November 23, 2015

Make this a happy holiday season – don’t drink and drive

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office will be out in force watching out for drunk and unsafe drivers this Thanksgiving weekend and during the month of December with the goal of making sure holiday travel is as safe as possible here in the Florida Keys.

Deputies will be concentrating their efforts on drunk drivers, improper passing and other unsafe driving practices throughout the upcoming season in an effort to save lives and make this holiday season a safe and enjoyable one for everyone.

So, as you attend special holiday events, designate a sober driver or take a cab home if you decide to drink alcoholic beverages. Whatever you choose to do, don't drink and drive. Remember: if you drink and drive and get caught, you will be spending the night in jail.

Our deputies spend their holidays working in order to keep our community safe. Have a safe and happy holiday season, from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office.

Found and/or abandoned property

Here is a list list of found or abandoned property. The Sheriff's Office has exhausted all other avenues for finding the owners, so thank you to all of you for taking a look at this current list to see if you know who these items might belong to. If you know, please contact one of our Property offices and refer to the Offense # associated with the item.

Animal Farm Christmas Celebration coming up

Mark your calendars and join the Sheriff’s Office and the Sheriff’s Animal Farm on Sunday, December 13th for the Annual Christmas on the Farm celebration!

Bring the family and join the fun at the farm; the event is free of charge and offers something for everyone. There will be Christmas music by local musicians, a visit and photo with Santa and Mrs. Claus; face painting, arts and crafts and, of course, plenty of time to see all the animals at the farm.

Mark your calendars and come to the farm between 1 and 3 p.m. on December 13th. The farm is located just off of College Road, at the Sheriff’s Office on Stock Island.

Note: This will be the only open house scheduled for the month of December at the Animal Farm.

Sheriff’s Office remembers fallen officer

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office is remembering this week an officer who died in the line of duty November 26th, 2008.

Sheriff's Deputy Nick Pham was killed in the line of duty in a traffic accident. Deputy Pham was working traffic patrol for the Sheriff’s Traffic Enforcement Unit when his patrol car collided with a semi-tractor trailer truck at the 62 mile marker of highway U.S. One at 12:20 p.m.

November 20, 2015

Doctor donates to Youth Ranches

Dr. Michael Sander is a regular donor to Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranches and this year, achieved five star level donor status with his generous donation. In the photo, left to right, Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranches Donor Relations Officer for the south region Jim Bowman; Sheriff Rick Ramsay; Dr. Sander; and Donor Relations Officer Debi Girard.  Dr. Sander is an Orthodontist who practices on Summerland Key.

Sheriff donates computers to Take Stock in Children

The Sheriff’s Office is donating a total of 10 computers to the Take Stock in Children program at Key West High School. The first three were delivered by Sheriff Ramsay in person Wednesday. In the photo, Sheriff’s Executive Aide Donatella Kelly with her mentee in the program, Adreanna Otero, Sheriff Ramsay and TSIC Program Coordinator Chuck Licis.

Lt. Colonel Tommy Taylor retires

 The Sheriff's Office and many others in the community said goodbye to Lieutenant Colonel Tommy Taylor today at a formal retirement ceremony held at the main detention center on Stock Island. "Tommy" as he is affectionately know to all is retiring after 21 years of service with the Sheriff's Office. We wish him good luck in his future endeavors.

November 19, 2015

Sheriff’s detectives investigate Wild Bird Center break-ins

Sheriff’s detectives are currently investigating break-ins at two affiliated businesses in the Upper Keys, the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center’s Sanctuary and the Mission Wild Bird Hospital.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to both locations this morning, where they discovered suspects had forcibly entered the buildings and had taken tools, keys and office equipment.

The investigation is continuing. Anyone with information about the case should contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Tipsters can remain anonymous and, if a tip leads to an arrest in the case, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted on line at or via a text message to 274637 using the keyword TIP136.

Key Largo cleanup

The cleanup last Saturday in Key Largo was a huge success! Thanks to Here are a few photos from the event. Thanks to Boy Scout Troop 588 and Scout Dylan Knauer for organizing it. Thanks to everyone in the community who turned out to help!

Two more charged with vehicle burglary

Two more men have been charged in connection with vehicle burglaries in the Stock Island neighborhood of Key Haven.

Several vehicles were burglarized. In one case, the suspects were caught on surveillance video burglarizing a vehicle on Birchwood Drive. While Deputy Lazaro Valdez was investigating the crimes, he found a wallet on the ground belonging to 19 year old Vladamir Estele. Detectives later visited Estele at his home on 3rd Avenue. At that point Estele admitted entering several vehicles in the area of Key Haven.

The surveillance video showed three people committing the crimes together. Further investigation revealed the other two suspects were 20 year old Steeve Steevenson and 18 year old Ashley Avilmar, both of Stock Island. This week, they were both arrested and charged with two counts of vehicle burglary and one count of grand theft.

Detectives Sheila Seago and David Cruz investigated the cases.

Remembering fallen officer: David Cormier – killed November 19th, 1989

This week, members of the Sheriff’s Office are remembering an officer who was killed in the line of duty 25 years ago this week.
David J. Cormier, 31 years old, was a reserve deputy for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office when he died November 19, 1989, from injuries he received when the patrol car he was riding in collided with a pick-up truck.
The collision occurred about 10:55 p.m., on U.S. Highway 1 on Plantation Key at Mile Marker 87.5. Deputy Joseph Ferraro and Reserve Deputy Cormier were responding to a back-up call from another deputy. Pat-rick Walter from Davie, Florida, had just left the parking lot of the Islamorada Inn in his 1973 Chevrolet pick-up truck when, according to the Florida Highway Patrol, he "failed to yield the right of way" to the patrol car, which had blue and red lights flashing.
Deputy Ferraro swerved to the left in an attempt to avoid the accident, but collided with the left side of the pick-up truck. Deputy Ferraro sustained head and neck injuries and was transported to Baptist Hospital and made a full recovery. Patrick Walter died at the scene of the accident and Reserve Deputy Cormier was stabilized at Mariners Hospital before being airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, where he died during surgery at 2:30 a.m. the following morning.
Reserve Deputy Cormier was the third deputy to be killed in the line of duty in Monroe County. Cormier was an official with TIB Bank of the Keys, participated in civic projects and volunteered at many community events. He was an active member of the Upper Keys Jaycees. He also volunteered to set up a computer system for the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce. Reserve Deputy David Cormier graduated from the Re-serve Deputy Academy in June, 1989, and is survived by his parents, Curtis and Lilian; and his sister, Andrea.

November 17, 2015

Woman arrested for business burglary

A woman was caught stealing items from a closed business by a security guard. She was arrested after the guard called the Sheriff’s Office.

A security guard for the Yacht Club Marina in Key Largo told Deputy Cody Kerns he was making his rounds at 1:30 a.m. today when he saw 40 year old Angela Mace of Key Largo taking items belonging to Sand Dollar Boat Rental. He said he asked her what she was doing and she said she was “waiting for a drunk friend”. That is when he noticed all the stolen items in the back of her truck.

When Deputy Kerns arrived, his investigation revealed items from the business that had been taken by Mace, including two coolers, a bar umbrella and a beach umbrella, three life jackets, buckets, trash cans and cleaning supplies.

The items were returned to the owners and Mace was arrested. She was charged with burglary and grand theft.

Deputy receives visit from bullet proof vest maker

Ed Hinchey, a Technical Specialist with the company Safariland, stopped by the Sheriff’s headquarters building Thursday to meet with Deputy Josh Gordon, whose life was saved when his Safariland vest stopped a bullet October 24th.

As a new addition to their Safariland “Saves” Club, Deputy Gordon will receive bullet proof vests free of charge for the rest of his career. He is the 1,930th life saved by a Safariland vest.

He and Sheriff Rick Ramsay also received plaques commemorating the save, and Deputy Gordon received a number of other gifts from the company in recognition of his heroism under fire.

Pictured, left to right, Major Chad Scibilia, Sheriff Ramsay, Deputy Gordon, Safariland representative Ed Hinchey, Deputy David Lariz (Gordon’s partner the night it happened), and Colonel Lou Caputo.

Communications Officer helps deliver baby

Amanda Robinson, (on the left) Communications Supervisor, presenting a small token of appreciation for a job well done to Brittany Grenadier.  On Monday October 19, Brittany answered a 9-1-1 call that most Communications Officers dream of, helping to deliver a baby.  During this stressful call, Brittany was able to remain calm and walk the caller through all of the proper instructions. We were later notified that the baby was crowning when Fire Rescue arrived and she was born a healthy little girl. Congratulations on a job well done Brittany! And the mother, of course!

Clean up on Big Pine Key

This crew worked together recently to clean up a mile of highway on Big Pine Key adopted by the Sheriff’s Office in the Adopt a Highway program. Great job!

November 16, 2015

More employee awards

 Some more employee longevity awards from the Employee Awards ceremony....Major Chad Scibilia, Property Division Director Diana O'Dell and Sgt. Rick Martin for 30 years; Human Resources Executive Director Donna Moore for 25 years and Lt. Nancy Alvarez, who received a distinguished service medal for her ongoing dedicated service to the Sheriff's Office.

Lieutenant promoted prior to retirement

District One Lieutenant Donnie Elomina was recognized for 30 years with the Sheriff’s Office and was promoted to Captain prior to his retirement. He is planning to leave in early January. Here he is with his wife and daughter, pinning on his captain’s bars.

Promotion to airport lieutenant

Sgt. Mike DiGiovanni was promoted to lieutenant to replace retiring Captain Snider at the Key West Airport.

Long time employee retires

 Airport Lieutenant Mitch Snider was promoted to Captain prior to his retirement and then received his retirement shadowbox at the Employee Awards ceremony, where he said goodbye surrounded by his family and with Sheriff Ramsay standing by on the right.

Employees of the third quarter

The Sheriff’s Office recently held its quarterly Employee Awards ceremony in Marathon. Congratulations to the employees of the third quarter for their outstanding service to the Sheriff’s Office and the community. Left to right, Sheriff Rick Ramsay, Finance Assistant Kara Kight, Detention Deputy Darien Rodriguez, Ex-plorer Angel Muino. Not present (inset) Detective Lissette Zuelch.

Fort Lauderdale man arrested for firing a gun at a bar

A Fort Lauderdale man was arrested Saturday night after he fired a gun inside of the Hog Heaven bar in Islamorada.

According to numerous witnesses inside the bar at the time, 31 year old Christopher Fernandez got into a fist fight with another man about 11 p.m. on Saturday. While fighting, Fernandez pulled out a handgun and fired it once, into the air. The man he was fighting with then fled the bar.

Security employees inside the bar took the gun away from Fernandez and held him until Deputies Nestor Argote and Josh Brady arrived.

Detective Francisco Gaete also responded to the scene to investigate. Fernandez was arrested. He was charged with shooting a deadly missile inside a public building, improper exhibition of a firearm, discharging a firearm in public, use of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.

A second man was also arrested at the scene. 31 year old Adam Stubley of Port St. Lucie, Florida was walking up to the bar when people began leaving quickly, saying a gun had been fired inside. Stubley reportedly ran back to his vehicle and retrieved his gun, then returned to the bar with it. Security employees stopped him and disarmed him before he could enter. He later told deputies he had friends inside and wanted to make sure he got them out safely. Stubley was charged with disorderly conduct.

Big Coppitt man charged with burglary, grand theft

A Big Coppitt Key man was arrested Sunday afternoon, charged with burglarizing a boat and a home on Sirius Lane, Big Coppitt Key.

Sgt. Linda Mixon was on patrol on Big Pine Key when she was dispatched to intercept a reported reckless driver northbound at the 21 mile marker. As she began looking for the vehicle, she received further information: the driver of the vehicle, a blue 2002 Jeep, may have been involved in a burglary on Big Coppitt Key.

The person who reported the burglary said he saw the Jeep’s driver, 21 year old Alexandro Colon, steal several rods and reels from his neighbor’s boat and then use a hammer to break a window on his neighbor’s house and enter the house, which was unoccupied at the time.

Sgt. Mixon stopped the Jeep at the 28 mile marker of the highway. The stolen fishing poles were in the Jeep. Colon was arrested. He said he broke into the house as “revenge” for a disagreement with the owner of the house. He was charged with burglary of a vehicle, burglary of a residence, grand theft and criminal mischief. He was booked into jail.

Man charged with burglary, battery

A Tavernier man was arrested Sunday night, charged with forcing his way in to a Tavernier home, breaking a number of items and hitting a woman in the face.

Deputy Thomas Amador responded to a home on Kahiki Drive in Tavernier at 8 p.m. When he arrived, a woman visiting at the residence told him 52 year old Stephen Shea forced his way inside and ransacked the kitchen of the home. Shea is reportedly the ex-boyfriend of the woman who owns the home.

The woman who was visiting told Deputy Amador Shea was angry at her for visiting his ex-girlfriend, so he hit her with his elbow and punched her in the face.

Shea knocked items off the kitchen counter, breaking them, and knocked the laundry room door off.

Several hours later, Shea was located at his home in the area of the 85 mile marker. He was arrested, charged with burglary, battery and criminal mischief. He was booked into jail.

Marathon man charged with lewd and lascivious acts

A 21 year old man from Marathon was arrested Friday, charged with having sexual relations with a 14 year old girl against her will.

The incident took place in July. It was reported to the Sheriff’s Office on August 26th. The victim told Detective Lissette Zuelch from the Major Crimes Unit she and Miguel Herrera went paddle boarding together. She said he pushed her off of her paddle board and, while they were both in the water, he had sexual relations with her against her will.

Herrera was charged Friday with sexual assault on a victim under the age of 16. He was booked into jail.

November 13, 2015

Patriotic Employer award

Detention Deputy Brian Lugo, who also serves in the Army Reserves, gave these “Patriotic Employer” awards to Sheriff Rick Ramsay and Detention Bureau Major Tim Age. The awards, from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, recognizes the Sheriff’s Office support of Lugo and the time he spends serving his country.

Boat mate dies while trying to help divers

A Key Largo man who works as the mate on a dive vessel died Thursday as he tried to help four divers who were drifting away from the vessel.

The dive vessel, out of the Amoray Dive Resort in Key Largo, was offshore of Key Largo at 6:45 p.m. Divers on board had been in the water for 10 – 15 minutes when the current became too strong. The captain called the divers back to the vessel. Four of them were reportedly drifting away from the boat, so boat mate 59 year old Steven Kipp donned a mask, snorkel and fins and got into the water to bring them a line to tow them back to the boat.

He gave the line to the first two divers. He was swimming to the second two, who’d drifted considerably farther from the boat when he became unresponsive. He was brought onto the boat and CPR was performed. The U.S. Coast Guard responded and brought him to shore. He was transported by paramedics to Mariner’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

November 12, 2015

Citizens getting involved!

On behalf of Sheriff Rick Ramsay, Captain Don Hiller (left) and Captain Donnie Elomina gave certificates of appreciation to these three employees of the Key West Harbor Yacht Club. They were instrumental on September 17th of this year  in the apprehension of a man who stole a boat intending to take it to Cuba. The man was apprehended and the boat returned to its owner. Thanks to Eric Wachter, Shannon Kelly and Chelsey Rowley for getting involved and helping to solve this crime!

Fire destroyed a storage shed in Tavernier Wednesday

A fire destroyed a storage shed on Hood Avenue in Tavernier. The shed was owned by a local artist and used as a work shop where he produces his artwork.

Sergeant Susan Keene responded to reports of a fire at 4 p.m. When she arrived, she found the shed fully engulfed in flames, which were extinguished by firefighters. The owner, 84 year old Douglas Mason, said he’s been there working until 3 p.m. He said he unplugged a fan inside and locked up. Next thing he knew, he got a call about the fire. He said a number of his artworks were inside. He said he’d been planning to sell them at the upcoming Islamorada Art Walk event.

The Fire Marshall responded and will be investigating.

Stock Island neighborhood hit with car burglaries

See surveillance video at

The Key Haven neighborhood of Stock Island was hit with vehicle burglaries and, with the help of one of the suspects who left his wallet at the scene, detectives have made an arrest.

Deputy Lazaro Valdez responded to a home on Birchwood Drive Wednesday morning to a report of a vehicle burglary. The victim said someone had ransacked her unlocked vehicle and had taken money from inside.

As Deputy Valdez was checking around the area of the vehicle burglary, he found a wallet. In the wallet was identification for 18 year old Vladamir Estele. He turned the wallet over to investigating Detective Sheila Seago.

Detective Seago and Detective David Cruz went to the address on the identification, 5530 3rd Avenue, Apartment 2 where they knocked on the door. Estele came to the door. When the detectives asked him for identification, he said he had lost it. The detectives asked him if he’d been in the area of Key Haven and he admitted being there walking between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. They asked him if he’d entered any vehicles while walking in Key Haven. He admitted to entering a number of vehicles in that area and taking loose change.

In the meantime, deputies responded to several more vehicle burglary calls, taking reports from the victims. One victim, who lives Key Haven Road, told them he had surveillance video of three people burglarizing his vehicle, parked in his driveway.

Estele told detectives he’d been accompanied by two friends he only knows by their first names. He told them he does not know their last names or where they live.

Estele was arrested and charged with one count of vehicle burglary. More charges and more arrests are pending.

Note: this is a great time to remind everyone to lock your car doors. Most of these crimes are crimes of opportunity. If you don't give them the opportunity, they will move on and leave your car alone. Simple solution!

Northbound lanes closed Saturday morning

For your Information: the Key Largo Bridge Run takes place this Saturday morning. Northbound lanes of traffic will be diverted onto Card Sound Road between 5:15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. to accommodate the runners participating in the event. If you plan to travel north of Key Largo that morning, make sure you plan accordingly.