Off-duty LCSO deputy driven home instead of arrested; New docs raise questions

Reporter: Peter Fleischer
Published: Updated:

Documents show that an off-duty Lee County deputy was caught speeding and refused blood alcohol tests after struggling to prove his sobriety, yet he was never arrested.

Two months after the incident, it’s been a challenge to get more information.

Lee County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Soto was speeding through Lehigh Acres just after 3:00 a.m. on August 20, 2023, before he was stopped at Lee Boulevard and Sunshine Boulevard, according to the department’s own documentation.

Struggle with sobriety tests

An alcohol influence report taken on the scene shows Soto did a “poor” job with field sobriety tests. He lost his balance while listening to instructions, stepped off a straight line, and failed to touch his heels to his toes.

The calls for service report and towing receipt taken from the scene of the incident both reference Soto’s arrest and had a gun in the car.

But Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said he was not arrested. Marceno held a press conference three days after his deputy was pulled over, on August 23.

“The fear was that he was having a medical condition or he was involved with alcoholic beverages,” Marceno said at the time.

An alcohol influence report from the scene claims Soto was not sick or injured, struggled with field sobriety tests, and refused any form of blood-alcohol testing

Deputy taken home

A report from Commander John Bogliole explained that he interacted with Soto on the scene, and “based on Soto’s physical appearance, movements and responses to questions,” Bogliole determined Soto was ill, not impaired.

And instead of going to jail or a hospital for medical treatment, Soto was taken home.
“In his training, in his belief, Deputy Soto is having a medical event,” Marceno explained. “He (Bogliole) then determines that he wants to get Deputy Soto home to his family so he can take care of whatever that medical condition was at the scene.”

Bogliole’s summary claims Soto was “clear and concise” with his communication.

There is no mention in any of these documents of Soto bringing up a medical event. Why wouldn’t Soto explain he was having a medical event before struggling with field sobriety tests?
The only time Marceno addressed the incident, he didn’t have specifics but committed to finding answers.

“We need to look into this more, but what I am delivering for you is transparency. If it’s not right, I would stand here before you without hesitation,” Marceno assured. “When I own something, I own it.”

Soto’s alcohol influence report also revealed he refused any blood-alcohol test. Under Florida law, depending on the circumstances, that could lead to a suspended license.

Unanswered questions

“Deputy Soto has been reassigned to the court operations bureau,” Marceno said, in the only time he addressed Soto’s actions. But has Soto faced any discipline besides being relocated?

WINK News Investigations Reporter Peter Fleischer asked LCSO for any new paperwork filed since Marceno first spoke about this incident. The LCSO records office responded, saying there are no new documents, including no formal disciplinary paperwork for Soto.

No explanation for what happened that night, even after Marceno committed to finding more information.

“He (Soto) knows he was speeding,” Marceno said. “Why or what? We’re going to find all that out.”
Marceno also admitted there were “disagreements” about Soto’s condition amongst deputies on the scene, but again pointed to Commander Bogliole’s assessment.

“He’s the highest ranking person on the scene; he makes the call, whether there’s differences in opinion, so be it,” Marceno said.

Fleischer has requested interviews with Marceno, Bogliole, and Soto, but the sheriff’s office declined all of the requests.

So, what medical event was Soto dealing with? How fast was he going? Multiple sources tell WINK News, it was in excess of 100 mph.

“We can’t enforce selectively,” Marceno admitted when speaking about the incident.

The first and only time the Sheriff addressed the situation with the media, he ended his press conference by committing to finding answers:

“I’m here for you,” Marceno told the media in attendance. “Anything you need to know, I’ll know. I’m transparent; I’ve got nothing to hide.”

More than two months after committing to “look into this” – we’re still waiting for that transparency.

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