TAMPA - Janis Page thought she knew most of her neighbors fairly well. As the manager of the mobile home community along Raines Lane in Tampa, she described Jason Honaker as a quiet resident who's wife took care of the park's numerous cats.
Then she heard the story about the prank 9-1-1 calls.
"That's what got me. 1200 calls, you know?" she exclaimed, baffled that Honaker could have made so many in such a short time span. "He's never done anything like this. I mean nothing," Page said.
Hillsborough County Sheriff's investigators said Honaker made the 1200 calls to the 9-1-1 communications center between December 31 and Wednesday of this week, making an average of 27 prank calls a day.
"It puts people at unnecessary risk," said Lt. Darrin Barlow, who oversees the communications center. "I would hate to think what would happen if a canine or a helicopter resource was needed to find somebody truly in need, and we've sent them needlessly to these false complaints," Barlow said.
It's suspected that Honaker used an unregistered cell phone, meaning it had no cell phone provider and no phone number. It's only available function was calling 9-1-1.
Despite having confidence that the calls were pranks, the Sheriff's Office was obligated to treat every 9-1-1 call as a emergency. That resulted in thousands of dollars worth of searches using air, ground, and canine units.
"So every one of those dispatches that were over $100, those are actually felony charges," said Cristal Bermudez Nunez, a Sheriff's spokeswoman. That means Honaker faces seven felony charges, after he confessed to seven prank calls, according to detectives.
Honaker was arrested after deputies were able to trace the GPS tracking of the phone to Tampa East Boulevard. He was taken to jail but was released on $14,000 bail.
Deputies said after a six-week search they were pleased to make an arrest in the case. But the cost in time and money can't be recovered.
"In every respect it's unnecessary. It's ridiculous. And it's a complete waste of resources and manpower," Barlow said.
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