A Lee County Sheriff’s Office commander arrested in March on a DUI charge, has pleaded no contest to a lesser charge of reckless driving — a criminal offense in Florida.
March 8, Cmdr. Mark Shelly, 42, who has been with the agency since 2001, was placed on administrative leave after his arrest, the sheriff’s office says.
Shelly was stopped by a Collier County deputy shortly after midnight in the area of Vanderbilt Drive and 100th Avenue North. According to the Collier County Sheriff’s Office arrest report, a deputy saw Shelly make an illegal U-turn on Tamiami Trail North at Strada Place in North Naples.
As the deputy caught up to Shelly, who turned onto Vanderbilt Beach Road, he watched as Shelly’s vehicle weaved across lanes and ran off the road, then came to an abrupt stop at a stop sign “as if the driver noticed the stop sign at the last second.”
The deputy pulled Shelly over at the intersection, and as he was walking to Shelly’s vehicle, he saw Shelly put a piece of gum in his mouth seconds before contact was made.
Shelly had “red glassy eyes and a flushed face,” the report states, and he fumbled with and dropped his license, and was never able to produce his registration and insurance. His speech was slurred as he told the deputy he wasn’t familiar with the area, and that’s why he made an illegal U-turn, according to the report. The deputy states in the report that he couldn’t smell any odors coming from Shelly because of the gum. When asked why he was weaving on the road, he said he was texting his wife and trying to find his friend’s house. Shelly said he had just left Mercado and denied having any alcohol, but he claimed he sustained a head injury on Saturday while doing yard work and had a small bandage on his forehead. He refused medical attention.
The deputy asked Shelly to perform field sobriety exercises, and as the deputy was explaining them, Shelly began making phone calls and refused to participate. He finally agreed after his arms were placed behind his back for arrest. The exercises led the deputy to believe Shelly had been driving under the influence of alcohol and he was placed under arrest. He refused to submit to a breath test.
FGCU professor David Thomas, a former law enforcement officer with a Ph.D. in forensic psychology, told us Shelly’s actions likely did not influence the prosecution’s decision to strike a plea deal.
“Often times, state attorneys or prosecutors are willing to go ahead and make the first step and give them an opportunity and drop it or reduce the charge, and so as a get out of jail free pass so to speak,” Thomas explained.
Plea documents show Shelly completed a 12-hour DUI program and 50 hours of community service with a Lee County nonprofit helping at-risk youth.
We reached out to Shelly’s lawyer for comment but did not hear back.
An LCSO spokesperson said now that Shelly’s court case is done, “the matter will be reviewed internally for any policy violations.”