Man Arrested After Allegedly Molesting Manatee Statue At Florida Restaurant


A Pittsburgh man is facing a disorderly intoxication charge in Florida after he allegedly molested a manatee statue at a St. Petersburg restaurant.

Oh, and he also tossed gator nuggets into the establishment from the parking lot, according to Orlando Fox affiliate WOFL.

Anthony Lessa, 23, was arrested last week in connection with the alleged incidents, which happened at two separate businesses.

Authorities arrived on the scene after getting a call from Rick Reef’s Restaurant on St. Pete Beach that an intoxicated person was causing a disturbance.

According to NBC Miami, Lessa allegedly got angry after restaurant employees told him he had already paid his bill and it was time for him to go.

Once outside, he allegedly “molested” a plastic manatee located in the restaurant’s parking lot, which prompted another request from an employee that he leave.

Officials said Lessa got “physically aggressive” with the employee, and that he allegedly started tossing gator nuggets ― that is, deep-fried pieces of alligator meat ― into the Rick’s Reef dining room.

Lessa allegedly ran away toward his hotel, the Postcard Inn on the Beach, but what happened next wasn’t exactly a pretty picture.

The hotel manager told police that Lessa was “acting disorderly” and screaming obscenities at the person working the front desk.

According to an affidavit obtained by WOFL, the manager attempted to deescalate things by escorting Lessa to his room, but he refused to say which one it was.

Lessa was removed from the hotel, but he allegedly lingered in the parking lot, still shouting obscenities. Deputies said his actions caused traffic to back up, and led to the “disturbing of the peace of several other guests waiting for rides,” WOFL said.

Deputies who arrested Lessa said he smelled of alcohol and his pupils were dilated in a bright environment.

His short-term memory wasn’t so good, either. Authorities said Lessa kept asking why he was being arrested, even after they told him.

As deputies were patting Lessa down, they found a little something extra in his pockets: more gator nuggets, which prompted an exchange that can be seen in this video.

After asking what Lessa had in his pockets, one of the deputies realized: “Oh, that was the crap that he had ― that you were throwing in the other restaurant.”

“Gator nuggets,” Lessa replied. “Shark bites.”

The deputy then remarked to her partner: “I thought it was like, cork. I’m like, ‘Why does he have cork in his pocket?’”

Lessa was taken to the Pinellas County Jail and booked on a disorderly intoxication charge before being released on his own recognizance.

  • 2023-12-17
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