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Two honored by Lehigh chamber

October 4, 2012
By MEL TOADVINE ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Lt. J.D. Loethen, the assistant commander of the Lee County Sheriff's Office Bravo District Station in Lehigh Acres, says many of the residential burglaries which occur are nonviolent in nature and offer no harm to the victims, but sometimes a home burglary turns violent and a home invasion takes place.

Such is the case of a home burglary in which nobody was hurt on August 19 in Lehigh Acres when a couple in their 80s awoke to find a man standing over them holding a knife. Loethen said the man held the elderly man and his wife captive throughout the night stealing valuable items from their home.

After collecting all the valuable things the knife-wielding man could carry, he held the couple captive until morning when he forced them to drive him to a North Fort Myers motel where he fled their car on foot and leaving them unharmed.

Article Photos

Nan Louise Mooney is presented a plaque recognizing her at the Member of the Month at the Lehigh Chamber luncheon last week. Making the presentation is Gary Bright, the chamber’s president.

The couple returned to Lehigh where they went immediately to the substation on Homestead Rd. to report what had happened. Investigators began their work to find the suspect with a very good description of the man, Loethen told members of the Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce at their September luncheon last week.

He said that due to the excellent work of deputies in Lehigh, one in particular who reported for the evening shift, the suspect was identified from the description given out and the suspect was arrested.

Deputy David Brown was familiar with the area and its associated people, Loethen said.

"During the evening of the incident, Deputy Brown was in the area and had stopped two women and a man, one block from the victims' home. The man was able to get away, but Deputy Brown interrogated the women and they gave the name of the suspect who ran away. Brown researched Grett Wentela, the suspect, and located a recent jail photo of him and confirmed he saw the person who ran from him earlier.

Brown continued to search for the suspects for the rest of his shift, but was unable to locate him. However, Brown knew when he read the information from the robbery unit that Wentela was the suspect responsible for the home invasion.

Brown contacted the robbery unit and provided investigators with the man's name as their suspect. Investigators were able to get a probable cause for Wentela's arrest and a search warrant for his hotel room where most of the items taken during the home invasion were recovered, Loethen said.

Deputy David Brown was not able to attend the luncheon because he was preparing to soon start his work shift. But Loethen had nominated the deputy to be honored by the chamber.

"He is working and can't be here so I will accept the award in his name," Loethen said.

He said Deputy David Brown is "a fine example" of the dedicated and determined law enforcement officers who serve the people of Lehigh Acres every day.

"Their thorough and complete investigation terminated this dangerous activity very quickly before anyone could be inadvertently killed as a result," Loethen said. He accepted the plaque for Brown from Chamber President Gary Bright.

Also at the chamber luncheon, Nan Louise Mooney who represents the Seminole Casino at Immokalee was honored.

Bright said she had become one of the liaisons for the chamber from the Seminole Casino more than a year ago and has since participated on different levels with the chamber.

"She organized the Business After Hours at the casino and recently helped the chamber to hold a charity Slot Tournament where the proceeds were donated to the Educational Fund of the chamber benefitting the Scholarship program.

"Nan attends networking events and always has ideas for joint projects and events. She is a valuable liaison for the chamber to the Seminole Casino and for her commitment to the chamber, we are proud to recognize her as our September 2012 Member of the Month," Bright said. She was given a plaque for her work with the chamber.

Nathan Stout, a Lehigh Acres CPA and member of the East County Water Control District, was the guest speaker at the luncheon.

Stout explained problems with identity theft and noted that it was on the increase ever where. He also gave handouts to help people protect themselves from identity theft.

State Sen. Garrett Richter will be the guest speaker at the October 30 luncheon which begins at 11 a.m. and will again be held at the Bistro Rudy restaurant on Taylor Lane Extension.

Chamber members and others are invited to the luncheon. Call 369-3322 to register for the luncheon.



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