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USF student misses court, arrested on three charges

What began as a kindhearted attempt to rescue a stranded animal has turned into quite the headache for one USF student.

University Police officers served an arrest warrant for Eric Jonas after he failed to show up in court to face charges brought against him for an incident the Oracle documented in the article “Reptile roommate removed” (Nov. 15, 2006).

According to the article, UP made contact with Jonas on Nov. 6 after an officer responded to a complaint that the scent of marijuana was wafting from Jonas’ apartment in Cypress B. Once inside, the officer found small amounts of marijuana as well as a 11/2-foot-long pet alligator. Jonas and his roommates found him on the side of a Sarasota road and subsequently named him Gary.

“He was just along the side of the road, not really moving and not really going anywhere,” Jonas said then. “We decided to try and take him back with us and see what we could do.”

Jonas was not arrested at the time because UP directly filed charges with the State Attorney’s Office. Gary was removed from the apartment immediately.

Jonas, 18, was charged with illegal possession of an alligator, a third-degree felony, as well as possession of cannabis less than 20 grams and possession of drug paraphernalia, each first-degree misdemeanors.

He remained in jail as of 8 p.m. on Wednesday. His bail was set at $3,000.