A Florida woman who was released from the Scott County Jail on her own recognizance after being charged in September with multiple counts of forgery, theft, identity theft and felony eluding is now wanted after she failed to show up for her Oct. 25 court date.
An arrest warrant has been for Shari Lee Buzzard, 35, of North Lauderdale, Florida, who failed to appear at her arraignment on the charges against her.
She was last known to be in Florida as she appeared for a court date in Broward County on Oct. 10 when she pleaded guilty to a charge of third-degree grand theft.
Scott County District Judge Christine Dalton released Buzzard on her own recognizance from Scott County Jail on Sept. 27, a day after Buzzard, driving on a suspended Florida license, led police on a high-speed chase with speeds reaching 125 mph until they were able to trap her car in the median at mile marker 313 of U.S. 30, according to an arrest affidavit filed by Iowa State Patrol trooper Trent McFarland.
Both Scott County Sheriff Tim Lane and Bettendorf Police Chief Keith Kimball have expressed dismay over the fact that a person with a criminal history like Buzzard’s and who led local authorities on a high speed chase, and has no ties to the community was allowed to go free without posting some kind of bond.
Lane has said that people who have no ties to the area, no home locally, no family, no job, are a big risk when it comes to releasing them on their own recognizance instead of demanding that a bond be posted for release.
Releasing people from the jail who are charged with felonies , who live out of the state or at least the Quad-City region, and who have no ties to the community is an issue Lane feared when the courts began using the Public Safety Assessment tool, which was implemented March 12.
The PSA allegedly uses evidence-based risk factors to determine the likelihood that a defendant who is released before trial will fail to return for future court hearings or commit another crime or violent crime, once released.
Ultimately, the goal is to prevent defendants who otherwise would be eligible for bond to be held because they don’t have the money to post it.
Kimball said that he’s frustrated because his officers worked hard to solve the case, and now a woman who led police on a high-speed chase after committing other crimes in Iowa is walking free in Florida.
“I think a person who leads police on a high-speed chase commits a violent crime,” Kimball said. “They are endangering the lives of the public as well as the officers involved.”
If Buzzard is captured and held in Florida, Lane said he will have to spend thousands of dollars to bring her back or pay a prisoner transport service to deliver her to Scott County. “That comes out of my operating budget,” he said. That could mean waiting on the purchase of needed equipment for the department, as that comes out of the operating budget, too, he added.
“It’s frustrating,” Lane said. “It’s not up to law enforcement to provide income for bonding companies who take a risk bonding inmates out of the jail. But the bonding companies do serve a purpose.”
Had Buzzard had to post bond through a bonding company, “they would be going to get her because they want their money back,” Lane said.
That’s the role bonding companies play, he added.
Buzzard is wanted on one count of on-going criminal conduct, a Class B felony under Iowa law that carries a prison sentence of up to 25 years, and conspiracy to commit a felony, a Class D felony that carries a prison sentence of up to five years.
Buzzard also is charged with two counts of identity theft over $1,000, two counts of forgery and one count of second-degree theft, each of which is a Class D felony.
Also, she is charged with felony eluding, also a Class D felony.
She also is facing three counts of fifth-degree theft, a simple misdemeanor that carries a jail sentence of up to 30 days.
According to the arrest affidavits filed by Bettendorf Police Officer Sara Stolley, on Sept. 25, at 12:43 p.m., Buzzard went to the drive-through of the University of Iowa Credit Union, 2123 53rd Ave., Bettendorf. Using a stolen driver’s license and debit card she was able to cash one personal check for $2,000. She then produced a second check written on a different personal account for $2,300.
In total she was able to get $4,300 cash from the University of Iowa Credit Union.
However, it was later learned that both of the checks had been stolen from vehicles in Grimes, Iowa, and Davenport.
The driver’s license and debit card she had used in the transaction was found to have been stolen from a vehicle in Coralville, Iowa.
Then on Sept. 26, at 11:03 a.m., Buzzard again went to the University of Iowa Credit Union and using a driver’s license and debit card stolen Sept. 21 in Coralville, Iowa, attempted to cash a check for $7,500. The check was reported stolen from a vehicle in Bettendorf on Sept. 22.
But as Bettendorf police closed in on Buzzard at the bank, she fled in the vehicle she was driving, a rented 2018 Chrysler 300.
Buzzard led Scott County Sheriffs’ deputies, Eldridge Police, and the Iowa State Patrol on a high speed chase northbound on U.S. 61 with speeds up to 125 mph.
Buzzard then took U.S. 30 eastbound until she reached the west edge of Clinton City limits, according to McFarland’s arrest affidavit. She then drove across the median and began traveling westbound on U.S. 30.
As she was traveling westbound on U.S. 30, Buzzard ran over a tire deflation device which deflated three of her tires. She lost control of the vehicle at mile marker 313 and went into the median. She was able to regain control of the vehicle and tried to get back on the roadway when McFarland tapped Buzzard’s vehicle with his squad car.
Buzzard continued to drive in the median until her car became stuck, according to McFarland’s affidavit.
While Buzzard was allegedly committing crimes in Iowa, she was awaiting trial in Florida on a charge of third-degree grand theft. In that case, on Feb. 2, while at the Seminole Classic Casino’s Player’s Club, Buzzard stole $824 from another person’s checking account using a Georgia driver’s license that belonged to another person.
Buzzard was caught in that case as she had to sign a receipt and provide a thumb print. When the print was run through the Broward County Sheriff’s Department, the print came back to Buzzard.
On Oct. 10, she pleaded no contest to the charge and was sentenced to two years on probation.
In 2007, Buzzard pleaded no contest to a charge of introducing contraband into the jail in Broward County. She was sentenced to two years on probation. In 2013, she pleaded no contest to felony possession of hydrocodone and again was sentenced to two years on probation.
In 2012, Buzzard was convicted in Christian County, Missouri, of felony forgery, court documents.
But Buzzard’s is not the only case of a known criminal being released without bond.
On Oct. 25, Ricardo R. Bernal, 23, who is on parole out of the Iowa Department of Corrections, was arrested after Davenport police say they found cocaine, marijuana and a stolen gun in his home.
Bernal is charged with possession with intent to deliver cocaine, possession with intent to deliver marijuana, possession of a firearm or offensive weapon by a felon, possession or use of false drug tax stamp, and failure to affix drug tax stamp.
The cocaine charge is a Class C felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, while the remaining charges are all Class D felonies each punishable by up to five years in prison.
Magistrate Stephen Wing released Bernal on his own recognizance even though Bernal has been on parole since Oct. 2017 on a charge of first-degree arson.
In the arson case, Bernal was arrested in October 2013 and charged with first-degree arson and possession with intent to deliver marijuana.
Bernal and a co-defendant dumped gasoline on the porch and front door of an occupied Davenport home and ignited the fuel, according to court documents. No one was reported injured.
The occupants of the home owed them money for drugs, according to court documents.
A search of Bernal’s home at that time turned up 10 pounds of marijuana, a 9mm rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun.
He was convicted on the arson charge in April 2014 and sentenced to up to 25 years in prison. The following month, he pleaded guilty to the drug charge and was sentenced to up to five years in prison.
Police are now searching for Bernal as an arrest warrant has been issued for him for violating his parole.
While Bernal is a local person, he is on parole and there was no reason to release him without some type of bond, Lane said.