March 31, 2011

Man charged with defrauding his elderly mother

Marathon – A Marathon man is under arrest, charged with defrauding his elderly mother.

According to Detective Mark Maison, 33 year old Daniel Michie had his name added to the deeds of two lots owned by his 68 year old mother on Coco Plum Road, without her permission. He then obtained a mortgage for $137,000 on the property, again without her permission.

The victim discovered this when she went to the tax collector’s office to pay her taxes on the property. She reported it to the Sheriff’s Office on July 16, 2010 after consulting with her attorney.

She also reported discovering a reverse mortgage taken out on her primary residence on Sunset Drive that she was not aware of and did not give permission for. She said her son, who’d taken out the mortgage, hadn’t made payments on it and the bank was now foreclosing on the home.

She told the detective her son and his girlfriend had been living with her at the residence for some time. She said they frequently intimidated and frightened her; she said they would not allow her to use parts of her own residence and she reported the house was dirty with dishes and rotten food in the sink; she said the girlfriend’s dog defecates on the floor and it isn’t cleaned up for days. Victim Advocate Carol Albury-Johnson assisted the victim with obtaining a restraining order against her son for domestic violence.

Detective Maison interviewed the Notary Public who was used to conduct the deed changes and the mortgage documents. She admitted to notarizing the documents even though the victim wasn’t present to sign them. Michie’s girlfriend was also interviewed; she said she was present while many of the fraudulent documents were signed. She said Michie signed his mother’s name and told her he had permission to do so.

Warrants were issued for Michie and, on Wednesday he was arrested on charges of mortgage fraud, exploitation of the elderly and forgery.

Former tenant charged with stealing refrigerator

Key Largo – A Key Largo man was arrested for burglary after he was caught taking a refrigerator from a home he used to live in.

Deputies were called Lake Surprise Boulevard to reports of suspicious activity on March 27th at 11 p.m. They found two men who had loaded a refrigerator into a pickup truck. Neither man had a valid driver’s license. A neighbor said one of the men – 43 year old Alexis Hernandez – used to live in a trailer on the street. Hernandez told Deputy Sheila Swindle he was picking up his father’s refrigerator from the house he and his father used to live in. The man helping him was identified as 21 year old Brett Leffew.

The deputy would not allow either man to drive the truck and made them park and lock it until they could find someone with a valid driver’s license to drive it.

The following day, Deputy Robert Dosh responded to the same location to reports of theft of a refrigerator. The landlord of the home on Lake Surprise Boulevard said no one had permission to remove the appliance from his property.

Deputy Dosh began asking neighbors about the refrigerator and found one who’d seen Hernandez removing it. She was able to tell him who the two men were, and told him about Deputy Swindle responding to the area.

Warrants were issued for both Hernandez and Leffew. On Wednesday, Hernandez was arrested on charges of burglary and grand theft and he was booked into jail. Charges on Leffew are still pending.

March 30, 2011

Three arrested after brawl at Key Largo bar

Key Largo – Deputies responded to the Paradise Pub at midnight and arrested three people who had attacked other patrons.

A husband and wife reported to Deputy Joshua Brady they were at the bar when Dustin Hicks of Key Largo walked up and asked for a cigarette. They told him they didn’t have one. Hicks then put his arm around the woman and asked if she’d like to have sex with him and his girlfriend.

The husband confronted Hicks and Hicks slapped him, punched him then picked up a barstool and hit the victim with it.

During the altercation, a second suspect, 20 year old Jessica Brown of Wildwood, Florida, walked up and punched the male victim, and punched his wife as well.

Another patron o f the bar told Deputy Brady that Hicks also punched him “for no reason”. A third suspect, 26 year old Thomas Gallagher of Key Largo, then pushed him to the ground during the altercation.

When officers arrived, they began taking statements and they took the suspects into custody. Brown fought with the officers, kicking Sgt. Tom Kiffney several times. She continued to fight and kick as she was transported to the Plantation Key jail, and, once at the jail also fought with Corrections Officers.

Brown was charged with two counts battery on a law enforcement officer, two counts of battery and criminal mischief. Hicks was charged with three counts of battery and one count of aggravated battery. Gallagher was charged with one count of battery. All three are in the Monroe County jail.

March 29, 2011

Colonel Ramsay receives award from American Legion

Sheriff’s Office Colonel Rick Ramsay was recently chosen as the American Legion Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by the Keys Memorial Post 145, in Islamorada. He was given the reward in recognition of his extensive community involvement.

Colonel Ramsay serves on numerous boards in Monroe County, including those of the United Way, Florida Keys Children’s Shelter, the Guidance Care Center for Mental Health, Fishermen’s Hospital, the MARC House and the Florida Keys Institute of Criminal Justice Training Advisory Board. He is also involved in many fundraising efforts throughout the year, including American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and the Salvation Army.

“I am proud to receive this award, although there are many others in the law enforcement community who give countless hours of service to local community groups,” he said. “Monroe County is my home and I enjoy being involved in the wonderful, close knit community here.”

Marathon man arrested for sex with a minor

Marathon – A 26 year old Marathon man is under arrest, charged with having sexual relations with a 16 year old girl.

The girl came into the Sheriff’s substation in Marathon Monday to report she’d had sexual relations with Jorge Lopez. told Deputy Jon Huff and Detective Jason Madnick she met him in December and they began dating. She said in February they began having sex. She said she was dating him because of his ability to get drugs, in particular marijuana.

She said she broke off their relationship in March because she said he began being physically abusive to her. She said at one point, he told her he would kill her if she ever broke up with him.

Lopez was taken into custody by Deputy Huff without incident and he was charged with sexual battery by a person over 24 years of age on a victim who is 16 years of age. He was booked into jail.

March 28, 2011

Big Pine man accused of beating girlfriend, holding her against her will

Big Pine Key – A Big Pine Key man was arrested Saturday on an outstanding warrant for beating his girlfriend and holding her in their Narcissus Avenue home against her will.

A neighbor called the Sheriff’s Office March 22nd just after 9 a.m. She reported hearing a woman calling out for help. When Deputy David Chavka arrived on the scene, the suspect, 42 year old John Pike, had just driven away. The 43 year old victim had bruising on her face. She told him her boyfriend had begun beating her the night before, She said he kept her in the bedroom and wouldn’t let her leave. She said when she tried to call for help, he threw their two phones into the canal.

She said the following morning, he continued hitting her, but she yelled loudly for help, and that is when the neighbor heard her and called 911.

The victim was taken to Fishermen’s Hospital for treatment of her injuries. A warrant was issued for the arrest Pike for battery and false imprisonment. He was located on Saturday and was placed under arrest and taken to jail.

Accident wrap up

A motorcycle flipped over a guard rail at 6:40 p.m. Sunday, injuring two people. The two injured people were airlifted to Miami’s Ryder Trauma Center for treatment. There were no other vehicles involved in the accident. Florida highway Patrol is investigating the case.

A pickup truck hit the guardrail at the 112 mile marker of Highway U.S. One just after 4 p.m. Sunday, injuring the driver and sending him to Mariner’s Hospital for treatment. Southbound traffic was impacted until about 5 p.m. FHP is investigating.

A motorcycle hit a guardrail at the 93 mile marker of the highway at 3:40 p.m. Sunday. One person was transported to Mariner’s Hospital. Northbound traffic was impacted until about 4:30 p.m. FHP is investigating.

March 24, 2011

Reserves to paint handicapped parking spots

Marathon - Reserve Deputies in Marathon will be offering a special service over the next two months to businesses in the Marathon area. They will be touching up paint demarking handicapped parking spots for those business owners who call and request it.

This is a free service offered by the Sheriff’s Office volunteers. They are asking for a voluntary donation to the Reserve Program to cover the cost of materials. Anyone who is interested can call the Marathon Sheriff’s substation at 305-289-2430. Leave a message and a member of the reserve unit will return the call and make an appointment to do the work.

Man dies while diving with his son

Marathon – A 60 year old man died while diving with his son Wednesday.

The 26 year old son, who lives in Marathon, told Deputy Bradford Colen he and his father, Steven Knorr, went out diving on his boat offshore of Grassy Key Wednesday afternoon. He said they were diving in about 50 feet of water. His father was reportedly spear fishing and the son was diving for tropical fish.

He said they got separated and a short time later he surfaced and boarded the boat, but didn’t immediately see any sign of his father. He said a short time later he spotted him floating in the water behind the boat.

He said he pulled his father on board, called 911 for help, and began administering CPR. The U.S. Coast Guard responded and brought Knorr back to shore. He was transported by paramedics to Fishermen’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Man charged with knife attack

Marathon – A Marathon man is under arrest, charged with attacking another man with a knife.

The victim told Deputy Jon Barry Huff he invited 27 year old Manuel Artiles to his trailer Tuesday night for a drink. He said during the course of the night, Artiles stole the victim’s two cell phones. The victim said Wednesday morning he went to Artiles’ trailer in Ocean Breeze Trailer Park to get the phones back and that is when Artiles attacked him with a knife.

The victim reportedly had fresh injuries on the back of his neck and on his chest where he said he was cut with the knife.
A warrant was obtained for Artiles for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, battery and grand theft. He was arrested on the charges Wednesday afternoon. He was also charged with three counts of violation of probation.

March 22, 2011

Sheriff saves big with recycling

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office saved big on its efforts to recycle over the past year and a half. Big savings in tax dollars, and big savings for the environment.

According to information provided by Waste Management, the Sheriff’s Office recycled 63 tons of material, including paper, cardboard, plastics and metals. Recycling that material saved the agency more than $10,000.00 over the year and a half time period.

In addition, the Sheriff’s Office has a recycling program for electronics. Since September, 22,823 pounds of electronics have been recycled through Intercon Solutions, an Illinois company specializing in computer and electronics recycling.

“We are proud of our recycling program, not just for the money it saves, but because it shows how concerned we are about the environment,” said Sheriff Bob Peryam. “Our employees are all making the effort to recycle everything they use during their work days, including office paper, boxes, aluminum cans and plastic bottles. It is truly making a difference,” he said.

Sheriff's Animal Farm open Sunday, March 27th

The Sheriff's Animal Farm will be open this Sunday, March 27th, between 1 - 3 p.m. Bring the family and come visit the animals at the far, including horses, a cow, pigs, goats, bunnies, alligators, tropical birds, a Kinkajou, Sloths, an Emu, a family of Patagonian Cavys, tortoises and turtles, snakes and many more. It is free of charge (donations are welcome).

The farm is located just off of College Road, on Stock Island, at the Sheriff’s Office Headquarters complex. Groups may schedule special tours at the farm by calling Farmer Jeanne Selander at 305-293-7300.

March 19, 2011

Traffic stop leads to drug arrest

Marathon – A traffic stop for driving without headlights resulted in the arrest of a Marathon man for possessing crack cocaine.

Deputy Paul Bean was on patrol at 9:15 p.m. Friday when he saw the white Dodge Charger southbound on 55th Street in Marathon with no headlights. He turned on his lights and siren to pull it over. The Charger continued traveling for a time before pulling over in the parking lot of the Hurricane Bar and Grill.

Because of the length of time it took for the car to pull over, the deputy suspected the driver might have been trying to hide something illegal. He called for backup, and for a nearby K-9 team to respond to the scene.

The driver was identified as 30 year old Randy Jones. A check on his license revealed it was suspended. The passenger was identified as 29 year old Charles Hayes. Both men appeared to be nervous as they spoke with officers.

When the K-9 team checked the outside of the vehicle, the dog alerted indicating the presence of drugs inside. Two crack cocaine rocks were subsequently found on the passenger’s seat. At that point, Jones was issued citations for driving with license suspended and driving with no headlights and he was released. Hayes was arrested in connection with the cocaine.

Hayes was transported to jail where he was searched prior to being booked into the facility. Two more plastic bags of crack cocaine were found in his possession; one in his shoe, and one hidden between his legs. The two bags contained a total of 7 grams of crack cocaine.

Hayes was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to sell and with introduction of contraband to a corrections facility.

March 18, 2011

Dive team trains for Search and Recovery

Missing "diver" is recovered by Dive team member Det. David Brummer.
The Sheriff’s Dive Team trained together with a visiting team from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office recently just offshore of the Bahia Honda Bridge.

The two teams utilized a fire-hose training dummy from the Key Largo Volunteer Fire Department, and equipped it with scuba gear to create a simulated missing diver. The “diver” was placed in a location offshore, and then teams of divers utilized underwater search techniques to recover it.

In2WORK Program leads inmates to new jobs

In the photo: Two new graduates of the In2WORK Program at the Stock Island Detention Center show off their Safe Serve Certificates. Left to right, Urick Grant, Michael Jarrett, Food Service Director Dylan Cox and Sheriff Bob Peryam.

The program provides food service instruction for inmates at the jail. They can continue to use the skills they are taught when they are released, to obtain work in the food service industry.

The Safe Serve certificates are required for food handlers throughout the state of Florida and having one gives them a leg up on other job applicants because it saves companies from having to provide the training themselves.

So far, six people have graduated from the program, which is run by Aramark Food Services, and their food service manager, Dylan Cox.

Graduates of this program can then move into the Sheriff’s Work Release program, which helps inmates find jobs while they are in jail so they can continue to work upon their release.

This program, and others intended to help reduce jail recidivism, are an important part of Sheriff Bob Peryam’s long term goals for the Sheriff’s Office.

March 15, 2011

Law Enforcement Torch Run April 1st

Sheriff's employee Jim Painter runs with a Special
Olympics athlete at Gerald Adam's School during
last year's event.
Monroe County - Representatives from various local law enforcement agencies will be taking part April 1st in the 2011 Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office in cooperation with the Monroe County Special Olympics Committee, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Key West Police Department, the US Navy, US Coast Guard and the Florida Wildlife Commission invites members of the public to join local law enforcement in running in the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run which will start at 9:00 a.m. on April 1st.

The Key West leg will begin at the Florida Keys Community College Public Safety Bldg on Stock Island with a brief stop at Gerald Adams Elementary School. Participants will then run to the Sheriff’s Office headquarters building on Stock Island for a brief stop, and then on to Publix on N. Roosevelt Boulevard. Publix is a major contributor to the Special Olympics, raising millions of dollars each year for the cause. Then off to Poinciana School, Key West High School, HOB School and Glenn Archer School. An exchange of the torch from the Sheriff’s Office to the Key West Police Department will take place at the Southernmost Point where Sheriff Bob Peryam will be handing off to Chief Donie Lee. There will be water stops at all the schools and the run pace will be slow (no faster than 10 minute miles). Runners can run any leg they choose. Support vehicles will accompany the runners and will be available for those who need a rest. T-shirts can be purchased on run day for $12.00 each.

Those wishing to participate may register for the run by contacting either Jim Painter at (305) 292-7027 / email or Special Agent Jeff Hutcheon at (305) 292-7022 / email or Jo Socha at (305) 292-7042 / email .

The torch will travel across the state, carried by Law Enforcement personnel. For more information on the representing agencies go to:

Please come join us in this special event. If you can't join the run, please come out and cheer the runners on for a good cause.

Note: in the past, parents have become concerned because they have received reports about fire trucks, ambulances and other emergency service vehicles present at the schools along the Torch Run route. These vehicles accompany the runners for visibility and so kids can see them and should in no way cause concern by their presence at the schools.

March 14, 2011

Sex toys lead to burglary arrest

Marathon - A Marathon man was arrested for burglary after his ex-girlfriend turned over a box of stolen sex toys to Sheriff’s detectives.

The burglary occurred between the night of January 10th and the morning of the 11th. A trailer parked behind the Banana Bay Resort and Marina was broken into. A woman who lives nearby told detectives she saw people around the trailer, but she thought they were employees of the resort so she didn’t call law enforcement.

Detective Mark Maison and Deputies Trevor Wirth and Kim Trullender investigated the case. They interviewed a number of employees, and guests staying at the resort. While investigating this crime, Deputy Trullender was also assigned to investigate a grand theft case. When he responded to take the report, he met with the victim who was the ex-girlfriend of a man who works at Banana Bay Resort. She said her ex-boyfriend, 39 year old Mitchell Tice, had recently brought home a box of sex toys which he said he’d gotten from a trailer behind the resort. She turned the box of sex toys over to Deputy Trullender.

The owner of the trailer identified the sex toys as his, and said they were in the trailer at the time of the burglary. A warrant was issued for Tice and on Sunday he was arrested. He was charged with criminal mischief, burglary and theft. He was booked into jail. The toys were returned to their owner.

Man bites, kicks deputies and security officer

Islamorada – Deputies responding to reports of a domestic dispute wound up in a struggle with the suspect, who bit and kicked at those trying to subdue him.

At 1 a.m. Sunday, Deputies Patricia Garcia, Frank Delgado and Yunier Galvez responded to the parking lot of Holiday Isle Resort. They met with the female victim, who had called Sheriff’s dispatchers to report a domestic dispute with her boyfriend. She pointed to a group of three men standing a distance away, identifying her boyfriend as the one wearing a blue shirt and black undershirt. She identified him as 25 year old Damien Marichal of Gainesville, Florida.

As deputies approached Marichal, he took off running. He ran past Deputy Garcia and she was able to grab him, stopping his flight. He continued to resist, fighting with the deputies trying to detain him and with a Holiday Isle security officer who was assisting them. During the struggle, he hit and kicked the officers, and bit the security officer, drawing blood with the bite.

He was handcuffed and placed into a patrol car. He managed to slip out of the handcuffs and continued struggling, kicking at the back windows of the vehicle. Deputies threatened to use their Tasers on him and he finally calmed down and stopped resisting.

He was arrested. He was charged with aggravated battery, battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence. He was booked into jail.

March 12, 2011

Michigan man dies shortly after dive

Marathon – A 56 year old Michigan man died shortly after completing a dive offshore of Marathon Thursday morning.

Richard Snow was on a dive trip on board the Reef Hopper, out of Captain Hooks Marina. He and others on the boat were diving in approximately 60 feet of water at a location known as “Edge of Darkness”.

At some point, either as he was surfacing, or at the surface, Snow began having trouble. The Captain saw that he was in distress and threw out a safety line. Snow was unable to grab the line, but the line caught on his tank and the Captain was able to tow him in to the boat.

Snow was pulled onto the dive platform and CPR was started. The Coast Guard was notified just before 11 a.m. of the incident. Snow was brought to shore where he was met by paramedics who transported him to Fishermen’s Hospital. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The Medical Examiner’s Office will perform an autopsy. Contact that office for autopsy results.

March 10, 2011

Inclement weather has emergency workers scrambling

When everyone else is indoors, watching the rain and wind through the windows, emergency workers are out in the weather scrambling from call to call.

The cold front hitting the Florida Keys today had dispatchers hopping with weather related calls, which they passed on to various public safety agencies to respond to. Most of the calls took place between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

A number of calls about power lines down, or sparking sent deputies and workers from Keys Energy Services and Florida Electric Co-op out into the weather to check them out.

• The Boca Chica area where lines were reported to be sparking.

• Big Pine Key near Kyle Boulevard, where a line was down and sparking in the roadway.

• In Key Colony Beach near 9th Street, where lightning may have hit a transformer, according to the caller.

• in Marathon at keys RV park where a light was reported to be knocked down.
• On Cherokee Street and Mayan Street on Upper Sugarloaf Key, where trees were reported to be down and blocking the roads. Monroe County Public Works responded to remove the road blocks.

Calls about a Plane Crash just offshore of the 76.2 mile marker send deputies, officers from FWC and the Coast Guard to the area. The call turned out to be just a small plane with pontoons which had landed on the water to escape the wind and rain. Everyone was fine.

A boat capsized offshore of the 81.9 mile marker near Lorelei Marina, sending FWC units en route to pull people out of the water. Dispatch notes are not clear about whether there were two or three on board, but no one appears to have been injured in the incident.

People on board a 21 foot sailboat offshore of Summerland Key on the ocean side reported having engine trouble and said they were taking on water with four people on board. The Coast Guard responded to the call for help.

A caller reported four people parachuting near Sugarloaf Key landed in shallow water near Starfish Lane after winds blew them off course. It appears all were fine. No one required medical assistance.

Key West man charged with brutally beating girlfriend

Key West – A Key West man is under arrest, charged with brutally beating his girlfriend overnight.

The U.S. Coast Guard was called to respond to the waters off of Wisteria Island at 3 a.m. today. A woman who’d been beaten and held against her will on a sailboat had escaped and swum to a nearby boat. The resident of the boat pulled her from the water and called for help.

The 31 year old victim had severe bruising to her face and body. She was transported to the hospital for treatment. She told Deputy David Fernandez her boyfriend, 45 year old Dennis Walsh, had beaten her severely over a two hour period. She said he choked her, and tied her up. She managed to escape when, she said, he passed out from drinking.

The Coast Guard took Deputy Fernandez out to the sailboat where Walsh lives. The deputy found blood in large quantities all over the boat. Walsh was still passed out. He was taken into custody, charged with aggravated battery and false imprisonment. He was booked into jail.

Attempted robbery at Big Pine convenience store

Big Pine Key – The clerk at the Big Pine Key Tom Thumb store reported a man tried to rob him at gunpoint in the early morning hours today.

The clerk told Deputy Chris Fraser he was filling a creamer container near the coffee pots at 3:45 a.m. when a man came in to the store armed with a handgun. The suspect demanded money. The clerk was in the process of opening the register to give the money to him when a newspaper delivery person pulled into the parking lot and the suspect fled.

The suspect reportedly had a thin build and was wearing a long sleeve dark shirt, long blue jean pants, gloves and had a hood over his head. He had a dark colored handgun.

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 number is 1-800-346-TIPS or tips can be submitted on line at

Man arrested for strangling, battering girlfriend

Key largo – A Key Largo man who held his girlfriend against her will, hit her and strangled her is under arrest for the crime.

On February 25th, Deputies Dave Campbell and Matt Koval responded to Mariner’s Hospital where they found the 21 year old victim being treated for her injuries. She told them the night before, around 10 p.m., her live-in boyfriend, 22 year old Alexander Acs, had battered her. She said he became angry because he couldn’t find a flashlight. He grabbed her around the neck and choked her. At that point, the victim yelled at two of their children to hide so that daddy wouldn’t hurt them. The couple’s third child, who is a baby, was sleeping at the time.

She said he threw her into the shower, saying she “needed to cool down”. She said while in the shower she tried to yell out the bathroom window for help, but no one could hear her. She said she kept trying to leave the bedroom area, but he Acs refused to let her leave.

She said she took him to work the following morning. She said she went to her mother’s house, then to the hospital for treatment of her injuries. She suffered bruises on her neck, shoulder, legs and back as well as swelling on her ear where she said he kicked her during their struggles.

A warrant was issued for Acs arrest and on Wednesday, he turned himself in. He was booked into jail for two counts of felony domestic battery and for false imprisonment. Bond on the warrant is set at $85,000.00.

Man who flees from KWPD arrested in the county

A teen who fled from Key West Police was arrested just after midnight today by deputies after he ran out of gas in his vehicle.

Deputy Jaime Miranda responded to the 13.5 mile marker to assist with a disabled vehicle. When he arrived, he found the driver, 19 year old Cody Hogue of Key West, sitting in the car. He told the deputy he ran out of gas and asked for a ride to a gas station.

Deputy Miranda recognized the car matched a notice to be on the lookout issued by Key West Police. He called for Deputy David Fernandez to respond as backup.

When Deputy Fernandez arrived, the deputies attempted to place Hogue under arrest. He fought violently, kicking, hitting and struggling and was hit with a Taser twice before was finally handcuffed.

A search turned up marijuana and drug paraphernalia in his pockets. He was charged with resisting an officer with violence, battery on a law enforcement officer and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. He was booked into jail.

March 9, 2011

Stock Island man arrested for sale of cocaine

Stock Island – The Sheriff's Special Weapons and Tactics Team and Special Investigations Detectives served a search warrant at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday.

Detectives served the warrant on Stock Island at Waters Edge Trailer Park, Lot 21. Inside the residence the SWAT Team located 26 year old Ricardo Manso. A search of the residence turns up 11.1 grams of crack cocaine and 8 Oxycontin pills. Detectives also seized $1,559.00 in cash, believed to be possible drug proceeds.

Prior to the search warrant, undercover operatives had purchased cocaine from Mancuso on several occasions. Manso was charged with four counts sale of cocaine, possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription. He was booked into the Key West Jail.

March 8, 2011

Baby airlifted for head injuries

A nine week old infant was airlifted to Miami Children’s Hospital with head injuries. Detectives from the Sheriff’s Office Crimes Against Women and Children’s Unit are investigating.

The child, whose identity cannot be released due to the nature of the investigation, is currently reported to be in serious but stable condition. Florida law prohibits the release of the identity of a victim of possible child abuse.

He was brought to Mariner’s Hospital in the early morning hours today by his parents. Besides a head injury, detectives say he also had scratches and some bruising. Both parents say they do not know how the injuries occurred.

The father, who is 22 years old, lives in the Marathon area. The mother, who is 21 years old, lives in Key West.

Investigations are continuing.

Body found in car

Florida Highway Patrol troopers and a tow truck driver got a surprise today as they were about to tow what they thought was an abandoned vehicle from the side of the road. They found a body inside the vehicle.

The yellow 2004 Toyota Matrix had Canadian license tags on it and construction crews working in the area told the troopers it had been there for a while. It was located down an embankment on the south end of the Bahia Honda Bridge, on the northbound side.

The troopers called for a tow truck from Anchor Towing. When the driver got there, he opened the car door and found the body of a man in the back hatch area.

A check on the vehicle revealed it was mentioned in a missing person’s bulletin received by law enforcement in January from Canada. According to the bulletin, 36 year old Dominic Soucy was last seen in Quebec, Canada in November of 2010. He was reported to be ill with Crohn’s disease, and reportedly decided to spend the winter in Florida because he wanted to see dolphins. A stuffed dolphin was found beside the body in the vehicle. Handwritten notes were also found in the car, believed to have been written by Soucy. The notes appear to be a sort of “last statement”, according to detectives.

There was no obvious signs of foul play found at the scene. For details about results of the autopsy, please contact the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Man arrested for sexual battery, false imprisonment

Stock Island – A Stock Island man is under arrest, charged with holding a woman against her will, choking her and raping her.

The incident took place at an apartment on Front Street, Stock island, on March 3rd. The 38 year old victim called her sister two days after she was attacked and told her what happened. The sister then called the Sheriff’s Office to report the incident.

Deputies first met with her Saturday and the case was assigned to Detective Manuel Cuervo. The victim told the detective she’d met the suspect, 38 year old John Merrone, at a bar on Front Street at about 11 p.m. the night of March 3rd. She said they talked for about an hour, and she mentioned she was looking for a place to rent. She said he offered his place, which was located nearby. He offered to show it to her and she agreed.

Once at the apartment, he showed her the bedroom. She said he began taking off his clothes and kissing her. She said she told him she wasn’t interested, but he grabbed her. She said he removed her clothing and, when she fought him, he choked her and raped her. During the attack, she tried to use her phone, but he took it from her. She finally broke free from him, grabbed her clothing and her purse and ran, naked, outside.

According to Detective Cuervo, the victim had injuries consistent with her account of what happened. Her eyes had hemorrhaging in their blood vessels from being choked; she had bruising to her arms, legs and neck from being held down and from fighting off the suspect. Her toe was broken because at one point during the attack she said he grabbed her foot as she tried to get away.

An employee at the bar recalled seeing the two of them talking, and remembered the suspect had put a business card into a bowl at the bar. The employee said he is a regular at the bar, and is known to everyone there as “Captain John” from his charter boat business.

Using that information, Detective Cuervo showed the victim a photo lineup which included a picture of Merrone. She identified him as her attacker.

On Monday, a warrant was issued for Merrone’s arrest. He was booked at the Monroe County Detention Center on charges of sexual battery, false imprisonment and aggravated battery.

March 7, 2011

Man rescued from the water offshore of Big Pine Key

ResQ Disc, on a supply room shelf at the Sheriff's Office. The
floatation / rescue discs are issued to all Sheriff's Deputies.
Big Pine Key – A Key West man clinging to mangroves offshore of Big Pine Key Friday night was rescued by deputies.

68 year old Victor Cushman and his wife Joan parked their car at the end of Long Beach Road just before 5:30 p.m. The walked about a quarter mile farther into a wooded area. There is a small island about 50 yards from shore that they own, and Victor decided to swim out to the island and leave a marker on it so he could find it while he is on his boat, offshore.

He put on a life vest and swam to the island at about 5:30 p.m. He let her know he made it by yelling to her. She said it was getting dark, so she walked back to their car to get a flashlight. When she returned, however, she couldn’t find him and when she yelled for him, she said she got no response. She returned to her car and called the Sheriff’s Office for help.

Deputies Jaime Miranda, David Fernandez and Sgt. Charlene Sprinkle-Huff responded. They began searching the area and, just before 8 p.m., they finally heard a voice coming from the island across the channel, about 50 yards away. Deputy Chris Fraser also arrived to assist and had in his issued equipment a ResQ Disc, a floatation device with a rope attached the Sheriff’s Office issues to all deputies. Paramedics responded to the scene as well, and they were able to provide more rope which was attached to the rope on the disc. Deputy Fernandez took off his gun belt and waded into the water in an attempt to reach Cushman; Deputy Miranda also went into the water, and tossed the ResQ Disc to Fernandez. Deputy Fernandez swam with the Disc to Cushman. He grabbed Cushman, and Deputy Miranda pulled them both in to shore safely. Cushman, who was extremely cold and exhausted, was turned over to waiting paramedics for treatment.

One traffic related arrest leads to another

Marathon – The arrest of a Miami man for driving with a suspended license and drug charges led to the arrest of a second Miami man who came to the Keys to pick him up from the Marathon Detention Center.

20 year old Richard Greene Honore of Miami was stopped on his motorcycle by Sgt. Susan Keene after calls to Sheriff’s dispatch reported he was driving recklessly. He was pulled over at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at the 57 mile marker. He told Sgt. Keene he and his 17 year old girlfriend were on their way to Key West for the night.

A check on his license revealed it was suspended, and he had no motorcycle endorsement. A partially consumed bottle of vodka was found in his backpack and 24 grams of marijuana were found under the locked seat of the vehicle, and in the backpack. Sgt. Joel Slough responded and took over the call because Sgt. Keene was going off duty. Greene Honore was arrested for operating a motorcycle without a license, driving with license suspended, possession alcohol by a person under the age of 21 and possession of a felony amount of marijuana. The parents of the 17 year old girl were called to pick her up.

Several hours later, Deputy Chuck Kellenberger responded to the Marathon jail after he received information that a man waiting outside the jail to pick up Greene Honore had a suspended driver’s license. He met with 22 year old Alberto Ruiz-Benitez of Miami. He was driving a 1992 Honda Prelude. The license plate on the car returned to a 1999 Chevrolet; the plate was expired in 2008 and had a stolen decal on the plate as well. The vehicle was not registered. A check on Ruiz-Benitez revealed he had a suspended driver’s license.

Ruiz-Benitez was arrested. He was charged with driving with license suspended, having a license expired more than four months, failing to register the vehicle, attaching a license not assigned to a vehicle and attaching a tag not assigned to a vehicle.

March 6, 2011

Key Largo man arrested for burglary

A Key Largo man is under arrest, charged with burglarizing a home and a boat. Detectives say a palm print lifted from a toilet seat during their investigation led to his arrest.

On October 9th, Deputy Ian Barnett and Sgt. Lee Cowart responded to a home on Buttonwood Avenue. The owner, who had been away for several weeks, had returned to find his home and his boat burglarized. The suspect had entered the home through a bathroom window, and had left a palm print on the toilet seat. That palm print was lifted by responding Detective Jason Madnick.

Once inside, the suspect took a television, several DVD players, a 12 pack of beer, some DVDs and a GPS. The suspect also burglarized the victim’s boat, taking several pieces of electronics equipment.

A canvas of the area did not turn up any of the stolen items, but one neighbor had a man staying in a back shed on their property. He was identified as 46 year old Robert Johnson.

The palm print was sent to Florida Department of Law Enforcement for processing and on March 3rd, FDLE identified the print as belonging to Johnson. On March 4th, a warrant was issued for his arrest for two counts each of burglary and grand theft. He was arrested the same day and was booked into jail. Bond on the warrant is set at $30,000.00.

Search warrant in Islamorada

Islamorada - Sheriff's Special Investigations Detectives served a search warrant at 6:30 a.m. Friday on a residence in Islamorada.

Detectives served the warrant at 112 Parker Drive. Inside the residence they found 30 year old Darius Whitehead. A search of the residence turn up 13 grams of pre-packaged cocaine, along with scales commonly used to weigh drugs and pipes like those used to smoke the illegal substance. Detectives also seized $1,212.00 in cash, believed to be possible drug proceeds.

Whitehead admitted the drugs were his. He was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of drug paraphernalia. He booked into the Plantation Key Jail.

March 4, 2011

Park clean up in Islamorada

MCSO Bureau of Corrections and Florida’s DEP teamed up recently
to clean up park property in Islamorada. In the picture, Lt. James Sheagren,
DEP Officer Mike McKay and some inmate workers with some of the
debris cleaned up during the project. Friends of Islamorada State Parks
and Village of Islamorada also contributed to the clean up.

Cops for a Cure run in benefit event

Members of the Cops for a Cure Relay for Life team participated in the
Pirate Wellness Center Blimp Road 4 mile/6.5 K event to benefit the non-profit
SeaBee Foundation, which provides educational scholarships for single parent
families in the Lower Keys. Be on the lookout for upcoming events for Relay
for Life or check out the website In the photo,
Communications Supervisor Terry Story, Detention Sgt. Andrew Paskiewicz
and his wife, Nancy.

Beautification project in Marathon

Recently, Det. Deputy Ruth Echevarria and Sgt. Linda Brooks worked hard to
beautify the front entrance to the Marathon Detention Center, getting it ready for
an inspection. Great job!

Cadets and Explorers learn about law enforcement

Sheriff’s Explorers and Cadets are all about learning. In the Lower Keys, SRO Deputy Sonya Morgan recently took them to visit the Sheriff’s Crime Lab where Crime Scene Detective John Underwood taught them about fingerprinting. In the upper Keys, SRO Deputy Larry O’Neill introduced his group to CBP Officer Ryan Haines who talked to them about the Marine Interdiction Unit, and it’s law enforcement role. He also gave them an overview and some training on equipment he uses to do his job.

Upcoming "Cops for a Cure" events

The Sheriff’s Office Relay for Life team, Cops for a Cure, has several fund raising events coming up.
  • March 19th: Dinner at the Elks Lodge in Marathon. Contact James Norman for more information, or to purchase tickets.
  • March 26th: Car wash and dunking booth at the Marathon Substation from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. They need more volunteers if anyone is interested. Contact Anne Leonard via email at
  • March 27th: Casting event at the 7 Mile Marina from 12 p.m. until 6 p.m. Contact Linda Mixon at for more details. 
The Relay for Life in Marathon will take place April 2nd and 3rd and the team really needs volunteers to walk with the goal of keeping one team member on the track at all times. To sign up, contact Anne Leonard.


Sheriff's Office Employees of the Year

Corrections Sgt. Mark Lindback, Detective Sgt. Dave Carey,
Explorer Alex Rojas, Reserve Deputy Rose Crum, Support
Employee Tamara Snider and Sheriff Bob Peryam.
In a special ceremony held February 22nd in Marathon, the Sheriff’s Office honored it’s Employees of the Year for 2010. The Employees of the Year are selected from those employees who receive quarterly awards for their performance throughout the year.

“The people chosen as Employees of the Year are truly the best of the best – they have proven themselves to be outstanding employees, as well as outstanding contributors to the community they serve,” said Sheriff Bob Peryam.

The yearly award winners received a plaque from the Sheriff in recognition of their exemplary work, and a badge to wear on their uniforms with the designation “Officer (or Employee) of the Year”. In addition, they each receive a check for $500.00 raised from private sponsors, and $1,000.00 from the Sheriff’s Office. The Cadet of the year receives $100.00 from private sponsors, with a matching amount from the Sheriff’s Office. Sponsors for this year’s ceremony are: Brian Schmitt of Coldwell Banker Schmitt Real Estate, David Ritz of Ocean Reef Community Association, Mike Forster of Mangrove Mikes Restaurant, and Michael Reckwerdt of Robbie’s Marina. The Sheriff’s Office sincerely thanks them for their support of local law enforcement, and thanks Hal Barrett for his help in finding those sponsors.

The Cormier Memorial Award, given to the Sheriff’s Office Sworn Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, is named for Deputy David Cormier, a Sheriff’s Reserve Deputy killed in the line of duty in a traffic accident in November of 1989. Members of the Cormier family attended the ceremony, as they do every year, in memory of their loved one who gave his life in service to the community.

Recipients of this year’s award are:

• Deputy Sheriff of the Year: Detective Sergeant David Carey
• Corrections Officer of the Year: Sergeant Mark Lindback
• Support Employee of the Year: Tamara Snider
• Reserve of the Year: Rose Crum
• Explorer of the Year: Alex Rojas

March 2, 2011

Three caught on stolen boat

Key Largo - Three Miami men were arrested Monday after they were caught by the U.S. Coast Guard on board a boat stolen from Key Largo.

The boat, a 48 foot Fountain called the "Dilligaf" is valued at $200,000.00 and was last seen by its owner on February 20th, tied up behind a home on Bahama Avenue. When the owner returned home on the 26th, it was gone. The following day, on the 27th at about 10 p.m., Detective Jason Madnick was notified that a U.S. Coast Guard vessel out of Miami had intercepted the stolen vessel about 15 miles west of Bimini. On board were three Miami men who were all taken into custody.

The boat and the men were brought back to the Islamorada Coast Guard base and were placed under arrest by Detective Madnick. 19 year old Yaiker Broche-Ortiz, 19 year old Yenier Espinosa and 45 year old Alberto Puga Lamas were all booked into the Monroe County Detention Center on charges of Grand Theft.

A note about human bones found in October in Marathon:

According to the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office, bones found on property at 92nd Street in Marathon last October were sent off to a laboratory for dating. Results were recently returned and the bones turned out to be from 200 - 400 B.C. Remember: after investigation, it was determined the bones most likely were brought in to the Keys years ago as part of some fill from an unknown location elsewhere in Florida. The bones will now be turned over to an archeological foundation for further study.

Note about recent dive-related deaths

The Medical Examiner will be commenting to the press about the two recent dive related deaths and what the autopsy results were. He said the death of 64 year old Harley Piers showed no signs of being related to a Man O'War sting. In both cases he says the results are pending further testing.

Teen arrested in November for burglary charged with two more

Sugarloaf Key – An 18 year old arrested for burglary in November after detectives found a computer at the burglarized residence logged in to his MySpace page has been charged with two more burglaries in that area.

18 year old Robert Rupp was originally arrested November 7th, 2010 for a break in on South Point Drive, Sugarloaf Key. Shortly after his arrest, two more burglaries were discovered in the same vicinity – one on East Point Drive and one on Cypress Road.

Detectives investigating those crimes discovered that at each of the burglarized homes, items that did not belong there were found. For instance, a 32 inch television stolen from the house on East Point Drive was found in the house on South Point Drive; a computer stolen from the house on Cypress Road was found in the same house on South Point Drive. A canvas bag and a red carabiner found in the house on East Point Drive were identified as coming from the house on Cypress Drive. In addition, a torch, screw drivers and a folding knife taken from East Point Drive were found behind a couch on South Point Drive.

Email on Rupp’s MySpace page revealed he’d been attempting to sell the 32 inch television. Fingerprints found at East Point Drive, on the sliding glass door, and on the stolen/recovered 32 inch television were identified as Rupp’s.

On Tuesday, he was additionally charged with the burglaries on East Point Drive and on Cypress Road. He is currently in the Monroe County Detention Center.