May 27, 2016

Future in law enforcement?

Deputy Mark Martin was working at a wedding when little Liam decided he wanted a closer look at his patrol car. Liam’s great-grandfather was a Chicago Police Officer, so it apparently runs in his family!

Traffic deputy helps keep Card Sound clean

 Traffic Enforcement Deputy Jason Keith is working to keep Card Sound Road clean a little bit at a time. He collected several bunches of old fishing line and trash from some of the popular fishing spots along Card Sound Road. He also found this graffiti and arranged to have Public Works paint it out this week.

Cleaning up on Stock Island

 Laurel Avenue on Stock Island was a target this week for District One’s clean-up squad. Linda Mixon’s group, assisted by the Sheriff’s Traffic Enforcement Unit and Monroe County Public Works tackled abandoned vehicles, trash and overgrown grass and weeds in a comprehensive clean up of the area.



Explorer part of Honor Guard

Explorer Sieto Zambrano was accepted into the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard this week and will train to become a bugler for the group. Here he is with Honor Guard Leader Deputy Andrew Leird.

Junior Explorers recognized

SRO Deputies Larry O’Neill and Dave Stark held their end of year Junior Explorer meeting and handed out certificates  to members Luke Pratt and Michael Ancheta for their service and commitment all year in the program.

Explorers help out with Teen Court

The Sheriff's Office Juvenile Programs Unit would like to thank Explorer Post 906 for helping out with Teen Court this week in Marathon.

Cleanup in Marathon

The Marathon district got together this week for a significant cleanup of a wooded area just north of the Seven Mile Bridge. They hauled out truckloads of trash (4,140 pounds) which had accumulated from a homeless encampment which had taken over the area. Helping out were Sheriff’s Office employees, Sheriff Rick Ramsay, the city manager of Marathon, community members, state inmates, ICA and Gonzalez Landscaping. The cleanup was coordinated by Sgt. Marc Maison and his squad.


Card Sound Road cleanup

This huge, enthusiastic group including members of the Sheriff's Office turned out Sunday to clean up Card Sound Road for Global Cleanup Day.

Sheriff's Office works with the Navy

The Adversary Squadron, VMC 111 had a bi-annual safety meeting involving ground crew, pilots & support personnel at NAS Boca Chica on May 14th. As usual, the Commanding Officer asked the traffic enforcement unit to give a traffic safety presentation. Sgt. Kevin Mimosa and Deputy John McGee put together a power point involving local traffic safety issues. In addition, in recognition of Sgt Mimosa’s impending retirement, the CO presented him with a great print of the Squadron, signed!

Wounded Warrior Awards


Purple Heart recipient John Donley presented Captain Don Fanelli, Sgt. Kevin Mimosa and Sheriff Rick Ramsay with Distinguished Service Awards in appreciation of their dedicated support, protecting Americas Purple Heart Veterans During their Wounded Warrior Bicycle Ride. Also pictured with the Sheriff is State Representative Holly Raschein.

Motorcycle fun

“Ella” was a little nervous, but fascinated with Deputy John McGee’s motorcycle on Stock Island this week. Perhaps she will one day take up the reins of motorcycle deputy with the Sheriff’s Office! Go Ella!

Hialeah man charged with multiple counts credit card fraud

An alert merchant in Key Largo quickly called the Sheriff’s Office after a Hialeah man attempted to use multiple fraudulent credit cards in his store to purchase high end merchandise. That call led to the arrest of the man who is now in jail on 60 felony counts related to the fraud.

The manager of West Marine in Key Largo said 41 year old Rogelio Rodriguez walked into the store at about noon and asked to see one of the most expensive models of Garmin GPS, which they did not have in stock. He then asked for the second  most expensive GPS and said he would take it without asking any questions about the device at all. He produced an Ohio driver’s license with the name Jesus Mardonado on it; he then swiped a credit card with the same name, which was declined. He tried six more cards, which were all declined. He then walked out of the store and drove away in a  black 2014 Nissan sport utility vehicle.

The manager called the Sheriff’s Office and reported the suspicious activity, giving a detailed description of the vehicle, which he said was traveling southbound. Sheriff’s deputies and a Florida Highway Patrol trooper spotted the vehicle at the 101 mile marker of the highway and stopped it.

Detectives Bob Dosh and Jacques Rozek responded to the scene to investigate. Rodriguez had a stack of credit cards in his pocket. He gave detectives permission to search his vehicle. Inside, they found more counterfeit credit cards. Rodriguez had a total of 25 counterfeit credit cards in his possession. He told detectives he did not want to talk to them about the cards; he said he is a two-time convicted felon and if they asked him any questions, he would just say he “didn’t know.”


He was arrested. He was charged with 32 counts of use of another person’s identification without their permission; 25 counts illegal use of credit cards; grand theft, trafficking in counterfeited credit cards, manufacturing counterfeit identification and illegal use of a credit card. He was booked into jail. 

May 26, 2016

Hialeah man faces lengthy prison time for marine thefts

In September of 2015, Hialeah resident Roberto Morales Diaz was confronted by sheriff's deputies as he burglarized multiple boats at Unique Marine in Tavernier. An accomplice acting as a lookout was apprehended at the scene. Diaz fled but was caught a short time later in Florida City and was taken into custody.

This case wrapped up a lengthy multi-agency investigation of marine thefts and burglaries which had been plaguing the Florida Keys for months. Due to the large number of thefts county-wide, a task force had been working on the cases, including participants from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Highway Patrol, Homeland Security, the State Attorney’s Office and Customs and Border Protection. Key West Police lent resources to the task force on several occasions.


Today, Diaz was sentenced at the Plantation Key Courthouse to 13 years in prison for his crimes followed by two years of probation. 

Man charged with burglary

A Homestead man was charged with vehicle burglary Wednesday after stolen property was found in the motorhome he was staying in.

Sgt. Jason Madnick responded to a  house on Gumbo Limbo Drive Wednesday morning after a man staying at the house discovered his car had been burglarized. He said he’d gone to sleep on the couch with his car keys on the table beside him. When he woke, the keys were gone and his belongings, which he kept in his car, were missing.

He told the sergeant one of the items in his car was a Playstation; he said he’d shown it to 36 year old Eric Lansford the day before in an attempt to sell it to him. He said Landsford was staying on a motorhome parked on the property.


Investigations revealed the stolen belongings – including the Playstation and the car keys – were in the motorhome, as was Landsford who was asleep inside. Landsford was arrested, charged with burglary and grand theft and he was booked into jail.

Woman charged with cruelty to a child

A Big Coppitt Key woman has been charged with cruelty toward a child. She is accused of hitting and stomping an 8 year old boy because he put dirty laundry in the dryer.

The Sheriff’s Office was notified of the case by the Department of Children and Families on April 21st. The boy told Major Crimes detectives 27 year old Marina Vega hit him in the face and on the side. He said he laid on the floor because it hurt and she stomped his stomach. He told detectives she was wearing flip flops on her feet and  “thank you God not normal shoes because it would have hurt more.”


After the investigation was completed a warrant was issued for her arrest and on Wednesday, she was booked into jail on child cruelty charges.

May 24, 2016

Heavy traffic expected Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend is one of the busiest weekends of the year for traffic in the Florida Keys and this year will be no exception. That is the assessment of the Sheriff's Office Traffic Enforcement Unit, which will be out in force this holiday weekend to make sure people are driving safely.
All Sheriff's Office Traffic Enforcement Officers will be assigned to work the entire holiday weekend and will work county-wide to help supplement road patrol, particularly on Highway U.S. One. The influx of visitors is expected to cause traffic slowdowns, particularly southbound in the Upper Keys, on Friday; many of those same visitors will leave on Monday and cause slowdowns in the opposite direction on that day. Anyone planning to be on the road over the weekend should plan extra time accordingly.
“We always see extremely heavy traffic over Memorial Day weekend and this coming holiday weekend will be no exception,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. The sheriff urges drivers to be patient and drive safely. “We will be in particular looking out for people passing in no passing zones, passing illegally in turn lanes, traveling at unsafe speeds and drinking and driving,” he said.
On the water, Sheriff’s Office marine deputies will keep an eye out for unsafe boating practices, particularly drunk boating; many people head offshore to have a good time, but boaters should make sure to designate someone sober to bring the vessel and its passengers back to shore safely.

Man arrested for violent Upper Keys rape

A local man was arrested for violently raping and beating a Tavernier woman on March 13th. He is accused of grabbing her as she walked on a street near her home, dragging her into the bushes, beating her with some type of blunt object, threatening to kill her and then raping her.

The attack took place just after 9 p.m. on the southbound side of highway U.S. One, east of the Tavernier Creek Bridge. The victim was on her way to meet friends at a neighborhood bar. She said at first, she thought it was her friends playing a joke on her when someone grabbed her. She then realized she did not know the man who had grabbed her.

The victim fought her attacker and he began to hit her with some kind of weapon she could not identify. 53 year old Johnny Lee Hayes told her he would kill her, but would let her live if she stopped fighting. She said he choked her as well and she lost consciousness for a period of time. When she woke up, he was still on top of her raping her and hitting her. She said during the attack, Hayes told her she’d done this to six other women and had been to prison.

After the rape, he took her money, told her to wait 15 minutes and that he would be watching her. She tried to wave people down for help, but no one would stop. She walked to a nearby business where an employee called for help.

The victim was taken to the hospital where she was treated for her extensive injuries, including broken ribs, a broken bone in her face and numerous contusions. DNA believed to be from the suspect was collected and sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for possible identification. FDLE identified the DNA as belonging to Hayes, who has an extensive arrest history.

Detective Manny Cuervo was assigned as lead investigator on the case.

Detective Cuervo obtained a warrant for Hayes’ arrest and on Monday night, Hayes was located on Aviation Boulevard in Marathon just before 9 p.m. and he was arrested. He was charged with forcible sexual battery with a weapon, a life felony; He was also charged with kidnapping, aggravated battery and robbery with a weapon. He was booked into jail. Total bond on the charges is $525,000.


Hayes has been incarcerated in the Monroe County jail many times over the past two decades on charges which include arrests for drug trafficking, sales and possession, robbery, tampering with a witness, escape, burglary, driving with a suspended license, and violating probation. He has had various addresses during that time, including on Stock Island, Big Pine Key, Marathon and Miami.

May 23, 2016

Police Memorial Day ceremony at Bayview Park


 Here are some photos from Friday's Police Memorial Day ceremony at Bayview Park in Key West. Thanks to all who attended to honor those officers killed in the line of duty.





Man charged with burglary, battery on ex-girlfriend

A Marathon man was arrested Saturday, charged with entering his ex-girlfriend’s house without permission and grabbing her.

The victim called the Sheriff’s Office as her ex-boyfriend, 30 year old Ruben Torres, was entering her home through the bedroom window at 5:30 a.m. She told arriving deputies she’d seen him at a bar earlier in the evening and he’d tried to talk to her. She said she went home with another man and Torres showed up there. She said he knocked on the door, then walked around the house knocking on the underside of the house with a stick.

Eventually, he managed to get a bedroom window open and climbed inside. She said he grabbed her, said “I got you,” then climbed back out the window and fled the scene before deputies arrived. The victim was on the phone with Sheriff’s dispatchers who overheard what he said to her.


Deputy Rosa DiGiovanni located Torres later in the morning at a home on Yellowtail Drive in Marathon. Torres was arrested. He was charged with burglary and battery and he was booked into jail.

May 20, 2016

Woman charged with vehicle burglary

Sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene of a vehicle burglary this morning at Sea Grape Apartments in Marathon.

When Deputies Rosa DiGiovanni and Vincent Torres arrived just after 7 a.m., they found the victim who said she’d parked her car in the parking lot the night before. Her neighbor woke her at 7 a.m. today to tell her there were a bunch of items scattered around her car and it looked like the car had been burglarized. Among the scattered belongings were a single black and white sandal and a single red “Croc” shoe, tools, perfume, red lipstick, tampons and loose change. The victim said the red shoe did not belong to her.

As the deputies were investigating, they saw a woman walk past; she was wearing one red “Croc” shoe and one black and white sandal, both of which matched the ones found at the scene of the burglary. She had red lipstick smeared on her hands and face and she had a small clear purse around her neck; inside were some tampons, a key ring with the victim’s first name on it and a red lipstick, all of which the victim identified as belonging to her. She said they had all been inside a purse in her car.


The woman – identified as 18 year old Jennifer Almeida-Ortiz of Marathon – appeared to be disoriented and has having difficulty standing. She was arrested and charged with burglary and theft and she was booked into jail.

Visiting Stanley Switlik School

Stanley Switlik School in Marathon had their Truck Day and many members of the Sheriff’s Office were there, including the Bomb Squad, Dive Team, Traffic Enforcement, Marine Unit, SWAT team and representatives of Criminal Investigations and Road Patrol.





Helping out bird center

Lt. James Sheagren and this crew of inmate workers gave the Wild Bird Center some assistance today with clearing space for the future relocation of the Bird Center at Crane Point Hammock.

Explorers meet with judge

Jr. Explorers Luke Pratt and Michael Anchetta met retiring Judge Reagan Ptomey, who gave them a tour and spoke to them about being a judge and some of the more memorable moments of his career as a judge.

Explorers create flag

These members of Explorer Post 906 have been hard at work creating this flag which will be incorporated in their Color Guard and will be used when they are in attendance at athletic events and other school activities.

May 18, 2016

Wedding planner charged with fraud

Note: Anyone who believes they may be a victim of a similar crime should call the Sheriff's Office at 305-289-2351 and ask to file an offense report.

A local wedding planner was booked into jail yesterday, accused of defrauding two couples who paid her to plan their weddings.

According to offense reports, the couples found 36 year old Kathryn Bentley of Key West listed as a wedding planner on a web site for the Islander Resort in Islamorada and contacted her, one couple in August and one in September of last year,  to plan their weddings. Both couples made a down payment for Bentley to begin working on the events, which were supposed to take place at the Islander Resort.

One couple, who were supposed to be married in November of 2016, began to suspect something was wrong when Bentley prematurely charged their credit card for a second payment in November; according to their contract with her, the payment wasn’t due until February of 2016. When they contacted her about it, she said she would return the money, but she didn’t. They continued to try to contact her, but she did not return their calls. When they contacted the resort about it, the resort reportedly told them Bentley does not work for the resort and there were no reservations made for their wedding.

The second couple made several payments to Bentley for a total of $23,000 for a wedding that was supposed to be scheduled for February of 2016. In January, they attempted to contact Bentley about the upcoming nuptials, but she did not respond. When they contacted the resort, they discovered no payments had been made to them for the wedding; they said they were able to get in touch with Bentley who assured them she would make a payment to the resort right away, but she never did.

Both couples called the Sheriff’s Office in January to report being defrauded by Bentley. Detective Ian Barnett was assigned as the lead investigator on the case.


Warrants were issued for the arrest of Bentley, who turned herself in to the Stock Island Detention Center on Tuesday. She was charged with two counts each of grand theft and fraud. Detectives are still investigating her activities and more charges may be pending.

May 17, 2016

Heavy traffic expected Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend is one of the busiest weekends of the year for traffic in the Florida Keys and this year will be no exception. That is the assessment of the Sheriff's Office Traffic Enforcement Unit, which will be out in force this holiday weekend to make sure people are driving safely.

All Sheriff's Office Traffic Enforcement Officers will be assigned to work the entire holiday weekend and will work county-wide to help supplement road patrol, particularly on Highway U.S. One. The influx of visitors is expected to cause traffic slowdowns, particularly southbound in the Upper Keys, on Friday; many of those same visitors will leave on Monday and cause slowdowns in the opposite direction on that day. Anyone planning to be on the road over the weekend should plan extra time accordingly.

“We always see extremely heavy traffic over Memorial Day weekend and this coming holiday weekend will be no exception,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. The sheriff urges drivers to be patient and drive safely. “We will be in particular looking out for people passing in no passing zones, passing illegally in turn lanes, traveling at unsafe speeds and drinking and driving,” he said.

On the water, Sheriff’s Office marine deputies will keep an eye out for unsafe boating practices, particularly drunk boating; many people head offshore to have a good time, but boaters should make sure to designate someone sober to bring the vessel and its passengers back to shore safely.


As a side note: this coming Monday, May 23rd, is a nationwide Click it or Ticket campaign that Sheriff’s Office Traffic Enforcement deputies will be participating in. The campaign will take place between 6 – 10 p.m. and deputies will concentrate their attention on people driving with no seatbelts during that time period.

Animal Farm open Sunday

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Animal Farm is open to the public this Sunday, May 22nd from 1 – 3 p.m. Please join us and visit with the animals. The farm is free of charge; donations are welcome.

The Sheriff’s Office Animal Farm has over 150 animals, most of which were abandoned, abused or otherwise surrendered by their owners. The animals at the farm include farm animals like pigs, goats, a steer, horses, a donkey, turkeys and rabbits. The farm also has a number of more exotic animals including a lemur, kinkajous, sloths, a family of Patagonian cavies, alpacas, an Emu, pythons, a bearded dragon, prairie dogs, a skunk and a chameleon.


The farm is a wonderful place where kids and adults alike can get up close and personal with many animals they would not normally encounter here in the Florida Keys. It is located underneath the Monroe County Detention Center, at 5501 College Road on Stock Island. It is open on second and fourth Sundays from 1 – 3 p.m.

Cleanup on Card Sound Sunday

In coordination with "Global Cleanup Day", there will be a cleanup of Card Sound Road, between the county line and the toll booth. The date of the cleanup is this Sunday, May 22nd at 10 a.m. We welcome members of the public who would like to help out! Meet at Alabama Jack's just prior to starting time.