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Courts / Law

Grady Judd: Expect Felony Charges in Juvenile Riot

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Polk County Sheriff Office

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says he expects felony charges to be filed against those who started a riot at a Polk County juvenile facility Saturday.

Golf carts were stolen and TVs were thrown out of windows at the Avon Park Youth Academy. The charges against those involved in the riot could range from grand theft, to rioting, to assault.

The riot began with a wager of cups of noodle soup on a pickup basketball game. When things got out of hand an employee in the control room called 911.

To bring things under control, the Polk County sheriff's office called in reinforcements from the Department of Corrections, the Florida Highway Patrol, the Highlands County Sheriff's Office and fire department and even the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Judd told WTSP Channel 10 News that assistance would come at a cost to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

"The response that we had to provide was above and beyond normal police response so we'll be sending them a bill once we get the total cost tallied," he said.

Judd went on to say taxpayers are paying for these juveniles to be locked up, for their vocational training, and for the state attorneys some of the juveniles requested.

"So the taxpayers lost all the way around Saturday night because these juvenile delinquents didn't have the presence of mind to recognize what the state of Florida was trying to do for them," Judd said.

He says the residence halls of the juvenile center have thousands of dollars of damage done to them.

Seventy-one of the 138 juveniles are currently staying in one of the buildings in the Polk County Sheriff's Office's South County Jail. The rest of them are housed in a large building on the Avon campus.

There are eight detectives investigating the case.

The facility is administered by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and is staffed by personnel with G4S, a private contractor.