August 30, 2011

Naked woman taken to the hospital

Stock Island – A naked woman crawling on Maloney Avenue without regard to traffic was taken to Lower Keys Hospital Monday afternoon after a struggle with deputies.

When Deputies Geni Hernandez and Jaime Miranda arrived at 2:15 p.m., they found a crowd of people in the area of El Mocho Restaurant on Maloney Avenue. They also found 32 year old Alena Larrazabal, naked, in the middle of the street. As they approached her, Larrazabal was crawling on her hands and knees as vehicles swerved to avoid hitting her. At one point, she rolled onto her back and spread her legs; she then continued crawling around.

The deputies attempted to take her into custody, but she began to fight with them. Paramedics arrived on the scene and, together with the deputies they were able to restrain her on a stretcher.  She was transported to the hospital for evaluation.

Later, after she became more coherent, Larrazabal told Deputy Hernandez she had been on a cocaine binge.

Charges may be pending against her.

August 28, 2011

Key Largo man found dead beside the road

Key Largo – A Key Largo man was found dead beside Highway U.S. One Saturday morning. Detectives are investigating.

According to deputies who responded to the 99 mile marker at 7:45 a.m., there were no obvious signs of foul play or obvious signs of injury on or around the body of 52 year old Gerardo Ceballos. His body was spotted, lying four feet off the roadway with keys, cell phone and wallet still in his possession.

The Medical Examiner’s Office and detectives from the Major Crimes unit responded. His  body was removed from the scene by the Medical Examiner’s Office and an autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death.

August 27, 2011

Teen charged with robbery

Tavernier – A 17 year old beat a 14 year old at a bus stop Friday, taking his baseball hat from him.

The victim and witnesses told Sgt. Derek Paul they saw 17 year old Christopher Linstrom walk up to the 14 year old victim just before 3 p.m., just after he’d gotten off the school bus at Arbor Lane and U.S. One. Linstrom pushed the victim down, punched him repeatedly in the face, chest and head, then grabbed his hat and fled the area. The hat was a black leather New York Yankees baseball had valued at $60.00.

School Resource Deputy Larry O’Neill also responded to the incident and found Linstrom at the 91 mile marker of the highway. He admitted to fighting with the victim, but denied taking the hat.

Linstrom was arrested and charged with robbery. He was booked at the Monroe County Detention Center.

Knife fight sends two to hospital and one to jail

Key Largo – Deputies responded to Landings of Largo Condominium complex twice in the early morning hours today. On the second visit, two men went to the hospital and one of them went to jail for cutting the other with a knife.

Deputy Vaughn O’Keefe reported responding the first time at 2 a.m. after a man called dispatchers to say he’d been attacked by his friend for an unknown reason. 52 year old Jargal Luvsansharav was highly intoxicated  and had facial injuries when the deputy arrived on the scene. He said he’d been attacked, but the deputy reported it appeared he’d fallen and hit his face on the pavement.

According to witnesses, Luvsansharav had been drinking with a group of friends at one of the condos. Everyone at the gathering denied any fights taking place. They said Luvsansharav left the party at one point, and then returned yelling about his friend, 32 year old Nodirbek Avezov, attacking him. Avezov, who was at the party, denied the accusations and the witnesses also said the alleged attack did not take place. Luvsansharav refused medical treatment and was left in the care of his friends.

About a  half an hour later, Deputy O’Keefe and other officers responded back to the same location. Avezov and another man were restraining Luvsansharav on the floor. Witnesses said Luvsansharav had attacked Avezov with a knife. Avezov had a laceration from the knife on the back of his head. Luvsansharav had injuries consistent with being restrained.

 Both men were taken to Mariner’s Hospital; Avezov received stitches for his injuries and was released. Luvsansharav was taken to jail, charged with aggravated battery.

Woman charged with attempting to murder two month old child

Marathon – A 19 year old Marathon woman was arrested Friday evening, charged with attempting to murder a two month old child.

Investigators from the Department of Children and Families called the Sheriff’s Office Friday afternoon to report they had video of 19 year old Elizabeth Garcia trying to hit the female child in the head with a rock. Witnesses to the attack, which allegedly took place on August 18th, stopped her by grabbing her arm before she could strike the baby. The child cannot be identified due to state laws protecting the identity of victims of child abuse.

On the video, Garcia is holding the child by the arm; she has a large piece of concrete in her other hand. Another woman tries to take the child from her, but Garcia refuses to hand her over; she then tries to strike the child in the face with it and is stopped by two men standing nearby. The woman then takes the child from her by force, prying the child from her arms.

On the same date the incident with the baby took place, deputies responded to a call at Garcia’s residence. During that call, Garcia pulled a knife during a confrontation with the deputies and was arrested, charged with carrying a concealed weapon. At the time, no one at the residence told them about the incident with Garcia trying to kill the child.

Garcia was taken into custody Friday by detectives with the Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit, charged with attempted murder of a child and child abuse.

August 26, 2011

Marathon man charged with lewd acts on a child

Marathon – A Marathon man is under arrest, charged with fondling a small child.

36 year old Alfonso Matus was arrested Thursday afternoon by detectives with the Major Crimes Unit of the Sheriff’s Office. He is accused of fondling a seven year old girl while she was visiting his home at 240 Sombrero Road in Marathon.

The child returned home from visiting the residence and told her mother what happened. She called the Sheriff’s Office. Detectives responded and interviewed the victim; a warrant was then obtained for Matus on charges of lewd and lascivious molestation of a child. Bond on the warrant is set at $150,000.00.

Marathon man charged with kidnapping

Marathon – A Marathon man is under arrest, charged with kidnapping.

According to the 51 year old victim, 48 year old Alan Matthis came to her home on Louisa Street in Marathon at 8:15 p.m. He said he wanted to talk to her. She refused to let him in her home; when she tried to close the door, he put his foot in the door and grabbed the door with his hands, as if trying to get inside. She said she was finally able to close the door; she said she watched through the window as he walked away. She said he returned and she heard a noise outside her door. When she looked outside, she saw him putting something into the latch of her door. When she tried to open the door, she could not.

The victim called her neighbor for help; the neighbor came over and found a stick stuck in the latch to keep it from opening. She took out the stick, letting the victim escape from her home. The victim then called the Sheriff’s Office.

Deputy Monica Young responded. She and deputy Chuck Kellenberger found Matthis at Keys RV Trailer Park and placed him under arrest. He was charged with kidnapping and was taken to jail. 

August 24, 2011

Tavernier man charged with growing marijuana

Tavernier – A Tavernier man was arrested today, charged with growing marijuana in his home on Gardenia Avenue.

Detectives from the Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Division received information that 25 year old Jonathan Esslinger was growing the illegal substance. Just before 7 a.m., they went to his home and knocked on the door. When Esslinger answered, detectives confronted him with the information they had. He admitted to growing marijuana and agreed to allow the detectives to conduct a search of the premises.

Inside they found a grow room with special lighting and other equipment for growing marijuana; they found 17 marijuana plants; they also found 290 grams of marijuana in various places in the residence. The search also turned up a rifle, shotgun and a handgun, ammunition for the guns and various items of drug paraphernalia.

Esslinger was arrested. He was charged with production of marijuana, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was booked into the Monroe County Jail.

August 23, 2011

Key Largo man charged with burglary

Key Largo – A Key Largo man broke into a sailboat docked at Key Largo Harbor Marina and was arrested for burglary.

26 year old Timothy Powell broke a hatch door off the hinges, then broke two mirrors inside and broke a cabin door into several pieces. His ex-girlfriend discovered the damage Monday morning and called the Sheriff’s Office.

She told Deputy Sever Hustad she has been having trouble with Powell since they broke up. Deputy Hustad found Powell at the Kawama Yacht Club and confronted him with her accusations. He admitted to breaking into the sailboat and doing the damage.

Powell was arrested. He was charged with burglary and criminal mischief and he was taken to jail.

August 22, 2011

Two arrested for fake credit cards and skimming device

Key Largo – Sheriff’s detectives arrested a Miami couple who tried to use fake credit cards at the Key Largo Radio Shack.

Employees of the store called the Sheriff’s Office at 2 p.m. Sunday after the couple attempted to use two fake cards to purchase an Apple IPad. After the second card was declined, the woman – 22 year old Heidy Balart-Fernandez – went outside and got into a car in the parking lot. The man – 30 year old Luis Arias – offered the store employees $600.00 not to call police. The employees locked the front door in an effort to keep Arias from leaving and then called the Sheriff’s Office.

When deputies arrived, they caught Balart-Fernandez still in the parking lot and Arias still in the store. Detective Robert Dosh responded to investigate. Arias told him he’d purchased the fake cards over the internet for $500.00 each. Arias gave the detective permission to search his vehicle. Ten more cards were found in the car; in the trunk, Detective Dosh found a credit card skimming device used to steal credit card numbers. Arias said he also purchased it over the internet for $450.00.

Arias was charged with ten counts each of purchasing fraudulent credit cards, using counterfeit cards, trafficking in counterfeit cards and one count of use of a scanning device to defraud. Balart-Fernandez was charged with using a fake credit card and  with assisting Arias in his crimes. Both were booked into jail.

August 20, 2011

Man arrested for carjacking newspaper delivery person

Big Pine Key – A Summerland key man was arrested overnight for carjacking a Miami Herald delivery person on Big Pine Key.

The victim, a Sugarloaf Key resident, said she was delivering newspapers on Big Pine Key just after 2 a.m. today when the incident occurred. She was at the Shell gas station when 23 year old Nicholas Merkey pointed a fire extinguisher at her and told her he would spray her with it if she didn’t give him a ride home to Summerland key. She was frightened, she said, but got into her 1996 Ford Explorer and drove to her next delivery stop at the Big Pine restaurant. As she was loading newspapers into the machine at the restaurant, Merkey grabbed her, threw her to the ground, jumped into her vehicle and drove away.

Investigations revealed he’d forced open the fire extinguisher holder near the gas pumps at the gas station. He’d also turned over a trash can and an ash tray in the front of the station.

The van was found, crashed into a wooded area near the intersection of Katherine and 45 Streets on Summerland Key; Merkey was found at his home on 46th Street. He was arrested, charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, criminal mischief, and robbery. Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the vehicle accident.

August 19, 2011

Deputy organizes graffiti paint out

 Sheriff's Deputy Frank Madiedo (second from the left, front, in the group photo) has been helping to organize a graffiti paint out effort in the Lower Keys, using teen volunteers. They've obliterated graffiti all over the city of Key West, most recently, behind the San Carlos Institute on Duval Street.  It is a real community effort. The Key West Police Athletic League supplies the transportation, Home Depot supplies the brushes and supplies, Waste Management furnishes the recycled paint and Dominoes is always a hit with delicious pizza. Bill Davis supplies the teen volunteers. Melinda Escalante watches over them and keeps the adults and the kids in good a mood. Jeff Petty instructs, paints and supervises.

Sheriff gives certificate to jail sergeant

Sgt. Linda Brooks, who works at the Marathon Detention Center,
accepted a certificate of appreciation from Sheriff Peryam Monday.
He thanked her for all of her hard work, both at the Sheriff’s Office
and in the community. Sgt. Brooks has worked hard to improve the
appearance, both inside and out, of the jail facility. She spends much
of her personal time at various community and charitable events.

Sheriff encourages employees to mentor

Two representatives from the Take Stock in Children program
attended the Sheriff’s staff meeting on Monday to recruit mentors
for the program. Take Stock provides scholarships to “at risk” youth ;
mentors help them during middle and high school as they strive to meet
the stringent requirements of the program. It only takes a half an
hour a week, and Sheriff Peryam is encouraging employees to volunteer
for the worthwhile program. Lt. Cindy Peryam is pictured on the right, with
representatives from the program. Lt. Peryam is a volunteer mentor for the program.

Sheriff's Office at Chamber trade show

Sheriff's Office Human Resources Asst. Charles Slebodnick and
Deputy Emil LaVache attended the recent Chamber of Commerce
Trade Show in Key West this week, with a great display promoting the Sheriff’s Office.

Employees of the second quarter honored at ceremony

Sheriff’s Office honored its employees of the quarter recently in Marathon.

In the photo, inset, left to right, is Explorer Keith Cox, 
Reserve Sgt. Danny Valdez and Victim Advocate Carol Albury Johnson. 
In the photo, left to right, Corrections Officer Debra Brown, 
Detective Diane Mimosa and Sheriff Bob Peryam.

Long time SRO retires

At the end of July, the Sheriff’s Office said goodbye to long time employee Beverly Brazil, who retired from her position as School Resource Officer at Coral Shores High School.

Beverly Brazil, who was promoted to sergeant upon her retirement, was first hired by the Sheriff’s Office as a dispatcher in 1981; she worked in that position and in a number of clerical positions until 1985. She took time off from the Sheriff’s Office, then was rehired in 1988, going to work as a dispatcher again and then taking a position as a Corrections Officer in 1991.

In 1997 she became a School Resource Officer for the Sheriff’s Office, working in that position until her retirement.

At the same ceremony, Captain Brazil and Sheriff Peryam were both honored for 30 years of service in the Sheriff’s Office.

August 15, 2011

Motel clerk arrested for false robbery report

Key Largo -  This morning, sheriff’s detectives arrested the motel clerk who reported being robbed over the weekend. He falsely reported the crime, stealing the money from the cash drawer at the motel himself and then lying to deputies about it.

25 year old Michael Konermann called Sheriff’s dispatchers at 3:25 a.m. Sunday to report he’d just been robbed by a black male with a handgun. Konermann works the overnight shift as a clerk at the Key West Inn on Ocean Drive in Key Largo.

According to reports by Detective Robert Dosh, Konermann’s story just didn’t add up. As he interviewed the clerk, and walked him through the crime and how it took place, he began to notice details that didn’t fit the story Konermann was telling. As he continued to question the clerk, Konermann finally admitted he made the story up; he showed the detective where he’d hidden the money – in a box in the manager’s office.

A warrant was obtained for Konermann’s arrest and this morning, he was arrested. He was charged with grand theft, misuse of the 911 emergency system and making a false report to law enforcement. He was booked into jail.

August 14, 2011

Key Largo motel robbed

Key Largo – The overnight clerk at a Key Largo motel reported being robbed at gunpoint in the early morning hours today.

The victim said he was in a back office of the Key West Inn on Ocean Drive in Key Largo, doing paperwork at 3 a.m. when he heard a noise near the front desk. When he walked up front, he saw a man with a gun. The man said “give me all your money”.

The clerk complied, handing the suspect the cash drawer from behind the desk. The suspect took the cash drawer and stuffing it into a black bag. The suspect then tore the phone from the wall, and fled on foot.

Deputies responded and searched the area but did  not find the suspect. He is described as a black male wearing a black “hoodie” type sweatshirt, with the hood pulled up over his head. H was also wearing black gloves.

Detectives will be investigating.

August 13, 2011

Miami teens charged with burglary

Key Largo – Two Miami teens were arrested Friday, charged with breaking a window at a Key Largo business. They told deputies they did it because they “got bored”.

Employees at the Marathon Gas Station at the 98.2 mile marker of the highway got to work at 5 a.m. and discovered a side window had been smashed; suspects also tried to pry the window open, further damaging it. It did not appear anyone actually got inside or stole anything from the business.

Detectives reviewed surveillance footage which showed two young men in a golf cart committing the crime.

Detective Sgt. Dave Carey checked the surrounding area and found a golf cart similar to the one in the video parked at a nearby home; next to the golf cart was a table with a pyramid of beer cans stacked on it.

Deputy Timothy Hunsberger, Sgt. Derek Paul and Detective Barney Sajdak responded to assist. They talked with 17 year old Luis Rodriguez and 17  year old Alejandro Lavandero, who were from Miami and were staying with friends at the residence. They said they were with a group drinking the Thursday night and “got bored”. They said they got into their friend’s golf cart and drove around “looking for places to vandalize”. They said they broke the window with the intention of entering the business and vandalizing it; they said once the window at Marathon Gas shattered, they became afraid and fled the area in the golf cart.

The two teens were arrested and charged with burglary. They were booked at the Monroe County jail.

Quick thinking dispatcher reports man selling illegal DVDs

Marathon – Deputies arrested a Miami man Friday who was selling bootlegged DVD movies in front of a convenience store on 63rd Street.

Communications Officer Andrea Fricke was on a break from her job as a Sheriff’s Office dispatcher just after 8 p.m. Friday when she stopped at Dion’s Quik Mart. In front of the store was a man dressed in a black shirt, later identified as 29 year old Luis Cazorla.  He opened a case full of DVDs, told her he had all the latest movies and asked if she’d like to take a look.

Bootlegged DVDs being sold by a man in Marathon. Photo courtesy
of Monroe County Deputies Jacek Szymanski and Nicolis Whiteman.
Instead, she returned to work and dispatched Deputies Nicolis Whiteman and Jacek Szymanski to check him out.

When the deputies arrived, they found Cazorla still there; he had a case full o f DVD movies that were still in theaters and that had not yet been officially released on DVD, including:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Bad Teacher
Captain America
Cars 2
The Smurfs
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
And many more

Cazorla told the deputies he got them from “a friend” and was trying to sell them for $4.00 each for “food money”.  He later admitted to having done this before. He said when he sells the movies in Miami he just hides them when the police show up. He told Deputy Whiteman the movies were made by someone else by using a video camera to film them in a movie theater.

Cazorla was charged with sale of counterfeit items without the consent of the owner or performer. Deputy Whiteman also called the Federal Bureau of Investigation to consult about possible federal charges in the case and was told to call back on Monday, when their office opens, to discuss it further.

August 12, 2011

Woman calls deputy to make drug deal

Marathon – A woman is under arrest after she called a Sheriff’s deputy and offered to sell him drugs Thursday.

39 year old Jennifer Knopp called Deputy Christian Galls on his cell phone while he was on duty at the Marathon Substation at 9:15 p.m. She had his cell phone number from a previous case he’d worked involving her. She told him on the phone she “had the stuff he was looking for” and offered him Marijuana for sale, asking him where he’d like to meet.

Deputy Galls told her he’d call her back; he then notified narcotics detectives of the phone call and enlisted their assistance. He called her back and agreed to meet with her at the Marathon Movie Theater.

Deputy Galls and Deputy Paul Bean then went to the movie theater to meet with Knopp. When they approached her vehicle, she tried to drive away; the deputies got into their patrol vehicles and conducted a traffic stop on Knopp, who was driving a beige colored 1999 Chrysler Concord. There was also a male passenger in the car who was later released without charges.

Knopp was carrying a purse which she admitted contained the Marijuana she’d offered to sell to Deputy Galls. When Deputy Galls asked her why she would offer to sell Marijuana to a Deputy Sheriff, she said she was hoping he would help her get away from the man who was in the car with her.  While the deputy was standing with her, he called the number she’d phoned him from; an IPhone in her purse rang and his name and phone number showed on the phone’s screen.

Knopp was arrested. She was charged with possessing 24.5 grams of marijuana. $309.00 in small denomination bills located in her purse hear the marijuana was also seized for possible forfeiture as possible proceeds from drug sales.

August 11, 2011

Tavernier man stabbed during argument

Tavernier – A Tavernier man was stabbed by his friend when the two argued about a woman.

Deputy Kyle Page responded to Burton Drive in Tavernier at 2:30 p.m. and met with the 30 year old victim, Hector Martinez. He said he and the suspect, 34 year old Cesar Castillo, live together. He was unsure of the address where they lived; deputies finally found the trailer on  Garden Street.

Castillo was just riding away on a bicycle when deputies arrived on Garden Street. When they spoke with him, he told them he and the victim had been drinking earlier. He said they got into an argument over Castillo’s wife. He said he bent over to light a cigarette from a burner on the stove and the Martinez pushed his face into the stove. He said the two of them fought with each other. That is when Castillo said he grabbed a knife from the counter and swung it at the victim, cutting him once on the left side and once on the arm.

Martinez was treated for his injuries and released from Mariner’s Hospital in Tavernier. Castillo was booked into jail on charges of aggravated battery.

August 10, 2011

Detectives investigating vehicle burglaries

Cudjoe Key – Sheriff’s deputies were kept busy this morning taking reports on 12 vehicle burglaries which took place overnight on Cudjoe Key.

Detectives will be reviewing the cases and evidence collected to see if they can discover the identity of a suspect or suspects who may have committed the crimes.

12 vehicles were entered on a number of different streets on Cudjoe Key, including five on Sailfish Lane, three on Cutlass Lane, and vehicles on 5th Avenue West, 6th Avenue West, Wahoo Lane and Anne Bonny Lane. Most of the vehicles were unlocked, although in two cases windows were smashed and valuables that were left in plain sight on the seats were taken – a purse and a laptop computer. Other items taken include GPS units, sunglasses, cash, credit cards, checkbooks, Ipods, stereo speakers and a second laptop computer.

The investigation is continuing.

August 7, 2011

Divers families notified; detectives release their names

Detectives say the families of two divers found dead today offshore of Plantation Key have been notified and their names can now be released.

The bodies of 43 year old Kevin Moss of Boca Raton, Florida and 53 year old Judy Boone of Wellington, Florida were found this morning, near the location they were last seen, Saturday afternoon. The two were in the Keys with three other friends to celebrate a birthday. Mariann Radwan of Highland Beach, Florida was turning 54 today, and arranged the dive trip with her friends.

They were on board a 25 foot Bayliner called “Bob” captained by Dennis Leith of Tavernier. Leith and Radwan were friends and she’d asked him to take her and her friends out for her birthday. They were on their second dive of the day at Crocker’s Reef, about two miles off the Oceanside of Plantation Key; they started diving in about 30 feet of water, but gradually went deeper until they were diving on a ledge about 60  feet deep. Moss was at about 45 feet of depth when he reportedly ran out of air. At first, according to reports by Sgt. Roy Bogue, Moss was sharing air with Radwan; after she surfaced, Boone stayed in the water with Moss. The two were not seen alive again.

Radwan later told Sgt. Bogue she was having trouble inflating her buoyancy compensator  while she was helping Moss and that Moss had weighted himself down and neither he nor she could figure out how to drop his weights, which were integrated into his other equipment. She said because of these issues, they couldn’t surface and, in fact, were sinking as they struggled with their gear. When Moss saw that her air was almost depleted as well, she said he took her octopus out of his mouth and pushed her away. As she was surfacing, she saw Boone swim up to Moss and begin to try to help him.

Leith was running the boat, and had been following the diver’s bubbles as they moved through the water. After one of the divers surfaced and told him there was a problem, Leith marked their location with his GPS, then went into the water with dive tanks to try to help. When he couldn’t find the divers, he got back into the boat and called for help, just before 4 p.m. Saturday. The U.S. Coast Guard responded and began searching, along with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Sheriff’s Office. The search, which was called off when it got too dark to see, failed to turn up the two missing divers.

At daybreak searchers returned to the GPS coordinates and found the two bodies in the water. Autopsies will be done to determine the cause of their deaths.

The other two friends on board the boat were 55 year old Sherri Makis of Boca Raton, Florida and 52 year old Alan Boyd of Boynton Beach, Florida.

Two missing divers found dead offshore of Plantation Key

The bodies of two divers who went missing Saturday offshore of Plantation Key have been located today. The two were part of a dive group on board a 25 foot Bayliner called “Bob”, captained by Dennis Leith of Tavernier.

The five divers were in the Keys together celebrating a birthday. They were on their second dive of the day, about two miles off the Oceanside of Plantation key at Crocker’s Reef ; they reportedly began diving in about 30 feet of water, but went deeper as the dive went on. Leith was in the boat, following the diver’s bubbles when one of them surfaced and told him they’d run into trouble.  One of the divers had reportedly run out of air. Another of the divers   was sharing air with him

Two of the divers climbed on board the boat. Leith recorded the GPS location, then went into the water with a dive tank in an attempt to assist the remaining divers. He was unable to locate any of them so, after searching the area for about 15 minutes, he got back on the boat and called the Coast Guard for assistance, giving them the GPS coordinates of the boat and missing divers.

A short time later, Leith saw a diver surface a distance away and he picked her up; two of the group were still missing, however.  The  Coast Guard arrived and  began searching. Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also joined in the search, followed by a Sheriff’s Office marine unit.

The search continued until it began to get dark; in addition, a thunderstorm was moving into the area and conditions were deteriorating so the search was finally called off at about 8:30 p.m.

Searchers gathered again at first light Sunday morning. The bodies of the two missing divers were located at about 9:30 a.m. close to the location where they were originally reported missing.

The names of the deceased divers will be released after their families have been notified of their deaths.

Autopsies will be done to determine the cause of their deaths.

August 4, 2011

Reminder: Golf Carts not legal on roadways or bike paths

The Sheriff’s Office would like to remind Monroe County residents that unregistered golf carts – those  that do not have a license plate issued by the state of Florida - cannot be legally operated on the streets, roadways, or highways of Monroe County.

“We are having some problems with people operating unregistered vehicles, in particular golf carts, in some of our upper Keys neighborhoods,” Captain Don Fanelli, Commander of the Upper Keys Sheriff’s Office Patrol District, said. “There are a few, limited areas that allow this  but if you don’t live in one of these areas, it is illegal,” he said.

Golf carts, which cannot be registered in the state of Florida, should not be confused with “Low Speed Vehicles” or LSVs, which can be legally registered and can be operated on roadways with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or under. All the requirements of operating a vehicle apply to these vehicles, including having a driver’s license and all required safety equipment. See the definition of an LSV, and the requirements under Florida State law, listed below.

Captain Fanelli is particularly concerned about people allowing their children to operate the vehicles.

“There is NO motorized or electric vehicle that a child can operate on a roadway without a driver’s license,” he said. Again, with the exception of some gated communities which may allow this.

The bottom line: unless a person lives in a community which has made a particular exception for golf carts, they cannot be used on a street, roadway, highway, bike path or right of way legally. If you do live in such a community, you cannot operate the vehicle outside of that community. 

August 2, 2011

New deputy in Islamorada

Islamorada Captain Corey Bryan is happy to welcome
Deputy Martin Digrius, left, to the Islamorada District.
He comes from the Monroe County Detention Center,
where he previously worked as a Corrections Officer.
He is pictured with his Field Training Officer Yunier Galvez.

Sheriff's Explorers do well in competition

Standing, left to right, SRO Deputy Will Schlegelmilch, Keith Cox
Reserve Deputy Brad Humelsine, Deputy Richard Gross, 
Michael Boyce, SRO Deputy Bev Brazil; kneeling in front, Alex Rojas
and Bud Humelsine.
Sheriff’s Office Explorers did exceptionally well during their attendance and competition at the recent State Delegates conference in Broward County. Explorers John “Bud” Hummelsine, Alex Rojas, Mike Boyce and Keith Cox all worked hard to represent our office well. They took first place in Pistol Team with Explorer Humelsine, the team Captain, as Match Winner. Explorer Rojas took first place in Revolver, qualifying as an “expert” at the competition. It should be noted the team has taken first place in every state competition in the past year.

They also received second place in Domestic Dispute calls and Traffic Stops and fourth place in Active Shooter competition. Advisor Schlegelmilch also received an award for being an assistant range master at the competition; Explorer Humelsine received an award for being the team’s Pistol Team Coach.

The Explorer Post in the upper Keys is saddened to say goodbye to long time Advisor SRO Deputy Beverly Brazil, who is retired as of the end of July. She attended the conference as well, and intends to remain involved with the program on a volunteer basis in the future.

Deputy goes to school

Islamorada Deputy Ray Jodlowski (pictured) and Captain Corey Bryan spoke to kids at
St. James Children’s Center in Islamorada about bicycle safety. 

CART team in training

The Monroe County Child Abduction Response Team (CART) held a
training session in Key Colony Beach recently with speakers from the
Missing Children’s Clearing House and the organization A Child is Missing.
The team, comprised of 71 members from many different public safety
related agencies in the county, holds regular training sessions to make
sure all members are prepared in the event a child does go missing in Monroe County.

August 1, 2011

Teens charged with vehicle burglary

Two teens were arrested for burglarizing a vehicle parked on the old highway at the 90.5 mile marker early today.

The victim called the Sheriff’s Office at 2 a.m. after she looked outside and saw two people with a flashlight inside her vehicle. The suspects saw her and fled the area, running toward Old Tavernier Restaurant. She and her husband told deputies the two suspects were dressed all in black.

Two teens were found in the area, about a block away; they were dressed in black and were wet. They were identified as 13 year old Jose Negron and 16 year old Jeremy Francis, both of Tavernier. Upon questioning, the boys admitted to entering the vehicle and taking a lighter from inside. They said they jumped into a canal to flee from law enforcement and from the victim’s husband, who was chasing them.

Both boys were booked at the Monroe County Detention Center on charges of burglary and theft.

Key Largo man charged with vehicle burglaries

Key Largo – A Key Largo man is under arrest, charged with burglarizing five vehicles early today in the parking lot of the Marine Mammal Institute in Key Largo. He also committed two other thefts at that location, and charges are pending in six more burglaries throughout Key Largo over the weekend.

Deputy Robert Dosh was on patrol near the Institute at the 102 mile marker at 5:30 a.m. today when he spotted 42 year old Keith Paquet driving away in his car with no seatbelt on. He pulled him over and obtained all his identification and other necessary paperwork. Paquet told him he was a volunteer at the Institute and was going to the Circle K store to get coffee for everyone working there. Deputy Dosh noticed a backpack sitting on the seat next to Paquet, and noticed Paquet seemed very nervous and was sweating profusely.

About 20 minutes after Paquet was allowed to leave the traffic stop, Sheriff’s dispatchers received a call from the Institute. An employee reported her car had been entered and her backpack had been stolen. Subsequent investigation revealed several other employee’s cars had also been burglarized.  A woman’s bag had been stolen from the dock area of the Institute and cash and T-shirts had been taken from a sales stand as well.

Dosh remembered seeing a backpack in Paquet’s vehicle. He had Paquet’s contact information from the traffic stop so he went to Paquet’s house on Lee Street in Key Largo. During an interview with him, Paquet admitted to the burglaries and thefts; he signed a consent to search his house and almost all the items reported stolen were found inside. He also admitted to discarding some items in a trash receptacle at the Circle K Store at the 102 mile marker; he said he did it because he got frightened after the traffic stop. Those items were also recovered.

So far, Paquet has been charged with five counts of vehicle burglary and seven counts of theft related to these crimes. Some of the items recovered from Paquet’s home matched items stolen during other burglaries in the Key Largo area over the weekend. Detectives are continuing their investigations and expect to charge him with more crimes soon.

Detectives investigated Paquet’s claim of being a volunteer at the Institute; Paquet was not a volunteer there. He did previously work as a security guard at Dolphin’s Plus, which is affiliated with the Institute, but was fired from that position recently after he was arrested for stealing several items from the store, including water bottles and a towel.