October 31, 2014

Vehicle burglar arrested

A Palm City man was arrested Thursday, charged with two vehicle burglaries in Key Colony Beach.

The owner of a sport utility vehicle parked on Coral Lane called to report it had been burglarized between Wednesday night and Thursday morning. He said a bag was taken from inside his unlocked vehicle. Nearby surveillance video captured 23 year old Joseph Gunn in the area at the time of the vehicle burglary. The video shows Gunn taking two plastic bottles of water out of the back of a truck on Coral Lane. He is then shown walking away from the area where the SUV is parked. He is carrying a bag similar to the one reported stolen.


Deputy Nick Whiteman was able to identify Gunn from the video and when Gunn was confronted, he admitted taking the bag and the two bottles of water. He was booked into jail Thursday on two counts each of burglary and theft.

Marathon man charged with pawning stolen jewelry

A Marathon man was arrested Thursday, charged with pawning stolen jewelry.

The victim lives on Big Pine Key. She called the Sheriff’s Office after she found jewelry that belonged to her at a Marathon pawn shop. She told Deputy Nick Whiteman she let 28 year old Adam Blanco and his family stay at her house because they did not have a place to live. She said while they were staying with her, a large amount of her jewelry went missing.


She checked the pawnshop and found five of the items in the shop. The items had been pawned by Blanco. A warrant was issued for Blanco’s arrest and on Thursday he was booked into jail on charges of dealing in stolen property and fraud for providing false information to the pawn shop.

Two arrested for drugs

Two men were arrested in Marathon Thursday afternoon after they were found to have marijuana and cocaine.

Deputy Kendall Bailey was on patrol at 4:20 p.m. As he was patrolling, he was keeping an eye out for suspects that might be involved in committing an earlier crime. A notice to be on the lookout for a male and a female had been issued, with a description and the possibility they might be heading for a local hotel.

Deputy Bailey spotted a truck with a male and female sitting in the bed of the truck. They fit the BOLO description so he stopped behind the truck when it pulled in to a gas station. The deputy began asking questions of the couple in the back. The male told him they were headed for the Holiday Inn. When Deputy Bailey looked into the back of the truck, he saw a zip lock bag. Inside the bag were smaller bags with a white powder inside.

Other officers arrived as back up. Further investigation turned up marijuana, more cocaine and a large amount of cash in several different areas – in the truck, in the bed of the truck and in the pocket of the male suspect, who was identified as 26 year old Christopher Cepero of Marathon.

The driver of the vehicle said he did not know who the couple was. He said his passenger, 27 year old Jonathan Guzman of Marathon, asked him to give the couple a ride. He said Guzman also asked him to hold a large amount of cash for him. The drive handed the cash over to Deputy Bailey. A duffel bag belonging to Guzman was found to contain more marijuana and cocaine.

Cepero was charged with possession with intent to sell 18 bags of cocaine weighing 11.3 grams. He was also charged with possessing 54.8 grams of marijuana. Guzman was charged with possession with intent to sell 18.9 grams of cocaine and possession of 89.2 grams of marijuana. Two rolls of cash – a total of $5,220 – were seized as the possible proceeds of drug sales.

Bees swarm patrol car

 Deputy Dave Campbell got quite a surprise this morning. He responded to a call at the 101.5 mile marker and was out of his car for about three minutes. When he returned, he found these bees swarming his car and on the rescue vehicle that also responded. In order to get back in the vehicles, they had to call for Key Largo Fire Department to wash them down. Maybe Dave is just too sweet for his own good, but it was probably a new colony of bees looking for a new home. We would prefer they not choose to live in one of our patrol cars!

Enjoy the day - Happy Halloween!

The Sheriff's Office Administrative Offices and the Central Records office got into the spirit of Halloween today! We hope you are enjoying Halloween as much as we are!

Happy Halloween!

Traffic Enforcement Deputy John McGee is spending Halloween training this new recruit on his motorcycle skills. Happy Halloween from the Sheriff's Office!

October 30, 2014

Halloween: be careful

With Halloween coming up tomorrow, the Sheriff’s Office would like to remind people to be extra careful while driving in the evening and nighttime hours. Also, if you plan to attend any parties or other activities, make sure you plan ahead to have a sober driver available if you plan to drink alcohol.

Deputies will be out county-wide to make sure kids who are trick-or-treating are safe. Parents should ensure that small children are accompanied by either older children or responsible adults, that they carry a flashlight if possible and that their costumes have some sort of reflective material to make them visible to drivers.

In the Lower Keys, Halloween coincides with the homecoming Key West High School football game. Because of this, there may be even more teens out and about than is usual for this holiday.

The Sheriff’s Office would like to caution parents and teens alike: serving alcohol to those under the age of 21 is illegal and you will be arrested if caught doing so. Possessing alcohol when you are under 21 is also illegal and is also an offense you can and will be arrested for.

Many teens think it is fun to throw eggs, shaving cream, toilet paper and other items at cars, homes and other people. Some also like to use spray paint to “tag” property. Our officers will be out on Halloween night performing extra patrols for such activity. This type of activity is criminal mischief and, as such, is against the law. If we catch you, you will be arrested. The only time any of this type of behavior is legal would be as part of an organized, adult supervised activity with everyone involved a willing participant.

Merchants in the Florida Keys are asked to refrain from selling large amounts of shaving cream, spray paint and/or eggs to young people to help us to curtail this destructive behavior.

In Marathon, there will be a few road closures on Halloween night to increase the safety of pedestrians and children. Between sunset and 10 p.m., the intersections of Aviation Boulevard and Dolphin, Marlin and Harbor Drives will be closed. Residents with identification showing them live on these streets will be allowed to pass.

Halloween Safety tips

Halloween is a special time for children, but children don’t always know what is and is not safe. If your children are going  trick or treating on Halloween, there are several tips to follow for their safety.

·         Make sure they wear light colored costumes with plenty of reflective tape so they are visible to cars and trucks. Take a flashlight along for added visibility.
·         Look left, right and left again when crossing the street.
·         Put electronic devices away so there are no distractions.
·         If possible, have them go while it is still light outside.
·         They should be accompanied by an adult, or an older brother or sister.
·         Enter homes only if you're with a trusted adult. Only visit well-lit houses. Don't stop at dark houses. Never accept rides from strangers.
·         They should not sample candy given to them until it has been checked by an adult for possible tampering.
·         Notify a deputy if suspicious or harmful items are found in your child’s collection of treats.
·         They should stay away from homes with dogs loose in the yard.
·         Having a Halloween party is a good alternative to the tradition of trick or treating. It gives kids an opportunity to have a good time in a supervised and safe atmosphere.

Tips for people driving on Halloween:

·         Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may dart in front of cars when crossing the street.
·         Take extra time and look carefully for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
·         Enter and exit driveways slowly and carefully.
·         Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
·         Drive slowly, anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn your headlights on earlier in the day to spot children from greater distances.
·         Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so be especially alert for kids during those hours

And a few tips for pet owners:
  • Don't leave your pet out in the yard on Halloween: There are plenty of pranksters who will go out of their way to tease pets and you don’t want your dog to bite a trick-or-treater who might venture too close.
  • Trick-or-treat candy is not for pets: Chocolate is poisonous to many animals, and tin foil and cellophane candy wrappers can be hazardous if swallowed by your pet.
  • Be careful your cat or dog doesn't dart out through the open door when you open it for trick or treaters.

Visit our web site at www.keysso.net for more fun information about Halloween Safety.

October 29, 2014

Drug arrest at Key Largo hotel

An alert hotel maid was instrumental in the arrest of a man on drug charges Saturday.

The maid entered the hotel room to clean it Saturday afternoon and found a bag of what she believed to be marijuana in the television cabinet. She notified the hotel office and they called the Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies Ben Elmore, James Jenkins and Jacques Rozek responded. They found the occupant of the room, who at first said the marijuana was in the room when he checked in, then changed his story and admitted it was his. The marijuana was vacuum sealed in 20 separate bags of 9 grams each. 35 year old Gilbert Velilla of Miami was arrested, he was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell and with possessing drug paraphernalia after an electronic scale was found in Velilla’s bag.


Velilla was booked into jail on the charges.

Children's Day, Key West

A crew from our Corrections Bureau set up a booth at Children's Day in Key West Sunday. They had a great time handing out goodies and talking to kids and their families about crime prevention.

Trunk or Treat!

Marathon Lt. Derek Paul attended the Stanley Switlik School Halloween Carnival this week participating in Trunk or Treat.

October 27, 2014

Helping Stanley Switlik School

A group of dedicated Sheriff’s Office members got together and helped to spread mulch on the playground at Stanley Switlik School in Marathon. The mulch will make the playground much safer (not to mention softer) for kids to play on at the school.
 

Walking for cancer cure

This wonderful group from the Sheriff's Office participated in the Cancer Walk held in Key West this past weekend. Way to go for a great cause!

Candy for kids

Sheriff’s Office dispatchers Ben Fox, Hailey Davis and Lt. Charlene Sprinkle-Huff with the candy packages they delivered to the Domestic Abuse Shelter this week. Also helping: Ted Sweet and Erika Cangemi and everyone who donated candy. The kids were very excited!!!

Sergeant notices danger to swimmers

Sgt. Mike DiGiovanni recently noticed the beach at Library Beach Park in Islamorada was located very near to an active boating canal. When he saw swimmers trying to cross the canal, he decided to take action and had warning signs put up to alert swimmers of the boat traffic. Great job at seeing a problem and fixing it, Mike!

Deputies visit with kids

Deputies James Hager and Gil Gonzalez spoke to kids in the Head Start program at Stanley Switlik School. The kids learned about Halloween Safety, Bicycle Safety and when and how to call 911. The kids also got a tour of a patrol car and had the opportunity to see Deputy Gonzalez’ SWAT equipment.

Long-time Detention Deputy retires

Detention Deputy Anthony Williams was honored recently for his service as he leaves the Sheriff’s Office for a well-deserved retirement. Here he is, pictured with his wife, Programs Asst. Sharee Williams, and others who worked with him at the Stock Island Detention Center. He will be missed.

Detective recognized for his work

The State Attorney’s Office recognized Major Crimes Detective Manny Cuervo at the Law Enforcement Luncheon this week for his work on a difficult aggravated child abuse case from earlier this year.

MARC House donation

Clients of the MARC House gratefully accepted a check for $2,010 raised during the recent softball game between the Sheriff’s Office and Key West Police. Here is Jo Socha, Sheriff Ramsay, Polly Deihl, Jennifer McGary, Amalia Sutton and Rosemary Skrobert.

Special Olympics donation

Sheriff Rick Ramsay, Jo Socha and Polly Deihl hand over a check for $3,700 raised at the recent Tip-a-Cop fund raiser at Boondock’s Restaurant. The money goes to Special Olympics. Athletes Amanda Kirkman and Linnea Edwards accepted the check.

Detectives investigate death of baby

Major Crimes Detective Manny Cuervo has been assigned to investigate the death of a two month old baby over the weekend.

Although an autopsy has not yet been done to determine the cause of the child’s death, Detective Cuervo says he sees no obvious signs of foul play involved. The 24 year old mother, Shacoya Blackman, said she woke just after 9 a.m. on Sunday at her home on Miriam Street, Stock Island to find her daughter, Lyric Blackman, not breathing. Deputy Matt Dowling and Sgt. Ken Fricke responded first to the scene and Sgt. Fricke began performing CPR on the child. Paramedics arrived and the child was rushed to the hospital, but could not be revived.

An autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow and the investigation into the circumstances is ongoing.

October 26, 2014

Vehicle burglar caught

Thanks to an observant deputy working at Fantasy Fest, a man is in custody for vehicle burglaries in Key Haven and on Lower Sugarloaf Key.

Deputy David Lariz had seen video of the burglary suspect and the suspect’s vehicle, circulated in a notice to be on the lookout to all deputies county-wide. Detectives working on the case had identified the vehicle in the video as an Infiniti with a vanity plate of some sort on the front and a sunroof. In the video the general size, build and appearance of the suspect could also be seen clearly.

Deputy Lariz was working at Fantasy Fest Saturday afternoon at the corner of Greene and Simonton Streets when he spotted a car matching the suspect vehicle. The driver was also similar in appearance and build to the suspect in the video. He stopped the car and asked the driver for his identification.

The driver, 23 year old Kenneth Hathaway is from Virginia and a check on his record showed he is wanted in that state for burglary and grand theft. He gave Deputy Lariz a military dependent identification and claimed to be staying on base at the Fly Navy building. A check with Navy authorities revealed he was not staying there. He gave other inconsistent information as he was being questioned.

Detectives David Brummer and Diane Mimosa responded and Hathaway was confronted with the existence of video showing him and his car at several burglary scenes. He told detectives he had burglarized cars in Key Haven and on Lower Sugarloaf Key. He said he was looking mainly for cash, but took other items as well.

He said he got caught breaking into one vehicle on Sugarloaf. He said after that he was afraid he’d get caught so he threw all the items he stole into the mangroves.


Hathaway was arrested. He was charged with a total of 5 counts of burglary of a vehicle and two counts of theft. Detectives are continuing to investigate and he may face more charges in the future.

October 24, 2014

Detectives investigate vehicle burglaries

video

 Sheriff’s detectives are investigating at least 21 vehicle burglaries that have taken place over the past two days in the neighborhood of Key Haven – in the vicinity of Stock Island - and on Lower Sugarloaf Key.

Detectives have two videos which indicate the crimes may have been committed by the same suspect.  At least three vehicles were entered on Bougainvillea Avenue in Key Haven, with a purse and credit cards taken from one of the cars and nothing taken from the other two. Those crimes were reported to the Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday morning. Three more vehicles were entered on Tamarind Road on Sugarloaf Key and were also reported Wednesday morning.

This morning, the Sheriff’s Office received reports of vehicles on Labrisa Lane, Marlin Drive, Jamaica Lane and Sugarloaf Boulevard entered overnight. Detectives say at least 15 vehicles were entered and the suspect took loose change, a radar detector and sunglasses from those vehicles.

In all of these cases, the vehicles were left unlocked. In two cases, video surveillance captured the suspect committing the crimes. If you recognize the suspect and/or his vehicle contact the Sheriff’s Office. Callers may also 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
www.tipsubmit.com or via a text message to 274637 using the keyword TIP136.


Remember to always lock your car doors. Most vehicle burglaries are crimes of opportunity and suspects will generally only enter those vehicles that are left unlocked. Also remove valuables from your vehicle – many times suspects choose vehicles based on items they can see visible inside.

Stock Island man arrested for cocaine

A Stock Island man was arrested and charged with possessing a large amount of cocaine after a search warrant was served at his home Thursday afternoon.

Detectives served the warrant at 3:30 p.m. at F3 Cross Street, at the rear apartment. They found 51 year old Renan Viart Sotolongo at home. Inside, the search turned up 141 grams of cocaine in various locations. They also found $8,021 in cash. Sotolongo was arrested and charged with trafficking in cocaine.

Working together on the service of the search warrant were Sheriff's Office / Monroe HIDTA,Key West HIDTA/Special Investigations, agents from Homeland Security Investigations, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

October 22, 2014

Be careful: Fantasy Fest and Halloween coming up

With Fantasy Fest this week and Halloween coming up next week, the Sheriff’s Office would like to remind people to be extra careful while driving in heavy event traffic. Also, if you plan to attend any parties or other activities, make sure you plan ahead to have a sober driver available if you plan to drink alcohol.

Although most Fantasy Fest activities take place in the city of Key West, the Sheriff’s Office will be helping out with extra security at many city events and will also be performing extra patrols to make sure everyone is safe on our roadways.

Traffic is expected to be especially heavy southbound into the city of Key West Saturday in the late afternoon and then again late in the evening as people travel to and from the Fantasy Fest parade. Sheriff’s Office road patrol and traffic enforcement deputies will all be working to ensure traffic keeps moving, and that no one is driving dangerously.

The following week, Halloween falls on Friday and deputies will be out county-wide to make sure kids who are trick-or-treating are safe. Parents should ensure that small children are accompanied by either older children or responsible adults, that they carry a flashlight if possible and that their costumes have some sort of reflective material to make them visible to drivers.

In the Lower Keys, Halloween coincides with the homecoming Key West High School football game. Because of this, there may be even more teens out and about than is usual for this holiday.

The Sheriff’s Office would like to caution parents and teens alike: serving alcohol to those under the age of 21 is illegal and you will be arrested if caught doing so. Possessing alcohol when you are under 21 is also illegal and is also an offense you can and will be arrested for.

Many teens think it is fun to throw eggs, shaving cream, toilet paper and other items at cars, homes and other people. Some also like to use spray paint to “tag” property. Our officers will be out on Halloween night performing extra patrols for such activity. This type of activity is criminal mischief and, as such, is against the law. If we catch you, you will be arrested. The only time any of this type of behavior is legal would be as part of an organized, adult supervised activity with everyone involved a willing participant.

Merchants in the Florida Keys are asked to refrain from selling large amounts of shaving cream, spray paint and/or eggs to young people to help us to curtail this destructive behavior.


In Marathon, there will be a few road closures on Halloween night to increase the safety of pedestrians and children. Between sunset and 10 p.m., the intersections of Aviation Boulevard and Dolphin, Marlin and Harbor Drives will be closed. Residents with identification showing them live on these streets will be allowed to pass.

Two charged with grand theft from construction project

Two men were arrested as they headed out of the county with three rolls of fencing material stolen from a construction project on Card Sound Road.

A passing motorist saw a van parked on the shoulder of the roadway on State Road 905 in a construction zone at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. The motorist noticed three large rolls of construction fencing material in the back of the van and thought it was suspicious, so he stopped at Ocean Reef to report it to Ocean Reef Public Safety. Ocean Reef Public Safety in turn reported it to the Sheriff’s Office.

Deputy Kyle Page and Sgt. Jason Madnick stopped the van northbound on Card Sound Road. They were backed up by Deputy Greg LaRochelle. The men inside the van were identified as 39 year old Darwin Velasquez of Homestead and 22 year old Romnel Zelaya of Palm Springs, Florida.

The two suspects were separated. Deputies spoke to both of them. They both claimed to have been coming to the Keys to go fishing. They both said once they reached the Keys they realized they had forgotten their fishing equipment. Each man blamed the theft of the fencing material on the other man.

Tags found on the rolls of fencing matched those on fencing material found at the construction site. Both men were arrested and charged with grand theft. They were booked into jail.