Sarasota fugitive charged in 2016 child pornography cases arrested in Mexico

John Pyle held in Miami-Dade jail until transfer to Sarasota

John Pyle. Image courtesy Sarasota Police Department

A 65-year-old Sarasota man who failed to show up in court in 2017 on multiple child pornography charges was arrested in Mexico over the weekend, the Sarasota Police Department (SPD) announced on June 13.

John Michael Pyle was booked into the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Center in Miami at 8:12 p.m. on June 11, an SPD news release said. “The U.S. Marshals Florida/Caribbean Regional Fugitive Task Force Tampa Field Office developed information that Pyle was in Mexico in the small town of Merida, just outside Cancun,” the release explained. When agents began working with the U.S. Marshals Mexican Foreign Field Office and Mexican Immigration authorities, they learned that “Pyle had no legal status to stay in Mexico,” the release added. As a result, Mexican officials arrested Pyle and deported him at 2:42 p.m. on June 11; he then was transported to Miami, the release said.

The U.S. Marshals Florida/Caribbean Regional Fugitive Task Force Miami Field Office formally arrested Pyle in Miami, the release noted.

Pyle was awaiting extradition to Sarasota to face the charges from 2016, the release said.

In June 2016, the release continued, a search warrant was executed at Pyle’s apartment, which was located at 3360 S. Osprey Ave. in Sarasota. Sarasota Police detectives had received cyber tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that included seven uploaded images of child pornography, the release pointed out.

This map shows the location of Merida, Mexico. Image from Google Maps

“Sarasota Police detectives worked with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office to conduct an initial forensic preview of any computer or cell phone found on the property,” in a search of child pornography, the release adds. “The initial search by detectives found two bondage images of child pornography, 15 images of sexual conduct, and 31 child pornography images with no sexual conduct,” the release says. Pyle was charged with 15 counts of Possession of Child Pornography in 2016, with additional charges pending, the release noted.

The June 2016 Probable Cause Affidavit generated in Pyle’s cases provided some details of the images that law enforcement officers reported having found on Pyle’s HP laptop. Among them: One female child appeared to be about 7 years old; her legs were bound together, and her arms were tied with yellow rope, the affidavit says.

A second female victim, who appeared to be approximately 1 year old, also had her hands and legs bound with rope, the affidvait continues.

A third image showed another female child, about 7 years old, on her hands and knees with a nude adult male have sexual relations with her, the affidavit says.

This aerial map shows the location of the apartment where the search warrant was executed in 2016. Image from Google Maps

During an interview with law enforcement officers, the affidavit noted, Pyle spontaneously told one detective that a friend had warned him that he would “get caught for this one day.” Pyle did not offer any resistance when he was transported to the county jail following the search of the laptop, the affidavit adds.

Because Pyle had possession of more than 10 images and/or videos of child pornography, the affidavit explains, his case qualified for “enhancement to a second degree felony” under Florida law.

A June 2012 Sarasota Herald-Tribune article that profiled Pyle noted that he was known for carrying an American flag as he participated in marathans across the United States. Reporter Chris Anderson wrote that Pyle began a journey on March 1, 2012 in San Francisco and ended it 3,273 miles later, on May 20 of that year, in Key West.

More details from court records

Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court records show that Pyle originally was scheduled to go on trial in Sarasota during the period of Feb. 13-24, 2017. The dates later were changed to the period of June 26 to July 7, 2017, records note; then, for a third time, the trial was delayed. The docket said it was rescheduled to Nov. 6, 2017.

However, Pyle failed to show up for a “docket sounding” conducted on Oct. 23, 2017. After that, his attorney, Steven Zimath of Sarasota, filed a motion to withdraw from the case, noting in that motion that the presiding judge had issued a bench warrant for Pyle’s arrest.

The State Attorney’s Office for the 12th Judicial District explains on its website that a docket sounding “is the last effort of the judge and the attorneys involved to schedule specific days and times for trials just prior to the beginning of [a trial period].”

Judge Thomas Krug. Image courtesy 12th Judicial Circuit Court

Circuit Judge Thomas Krug granted Zimath’s motion on Oct. 30, 2017.

Subsequently, on Nov. 17, 2017, Judge Debra Johnes Riva ordered that Pyle’s $90,000 bond would be forfeited, court records show.

A document filed in court records on May 10, 2019 said that members of Pyle’s family reported that he “had taken a cruise on Carnival Cruise Lines.” After he departed the ship in Cozumel, Mexico, the document added, he did not return to it. “This information was confirmed by Carnival Cruise lines by a [voicemail] that had been left [for Pyle’s brother],” that document said.

A Sarasota News Leader search of 12th Judicial Circuit Court records found multiple cases involving Pyle, dating to January 2001. However, almost all of them were related to foreclosures on mortgages, small claims counts (amounts between $500.01 and $5,000), an eviction, and traffic charges, including a March 2011 violation of the state seat belt law and a September 2016 count involving his failure to stop for a steady red light.