FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – It was nighttime in a remote area in western Broward County. A man and a woman were stars gazing near a ramp for airboats when suddenly a 66-year-old man crawled out of the alligator and snake-infested water and told them that he wasn’t clear on how he had ended up there, court records show.
From a hospital bed, during a Broward Sheriff’s Office investigation, the victim told a detective that a man had persuaded him to get into a black Kia Soul in St. Lucie County to visit a bedroom that was up for rent in Palm Beach County, according to a warrant.
The victim told a detective that he had trusted the man enough to hand over a $400 cash deposit for the rental before a beating in the Everglades nature preserve in Broward caused him to suffer a traumatic brain injury, according to a warrant.
“As he came ashore, his wallet containing $900 ... cell phone .... had been taken,” Detective Armando Enrique wrote in his April 24 application for an arrest warrant.
Enrique, an experienced detective with the BSO robbery unit, had identified a suspect in the March attack as Anthony “Tony” Hernandez, a 41-year-old New Yorker with Florida connections, records show. Circuit Judge John J. Murphy III signed the warrant on April 25.
Deputies arrested Hernandez, who is 5 foot 4 inches tall, on May 9 in St. Lucie County, court records show. He was at the Broward County main jail in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday pending a trial for the alleged March 17 crimes, BSO jail records show.
Broward prosecutors filed a case against him on May 10 for robbery, a second-degree felony; and aggravated battery of a person who is 65 years old or older, a first-degree felony. This wasn’t the first time Hernandez, who was born in New York City, had been accused of committing violent crimes in St. Lucie and Broward counties.
During the investigation, detectives found that a woman who the victim said witnessed the beating had been a victim of domestic violence at the hands of Hernandez in St. Lucie, records show. Fort Lauderdale police officers arrested him in 2002 for child abuse and child neglect, records show. Both cases are closed.
Broward Circuit Judge Thomas J. Coleman is presiding over Hernandez’s pending new case.