November 30, 2010

Update: Two who fled from deputies charged with four burglaries; more charges and more arrests expected

Key Largo - The two young men from Homestead who fled from deputies early today, have been charged with four residential burglaries so far; more charges are pending and detectives say more suspects will most likely be arrested.

Detective Sgt. Dave Carey said he believes the two suspects caught today - and other suspects they were working with - have been responsible for a substantial number of residential burglaries in the upper Keys over the past two months. The Upper Keys have been hit harder than usual in that time period; there were 41 residential burglaries in District 7 (from Tavernier to Key Largo) in October and November compared to 32 for the same time period last year.

Investigations have linked 17 year old Charles Ramirez and 22 year old Edwin Cruz to four burglaries so far; they admitted, during questioning, to breaking in to homes on Waterway Drive, Shaw Drive, Dubonnet Road and Laguna Drive, all in Key Largo. They smashed windows or sliding glass doors to gain entry, then took television sets, several swords, a handgun and other valuables, transporting them back to Homestead and Miami to be sold. At the Laguna Drive address, they also stole a Mercedes Benz after finding the keys in the house.

Detectives are working with Homestead and Miami-Dade Police in an effort to recover stolen items, and trace the movements and activities of the two suspects, and others they are believed to have been working with. A number of stolen items have already been recovered from their residences and from several pawn shops in the Miami area. More charges are pending against them, and more arrests are also expected.

"Our officers have been working hard to find the ones who have been committing these crimes," said Sheriff Bob Peryam. "This was a tough one because the crimes were taking place in a wide ranging area, over a long period of time. Their countless hours of surveillance, and their dedicated investigative work has finally paid off with these arrests," he said. "We will not tolerate people coming to our county and committing crimes like this. If you come here and prey on our citizens, we will do everything in our power to arrest you and put you in jail," he said.

Over the past couple of months, nine other arrests have been made in the upper Keys in relation to these burglaries, including five arrests for burglary and four for loitering and prowling.

Two arrested after fleeing from deputies; believed to be suspects in numerous burglaries in Key Largo

Key Largo - Two young men from Homestead were arrested in Key Largo early today, charged with fleeing from deputies at a high rate of speed through a Key Largo residential neighborhood. They are also suspects in a number of residential burglaries in the area.

Detectives working in the Key Largo area just after midnight saw a black Honda sedan cruising slowly through residential neighborhoods in the vicinity of the 104 mile marker, then saw it stop at the Tom Thumb convenience store at the 104 mile marker. The car stayed parked there for several minutes; no one exited the car, either to pump gas or to go into the store. Deputy Peter Garcia was called to assist. He waited and watched, and the car eventually pulled out onto the highway, northbound. After a quarter of a mile, it did a u-turn and drove southbound, turning onto Dolphin Avenue. The car cruised several residential streets, then exited back onto the highway northbound.

Due to a number of residential burglaries in the surrounding area, and the suspicious way the vehicle was traveling, Deputy Garcia turned on his lights and siren to pull the vehicle over. Instead of stopping, it fled. The vehicle ran three stop signs, fleeing down Linda Street, turning onto Oakwood Avenue, then onto Norwood Avenue.It turned onto Largo Road, then onto Plantation Road. At this point, the Honda was traveling at approximately 80 miles per hour in a residential neighborhood. The vehicle crashed into a fence on Plantation Road; both young men in the car jumped out and fled on foot.

17 year old Charles Ramirez was caught first, after he'd fled into a wooded area. Upon questioning, he identified his accomplice and the driver of the car as 22 year old Edwin Cruz. Marijuana was found in the car, as well as drug paraphernalia. Upon questioning, Ramirez admitted to committing burglaries in the Key Largo area with Cruz. Cruz was found several hours later hiding under a dock behind a house on Bahia Honda Road. He refused to come out or comply with officers orders until they threatened to use a Taser on him. He was apprehended without further incident.

Investigations are continuing. Ramirez and Cruz were charged with resisting arrest, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. More charges are pending.

November 29, 2010

Man arrested for DUI, threats to deputies

Big Coppitt Key – A Stock Island man was arrested after deputies recognized the vehicle he was driving from a BOLO issued by Key West Police Saturday night.

Deputy John Gabay was on the lookout for a gray Suzuki sport utility vehicle Saturday night after receiving a notice from Key West Police that it had been involved in a hit and run accident in the city of Key West a short time before.

The BOLO information included a license tag number. A check on the tag revealed the registered owner lived on Aquamarine Drive on Big Coppitt Key. When the deputy drove by the home, the vehicle was not there, but as he started driving southbound looking for it, he saw it, with its front bumper dragging on the ground and with obvious front end damage, northbound on the highway.

When the vehicle turned onto Aquamarine Drive, Deputy Gabay pulled it over and found 29 year old Joshua Herald driving. The owner of the car, a woman, was in the passenger seat. Herald was obviously intoxicated as the deputy began speaking with him. A check on Herald revealed he had no valid driver’s license.

Deputy Geni Hernandez arrived as back up and Key West Police were notified and asked to respond. During the course of the investigation, Herald admitted to being too drunk to drive.

During field sobriety exercises, he suddenly became angry and aggressive; he began pounding his chest with his fists at one point, and told the deputies he knew where they lived and would “get them”. The threats continued at the Monroe County Detention Center, and Herald had to be pepper sprayed and placed into a restraint chair to make sure he did not hurt himself or others.

Herald was charged with having no valid driver’s license, driving under the influence of alcohol and making threats to a public servant.

More charges may be pending by Key West Police.

November 26, 2010

Three charged with stealing copper wire

Summerland Key – Three people were arrested on Summerland Key Thursday, charged with stealing copper wire.

The crime occurred on property which is an old Shrimp Farm on Summerland Key. The manager of the property called the Sheriff’s Office at 3 p.m. to report there were people on the property who didn’t belong there.

When Deputies Jon Riggs and Dave Chavka arrived, they heard banging coming from one of the buildings on the property. Further investigation led to the arrest of three people caught removing copper wire from the site.

The deputies found 27 year old Yoel Alfonso of Stock Island, 28 year old Kenia Bosque and 33 year old Jose Hidalgo, both of Miami. Alfonso admitted the three of them were there to take copper wire. There were tools at the scene and a bundle of wire, along with a bucket half full of stripped wire.

All three were booked into jail on charges of burglary and theft.

November 24, 2010

Body found on Little Torch Key identified

Little Torch Key – A body found by three boys November 14th on Little Torch Key has been identified as a 56 year old Little Torch Key man last seen in June.

Ernesto Seruto lived on Helen Avenue, on Little Torch Key. His landlord, who lives out of state, told detectives he last saw him in June, although he wasn’t sure of the date. He said Seruto stopped paying rent and utilities and disappeared around that time. He said he came to the Keys a couple of months later to check his property and found all of the Seruto’s personal belongings still in the house.

The landlord and Seruto’s acquaintances all said he’d become depressed after his wife died about 18 months ago, and began drinking heavily and possibly taking prescription drugs. Detective Mark Coleman said the examination of the wooded area where Seruto’s body was found turned up what looked like a shrine to Seruto’s wife in the wooded area near where Seruto was found, including a bag containing Tammy Seruto’s cremains, a poem and a greeting card with “Merry Christmas to my beloved Husband”. A bottle of alcohol – possibly whiskey – was found near his body.

An autopsy performed on the skeletonized remains reportedly revealed no obvious cause of death; there was no evidence found around the body that would indicate a cause either, according to detectives.

November 23, 2010

Three charged with beating, hospitalizing man

Stock Island – Three Stock Island residents were arrested Monday night after they beat a man, putting him in the hospital for treatment of his injuries.

When Deputy David Fernandez arrived at Ocean Spray Trailer Park at 8:45 p.m., the ambulance had arrived and paramedics were already treating the 49 year old victim, who had injuries to his face – including a large indentation above his eye; he also had bruising and scrapes on his right arm and the right and left side of his body, including possible broken ribs.

He was transported to the hospital, where he was interviewed by Sgt. Charlene Sprinkle-Huff. He said he lives in his trailer with 46 year old Cindy Rojas and her son, 17 year old Manual Rojas. He said he came home to find Cindy at the trailer with 46 year old Frank Horsley. He said he told Frank to leave and Cindy Rojas jumped on his back and hit him with something, possibly a bottle.

He said Manuel Rojas and Horsley then began hitting him and punching him.

Manuel Rojas and Horsley both told deputies they saw the victim beating Cindy and were defending her when they hit the victim.

Evidence found in the trailer was consistent with the victim’s story. Cindy and Manuel Rojas and Horsley were all arrested and charged with aggravated battery. They were booked into jail.

November 22, 2010

Key West man arrested for reckless driving

Bay Point – A Key West man was arrested early today after he sped by a deputy at a high rate of speed, then refused to stop when the deputy attempted to pull him over.

Deputy Scott Ward was in the vicinity of the 15 mile marker northbound at 1:20 a.m. when he saw a 1990 Mazda convertible coming toward him at a high rate of speed. As the car passed, he measured it’s speed at 93 miles per hour. As it continued southbound, the deputy measured it’s speed as it accelerated to 121 miles per hour.

He turned around to pull the car over. The driver refused to stop. He slowed to 90 miles per hour at the 11 mile marker, but sped past Deputy David Fernandez, who was parked in the median at the 9 mile marker with his emergency lights activated.

The driver, 39 year old Joseph Taylor, finally stopped his car at the 7.5 mile marker of the highway. A check in computers revealed Taylor had his license suspended four times in the past six years. He was arrested and charged with driving with a suspended license, reckless driving, fleeing and eluding police, and he received a citation for speeding. He was taken to jail.

November 21, 2010

Vehicles damaged at Christmas festival

Islamorada – Ten people attending the Island Christian School Christmas Festival returned to their vehicles to find them damaged Saturday.

Ten cars parked in a grassy area across from Whale Harbor were damaged when someone scratched them extensively. Owners called the Sheriff’s Office to report the damage Saturday afternoon. Whatever suspects used to commit the crimes scratched through the paint to the metal in many instances; most of the scratches were down the entire driver’s side, with some continuing on the backs of the vehicles.

Anyone with information about this case should call the Sheriff’s Office immediately. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida keys. If a tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line is 1-800-346-TIPS.

November 20, 2010

Sobriety Checkpoint results

A Sobriety Checkpoint in Marathon Friday night led to one drunk driving arrest, one arrest for having an open container of alcohol and a number of safety violation citations.

Deputies manning the checkpoint checked a total of 125 vehicles; they issued citations to 23 people for safety related violations. Ten warnings were issued and one person received a notice to appear in court for having no valid driver’s license. One person was charged with having an open container of alcohol.

One man was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. As 57 year old Lazaro Moreira of Marathon was pulling in to the checkpoint just after midnight, he hit several cones and dragged them under his truck for a distance. Then, as he was waved over by deputies, so they could check him and his vehicle more closely, he hit more cones. He failed field sobriety exercises and was arrested.

Deputy arrested by KWPD

A Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy was arrested by Key West Police this morning.

37 year old William Davis was booked into jail early today, charged with driving under the influence of alcohol with property damage.

Details of the arrest will be released by the Key West Police Department.

Sheriff’s Office Administrative Offices are currently closed, so details of Davis’ employment are currently unavailable. At the time of his arrest, Davis was assigned as a deputy in Marathon. He was with the Sheriff's Office for less than a year and, so, was still a probationary employee. He has been terminated from his employment as of today.

Disciplinary action by the Sheriff’s Office is pending.

November 19, 2010

Two cases of human skeletal remains keep Homicide Unit busy

Members of the Homicide Unit and the Medical Examiner’s Office have spent a lot of time
recently recovering human skeletal remains.

Top, the group sifted for bones buried on two lots in Marathon in October. They were assisted by a number of other agencies, including a forensic anthropologist from Tampa and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

On the bottom, Homicide Detective Mark Coleman works at recovering bones and evidence from a body found on Little Torch Key earlier this week.

Both cases are still under investigation.

Crowds show up to view auction items

A two day viewing of vehicles and property for auction drew a crowd of people to headquarters  this week. Top, hundreds of people showed up to look at property items; in the middle, Fleet Manager Johnnie Yongue shows a used patrol vehicle to people; on the bottom, Supply Officer Mike Griffin shows a couple a truck that is being be sold.

Art Behind Bars inmates create sign for jail

Inmates from Art Behind Bars completed this hand painted sign for the Marathon jail recently.
They did a great job and, best of all, it cost nothing except the price of materials.
Left to right, Carlos Rossi, Freddy Carcamo, Kat Maguire, Anthony Simonelli and Programs Director Keena Allen.

Man flees, is apprehended

Key Largo – A man riding his bicycle on 3rd Lane in the Pamela Villa subdivision of Key Largo fled when deputies tried to talk with him. He was caught, and arrested on drug charges.

Deputies were responding after two people called to report a suspicious person in that area at 5:40 p.m. When they attempted to stop 18 year old Samuel Ornelas on his bicycle, Ornelas fled. He threw down his bike and continued to flee on foot, jumping into a canal. Deputies ran after him and were able to drag him out of the canal. He was taken into custody.

In his possession they found two plastic bags with marijuana inside and a bag with five Xanax pills. Ornelas admitted to selling the bags of marijuana for $20 each.

He was charged with resisting arrest, possession o f marijuana and possession of a controlled substance. He was booked into jail.

Four burglaries in a Tavernier neighborhood

Tavernier – Deputies and detectives responded to reports of a burglary on Orange Blossom Road Thursday morning. Before they were done, they’d had reports of three more in the neighborhood.

House cleaners discovered a house on Orange Blossom Road had been broken into when they showed up for work. Someone had broken a small window to get inside. They then exited through the front door, taking several television sets, two computers, other electronic equipment and some jewelry. While going door to door in the neighborhood to see if anyone had seen anything, Deputy Jacques Rozek found a nearby home had a similar broken window. A television had been removed from that home.

A short time later, deputies responded to reports of a burglary on Old Fashion Road, just a couple blocks away. The homeowner had found a small window broken. Suspects entered and rummaged around, but didn’t steal anything. While deputies were going door to door investigating that break in, they found another home on that street with a broken window. Although suspects entered and there were signs they looked around inside, nothing was taken from that house either.

Detectives believe the four crimes are related. They would like anyone with information to call them at 305-853-3211. Tipsters can also call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers may remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward if their information leads to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

November 18, 2010

Toy collection gears up county-wide

Toyz for Keyz Kidz is beginning its toy collection drive throughout the county.

“Toyz for Keyz Kidz” is a yearly effort by Sheriff's Office employees county-wide. This dedicated group works in partnership with the Salvation Army to distribute toys and food during the holidays. All money and all toys that are collected in the Florida Keys stays here, in the Florida Keys, and benefits needy families during the holidays.

Anyone who wishes to donate cash, or a new unwrapped toy, can drop it off at any Sheriff’s Office substation in the Keys, or at the Sheriff’s Office headquarters building on Stock Island.

For more information about Toyz for Keyz Kidz, contact Tiffany O’Connell in the Lower Keys at 305-294-2424, Linda Mixon in the Middle Keys at 305-797-0089 or Peggy Bryan in the Upper Keys at 305-853-3211.

Sheriff’s Shared Asset Forfeiture Fund now accepting applications

The Monroe County Shared Asset Forfeiture Fund (SAFF) was established in 1999 funded by Sheriff Richard D. Roth with proceeds of a major drug smuggling and money-laundering investigation, the interest earned from these funds is distributed annually in the form of grants to eligible community groups.

The SAFF Advisory Board consists of seven community members. Five are appointed by the County Commissioners and the Sheriff selects two. Each year, the SAFF Advisory Board solicits and reviews grant applications and makes funding recommendations to the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC).

$190,000.00 is available for award in 2011. The Advisory Board has determined to focus its efforts and issue award recommendations based on the following criteria:

1. No individual grant will exceed $10,000.00

2. Grant program purposes should be limited to:

• Crime prevention
• Drug abuse prevention
• Mental and physical health care for minors

Note: During this 2011 grant cycle, cultural, artistic, and sports programs are not likely to receive favorable recommendation.

3. Grant proposals generating new matching funds will be given extra consideration.

4. Grant proposals for building improvements, real estate acquisition, or salaries for new positions will not be considered.

The Advisory Board will consider multiple year funding requests on a limited case by case basis if the applicant can demonstrate that a multiple year commitment will leverage significant additional funding or develop continuing financial self sufficiency within the period of the grant.

Applications, and additional instructions, are available now on the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office web site, and must be received at the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Administrative Headquarters, 5525 College Road, Stock Island, Florida 33040 no later than Noon, THURSDAY, February 3, 2011.

The SAFF Advisory Board will conduct a public meeting to evaluate proposals and make its recommendations to the County Commission. It is anticipated that recommendations for funding will be made to the Board of County Commissioners for consideration at the April 2011 BOCC meeting.

For additional information, visit the Sheriff’s web site at or contact Val Marinello, Sheriff’s Aide at (305) 292-7003, TDD (305) 292-7075 or email: We welcome your participation and comments at our public meetings.

Holiday Safety tips

Here are a some tips to keep yourself, your family and your property safe during the upcoming holiday season.

Shopping safety:

• Stay alert and aware of what is going on around you. The holiday season can be distracting, with lots of glittering lights, holiday decorations and crowds of people. Make sure you pay attention to what is happening at all times.
• Park in a well lighted area and be sure to lock your car doors. Hide shopping bags and gifts in the trunk so they aren’t visible to those passing by your car.
• Avoid carrying cash if at all possible. Use credit cards for holiday purchases. This makes you less vulnerable to thieves, and many cards offer increased warranties, and other protections for your purchases.
• Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Don’t put your purse down, and carry your purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put your wallet in an inside pocket or in a front pants pocket. This will deter pickpockets and purse snatchers.
• If you are shopping with your children, talk to them ahead of time about what to do if they get lost in the crowd. Teach them to go immediately to a store clerk or a security guard and ask for help. If they are old enough, make sure they know your home phone number, your cell phone number and that your name is not just “Mommy” or “Daddy”.

If you travel away from home:

• Make sure the doors and windows at your home are all locked up tight when you leave.
• Don’t leave lights on 24 hours a day. Put automatic timers on several lights and a radio. Set them so they will turn on and off at random times in different rooms—especially the bathroom.
• Have newspaper and mail delivery stopped while you are gone or have a friend pick them up.
• Leave information on where you can be contacted in an emergency with a trusted neighbor; ask them to watch your home and to park in the driveway occasionally.
• Don’t publicize or talk about vacations ahead of time. Burglars are always listening.
• Notify the Sheriff’s Office of your plans, and fill out a “premises-check” form, available at the nearest Sheriff’s Office Substation. Deputies will keep an eye on your house when they are in the neighborhood.
• Arrange to have the lawn mowed.
• Give your house a lived in appearance. A residence that presents a lived in appearance is a deterrent to burglars.
• Have a neighbor occasionally use your garbage cans.
• Leave drapes in a normal position to maintain a lived in appearance.

Fraud during the holidays:

There are many opportunities for criminals to steal your money during the holidays and rest assured there are many out there who are planning their next scheme as we speak. Here are just a few possibilities.

• Criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts and it isn’t unusual for people to go door to door looking for “charitable” donations when, in fact, they are there to line their own pockets. Ask for identification and ask for specifics about how the money will be used. If you aren’t satisfied with the answers, don’t give. Help a charity you know and like – and are sure of – instead.
• Remember: we always say if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This applies to internet purchases as well, including purchases on Craigslist and eBay.
• If you are shopping on line, make sure the web site you are shopping on is a legitimate one. When in doubt, shop elsewhere.
• Email is a wonderful tool for all of us, especially criminals. Cybercriminals often send fake invoices and delivery notices that look like they are from a legitimate business like FedEx , UPS or the Post Office. Banking and credit card scams are also rampant. Criminals try to trick you into divulging your bank account numbers, passwords, social security numbers and other information which will allow them to steal your identity. To confirm authenticity of any of these emails, get a phone number for the company from their official web site and call them for confirmation.
• Holiday e-cards are fun, but beware of clicking on one that comes from someone you don’t know. It could contain malware, spyware or other hidden nastiness.
• Many of us use our credit cards for holiday purchases. Make sure you keep close track of your purchases and check your statements frequently to make sure there are no fraudulent purchases made by someone who has stolen your credit card information.

Personal and home safety during the holidays:

Most important of all, during the holiday season stay safe and make sure your family stays safe as well. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

• Decorations can be fun, and beautiful during the holidays. Make sure you read all the instructions on the box of holiday lights you are putting up, though. If you string too many lights together, or use lights rated for indoor use outdoors, you could be risking a fire. Also make sure you turn all your holiday lights off when leaving home, just in case.
• If you have a real Christmas tree, make sure you keep it moist by watering it regularly. If a tree gets dry, it can more easily catch fire.
• Many people like to light candles during the holidays. Make sure you only light candles when someone is going to be in the room.
• When it gets colder, a space heater comes in handy. They can easily catch fire, however, if they are knocked over or if they overheat or short out. Never leave a space heater unattended.
• Make sure you don’t have a big pile of holiday gifts easily visible through the windows of your house, especially when you aren’t at home. Close the curtains or blinds to keep criminals from “casing” your home for a burglary.
• Always lock your doors, even at night while you are home sleeping. If you leave your windows open while you sleep, make sure they aren’t easy to reach from outside your house. It isn’t unheard of for criminals to enter a home through an unlocked door or open window while a family is asleep inside.

November 16, 2010

Man charged with another burglary

Marathon - A man caught as he rummaged through a truck on 90th Street in Marathon today has been charged with another vehicle burglary.

A GPS found in the possession of 19 year old Jesus Barreto when he was arrested today was traced by deputies to another home on 90th Street. The resident confirmed the GPS belonged to him and had been in his Toyota truck, parked outside of his residence. Barreto was charged with a second count of burglary and theft.

Burglar caught in Marathon

Marathon - A deputy, on foot patrol in Marathon, caught a 19 year old man burglarizing a vehicle.

Deputy Vaughn O’Keefe was on 90th Street at 2:45 a.m. today when he saw Jesus Barreto inside of a white Ford F-150 truck. When confronted, Barreto admitted the truck was not his, and that he was burglarizing it.

The owner was notified of the crime and confirmed he does want to press charges against Barreto. Barreto was booked into jail on charges of burglary and theft. He was also charged with an outstanding warrant for criminal mischief.

Barreto had a number of items in his possession which did not come from the truck, including a GPS and an MP3 player. Investigations are continuing and more charges may be pending.

Body found in wooded area

Little Torch Key – Sheriff’s detectives are investigating the circumstances surrounding a body, found in a wooded area on Little Torch Key.

Deputies met with an 11 year old boy just after 5 p.m. who said he and a friend found the remains in the wooded area Sunday. He returned to the area Monday with three other friends; one of those friends called the Sheriff’s Office.

The unidentified body was skeletonized and appeared to have been there for some time. After an initial investigation at the scene, the body was removed to the Medical Examiner’s Office where it will be examined further.

There were no obvious signs of foul play found at the scene.

November 15, 2010

Boats burglarized in Tavernier

Tavernier – The Sheriff’s Office is investigating three boat burglaries on Atlantic Circle Drive in Tavernier.

One of the victims called the Sheriff’s Office at 9 a.m. Sunday to report his GPS, his VHF radio and his boat’s gauges had been removed sometime over night. Deputy Ryan Cowart responded. As he was investigating the boat burglary report, he noticed the two boats on either side had also been burglarized. The GPS and two lower units on the motors were gone from one; on the other, a storage compartment had been removed in an effort to gain access to the boat’s gauges. It appears the effort to take the gauges was interrupted, however.

The first victim, who’d called in the report, said he’d heard something banging outside at around 3 a.m. He said he turned on his outside lights, but didn’t see anything.

Detectives will be investigating. Anyone with information about these cases should call the Sheriff’s Office. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida keys. If a tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

Alert neighbor detains burglary suspect

Big Coppitt Key – A homeless man was arrested after an alert neighbor on Riviera Drive, Big Coppitt Key caught him stealing a bicycle.

Deputies David Lariz and Geni Hernandez responded to the area at 6 a.m. Sunday. The victim told them she was sleeping and woke up to hear two men arguing. She opened her door to see what was happening. Her neighbor told her he’d just caught a man, later identified as 65 year old Alfredo Cardenas Rodriguez, stealing a bicycle from under her house.

The victim called the Sheriff’s Office while the neighbor detained the suspect. When deputies arrived, they took him into custody, charging Cardenas Rodriguez with burglary and theft.

November 13, 2010

Woman arrested for backing in to her husband with vehicle

Key Largo – A Key Largo woman is under arrest after she backed into her husband with her sport utility vehicle.

Deputies responded to Janet Place at 12:30 p.m. They found the 58 year old victim and several witnesses who all said they saw 51 year old Suzanne Heroux back into him in her white Toyota Sequoia and knock him to the ground. She then left the scene.

Deputy Jacques Rozek stopped the vehicle at the 104 mile marker northbound. She told the deputy her husband walked in back of the vehicle because he didn’t want her to leave.

Heroux was arrested and charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. She was booked into jail.

November 12, 2010

Naples woman charged with fleeing police

Big Pine Key – A Naples woman who refused to stop for deputies and was driving recklessly Thursday was arrested.

Deputy Greg Korzen was working as a traffic enforcement officer at 2:20 p.m. on Big Pine Key when he saw the black Mercedes sport utility vehicle southbound at the 31.5 mile marker of the highway at a high rate of speed. He got behind the vehicle and turned on his lights and siren.

The driver refused to stop and continued speeding, traveling 68 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone, at one point passing a truck in a no passing zone. The SUV made a high speed turn onto Cunningham Lane; the driver sped recklessly through a residential neighborhood, making several turns and finally stopping in the parking lot of the Vineyard Christian Church.

The driver, identified as 33 year old Julie Westphal of Naples, rolled down the vehicle’s window and laughed at the deputy. She and the three passengers in the vehicle said they were on their way to Key West. They said they were all aware the deputy was behind them. She gave no reason for fleeing from Deputy Korzen.

Westphal was charged with fleeing and eluding police, reckless driving and speeding.

November 10, 2010

Upcoming Auction of cars and other items

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office will sell a number of surplus vehicles and other items by sealed bids. All the items will be available for viewing on two days next week.

All bids must be received by no later than 4:00p.m. Monday, December 6, 2010.

The bids will be opened publicly at 10:01 am on Tuesday, December 7, 2010. A list of vehicles and items to be sold may be viewed on the Sheriff’s Office web site at Bid instructions and required bid forms are available on the website as well, or can be picked up at the Sheriff’s Office Headquarters building, Finance Division. For more information, contact Johnnie Yongue at 305 293-7477 or Terry Markham at 305 292-7015.

The property to be sold is open to public inspection at the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Headquarters Building at 5525 College Road, Key West, Fl at the following dates and times:
  • November 17, 2010, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. 
  • November 18, 2010, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
 The Sheriff’s Office makes no representation or guarantee regarding whether any item contains precious or semi-precious stones or metal nor do we guarantee authenticity mechanical condition or any brand name. All sales are as is, where is. All sales are final.

Sobriety Checkpoint in Marathon

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office will be holding a Sobriety Checkpoint in Marathon November 19th from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. at Iberia Bank, near 55th Street. Deputies will be pulling over vehicles and checking drivers for any signs they have been drinking alcohol. They will also be checking vehicles for safety violations.

Deputy arrests one for knife threats

Key West – A deputy, working at Higgs Beach in Key West Tuesday, arrested a man for threatening another man with a knife.

Deputy Scott Ward was working at Higgs Beach at 4 p.m. when several people on bicycles rode by him yelling that there was a fight at the pier at the end of Reynolds Street and one man had a large knife.
Deputy Ward found two men on the pier, one walking away and the other – 65 year old Eugene Cole – holding a large knife. He dropped the knife when ordered to. He was detained.

The victim said he began arguing with Cole about his inappropriate speech. He said Cole made sexual remarks about a 14 year old girl while the girl was close enough to hear his comments. He said he told Cole not to talk like that; Cole then went to his van, got the knife, and threatened him with it.

Cole was arrested and charged with aggravated assault. He was taken to jail.

November 9, 2010

Three charged with Tavernier burglary

Three people are under arrest, charged with burglarizing a trailer on Arbor Lane in Tavernier.

A neighbor called the Sheriff’s Office at 11:20 p.m. Sunday to report suspicious activity at the trailer. She said the trailer is vacant, but she said it appeared people were inside.

When Sgt.s Lee Cowart and Eric Mixon arrived, they found signs the trailer had been broken into. Windows were broken out, and a deadbolt lock had been removed from the door. Coverings had been placed over the windows making it difficult to see inside. When the officers knocked on the trailer and announced themselves, they heard what sounded like people running. They intercepted 27 year old Alexander Sardinas of Key Largo, 26 year old Daniel Ginjauma of Tavernier and 16 year old Dea Morina of Key Largo as they exited the back door.

Sgt. Cowart contacted the owner, who lives elsewhere. He said no one had permission to be in the trailer.

All three were arrested and charged with burglary and theft. The two adults were also charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. They were all booked at the Monroe County Detention Center.

November 8, 2010

Quarterly Employee Awards Ceremony

Employees of the Third Quarter: left to right, Deputy Nelson Sanchez,
Fleet Manager Johnny Yongue, Detention Deputy Elysia Reis with
Sheriff Bob Peryam. Not pictured: Reserve Officer Dan Zieg and Explorer Alex Rojas.

On Friday, at a ceremony held in Marathon, the Sheriff's Office honored its employees of the third quarter. Awards were also given out for employee's 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25 years of service with the agency.

Deputy Sanchez was honored because during the quarter, he was instrumental in saving a family offshore of Islamorada whose boat had caught fire. Sanchez, who is a Marine Officer in Islamorada, responded to the distress call, got the family off the boat, and, with the help of other agencies who responded, extinguished the boat fire before it could get out of control.

Yongue manages the Sheriff's Office fleet of vehicles and is responsible for making sure they are all maintained properly; he also is charged with assigning them to personnel in the Sheriff's Office, auctioning those that have reached the point of retirement and purchasing new vehicles as well. He always gives the job his all, and received this particular award because of his high level of conscientiousness. He purchased several vehicles for the Airport Division in the past quarter; he was able to attain 2011 vehicles at 2010 prices, thus saving taxpayers over $2,000.00 per vehicle.

Det. Deputy Reis works for the jail Transportation Unit. She recently rewrote all the policies and procedures for the unit. She is also the first to volunteer when extra duty becomes necessary, and is the Acting Supervisor when the sergeant of the unit has time off.

Reserve Zeig  received the award because he has been filling in, sometimes at the spur of the moment, at the Marathon Courthouse. He is a volunteer, but he never says "no" when asked to assist.

Explorer Alex Rojas, a member of Post 905, is helpful during training sessions and has assumed a leadership role with the post. He recently attended an Explorer Delegates event and was awarded first place in the Sharp Shooter division in a pistol competition.

Sheriff's Office attends Career Day events

Employees from the Sheriff's Office Human Resources Division and from
our Detention Centers have been busy recently visiting High Schools
in the county talking about employment with the Sheriff’s Office. Left to right,
Detention Lieutenant Joseph Linares, HRD Specialists Suzanne Alexander
and Charles Slebodnick at Marathon High School's Career Day recently.

The Sheriff's Office at Children's Day in Key West

Crime Watch Coordinator Deputy Emil LaVache (left) and
Detention Deputy Brittany Linares had fun at Children's Day handing out
stuffed animals and other goodies to boys and girls.

The Bureau of Corrections took the lead at the Sheriff's Office
booth at Children's Day in Key West. Left to right, Lt. Joseph Linares,
Sgt. Steven Katz and Sgt. Beverly Harper.

Big Coppitt teen charged with burglary

Sugarloaf Key – Deputies arrested a Big Coppitt teen Sunday evening for burglarizing a Sugarloaf Key home after they found a computer in the house logged on to his MySpace account.
A caretaker for the house on Point Drive called the Sheriff’s Office to report the break in. He said he was opening hurricane shutters on the door and, when he looked inside, he saw someone sitting on the couch in the living room. When Deputies Spenser Bryan and Joe Cortner arrived on Point Drive they found no one inside. They did find signs of a break in, though. A back window was open and was most likely the entry point; they also found a black backpack, empty soda and food containers and marijuana on a coffee table. They also found a computer in one of the bedrooms turned on. It was logged in to a MySpace account in the name of 18 year old Robert Rupp of Big Coppitt Key.
Rupp was found a short time later walking around the neighborhood. He had two screwdrivers in his pockets. He was interviewed by Detective Manny Cuervo. Rupp admitted to being in the house “because it was cold outside.” Rupp was charged with burglary, possession of burglary tools and theft and he was booked into jail.

Miami woman charged with vehicle burglary

Key Largo – A Miami woman is under arrest, charged with stealing a suitcase from the back of a truck in Key Largo.
Deputy Matt Koval responded to reports of a vehicle burglary at 1 p.m. Sunday at Harriett’s Restaurant in Key Largo. When he arrived, the victim and the suspect were both on the scene.
The victim, who is from Port Charlotte, Florida, said he and his friend backed their truck in to a parking spot in front of the restaurant so they could watch it as they ate lunch. They had left their luggage in the back of the truck. As they were eating, they saw a woman later identified as 49 year old Maritza Perez walk up and remove a duffle bag from the back of the truck. She ran with the bag to her car and threw it inside. As she was attempting to leave, the two men ran outside and confronted her. They then called the Sheriff’s Office, detaining her until Deputy Koval arrived.
Perez told the deputy she was on her way home from church. She claimed she didn’t take anything. Perez was charged with burglary and theft and she was booked into jail.

November 6, 2010

Miami men arrested after suspicious activity in Key Largo

Key Largo - Three Miami men were arrested Friday in the early morning hours after deputies spotted them driving slowly through a neighborhood which had recently experienced several burglaries.
Deputy Robert Dosh saw the red Lincoln Continental cruising slowly down Atlantic Boulevard in the Port Largo Subdivision of Key Largo at 2 a.m. He then saw it two more times within a short span of time in the same area. There have been four burglaries reported in that area in the past few weeks. One each on Lorelane Place and St. Thomas Avenue, and two on Laguna Avenue.
Deputy Dosh radioed Deputy Tony Conde for help. They pulled the car over. The three men inside initially claimed they were looking for a hotel because they were tired.
The owner of the car, 39 year old Enrique Perez of Miami gave the deputies permission to search his vehicle. Inside, deputies found gloves, dark clothing and a number of tools, including bolt cutters.
The men told deputies several different stories about why they were in the Keys. They said they’d been fishing in Marathon with family members, but couldn’t explain where the fish they caught were or where their fishing gear was. They then changed the story, saying they were in the area to meet with three female prostitutes, but didn’t know exactly where they lived.
Due to the suspicious behavior exhibited by the men, they were all placed under arrest. All three – Perez, 34 year old Jose Garcia Garcia of Miami and 33 year old Alexander Martinez of Pompano Beach were arrested for loitering and prowling and possession of burglary tools. They were booked into jail.

Two arrested for robbery on Big Pine Key

Big Pine Key – Two Big Pine men were arrested Friday afternoon after they beat up and robbed another man as he was getting ready to go fishing.

The 35 year old victim told Deputy David Chavka he was on Palmetto Drive getting ready to go fishing with friends at about 11 a.m. when 26 year old Gregory Kanaris and 27 year old Thomas Reese “jumped him” and took his money, his sunglasses and his cell phone. He was bleeding from several cuts on his face. Witnesses said they saw the two suspects run into a house on Cunningham Lane.
Deputies and detectives set up a perimeter in an effort to locate the suspects, with assistance from Border Patrol agents and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The two were finally found hiding inside a home at 115 Cunningham Lane. Items stolen from the victim were found inside the house.
Both Kanaris and Reese were arrested and charged with robbery. They were taken to jail.

November 3, 2010

Keys Cops for Kids presents its fifth TOYZ FOR KEYZ KIDZ BOWLATHON

The upcoming Bowlathon raises money for “Toyz for Keyz Kidz”, an effort put on yearly by Sheriff's Office employees county-wide. This dedicated group works in partnership with the Salvation Army to distribute toys and food during the holidays. All money and all toys that are collected in the Florida Keys stays here, in the Florida Keys and benefits needy families during the holidays.
  • When: Saturday December 11, 2010 
  • Where: The Fish Bowl in Islamorada, 83230 Overseas Hwy, (305) 664 - 9357. 
  • Bowling times 12:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m 
  • Cost: $25.00 per person and an unwrapped gift. (includes unlimited games and shoes if needed) 
New this year: Each paying adult can bring one 12 year old or younger for free! For Information Contact: Sgt. Dennis Coleman 305 797–0884 or Peggy Bryan 305 853- 3211.

Search warrant on Stock Island results in two drug arrests

Stock Island - A search warrant on Second Avenue, Stock Island resulted in two drug arrests on Tuesday.

This small "pass through" door was constructed in the wall
of the residence allowing drugs and cash to change hands easily.

At 12:30 p.m., Sheriff's Special Investigations Detectives and the Special Weapons and Tactics Team served a search warrant at 6414 2nd street on Stock Island. During the execution of the warrant the SWAT team encountered a fortified door. The team had to use ballistic breeching rounds on the hinges to get inside the residence. As the SWAT team was entering, a black male later identified as 27 year old Quinton Livingston of Miami broke a rear window out and jumped through the window in an attempt to escape. Detectives on the perimeter ordered him to stop but he fled on foot; he was quickly apprehended by the perimeter detectives, who used a Taser to stop his efforts to flee.

When SWAT got in the residence, they located 25 year old Roy Williams of Miami, who was detained. A search by detectives turned up a crack cocaine lab set up inside. A conversation between Livingston and Williams, overheard by deputies, indicated Williams had attempted to destroy their stash of cocaine by dissolving it in muriatic acid. Detectives found 91 grams of cocaine mixed with acid in a bowl in the residence; the liquid tested positive for cocaine. They also located a small amount of marijuana and $1,313 in suspected drug proceeds stuffed inside the couch.

Livingston was charged with trafficking in cocaine, resisting arrest with without violence and possession of drug paraphernalia. Williams was charged with trafficking in cocaine, possession of marijuana. and tampering with evidence.

Both were transported to jail. Detectives say the home was set up as a manufacturing and sales location for crack cocaine; in addition to the crack cocaine lab, suspects had constructed a small 6 inch by 6 inch "pass through" in the wall which allowed them to conduct a walk-up drug business without letting purchasers actually enter the residence. Suspects had also fortified the residence, using wooden 2x4 boards on the front door to block any one from opening it, and steel bolt latches and two locks on the side door.

Teen charged with five vehicle burglaries

Key Largo - A Key Largo teen is under arrest for committing five vehicle burglaries between August and September in the upper Keys.
18 year old Zachary Aleksa was first arrested September 24th after deputies responded to a home burglary on Aqueduct Lane in Key Largo. Aleksa lived next door to the burglarized home, and deputies canvassing the neighborhood found stolen property in plain view at his residence. Aleksa was arrested for burglary. Detectives then obtained a search warrant for Aleksa's residence and found many more items which turned out to be stolen, including seven GPS navigation units.
Detective Jason Madnick examined the GPS units, tracing five of them by finding the "home" address on them. Residents living on Plantation Boulevard in Key Largo, Venetian Way on Plantation Key, Drury Lane in Key Largo, Valencia Drive in Islamorada and Milano Drive on Plantation Key all confirmed their GPS units had been stolen from their vehicles. Three had reported the burglaries at the time they took place; two did not report them, saying they didn't think their items would ever be recovered.
After confirming the GPS units were, indeed, stolen Detective Madnick obtained arrest warrants for Aleksa. On Tuesday, he was arrested and charged with five counts of burglary and five counts of grand theft. He is currently residing in the Monroe County Detention Center.

Highway Interdiction Operations

On October 28th and 29th, Detectives from the Special Investigations Division conducted highway interdiction operations in Marathon and on Big Coppitt Key. Participating in the interdictions were Monroe County Patrol Deputies, FWC officers, Key West Narcotics detectives, Monroe County HIDTA and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

During the interdiction operations, officers made 170 vehicle stops for traffic and safety violations. During those stops, they issued six criminal citations; issued eight notices to appear in court; arrested three people; issued 15 citations, 152 warnings and completed 45 field contact cards; 16 K-9 searches of vehicles were done. A small amount of marijuana was seized, along with eight crack cocaine rocks during the course of the two operations.

November 1, 2010

Accident Wrap Up

Monroe County Sheriff’s deputies responded to 23 accidents county-wide between Friday morning and Monday morning. Most were relatively minor in nature, involving no injuries. The following required transport to hospitals:
10/29 – Single vehicle hit a pole at the 55.8 mm in Marathon. One person was transported to Fishermen’s Hospital.
10/31 - 5 a.m., Seven Mile Bridge, a motorcycle versus a vehicle; the motorcyclist was airlifted to Miami by Trauma Star. The bridge was closed until 6:30 a.m. FHP investigated the accident.

Man flees from deputies, is arrested

Tavernier – Deputies arrested a Tavernier man after he fled, first in his vehicle, then jumping in a can and swimming away from them.
Deputies Patrick Crozier and Nestor Argote were sitting in the McDonald’s Restaurant in Tavernier at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, eating dinner when a notice to be on the lookout for a reckless driver came out over police radios. An Islamorada man walked in to the restaurant and approached the two deputies. He said he’d been the one who reported the reckless driver and he said the vehicle was in the drive-thru of the restaurant right now.

When the deputies went outside, the saw the black Suzuki sport utility vehicle leaving the drive-thru. They followed it as it drove to a nearby parking lot and parked. When they approached the car, they found two men inside. Both appeared to be intoxicated. The driver could not produce a driver’s license and then he suddenly floored the accelerator, taking off and turning on to U.S. One, southbound.
Deputy Barney Sajdak was nearby and saw the vehicle crash on the south side of the Tavernier Creek bridge, through a stop sign and a guard rail. The passenger remained with the car, but the driver jumped into the water and began swimming toward Orchid Street. A witness was standing on his dock when 34 year old Robert Hopson swam up to his dock. The deputies were yelling at Hopson to stop, and they told the witness not to let him out of the water. At that point, Deputy Sajdak arrived on Orchid Street to assist.
Hopson was instructed to swim back to the other side of the canal. Deputy Crozier took him into custody without further incident. Hopson was charged with driving with his license suspended, fleeing and eluding police and driving under the influence of alcohol. He was booked into jail.