A man and woman from Okeechobee, Florida are in custody, charged with fraudulently selling advertising to Monroe County businesses.
47 year old Timothy Lee Smith and 48 year old Melinda Joiner sold advertising on pizza boxes through a company they called Melinda Joiner Publications. They would solicit businesses to buy the ads; Smith would then take a sample box and a contract into each business and have company representatives sign a contract and write a check for the advertising up front. The checks, written to Joiner, would then be cashed by her.
Detective Yunier Galvez was assigned to investigate six Upper Keys cases. He found, during his investigation, that his suspects were in Okeechobee, Florida. He called the Okeechobee Sheriff’s Office for assistance. A detective with that agency interviewed Joiner in connection with the Monroe County cases. During the interview, she admitted to taking money from the businesses and spending it on hotels, restaurants and other personal expenses; she admitted to never producing the advertisements the businesses paid for.
Detective Galvez obtained warrants for both Joiner and Smith. Joiner was arrested in Texas earlier this month and was returned to the Keys over the weekend to face six grand theft counts. Smith is currently in custody in Sarasota, Florida and he will also be returned to the Keys to face six counts of grand theft and six counts of fraud.
Detective Galvez is still investigating, along with detectives from the lower Keys and Key West, where there may also be pending cases. Anyone with information about any potential victims of these two people should contact the Sheriff’s Office or Key West Police.