Florida turnpike’s serial flasher, “Toll Booth Willie” is finally caught by troopers

Mark Anthony Fillyaw (Osceola County Jail)

Frank Cerabino

The Palm Beach Post

The Florida Highway Patrol finally got their man.

It was a low-profile crime, in the sense that you had to look down to see it. But according to the FHP, toll takers on Florida’s Turnpike had been reporting a series of incidents involving a nude male driver pulling up to the “change” lanes at toll booths in Central Florida.

The man was “showing his privates” to the toll-booth workers in seven instances over the course of a week, the FHP reported.

This couldn’t have been an easy crime to pull off. For starters, the car door is mostly in the way, and the angle of vision is more geared to upper-torso exposure.

And you’d think your average toll-booth operator would be more concerned with whether the approaching driver was wearing a mask over his nose and mouth than underwear or pants.

But once again, this goes to prove that when you’re determined, you find a way.

This being Florida, nudity on the highway has happened before

The man, who has already been dubbed “Toll Booth Willie” by a clever headline writer, managed to irk enough toll-booth operators to warrant an investigation and eventual arrest based on surveillance-camera photos.

Mark Anthony Fillyaw, 41, of St. Cloud was booked into the Osceola County Jail over the weekend on multiple charges of indecent exposure.

Being that this is Florida, it is, of course, not the first time naked highway travel has been in the news. Two years ago, the Florida Highway Patrol was looking for a mostly nude man who was spotted multiple times riding a bicycle in South Florida on Interstate 95.

Witnesses said he was wearing a headband, hot pink socks and a thong … oh, and he was riding the bicycle backwards on the highway.

And then there was a viral video of a nude woman who walked across six busy lanes of I-95 near Flagler Beach two years ago to retrieve a wayward dog on the highway.

No clue why she was nude. But she did manage to make it back to the shoulder of the road without getting hit by passing traffic.

I guess you could say that she had her flashers on.

As for Florida’s toll-booth operators, the real occupational hazard for them isn’t the occasional exhibitionist in the change lane. It’s automation.

Florida is in the process of eliminating the jobs of toll-takers on Florida’s toll roads by going to a cashless, toll-by-plate model that relies on SunPass or billing through license-plate cameras.

It’s soon going to be impossible to flash anything but a flashing camera at a toll junction in Florida.

Florida statutes sanction more serious lapses in judgment

So, if nothing else, Fillyaw is guilty of bad timing, a man who ran afoul of a process that will soon be extinct. This is bad news for those working the drive-thru lanes at Florida’s fast-food restaurants.

I’m not a lawyer, but I can already see possible defenses for Fillyaw in facing these charges.

I would start with the “fishing for change” defense:

“Your honor, my client was in no way trying to attract the attention of the toll-booth operator. He was merely looking for a dropped quarter in his seat.”

If that doesn’t work, Fillyaw can fall back on a defense that’s all the rage these days.

He can claim he was exercising his “personal freedoms” to make the best privates decisions for him and his family regarding clothing.

I know, it sounds ridiculous. But trust me, millions of Floridians have been conditioned to say this for far more serious lapses in judgment.

Carrying through this theme, Fillyaw could claim that government clothing mandates are nothing more than oppressive, nanny-state socialism that constitute intolerable institutional overreach.

OK, maybe find another word for “overreach”.” But you get the idea.

Where is the word “pants” in the U.S. Constitution? Say stuff like that.

If you attend an anti-mask rally, you can get the gist of this defense. It’s being normalized all over the state.

And let’s face it, if we’re humoring people who won’t get vaccinated or take simple, prudent measures to prevent the spread of a potentially fatal airborne virus, are we really going to prosecute a guy who wants to expose other people’s eyeballs to something that isn’t deadly at all?

Worse case scenarios: Getting exposed to COVID-19, death. Getting exposed to naked driver, disgust.

Or to put it another way: Spread your legs, people live. Spread your virus, people die.

And yet, exposing somebody involuntarily to the sight of your private parts – the far more benign option – is a crime according to Florida law, while the deadly form of flashing your virus to others is a virtue, according to Florida’s governor.

It’s enough to challenge one’s view of what is truly obscene.

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