Cecil Pendergrass’ assistant, arrested for DUI, tries to evade trouble by name-dropping

Reporter: Chris Cifatte, Emma Heaton Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

A woman threw out some big names while being arrested for a DUI during a traffic stop in Lee County.

35-year-old Christine Deramo was pulled over shortly after 1 a.m. on Jan. 7.

Ordinarily, WINK News would provide her mugshot. However, it’s been blacked out on the Lee County website. This is unusual since that primarily happens for first responders, which Deramo is not.

Although Deramo is Lee County commissioner, Cecil Pendergrass’ assistant.

Deputies said Pendergrass was one of the names she dropped attempting to avoid trouble for speeding and drifting on Alico Road.

The report said Deramo told the deputy she didn’t want to put the deputy in a bad position despite her eyes being bloodshot and watery with an overwhelming alcoholic odor emanating from the car.

While under arrest and on the way to jail, deputies said she tried one more time, “I guess it would be too late for me to ask to call Carmine…” Deramo said.

Lance Dunford, a criminal defense attorney, spoke with WINK News to provide insight into what happened.

“You’ve got a situation where people look at them and say what you should have known better. They expect more from people in a position of power,” Dunford said.

But, to be clear, Deramo isn’t in a position of power, although she does work for one.

Pendergrass was not interested in answering questions about his executive assistant on Tuesday. In fact, he left the regularly scheduled Board of Commissioners meeting 10 minutes early and remained unavailable the rest of the day.

“If anything, in my experience, a lot of times, people in these kinds of heightened positions of power are held to a higher standard, right?” Dunford asked.

The deputy noted in the arrest report that Deramo refused both a breathalizer and field sobriety test.

WINK News reached out to both Pendergrass’ office and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office for comment, but we haven’t heard back.

Copyright ©2023 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.