Michael Eugene Watson II, 28, was transported to the Florida Department of Corrections on July 10 to serve a 12-year prison sentence for burglary causing more than $1,000 damage.
According to records from the DeSoto County Sheriff's Office and Department of Corrections, on Dec. 19, 2018, a burglary was reported at the Citgo gas station on State Road 31 in Arcadia. The front door was found smashed and lottery tickets were strewn on the sidewalk.
DCSO detectives looked at video from the store and saw a man — later identified as Watson — try to use a screwdriver to remove glass from the entry door. When that didn't work, he kicked the glass and entered the store. Damage to the door was estimated at more than $1,000.
Watson went to the cash register, which store personnel said does not have cash overnight. Watson then grabbed containers of lottery tickets, left the store at 4:15 a.m. and went to a wooded lot.
When detectives arrived, they found a trail of unscratched lottery tickets leading through the woods. The K-9 unit from the DeSoto Correctional Institution helped find several tickets and a glove Watson had been wearing.
The owner contacted state lottery offices and learned some of the tickets in question had just been cashed in Punta Gorda. Watson and a woman were observed cashing tickets at five locations.
Later that day, detectives saw Watson's car and conducted a traffic stop. Unscratched lottery tickets were observed on the passenger floor.
Watson reportedly said the woman "had nothing to do with it" and admitted doing the Citgo burglary, saying he "needed the money for Christmas presents." He was arrested that day on charges of burglary with more than $1,000 in damage, grand theft between $300 and $5,000, dealing in stolen property and possession of burglary tools with intent to use them. He was sentenced June 27 to 12 years in prison.
His projected release date is Dec. 12, 2030.
Previously he was sentenced to five years in prison for grand theft, multiple burglaries, and giving false information to a pawnbroker in 2009; and a seven-year sentence for burglary and trafficking in stolen property in 2010. He was released from prison in August 2017.