Man Found Guilty After Being Caught by Deputy Police Chief with Car Full of Drugs

Jesse James Peterson Jr. was found guilty of multiple charges involving drugs following a two-day trial in Lee County. The jury returned a guilty verdict for one count each of: Driving While License Revoked (Habitual Revocation), Driving Under the Influence, Trafficking in Phenethylamines, Trafficking in Cocaine, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of a Controlled Substance, and Resisting or Obstructing an Officer without Violence. He was also found guilty of two counts of Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Sell or Deliver Within 1,000 Feet of a School.

The crime happened on October 5, 2018. It was around 11:45 p.m. and the defendant had passed out in his car at an apartment complex in Fort Myers. The Fort Myers Police Department received a 911 call about a possibly impaired driver. Fort Myers Police Department Deputy Chief Randy Pepitone happened to be in the area and quickly responded to the scene. He saw the man passed out with the car running and the driver’s side window partially down.

He attempted to wake him by speaking to him but the man was not responsive. Deputy Chief Pepitone then opened the car door and again attempted to wake the driver. When he opened the door, he saw a baggie full of drugs on the floorboard by the driver’s feet.

The driver woke up as the Deputy Chief took him out of the car. The defendant then started to run. Deputy Chief Pepitone began a foot pursuit, running after the defendant, and caught him after running for about a block. He was then detained and back-up officers arrived on scene.

When other officers from the Fort Myers Police Department searched the defendant’s car they found a popcorn bucket on the passenger side full of drugs. There were also drugs in the door of the vehicle and the center console. The officers found cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, substituted cathinones (a classification of drugs such as bath salts), oxycodone, and marijuana.

The defendant was parked near a school, which brought the additional charge involving drugs near a school. Peterson faces a minimum of 13 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for
January 29th.

Assistant State Attorney Christine Cummins and Assistant State Attorney Steven Vitale
prosecuted the case.

Samantha Syoen
Communications Director
State Attorney’s Office