On April Fool’s Day, 2019, a woman parked her car in the parking lot of 4297 Cattlemen Road in Sarasota, Florida. While carrying her two children, she was approached by a man wearing a rented police uniform. The woman told law enforcement that the man — later identified as Youtube prankster Charles Ross — displayed a badge and said. “Ma’am I’m going to have to write you a ticket.” According to the woman, she thought that Ross was a police officer, although a witness to the incident believed that Ross was a security guard.
According to her testimony, the woman felt uneasy and raised her voice to draw attention to herself. In response, Ross became more aggressive, and then informed her that it was all a prank, offering what the woman described as “fake oversize concert tickets.” Ross returned to his vehicle, but then drove back toward the woman, who threatened to call 911; Ross drove off.
Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded and associated the license plate of the van with Ross, “who films pranks for his YouTube channel RossCreations.” Ross was arrested on one count of falsely personating a law enforcement officer.
It was far from Ross’s first rodeo.
In November 2012 Ross was arrested after he did a flip over two beach patrol deputies. In the course of backgrounding Ross for this video, we uncovered that Deputy Daniel Ivanov lied in the probable cause affidavit he wrote to justify Ross’s arrest. (See video for details.)
In January 2013 Ross was again arrested, resulting in the revocation of his pretrial release in the flipping-over-a-cop case. This time around he was charged with battery, after he gave multiple people outside of a Bradenton movie theater wedgies. Ross pleaded guilty and adjudication was withheld. He was placed on six months probation and ordered to complete 35 hours of community service within five months, stay away from the theater, and write an apology letter to a particular wedgie recipient. After successfully completing the terms, Ross’s probation was terminated early.
Ross’s next lockup came in April 2014, when he was arrested after jumping on a Manatee County parade float, allegedly pushing someone to the ground and elbowing another in the process. On July 1, 2014, the State dropped the case.
In March 2017, Ross was arrested one more time on a charge of “grand theft stop sign,” after he removed stop signs from an intersection in Manatee County. The signs were replaced by Manatee County Public Works, and the charge was dismissed following Ross’s successful completion of a pretrial intervention program.
On May 16, 2019, Ross was trespassed from a Sarasota Chipotle after a “suspicious incident” involving the women’s restroom, a hallway, and someone by the name of Amethyst Gurley. Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office attempted to charge Ross with violating Florida Statutes §877.03.. which investigating officer Daniel Levanti amusingly misspelled “Breach of the Peach.”
After conferring with an Assistant State Attorney referred to only as “ASA Jackman,” Levanti was informed that “the description of the offense did not meet the exact parameters of the charge.”
Despite his many arrests, Ross has always managed to avoid serious consequences.
After a rather entertaining series of motions in which the State and Ross’s attorney argued about what constitutes a joke, on November 20, 2019 Judge Charles Roberts denied Charles Ross’s motion to dismiss the impersonation charge. Ross subsequently pleaded No Contest, was adjudicated guilty, and was sentenced to six months probation, $535 in fees, 50 hours community service (of which 25 could be bought out at $10/hour), all of which would automatically end after three months — not six — if at that point Ross was in full compliance. On February 6, 2020 Charles Ross’s probation terminated early. The recording was returned to Ross.
*It should be noted that Ross’s video shows a somewhat different version of events than was described by the victim. Because Ross has not published that footage, we will not describe its contents other than to note that discrepancies exist. The discrepancies either are, or are not, significant, depending on your perspective. They ultimately formed the basis of the question debated by the State and Ross’s attorney:
What, exactly, is a joke?
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