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Man jailed two years after giving phony license to deputy

Henry Demetrius Darity
Henry Demetrius Darity

A man who gave a Lake County sheriff’s deputy another man’s driver’s license during a traffic stop in Leesburg in August 2020 was finally arrested two years later.

Henry Demetrius Darity, 33, of Clermont, was charged with giving a false name to a law enforcement officer, criminal use of personal identification information, forgery, failing to register a motor vehicle, and driving with a suspended license (third or subsequent offense).

He was arrested Wednesday on a warrant issued in September 2020. The affidavit stated that shortly after midnight Aug. 3, 2020, a deputy observed a brown Chevy Blazer being driven near Hickory Avenue and South Street in Leesburg. A random check of the license tag number revealed the tag was registered to a Pontiac, according to the affidavit.

The deputy conducted a traffic stop and spoke with the driver, who provided a driver’s license with the name “Antonio Louis.” The deputy ran the license through the Lake County Communications Center and it came back as valid, the affidavit said.

The deputy then ran the Blazer’s VIN number and learned it had been registered to a “Valerie Petters.” The registration had been canceled and the vehicle did not have a license plate assigned to it, according to the affidavit.

When told this, the driver said he was borrowing the vehicle from a friend and was unaware of its registration status. A K-9 unit from the Fruitland Park Police arrived to conduct a free-air sniff of the vehicle, which resulted in a positive alert. However, the ensuing vehicle search did not turn up any narcotics, and the driver identified as Antonio Louis was ticketed for the registration violation and released on his own recognizance, the affidavit said.

On Aug. 31, 2020, the deputy received an email from a Sumter County prosecutor saying that the “Antonio Louis” ticketed in Leesburg was actually Henry Darity, who had used the false name Antonio Lewis during a traffic stop. The fingerprint software wasn’t working at the Sumter County Jail, so Darity made it through his first court appearance using the false name, according to the affidavit.

The real Antonio Louis had contacted the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office saying someone was falsely using his personal information, and deputies were able to positively identify Darity as the suspect. The Sumter County prosecutor gave the Lake County deputy Darity’s booking photos and the deputy used dash cam footage to confirm the man in the photo was the one he stopped in Leesburg, the affidavit said.

In the video, Darity continually expressed fear about Covid and he was wearing a green and white mask that covered most of his face and head. When the video showed him with the mask removed, the deputy confirmed it was Darity who he stopped in Leesburg, according to the affidavit.

A check of Darity’s driving record showed his license was suspended in July 2013 and he has two prior convictions for driving with a suspended license, the affidavit said.

Darity is being held in the Lake County Jail on $8,500 bond. He’ll appear in Lake County Court on Sept. 6.

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