PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — A Bay County man with a long criminal record is back behind bars.
The man is so well known to Panama City Police, they arrested him Tuesday night because they knew he didn’t have a driver’s license.
From 2006 to 2018, 40-year-old William Ashe has been charged with 30 felonies.
“During that time, he has been in and out of prisons since 2007 in and out, off and on at various times all the way through October 21 when he last got out,” said Panama City Police Lieutenant Chris Taylor.
Police arrested Ashe on several charges including trafficking in fentanyl and cocaine, felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Taylor said Ashe has had interactions with most law enforcement agencies in Bay County over the years — which is part of the reason they arrested him on Tuesday.
“The Panama City Police Department Street crimes unit was out conducting their business when they noticed a man they knew personally as Stanley Ashe driving an SUV in the area of Highway 231,” Taylor said. “They knew Ashe did not have a valid driver’s license and conducted a traffic stop.”
Ashe was initially arrested on the driver’s license charge. But because officers said they smelled marijuana, they searched the car.
They claim they found 30 grams of cocaine, 18 pressed fentanyl pills, multiple bags of methamphetamine and marijuana.
During a traffic stop, officers smelled marijuana coming from the vehicle, during a probable cause search they found a backpack with 30 grams of cocaine, 18 pressed pills that field-tested for fentanyl, multiple bags of a white substance that tested positive for meth, and marijuana packaged for sale, officers said.
“We know his history, we know what he’s into, what he likes, and the things he probably doesn’t have such as his driver’s license,” Taylor said. “So, he’s allowing us to make our charges, our criminal cases, based on his actions and him being personally known to us.”
With a criminal record this extensive, you may be wondering why Ashe isn’t still in prison.
Taylor said defense attorneys will negotiate deals for their clients, pleading guilty to some felonies, but not all.
“‘I’ll take, I’ll plea guilty to this felony and that felony if we can make the others go away,’ and there is a lot of times that is a very positive thing because it allows the person to be convicted as a felon it does impost a more stiff penalty and it allows the system to show a conviction from a positive case that they without a doubt felt like we can prove this to a jury and we feel confident we can get a conviction on all charges but we’re willing to attempt to work with this person,” Taylor said.
When asked if their patience has run out for Ashe, Taylor said he feels anyone can change. But it’s up to the person to make those changes.
“There are those that go through this system and no matter how many times you give them hope, they reoccur,” Taylor said. “This man Mr. Ash got out of prison October of ’21 now here we are the first part of April 22 roughly 6 months later he’s facing another 7 felonies and 2 misdemeanors related to the history he has of drugs and guns.”
Lieutenant Taylor said they would usually ask for harsher penalties for someone in Ashe’s situation to make a point that they can’t continue this cycle.
Ashe is currently being held in the Bay County jail on a $389,500 bail.