations Center (PROC)
Seifert developed a methodology to increase productivity and decrease the amount of stress on members of the biology section by creating a workflow solution based on members of the section working collaboratively rather than on an individual basis. The outcome was a 30 percent improvement in productivity above the standard. The new workflow coincided with the biology section preparing for the opening of the new PROC facility. Her solution involved detailed planning, an analysis of team tasks and team meetings to coordinate the new range of assignments. Seifert’s imaginative and innovative approach enhanced her section’s ability to work cases at PROC.
Distinguished Support Member of the Year – Sandra Dickey, Government Analyst I, Criminal Justice Professionalism
During 2022, the Officer Records Section provided technical support and direction to 494 criminal justice agencies, Commission-certified training schools, and selection centers statewide. The section also experienced an unprecedented staff shortage, making Dickey the only full-time Officer Records Section member from May 2022 through the end of the year. During that period, Dickey was responsible for 58 percent of all calls received by the section, handled 5,460 telephone calls for assistance from criminal justice agencies, training schools, and citizens. She also was responsible for 65 percent of all emails or faxes received by the section, responding to 3,389 of those received by the section. During the entire year, Dickey maintained a positive attitude, never complaining about the work load demands asked of her, and exhibited professionalism at its best.
Excellence in Leadership – J Scanlan, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Tampa Bay Regional Operations Center (TBROC)
Scanlan was promoted to his position in the height of a nationwide pandemic and has excelled on several fronts. He currently supervises 10 investigative squads consisting of 87 members. Scanlan was instrumental in establishing command and control in Hardee County in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. Scanlan also developed a strategy with the Office of Statewide Prosecution to support two statewide grand juries empaneled in the Tampa Bay region, and he is working with two statewide task forces established by the attorney general’s office and based in Tampa.
Capitol Police Officer of the Year – Timothy Rice, Capitol Police Officer, Capitol Police
A valued member on multiple specialty units, Rice is part of the Special Operations Unit, Honor Guard and Drone Team. Officer Rice is also a field training officer and Firearms and Defensive Tactics instructor. He represents FDLE in a positive manner when assisting with recruiting measures at nearby academies and other various events. He demonstrates a willingness to take on additional responsibilities and fill in when there are gaps. He is able to build a positive rapport with the state employees and members of the public that he serves, and he displays a level of dedication that is commendable.
Commissioner’s Award – FDLE Sworn Training Unit (STU) – Dan Augustyniak, Lee Adams, Tim Stanley, Pete Soulis, Ron Gilligan, Dave Bullard, Paul Peebles and Brad Hudson, Criminal Justice Professionalism
Following the devastation left by Hurricane Ian, FDLE’s Sworn Training Unit responded with urgency to FDLE’s Fort Myers Regional Operations Center (FMROC) with tools, tarps and equipment to begin repairing department members’ homes that had sustained significant wind, rain and tree damage. The initial response was to fix six residences, but it soon became apparent that dozens of homes needed repair. Every morning, the STU team got a list of names and addresses of members, family members and former FDLE employees that were in need. They cut trees, moved debris, tarped homes and assisted with any needs they could. Along the way, they stopped to help other citizens who were struggling with damage to their homes. Their selfless service was a tremendous resource to FDLE members, their families and residents of the community.  
Lifetime Achievement – Jerilyn Ammons, Systems Programming Administrator, Information Technology Services
Ammons has built a long and distinguished career at FDLE, spending 43 years with the agency’s Information Technology Services division. She has held a variety of leadership positions, including software developer, systems analyst, project manager, section manager, and bureau chief. In each role, she demonstrated her ability to lead and motivate teams, deliver high-quality technology solutions, and work effectively with FDLE divisions, law enforcement agencies and other state and federal entities to meet their needs. Ammons is recognized as one of FDLE’s most knowledgeable resources regarding the Florida Crime Information Center, Florida’s Computerized Criminal History system, and many other software systems FDLE houses and maintains.
Lifetime Achievement – Mark Pellham, Special Agent, Orlando Regional Operations Center (OROC)
Special Agent Pellham has dedicated more than 45 years of service to FDLE. He began his career in 1977 as a forensic scientist, becoming the Serology supervisor that same year. He supervised multiple forensic disciplines in Tallahassee, Pensacola and Orlando.  In 1985, he became a sworn FDLE member, and in 1988, he was promoted to deputy director over all six of FDLE’s laboratories while also overseeing the Florida Criminal Intelligence Center. In 1992, Pellham started a new path in his career as an FDLE special agent, during which he worked in all the major investigative squads at OROC, including; Economic Crime, Domestic Security, Violent Crime, and Protective Operations. He has worked protective operations for the last five governors and their families.
Lifetime Achievement – Gaylon White, Special Agent, Miami Regional Operations Center (MROC)
Special Agent Gaylon White began his law enforcement career 35 years ago after graduating from Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in criminology. He joined the Tallahassee Police Department where he served with distinction, serving most of his tenure in the Narcotics Unit until 1993 when he left TPD to join FDLE. White was assigned to the Miami Regional Operations Center (MROC) where he immediately made an impact in the South Florida region. White received letters of commendation for his work on the Summit of the Americas and a major interstate narcotics investigation involving New York and Miami. White was awarded the Silver Medal of Valor from the Miami-Dade Police Department. White is scheduled to retire in 2024.
Lifetime Achievement – Ruthie James, Criminal Justice Information Examiner, Firearms Purchase Program, Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS)
James, a 34-year-veteran of the agency, has been a part of the Firearm Purchase Program (FPP) for the last eight-plus years. In her years with FPP, James has worked in many facets of the business, including analyzing criminal history records and completing disposition research. Her current assignment includes handling inbound calls from licensed firearm dealers in Florida, submitting their background check requests electronically, and providing final decisions back to her callers. James maintains a positive attitude when speaking to callers and ensures her work product is of the highest standard. She is an asset to her peers and management.
Lifetime Achievement – Stephen Lieberman, Special Agent, Fort Myers Regional Operations Center (FMROC), Retired
Lieberman began his career as a duty officer at FDLE’s Tampa Bay Region’s Communications Center and later moved to a special agent trainee position. Lieberman retired from the agency in June after a 30-year career. For many years, Lieberman represented FDLE on the Joint Terrorism Task Force and before that he worked on narcotics investigations. Lieberman’s work at FDLE included a wide spectrum of assignments, including numerous hurricane deployments, response to the aftermath of an active shooter at NAS Pensacola, the working high-profile homicide cases and providing testimony in federal court related to the January 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol.
Life Saving Medal – Frank Gorski, Special Agent, Tallahassee Regional Operations Center (TROC)
On March 11, 2022, while on his day off, Special Agent Gorski stopped to help a woman in distress standing on an overpass bridge. He approached the woman and talked to a 911 dispatcher to apprise them of the situation. After earning her trust, Gorski convinced her to walk off the bridge to safety. When deputies arrived, Gorski kept the woman calm and assisted deputies with taking the woman into protective custody. Special Agent Gorski’s heroic actions saved the life of a woman in need of mental health services.
For Further Information Contact:
FDLE Office of Public Information
(850) 410-7001

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Priorities

FDLE is composed of five areas: Executive Direction and Business Support, Criminal Investigations and Forensic Science, Criminal Justice Information, Criminal Justice Professionalism and Florida Capitol Police. FDLE’s duties, responsibilities and procedures are mandated through Chapter 943, FS, and Chapter 11, FAC. To learn more about these areas, read our Statement of Agency Organization and Operation or visit our Open Government page.