May 31, 2013

Search warrant in Marathon

 Marathon –Sheriff's Special Investigations detectives executed a search warrant  at a Marathon residence Thursday just after noon.

The warrant was served at 1571 Overseas Highway Lot 70 in Marathon, detectives located 64 year old Lazaro Hernandez inside the residence. The search of the trailer turned up 13 prepackaged baggies of powdered cocaine, with a total weight of 8.1 grams.

Hernandez  was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

May 29, 2013

Crime Tip: Internet Safety

The Internet is an incredible resource for many purposes, research, entertainment, shopping. And it is for the most part safe. When it comes to shopping, however, just like in the regular "brick and mortar" shopping world, there are con artists and frauds who use the internet to perpetrate their crimes.

Here are some safe e-shopping tips:

1) Unsolicited e-mail should always be treated with suspicion. Never respond to bulk e-mail, even to ask to be unsubscribed (when you unsubscribe, that just tells them that they have reached a valid e-mail address).

2) The safest way to purchase things on-line is with a credit card because you can dispute the charge if you find you are the victim of a crime or fraud. If your credit card number is stolen and used by someone else, you are only liable for the first $50 in charges (provided you let the card issuer know right away). Many banks will even cover the $50. ATM / bank debit cards are safe ONLY if your card limits your liability to $50. Even then, a thief can empty your bank account quickly, which is a major inconvenience even if you ARE covered.

3) Print out hard copies of all on-line transactions on your printer (a respectable e-commerce site will tell you to do that), or save a digital copy of a purchase confirmation on your computer's hard drive. These confirmations of purchases are concrete evidence of a transaction when a dispute arises.

4) Be careful of e-stores that ask for a lot of personal information. An on-line transaction with a credit card shouldn't require giving a merchant more information than is needed to verify your card and ship you the product. Home Depot or Office Depot (for example) don't ask you ANY questions when you use a credit card, so why should an on-line merchant? If they do, they may be collecting information about you that they will be selling to someone else.

5) If you use on-line auctions, use the protections that they have put in place for you. Check the posted comments about both the sellers and buyers. Use escrow services (with caution) if you are buying or selling big ticket items.

6) The old adage, "If it looks too good to be true, it probably is" really applies on the Internet. Be careful of "great deals" and "special offers." Watch out for cheap name-brand software - there are lots of copies of old (and no longer supported) versions of well-known products out there. Make sure that you always know exactly what you are getting, no matter what you purchase.

7) Watch out for free advice. Whether it's a stock tip from a chat room or unsolicited e-mail, avoid advice from strangers. Why would they want to give you free advice? There's usually a motive involved, and that motive is simple: they want to make money at your expense.

Here are some helpful links: -

Internet Scam Busters -

Better Business Bureau -

Man arrested for burglary, dealing in stolen property

Big Pine Key – A Little Torch Key man was arrested Tuesday, charged with stealing a generator and tools from a Big Pine Key home and pawning them at a local pawn shop.

According to Detective Diane Mimosa, who investigated the case, 31 year old Jeremy Yrsha went to the home on Hollerich Drive in April because he’d purchased a sailboat and it was stored on the property. While there, he took the sailboat and other items he was entitled to take that went with the boat. He also took a generator and a bag of tools that were in the same storage areas of the home.

The generator belonged to a neighbor, who was keeping it there with the homeowner’s permission. He told Deputy Jon Riggs he stops by the house periodically to check on the property. He said when he checked the property in late April, he found a door open and his generator gone. He also found a bag of tools missing. The tools belonged to the homeowner.

He called the Sheriff’s Office after he went to Molly’s Pawn Shop and found his generator and the bag of tools at the shop. He told the deputy he’d spoken to the tenant of the home on Hollerich Drive. The tenant mentioned that he’d sold a sailboat to Yrsha, and that he’d allowed Yrsha to stop by the house and pick up the boat without being there himself. He said it was possible Yrsha had taken the stolen items.

The owner of the pawn shop told Detective Mimosa that Yrsha had come to the shop with another man and  pawned the generator and the tools. He said he paid Yrsha a total of $90for the items.

After interviewing Yrsha, and the other man who’d been with him at the pawn shop, Detective Mimosa got a warrant for Yrsha’s arrest. Yrsha was arrested Tuesday and charged with burglary, grand theft and dealing in stolen property.

May 28, 2013

Key West woman faces multiple charges

Stock Island – A Key West woman who became violent Monday night was arrested on multiple charges including neglecting her child’s welfare, attacking the child’s father and his brother and then fighting with officers who arrived to arrest her.

When Detective Lissette Zuelch arrived at the trailer on Front Street at 9 p.m., she found 24 year old Marjorie Maradiaga holding her 11 month old infant. She was visibly impaired, having trouble standing and slurring her words. Detective Zuelch asked her to hand the child over for safety’s sake. Maradiaga refused. With the help of Deputies Joe Cortner and Wendy Negron, the child was removed from her mother and Maradiaga was then detained as the deputies investigated the complaint they’d been dispatched to.

The child’s father and brother were there. The father has a domestic violence injunction against Maradiaga, which she was in violation of. He said she became violent, chasing him down the street. She hit him several times and bit his back. He showed deputies a bleeding bite mark to back up his story. He said she also attacked his brother. They finally called 911 for help.

The child’s father said Maradiaga threatened to drown their daughter several months before and he said he fears for the child’s safety.

Maradiaga was arrested. She struggled violently with deputies as they attempted to handcuff her. She continued to fight as they placed her in a patrol car. Her feet had to be restrained as well as her hands as she kicked both the deputies and the inside of the car. Once at the jail, she also fight with detention deputies and had to be placed in a special restraint chair to keep her from injuring herself or others.

She was charged with violating a domestic violence injunction, domestic battery, two counts of battery on law enforcement officers, resisting arrest with violence and child neglect.

May 27, 2013

Two Miami women charged with burglary

Big Pine Key – Two women from Miami were arrested for burglary at a home on Croton Lane, Big Pine Key Sunday evening.

Deputies Martin Reyes and Spencer Curry responded to the home at 8:50 p.m. after the property manager called to say someone was in the house who did not belong there. Deputy Reyes was first to arrive. When he knocked on the door, he heard someone running out the back. He apprehended 27 year old Mariela Abarca and 22 year old Janel Vega.

The property manager, who lives nearby, said no one had permission to be in the house. The owner lives in New Jersey.

Abarca and Vega both told the deputies they drove down from Miami with no destination in mind. They said they spotted the house and thought it looked  nice because it was on a canal, had a hammock hanging outside and looked like there was no one around.

They both said they had some food, so they went up on the porch of the house to eat it. They said the sliding glass door in the back opened when they pushed on it, so them went inside to heat up their food and to watch television.

The rear sliding glass door showed signs it had been forced open. A small amount of marijuana was found in a bag belonging to Abarca.

Both of the women were arrested. They were charged with burglary, criminal mischief and trespassing. Abarca was additionally charged with possession of marijuana.

May 25, 2013

Marathon clean up planned

Clean up planned in Marathon for June 15th. 6200 Overseas Highway, the old Yardarm Motel. Come out and join the Sheriff's Office in improving your community.

Police Memorial Ceremony

 Representatives of local law enforcement agencies and members of the public gathered last Friday to honor officers killed in the line of duty in ceremony held at Bayview Park in Key West.

Islamorada clean up yields lots of trash

The Sheriff’s Office worked together with many community members to clean up parts of Islamorada this past weekend, including the shoreline and near shore waters. Captain Corey Bryan wants to thank everyone who participated and special thanks to Bruce Williams with Advance Disposal, Judy Hull at Islamorada Chamber, Kara Lundgren with the Hampton/Outback, Ed Koconis Village Mgr and Staff,and to the Islamorada Moose Lodge.

Explorers work hard to raise money

 The Explorers are working hard to make enough  money to send members to the upcoming week long conference in June. They held a car wash recently, and bagged groceries at Winn Dixie, making $1,000 between the two events. Thanks to Island Meats owner Santiago Perez who allowed them to use their parking lot for the car wash and donated 40 hamburgers. Publix manager Paul Bean donated 40 hot dogs. Thanks also to Deputy E.B. Askins who donated his time cooking for the car wash (E.B. used to be an Explorer himself) Big Rob’s Mobile Detailing lent a hand and Reserve Deputy Jimmy Aurelio from Guy’s Towing brought by one of his flat bed tow trucks to be washed and, in return, donated $1,000 to the post.

Explorers go to Boot Camp

 Sheriff’s Office Explorers and their advisers went to Boot Camp in Ocala recently. Explorer Boot Camps are intense, physical and teach teamwork and military precision.

May 24, 2013

Marathon man dead, floating in the water near his home

A 70 year old Marathon man was found dead, floating in the water near his 23rd Street home near a boat he’d been working on.

Deputies Garrett Test and Chuck Kellenberger responded to the home at 5:45 p.m. after a neighbor and the man’s girlfriend reported finding James Gogan. The neighbor said she’d seen him working on his boat earlier in the afternoon. When the girlfriend showed up at the house at 5 p.m. she began looking for him and the neighbor helped. That is when they found him in the water.

Major Crimes Detective Deborah Ryan responded to investigate. She said she does not suspect foul play. Both women told Deputy Test Gogan had some type of “heart problem” that he was going to have looked at next month, when he took a trip to New Jersey.

May 22, 2013

Owner of jewelry store charged with second hand dealer violations

Stock Island – A man who owns Oscar’s Jewelry on Stock Island was issued a notice to appear in court Monday for violating the requirements of his second hand dealer’s license.

Detectives Dave Chavka and David Cruz responded to the business to do an inspection after receiving information that Leandro Oscar Alvarez was not keeping proper records and was possibly violating the law in other ways regarding the operation of his business. Records showed Alvarez had been properly trained in the use of the R.A.P.I.D. system, a computerized record keeping system required for all second hand dealers in the county.

When the detectives conducted their inspection, they found Alvarez was not using the system. In fact, his record keeping consisted of a small envelopes containing only scanty information of his transactions.  He failed to produce required records that were required by law, including identification of the person he was dealing with, dates and times of transactions, specifics of the items he was taking possession of, thumbprints of the sellers, signatures and contact information of sellers. He also did not have his scale calibrated as required by law.

Alvarez was issued a notice to appear in court for violation of second hand dealer record keeping requirements.

Seatbelt enforcement leads to arrest of woman on multiple charges

Key West – A Sugarloaf Key woman was stopped in her vehicle for not wearing a seat belt. She ended up in jail for multiple traffic violations.

The Sheriff’s Office is currently participating in the national Click-it or Ticket campaign, which is taking place from May 20th to June 2nd.

Traffic Enforcement Deputy David Fernandez was at the triangle, at the entrance to Key West watching northbound traffic when he saw a gold Toyota Corolla. The driver, later identified as 56 year old Diane Denolf, was not wearing a seat belt. He pulled behind her with his lights and siren, stopping her just over the Cow Key Channel Bridge.

Denolf could not provide her driver’s license. She was visibly nervous. The deputy saw a brown paper bag which looked like it had some kind of beverage in it. Deputy Fernandez returned to his vehicle to run a check on her. As he was doing so, she got out of her car and approached him. He asked her to return to her vehicle until he was finished. Denolf returned to  her vehicle. She then suddenly took off, northbound.

Deputy Fernandez followed, calling ahead for additional deputies to be on alert to her approach. She was stopped with the help of Sgt. Kevin Mimosa at the 8 mile marker of the highway. This time, she was wearing her seat belt.

She refused to get out of the car, so the deputies had to struggle with her to remove her. She was placed under arrest and handcuffed. In the paper bag, the officers found an open and still chilled container of Miller Light. Denolf was charged with fleeing and eluding police, resisting arrest, possession of an open container of alcohol, having no proof of insurance, having an expired tag and not wearing a seat belt. She was booked into jail.

May 21, 2013

Farm open this Sunday; Special Guest: Author Peter Parente will be at the farm for a book signing

The Sheriff's Animal Farm will be open this Sunday May 26th, between 1 - 3 p.m. A special guest will be on hand at the farm. Author Peter Parente, who wrote the “Peeper and Friends” children’s book series will be at the farm for a book signing. If you already have one of his books, bring it along; if you don’t, the books are on sale at the farm for $10 each with proceeds benefiting the Sheriff’s office Animal Farm.

Bring the family and come visit the animals at the farm, including horses, a cow, pigs, goats, bunnies, alligators, tropical birds, a Kinkajou, Sloths, a Lemur, Kramer the Emu, a family of Patagonian Cavys, tortoises and turtles, snakes and many more. It is free of charge (donations are welcome).

Special Note:  The farm will be closed for the month of June and will reopen to the public on July 14th.

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.

You can also keep up with the farm and it’s animals on Facebook. Visit our page at

Man goes missing while on boating trip

 An Alaskan man who has been in Key West for the past year has gone missing, along with the 39 foot trimaran sailboat he was traveling on.

Jay Wesley Rydberg, 40 years old, was reportedly living on the sailboat in Garrison Bight Marina. He’d moved to Florida from Alaska to be near his 11 year old son, who lives in Lehigh Acres, Florida. His sister, Jill Lesseig, of Fairbanks, Alaska said he sailed from Key West to Fort Myers and was on the return trip last week on board his sailboat, called “3/4 Time”. She said he called her on May 13th in the morning and was calm and relaxed. He told her he should be arriving in Key West Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning.

Tuesday morning, May 14th, at 4:13 a.m. the Coast Guard detected his Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) and initiated a search that lasted for 78 hours. The EPIRB was located 33 miles north of Key West, but they found no other signs of Rydberg or his vessel. At the time the beacon went off, weather was 20 knot winds and three foot seas. There were no reported storms in the area, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Lesseig said Rydberg worked at “manual labor” but she wasn’t sure who he worked for. She said he was known to ride a bright red bicycle. Rydberg is described as a white male, 5’11” tall, 170 – 175 pounds with brown hair, brown eyes and he often wore a beard. He has scars on his abdomen and is missing his right eye. He reportedly often wore an eye patch.

Anyone who knows anything about Rydberg, or his whereabouts is asked to contact the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. Major Crimes Detective Manuel Cuervo is assigned as lead investigator.

Man’s body identified; no foul play suspected

The man whose body was found floating offshore of Lower Matecumbe Key on Sunday was identified Monday using fingerprints as 55 year old Mark Parent of Ensoburg, Vermont. Good Samaritans located the body and called the U.S. Coast Guard Sunday morning.

Earlier in the morning, two people fishing from the Channel 2 bridge told Sheriff’s dispatchers they saw a man floating under the bridge, yelling for help. They tried to throw him a rope but were unsuccessful at rescuing him. A search by water and air ensued, but failed to find him.

Detectives believe Parent was the man seen floating under the bridge. His Chevrolet Tahoe was found parked at the bridge with his belongings inside.

There was no evidence of foul play on his body. Detectives say they believe the death to be accidental.

May 20, 2013

National Hurricane Preparedness Week coming up

Next week, May 26th – June 1st, is National Hurricane Preparedness Week. In this hurricane prone area of South Florida, everyone should take time out to make sure they are fully prepared for the upcoming hurricane season.

·         Make sure you have all necessary supplies on hand in case you have to weather a storm. This includes plenty of water, canned food, batteries, a battery operated radio, necessary medications.
·         Get out your hurricane shutters and make sure they are ready to go if a storm approaches.
·         Make sure you have a plan in place should you have to evacuate. This includes picking up a re-entry sticker for your car, which will expedite your return to the county after an evacuation. Stickers can be obtained from tag offices and Sheriff’s Offices county-wide.
·         Have a plan for your pets as well, including enough food and a way to transport them if you evacuate.

Before, during and after a storm, the Monroe County Office of Emergency Management and the Sheriff’s Office will be bringing you up to date information about the event, including protective action orders and recommendations. Information will be available through local radio, television and other media outlets, as well as through Facebook at MCSO – Florida Keys and Twitter at MCSOnews. You can also sign up to receive emergency alert information at and the Monroe County Emergency Information hot-line will be activated during an emergency at 1-800-955-5504.

There are many web sites with detailed information about hurricane preparedness, including Monroe County’s Emergency Management site at, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office web site at, FEMA at, or their emergency information site, the American Red Cross at,  the National Hurricane Center at , and the National Weather Service at

Body found thought to be that of man spotted floating under bridge

Lower Matecumbe – The body of a man was recovered by the United States Coast Guard Sunday morning, about a mile east of the Channel 2 Bridge. It is thought to be that of the man spotted in the early morning hours yelling for help as he floated under the bridge.

The 56 year old man had identification reflecting a North Carolina address and a Vermont address. His vehicle, a Chevrolet Tahoe, was found parked at the bridge and had a Vermont license tag.

Two Miami residents fishing from the bridge reported hearing cries for help at 4:30 a.m. and seeing a man floating from the Oceanside to the bayside of the bridge. After attempting to throw him a rope, they called the Sheriff’s Office. A search ensued using boats and helicopters, but the man was not found. The man’s body was later found by a good Samaritan boater, who reported it to the Coast Guard.

Detective Dan Mehler is assigned to investigate the case. There are no obvious signs of foul play on the body which has been turned over to the Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy to determine the cause of death. Detective Mehler is working to notify the man’s next of kin.

May 19, 2013

Report of man in water; search continues

Lower Matecumbe – Two people reported seeing a man floating in the water yelling for help underneath the Channel 2 Bridge early today. A search has failed to find anyone, however.

A woman from Miami and her brother-in-law told Deputy Dave Stark they were fishing from the bridge at 4:30 a.m. when they heard someone yelling for help from the water below the bridge. The woman said her brother-in-law tried to throw the man a rope but was unsuccessful.

She said he drifted from the Oceanside to the bayside and they lost contact with him. They described him as a white male, 30 – 40 years of age wearing a white shirt.

Sheriff’s dispatchers notified Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, U.S. Coast Guard and marine deputies with the Sheriff’s Office, all of whom turned out to search. The Sheriff’s Trauma Star helicopter also responded, as did a helicopter from the U.S. Coast Guard. As of this report, they have not found anyone and no one has been reported missing.

The search continues offshore of the Lower Matecumbe Key area. Anyone with information about anyone missing in the area should call the Sheriff’s Office.

Stock Island man charged for cutting a man with a knife

Stock Island – A Stock Island man was arrested, charged with cutting another man with a knife in a dispute over a woman.

The victim said he and a man he only knows as  “worm” got into a fight over a woman they both had dated. He said he was originally dating her, then she left him for “worm”. After staying with “worm” for a while, she returned to the victim.

He said on Saturday morning, he was on his boat in Boca Chica Channel when “worm” went by in a dinghy yelling profanities. When “worm” got to the Key Haven boat ramp, he threw the victim’s moped into the water.

The victim went to the boat ramp to confront “worm” and a fight ensued. “Worm” pulled out a knife and slashed the victim, cutting his arm.

Deputy Kim Trullender was dispatched to reports of a fight at the boat ramp at 10:45 a.m. He found no one there, but a short time later he found the victim at the Tom Thumb store on Stock Island. He was taken to the hospital for treatment of his injury. He told Deputy Trullender what happened.

Jeffery “Worm” Ballard was found by Deputy Joe Cortner walking on College Road at 1:15 a.m. He had blood on his face and head, and told the deputy he’d been beaten up by the victim of the earlier fight. He was arrested and charged with aggravated battery. Photos were taken of his injuries and Detective David Brummer will be continuing to investigate. Ballard was checked at the hospital, then booked into jail.

May 18, 2013

Three burglary suspects additionally charged

Islamorada – Three Miami residents charged with burglarizing a Key Largo home were also charged with burglarizing a cargo trailer full of tools parked in Islamorada.

The three were charged with burglary Thursday after a neighbor saw them trying to force their way into a home on Bowen Drive in Key Largo. The neighbor gave the Sheriff’s Office their vehicle tag number and their car was stopped in Islamorada. All three were arrested for burglary and possession of burglary tools.

Inside the car, detectives found 16 assorted power tools in the back seat, including a chain saw, a leaf blower and a circular saw. One of the suspects claimed the tools were his.

On Friday, the Sheriff’s Office received a report the cargo trailer had been burglarized. It was parked less than a block from where the suspects were arrested in Islamorada. The reporting person identified the tools found in the suspect’s car as being from the trailer.

25 year old Yasmany Caballero, 27 year old Judit Reynoso and 31 year old Yosvany Sosa, all Miami residents, were  already in jail and were additionally charged with burglary grand theft and criminal mischief.

May 17, 2013

Prom and Graduation are coming up – be careful and be safe

It is prom and graduation season, with Marathon’s prom tonight, Coral Shores High School prom tomorrow night and Key West High’s on June 3rd. Graduations are coming up for all three schools in early June. Many students are planning to attend those events and many also intend to go to parties before or afterward.

Remember: no one wants to end their prom or graduation night in jail or in the hospital, so make sure to follow the law when it comes to alcohol and drugs. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to possess or ingest alcohol. Possession of illegal narcotics is, of course, a serious crime as well.

And parents, it is against the law to provide alcohol to someone under the age of 21, even in your own home under your supervision.

Make sure your teen is safe. Know where they are going and who they are going with. Check in with them frequently to make sure they are safe and sober. No one wants a student in Monroe County to wind up dead or badly injured because they made the wrong choice and chose to drive while impaired.

Crime rate decreases in Sheriff’s jurisdiction

The crime rate in those areas patrolled by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office decreased in 2012, according to a report released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. FDLE tracks Major Index Crimes on a yearly basis for all counties and municipalities. Major Index Crimes include murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny (theft), and vehicle theft.

“We are proud to say our crime rate continues to go down due in large part to the strong partnership our agency has with the community,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “Our deputies and detectives work hard to keep our community safe and they do a great job, but their job would be much harder without the help of everyone who lives, works and visits the Florida Keys.”

The crime rate in Sheriff’s Office jurisdiction has consistently gone down on a yearly basis since the early 1990s. The number of crimes is now more than half that of the rate in 1991. In 2012, the rate decreased by 3.4% from 2011.

Overall, the change was spread out over all the index crimes. There was a significant decrease in larceny crimes, with small increases in burglary, aggravated assault and robbery. Murders went from one in 2011 to two in 2012. Rape remained the same.

“We are particularly pleased because we saw our clearance rate for crimes increase,” said Sheriff Ramsay. “Clearing crimes in a county with as many visitors as we have is very difficult sometimes. Victims go home and are hard to find, suspects are often from another jurisdiction. Many crimes go unreported for long periods because we have so many part time residents.”

There are two ways to clear a case: by arrest, or "Cleared by Exception", which means an offender has been identified but there is something beyond the agency's control which keeps that offender from being arrested. An example would be that the offender is dead, extradition is denied, or the case involves a juvenile offender who cannot be charged for some reason.

Alert neighbor foils burglary; three arrested

Key Largo – Three people were arrested for burglary after an alert neighbor spotted them trying to force their way into a Key Largo home and confronted them.

The neighbor saw a car drive up to a home on Bowen Drive at 8:40 p.m. Thursday. He walked over and saw two men and a woman. One man was trying to pry open a screen door on the house. The second man was trying to pry open a shed door. The woman was standing beside their vehicle. When he asked them what they were doing, they said they were “looking for family” then they ran to their vehicle and fled.

The neighbor was able to get the license tag number of the vehicle the three suspects fled in. He called the Sheriff’s Office, giving dispatchers the tag number, vehicle description and details of what he had seen.

A notice to be on the lookout for the vehicle was issued over police radios and the car was spotted in Islamorada. It was stopped by Deputy Nestor Argote at the 88.9 mile marker of the highway. The witness was brought to the scene of the stop where he identified all three suspects. A pry bar was found in the rear pocket of the driver’s side seat. Other tools were found in the vehicle as well.

25 year old Yasmany Caballero, 27 year old Judit Reynoso and 31 year old Yosvany Sosa, all Miami residents, were  arrested.  All three were charged with burglary and possession of burglary tools. Their car, a 2010 Honda Accord, was seized for possible forfeiture.

Traffic stop results in drug arrest

Two men were arrested after a traffic stop revealed the presence of crack cocaine in the vehicle they were in.

Detectives with the Special Investigations Unit spotted 26 year old Harold Reece of Miami and 55 year old William Beagle of Marathon in a white Dodge Ram truck on 55th Street in Marathon at 3:15 p.m. Thursday. They recognized both men and knew they had both been arrested previously for drug related charges. Neither man was wearing a seat belt, and the driver, Beagle, had a suspended driver’s license so the detectives called for assistance from road patrol to pull the vehicle over.

As the detectives followed the vehicle, they saw Reece look back and spot the unmarked patrol car, then say something to Beagle. The two men then began moving around inside the truck as if they were trying to conceal something.

The truck was pulled over on Highway U.S. One. A K-9 team was called to the scene to do a sniff of the outside of the vehicle. The dog alerted to the presence of narcotics. On the floorboard of the truck, between where the two men had been sitting, detectives found a plastic bag with what appeared to be crack cocaine inside. The substance tested positive for the illegal substance and weighed 6.2 grams.

Drug charges on Big Pine Key

A deputy on patrol Thursday night on Big Pine Key charged one person with possession of cocaine and issued a notice to appear in court to a second person for having a small amount of marijuana.

Deputy Chris Fraser turned onto Bailey Road at 8:44 p.m. and saw a large group of people in the street. As he approached, a number of people left but a group of six people remained clustered around a parked van with its passenger door open. As the deputy approached he could smell the odor of marijuana.

Looking inside the van, the deputy saw marijuana in the center console. As he spoke with and conducted searches of the others in the group, he discovered one man with marijuana in his pocket and a second man with marijuana and 4.6 grams of cocaine in his pocket.

22 year old Alain Pico of Big Pine Key was issued a notice to appear in court for possession of marijuana. 30 year old Bradley Whetstone of Little Torch key was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana, cocaine and drug paraphernalia. He was booked into jail.

May 16, 2013

Sheriff's Office participates in seat belt enforcement

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office will be participating in the upcoming National Click-it-or-Ticket campaign. This means zero tolerance for seatbelt violations. Make sure you always have your seatbelts on for safety!!!

Did you know:

• Seat belt use saves thousands of lives across America each year. In 2011 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 11,949 lives nationwide.
• In fatal crashes during 2011, 77 percent of passenger vehicle occupants who were thrown from their vehicles were killed. However, only 1 percent of crash victims who were buckled up were totally ejected from their vehicles, compared to 31 percent of those who were unbelted.
• Motorists are 75 percent less likely to be killed in a rollover crash if they are buckled up.
• Click It or Ticket works. High-visibility enforcement is credited with increasing the national seat belt usage rate from 58 percent in 1994 to an estimated observed usage rate of 86 percent in 2012—an all-time high rate.
• In 2011, of the 21,253 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed in motor vehicle crashes nationwide, 52 percent were NOT wearing seat belts at the time of their fatal crashes.
• From 2007-2011, 53 percent of the 121,507 passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes were unrestrained.
• Younger motorists—young men in particular—are most at risk. Among teens and young adults, ages 18-34, who were killed in fatal crashes in 2011, 64 percent were NOT buckled up at the time of the crash—the highest percentage of any age group. The number jumps to 66 percent when only men in this age group are included.
• Pickup truck drivers and passengers are also at risk. In 2011, 65 percent of pickup truck occupants who were killed in traffic crashes were not buckled up at the time of the crashes, compared to 46 percent of passenger car occupants who were killed from not buckling up.
• Nationally, 62 percent of the 10,135 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes overnight (6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.) in 2011 were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the fatal crash, compared to 43 percent during the daytime hours.
• Motorists should buckle up every time they go out, both day and night. Law enforcement agencies across the country are prepared to ticket anyone not buckled up…no warnings and no excuses. Click It or Ticket.

• While this year’s Click It or Ticket enforcement mobilization runs from May 20 through June 2, motorists should know that officers are out enforcing seat belt laws year-round.
• The national Click It or Ticket mobilization has increased seat belt use and saved many lives over the years, but there is still much more that can be done. High-visibility enforcement and encouraging loved ones to buckle up can turn thousands of lives lost into many more lives saved.

For more about the 2013 mobilization,

Sheriff's Office honors employees of the first quarter

Employees of the first quarter, honored by Sheriff Rick Ramsay and the Sheriff's Office. Left to right, Victim Advocate Debbie Shepherd, Sheriff Rick Ramsay, Detention Deputy Adelaide Killen and Explorer Kyle Cassidy. Not pictured: Deputy Vaughn O’Keefe.

Distringuished Service award

Capt. Gene Thompson and Sgt. Dennis Coleman received Distinguished Service awards  for dedication and commitment to community service.

Life saving medal awarded

Deputies Garrett Bragg, Anthony O’Dea and EMT Cameron Pottorf were recognized with the Sheriff’s Medal for their actions at the scene of an accident on the 7 Mile Bridge. The three worked together to pull a man from a burning vehicle, saving his life. Left to right, Pottorf, Bragg, Ramsay and O'Dea.

Commendations for work at air show

Deputy David Fernandez (left) and Sgt. Kevin Mimosa received a commendation from Sheriff Rick Ramsay for their hard work during the Naval Air Station air show recently.

Life saving medal awarded

Two civilians, Robert Rhynearson and Mark Mathews, were honored with a Sheriff’s Medal for their life saving efforts at a crash scene in the upper Keys, saving a woman’s life. Sheriff's Aide Donatella Kelly received a commendation for her hard work in contacting all those involved, including the victim who is Canadian and who also contributed a heartfelt thank you to the men for their work saving her.

Dive team trains on Vandenburg

The Sheriff’s Office dive team training this past week on the Vandenburg wreck offshore of Key West.

Sheriff's Office recognized for help with Wounded Warriors

NAS Key West Commander Capt. Patrick Lafere recently recognized the Sheriff’s Office for its ongoing assistance with the Wounded Warrior project. Here he is presenting a plaque to Sheriff Rick Ramsay.

Attorney recognized for contributions to Teen Court

Attorney Manny Garcia (left) was recognized this week by the Sheriff’s Office for his contribution of many hours of his and his associates time to Teen Court. Here he is, left, pictured with Sheriff's Office Juvenile Programs Supervisor  Sherwood “Woody” Hanford.

Traffic stop leads to stolen gun recovery

Key Largo – A traffic stop for speeding in Key Largo this morning resulted in the arrest of two men and the recovery of a handgun stolen in Fort Myers, Florida.

Deputy Matthew O’Neill was on patrol at 2:10 a.m. near the Jewfish Creek Bridge when he spotted a red Mercury sedan traveling at a high rate of speed southbound. With his radar, he measured the speed at 70 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone. He pulled the car over at the 106.5 mile marker of the highway.

A check of the two men in the vehicle revealed the driver was a convicted felon on probation and that one of the terms of his probation was he had to give consent to search his vehicle.

Inside the vehicle, Deputy O’Neill found marijuana. He also found a 9mm Ruger handgun which, when checked, turned out to have been stolen from Fort Myers, Florida. Sgt. Jason Madnick, who responded to back up Deputy O’Neill, found drug paraphernalia in the car as well.

The driver, 28 year old Emmanuel Clarke of Lithonia, Georgia and 25 year old Absolum Jones of Newport News, Virginia were both arrested. Clarke was charged with possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Jones was charged with possession of marijuana. Both were booked into jail.

May 15, 2013

Highway Interdiction Operation

Law Enforcement agencies participated this week in a Highway Interdiction operation in Key Largo and Islamorada, targeting vehicles bringing illegal narcotics into Monroe County
On Monday and Tuesday of this week, officers conducted 69 traffic stops; during those stops they issued 35 traffic citations, wrote 31 warnings, searched 27 vehicles using a police K-9 team. They made ten arrests, with three of them going to jail and the other seven issued notices to appear in court.

Sheriff’s Special Investigations Unit conducted the operation, assisted by the Traffic Enforcement Unit, Homeland Security investigators, and Miami Dade Police K-9 Unit,
The following people were booked into jail:

  • Eduardo Vieyto, 27, of Miami arrested for Possession of Cocaine and drug paraphernalia.
  • Alexander Mola-Arango, 28, of Miami Beach arrested for Possession of cocaine.
  • Leonardo E. Hernandez, 24, of Hialeah arrested for Possession with intent to distribute Crystal Meth.
The following people were issued notices to appear in court:

  • John Downs, 29, of Miami Notice to appear for Possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.
  • Stephanie Jiron, 22, of Miami Notice to appear for Possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.
  • Michael E. Zayas, 34, of Miami Notice to appear for Possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.
  • Pedro Manaois Jr, 34, Tampa Notice to appear for Possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.
  • Gonzalo Dejesus Correa, 55, of Miami Notice to appear for driving with a suspended drivers license.
  • Ivan Hernandez, DOB 22, of Homestead Notice to appear for driving with a suspended drivers license
  • Michael C. Luya, 26, of Homestead, Notice to appear for possession less than 20 grams of marijuana

Woman charged with credit card fraud

The employee of an upper Keys business was arrested Tuesday, charged with stealing clients credit cards and selling the information.

The owner of Vacation Travel Club in Tavernier called the Sheriff’s Office after she received information about the crimes. Someone called the business and said two of her employees had been stealing client credit card information and selling it.

Detective Bob Dosh was assigned to investigate. He confronted one of the employees, 24 year old Ashley Spivey who admitted to stealing the credit card information from five accounts and providing it to another employee, who then sold the information to someone in Miami.

Spivey was arrested and charged with five counts of credit card fraud. Detective Dosh is still investigating the case and expects to make additional arrests in connection with his investigation.

May 13, 2013

Business check for alcohol sales to minors

On May 10, 2013 the Special Investigations Division conducted an operation checking businesses that sell alcohol in Islamorada and the Upper Keys. Eight businesses were checked including restaurants, convenience stores and bars. Three of the businesses served alcohol to minors during our investigations. The three people who sold the alcohol were given notices to appear before a Monroe County Judge.

The following are a list of the Business, and suspects who sold the alcohol:

·         Paradise Pub 102041 Overseas highway Key Largo, Fl manager / attendant –James Joseph Clinton III, DOB 02/04/1967. Notice to appear issued.

·         Big Chill 104000 Overseas highway Key Largo, Fl Bartender – Juan Mata – Adams, DOB 08/11/1971.  Notice to appear issued.

·         Caribbean Club  104080 Overseas highway Key Largo, Fl Bartender – Lawrence Irvin Perkins, DOB 12/16/1963. Notice to appear issued.

The Sale Clerk violations are up to 60 days in jail $500 fine, $235 in court cost, $75 in cost of prosecution, and $40 in cost of investigation.

The Licensee Violations are:
·         1st offense $1000 fine and 7 day suspension
·         2nd offense $3000 fine and 30 day suspension
·         3rd offense Revocation of license.
The remaining business checked, were in compliance with the law.

This operation was conducted in cooperation with the Monroe County Coalition for a Safe and Drug Free Community. 

Stock Island man charged with knife threats

A Stock Island man is in jail, charged with threatening people with a butcher knife.

When Deputy Lazaro Valdes arrived on Suncrest Street at 4 p.m. Sunday, he saw a group of people in the area. He also saw 26 year old Yendry Vega holding a butcher knife in a threatening manner, as if he were going to attack the group. He held Vega at gunpoint until backup officers arrived to help.

Investigations and interviews with witnesses revealed Vega had been making noise in the yard of his residence, throwing things and yelling obscenities. A neighbor who is friends with Vega attempted to calm him, holding him in a “bear hug” until he calmed down. When he let Vega go, Vega agreed to go back inside his residence. He returned a short time later, though, with the butcher knife.

Vega was arrested and charged with aggravated assault. He was booked into jail.

May 12, 2013

Trailer destroyed by fire

Fire destroyed a trailer in Roy’s Trailer park on Stock Island in the early morning hours Saturday.

Sgt. Geni Hernandez responded to the area at 12:20 a.m. and could see smoke and flames coming from the trailer. She was able to contact the occupants, who were already out of the trailer. She also evacuated neighboring trailers in case the fire spread.

Firefighters responded and extinguished the blaze, but the trailer was a complete loss. Six people lived inside the trailer and were left homeless and with no personal belongings. The Red Cross responded to assist them with finding a place to stay and provided them with necessities. The Fire Marshall’s office will be investigating.

May 10, 2013

Be careful now that prom and graduation season is upon us

The Sheriff’s Office and other public safety agencies participated this week in a DUI prevention skit held at Coral Shores High School. The event was held in preparation for upcoming proms and graduation celebrations to help kids make safe choices about drinking and driving.

Parents need to be particularly vigilant in coming weeks when it comes to their children’s safety. Pay close attention to where they are going, what they are doing and who they are doing it with. And remember, it is against the law to supply alcohol to anyone under the age of 21 – even in your own home.

There is a lot of useful information for parents at a special facebook page - Monroe Parents Know. The page is sponsored by Human Services Associates "Keys For Success" programs, with the Guidance/Care Center "Parents Who Host Lose the Most" campaign and the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Go to:

Bike repair inmate program

The Sheriff’s Office is teaching jail inmates to repair bicycles as part of a new inmate program. Graduates of the program get a certificate to say they have been trained in basic bike repair techniques. They work on unclaimed bikes from the Sheriff’s Office Property Division. Some of the bikes are then donated to charities, and others are used by participants in the jail work release program for transportation to and from their jobs. In the picture, Sgt. Andrew Paskiewicz helps inmate Andrew Richardson repair a bike he will then personally use to commute to his job in the work release program.

Honor Guard attends police week in Tallahassee

The Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard represented the agency at Police Week and the Police Memorial ceremony in Tallahassee this week. Left to right, Andrew Leird, Jeanne Cajuste, Kim Kamradt, Robert Salter, Sonya Morgan and Charles Miles.

May 9, 2013

Key Largo man wanted for two burglaries

A Key Largo man is wanted on two outstanding warrants for burglary. Detective Yunier Galvez is asking for the public’s help finding him.

The first burglary was reported February 22nd on Plantation Shores Drive on Plantation Key. The house that was burglarized was under construction. Rods and reels were stored on the first floor of the residence. Someone entered the house and removed six reels from their rods. Fingerprints were lifted from the rods left behind and were sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for identification. The FDLE report came back, identifying 26 year old Steele Hancock as the person they belonged to. A warrant was issued for his arrest on charges of burglary and grand theft.

The second burglary was reported March 6th, to a house on Dolphin Road in Key Largo. The victim reported someone removed seven reels, two rods and several items of dive gear from his home. Detective Galvez reviewed pawn slips for pawn shops in the area. On April 4th, he found a number of the items stolen from the house had been pawned at Mother Ocean Key Largo pawn shop. They were pawned by Hancock. A warrant was issued for his arrest on charges of burglary, grand theft and dealing in stolen property.

Anyone who knows where Hancock is can receive a cash reward by calling Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Tipsters can remain anonymous. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted on line at

Sheriff on Channel 19

Sheriff Rick Ramsay was recently featured on Good Morning Florida Keys with Jenna Stauffer, WEYW Channel 19 talking about his vision for the Sheriff's Office and the great things the office has been accomplishing lately with clean ups and other community involvement projects. To see the interview, click this link:

May 8, 2013

Jail discovers arrestee is missing North Carolina man

Observant Corrections Officers with a feeling that something was just not right discovered an arrestee was a missing man from North Carolina.

When Key West Police brought David Hinton in to the jail on Monday morning, he’d given the name “Jeff Willard”. He was booked on charges of theft and resisting arrest. Detention Deputy Baptiste was the booking officer.

While speaking with the man, the deputy noticed he was confused and was unsure of his  name and other identifying information. During further conversation “Willard” said he’d had a stroke recently and could not remember much. He said he’d come to the Keys to visit a friend, but couldn’t remember the friend’s name.

Deputy Baptiste ran the man’s fingerprint and did not get a “hit” on him. Because he felt something was not right, he decided to perform a more in depth fingerprint scan that takes more time.

Several hours later, the scan revealed his real name, Danny Lee Hinton, and revealed he’d been reported missing from North Carolina. He was reported to have a history of dementia and strokes.

The agency with which he’d been reported missing was notified of his recovery. He remains in jail on the charges but his family will now know where he is and that he is all right and they will have the opportunity to help him return home.

Update: Two Hialeah men wanted for GPS thefts

According to Sheriff’s Detective Francisco Gaete, one of the men wanted for the theft of a high end GPS unit in the Upper Keys has been arrested.

27 year old Luis Sanifel was arrested by members of the Miami-Dade Warrants Division. He was booked into jail in Miami and will be returned to the Keys to face charges of grand theft, burglary, trespassing and criminal mischief charges.

A representative of 41 year old Omar Martinez contacted Detective Gaete and expressed his desire to turn himself in for his outstanding warrant. Detective Gaete will be working with the representative to accomplish that goal.

Each man is wanted for removing a high end GPS unit from a boat parked behind a Key Largo home. The two crimes took place in October of 2012; one boat was on Cactus Street in Key Largo. The second one was on Mockingbird Road in Key Largo.

May 7, 2013

Marathon man charged with gun threats

Marathon – A Marathon man is under arrest for threatening another man with an airsoft pistol which had been altered to look like a real gun.

The victim had been at Charles Hosendove’s 1st Avenue apartment earlier in the evening and two got into an argument. The victim left, returning to his nearby residence.

A short time later, Hosendove followed the victim to his residence. He had what appeared to be a .380 caliber handgun. He first threatened the victim with it, then threatened to shoot the victim’s dog. The two men struggled. During the struggle, Hosendove hit the victim in the face. Hosendove then left and the victim called the Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies arrived on scene and spoke with the victim and the suspect. They then knocked on the door of Hosendove’s apartment to speak with his wife. When she opened the door, they saw the handgun described by the victim, sitting on the floor just inside the doorway. It was an airsoft pistol. The end of its barrel – normally orange in color – had been painted black and it’s grips had also been removed to make it more closely resemble a real gun.

Hosendove was arrested. He was charged with aggravated assault and battery and he was taken to jail.

May 6, 2013

Fraud suspect also charged with child pornography

A man arrested for giving fraudulent identification to his employer during the hiring process was further charged with possessing child pornography.

39 year old Robert Pearl was originally arrested in February after detectives discovered he and his girlfriend had given false identification to the owner’s of Gilbert’s Resort when they were hired to work there.

Subsequent investigation led to the examination of a computer Pearl had in his possession that belonged to Gilbert’s resort. Resort owners said the computer was password protected by Pearl, and when they asked him for the password, he always had an excuse for why he couldn’t give it to them.

Examination of the computer’s hard drive revealed images of child pornography. Pearl, who was still in jail on the fraud charges, was further charged with six counts possession of child pornography.

Two teens arrested in connection with molesting, video recording 14 year old girl

Two upper Keys boys were arrested over the weekend after one of them molested a 14 year old girl and the other video recorded it.

Deputies responded to a home on Ocean Drive Sunday morning after a woman called to report strangers in the lower portion of her house. When Deputy Michael Sielicki arrived, he found the two males – aged 23 and 16 – and the victim, a 14 year old girl. All three appeared to be drunk. The oldest male said they had been partying the night before, but said he could not remember what happened. Further investigation revealed the three to be acquaintances of the owner’s 15 year old daughter. The daughter later admitted to having a party in the lower portion of the house the night before without her mother’s knowledge.

Deputy Michael Sielicki asked to see the 23 year old male’s cell phone, knowing that often people will video themselves while they are partying. The male agreed to let him see it. He told the deputy someone else had his phone for a time the night before.

On the phone, the deputy found a video recording of another boy top of the victim, who was only partially clothed. In the video he was performing sexual acts on her.

Major Crimes Detective Manuel Cuervo was notified and responded to the scene to continue the investigation. He interviewed the victim, who could not recall the incident depicted in the video. She watched the video and identified the male on top of her in the video as a 17 year old she has been in a sexual relationship with for a few weeks. She also identified the one video recording the incident as a 15 year old who had also attended the party.

Both boys were interviewed. The 17 year old denied having sexual relations with the victim, even though he was depicted clearly in the video fondling her. The 15 year old denied video recording the incident, even though portions of the video confirmed he was the one behind the camera. Witnesses corroborated the victim’s version of events.

The 17 year old was charged with lewd and lascivious battery on a 14 year old girl. The 15 year old was charged with sexual performance with a child for video recording the sexual activity.

May 5, 2013

Sugarloaf man accused of molesting young girl

A Sugarloaf Key man is in jail, charged with molesting a young girl four years ago.

Major Crimes Detective Manuel Cuervo was assigned to investigate the case. He asked law enforcement in Pennsylvania, where the victim is now living, to interview the victim. The victim reportedly disclosed that 36 year old Michael Woodruff had molested her in 2008, while she was staying with her mother in a house in Key Haven, in the Lower Keys. The victim was nine years old at the time the abuse took place.

Woodruff was booked into jail today on two counts lewd and lascivious molestation of a child under the age of 12 and one count of lewd and lascivious conduct.

Marina fire destroys, damages boats

Photos of the fire scene were taken by Sheriff’s Sgt. Marc Maison.

Two boats were destroyed and one damaged by fire at Pancho’s Fuel Dock at Burdine’s Waterfront early today in Marathon.

Firefighters and deputies responded to reports of a fire on a 30 foot powerboat at 4:50 a.m. The fire quickly spread to a second boat as deputies attempted to evacuate the surrounding area.

By 5:30, firefighters had knocked down the fire on both vessels and by 6 a.m. the fires were extinguished. Two boats were reported to be destroyed and a third damaged in the blaze.

The Fire Marshalls Office will be investigating the cause of the blaze.

May 3, 2013

Sheriff speaks in Tallahassee

Members of the Sheriff’s Office in Tallahassee last week for Victim’s Rights Week also attended a tree planting ceremony at the Parole Commission to honor victims of crimes. Sheriff Rick Ramsay was asked  to make closing remarks at the ceremony. The Parole Commission is, for the first time, including the concerns of victims in their mission statement.

Sheriff's Office helps in clean up

A group from the Sheriff’s Office helped out painting Samuel’s House in Key West. Samuel’s House is a shelter for homeless women and children.

Jail helps clean up Crane Point

Sgt. Juan Morales and Lt. James Sheagren brought a group of inmates to Crane Point Museum and Nature Center recently to help clean up  a room full of heavy furniture and other items which needed to be disposed of. They cleaned up over 2,000 pounds of trash and even cleaned the room afterward!

Money for American Cancer Society

District Seven handed over a check for $600 to the American Cancer Society this week. The money was raised by holding a soup lunch at the Roth Building recently. In the picture, Captain Don Fanelli, Sheriff Rick Ramsay, Renee Gilbert from the American Cancer Society and Records Supervisor Peggy Bryan who organized the luncheon.

Major Crimes supports KAIR

The Major Crimes Unit has adopted KAIR and Independence Cay for their continuing Community Service project. KAIR / Independence Cay provides transitional housing for the homeless and works to return people to self supporting productive lives. The unit will be picking up donated food from Winn Dixie on a weekly basis and Detective Dan Mehler repaired three computers for them. 

Officers visit students at Stanley Switlik School

 Sgt. Dennis Coleman, Deputy Syd Whitehouse, Detective Nick Whiteman, Sgt. Mike DiGiovanni, and Reserve Deputy Bobby Randolph all attended a career day at Stanley Switlik Elementary School this week.

Coolest Cops

Dep. Nelson Sanchez from Islamorada District  and Capt Don Fanelli from Key Largo District both tied for runner up in the 2013 Conch Republic Northern Most territory “Cream of the Crop” competition for “COOLEST COP”. Not shown here is Capt Corey Bryan from Islamorada District who came in first place.

Congratulations on Promotion!

Congratulations to Syd Whitehouse who was promoted to sergeant this week.

Clean up scheduled in Islamorada

The Sheriff’s Office will be sponsoring a clean up May 18th in Islamorada. Everyone is welcome to turn out and help, starting at 9 a.m. Meet at the Papa Jo’s property. Target areas include Tea Table, Lignumvitae and Indian Key Fill. 

May 2, 2013

Weekend event may impact Upper Keys traffic

A semi-annual motorcycle event may impact traffic for a short time in the Upper Keys on Sunday.

Members of the Police Officers Assistance Trust (POAT) will be traveling by motorcycle in a group this Sunday from Miami to Islamorada during their semi-annual Cops Ride for Kids. All proceeds of the fund raising event will benefit the surviving children of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. This year, POAT has 59 children enrolled in the program.

The ride starts in Miami at 9 a.m. Sheriff’s deputies will be strategically positioned along the highway to help the riders pass safely and to keep other traffic moving as smoothly as possible. Please be patient when you see these officers riding on the highway. It is for a good cause.

Rods and reels stolen in burglary

Sheriff’s detectives in Marathon are investigating a burglary in which over $16,000 worth of fishing rods and reels were stolen . Detective Nick Whiteman wants people to keep an eye out for anyone trying to sell fishing equipment that might be this stolen property.

On April 30th, deputies responded to 97th Street Ocean in Marathon to reports of a residential burglary. Deputy Garrett Test talked with the victim, who said his rods and reels had been stolen, along with a 50 inch flat screen television set. The deputy found a window unlocked which may have been the point of entry.

There have been a number of break ins in various areas of the county with fishing equipment stolen. Fishing equipment has also been reported stolen from docks, fishing boats and storage sheds. The Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone not to leave such equipment anywhere where it is easily accessible. As shown by this crime, that won’t necessarily guarantee it’s security, but taking the precaution of locking up expensive marine equipment would prevent a majority of the crimes reported to the Sheriff’s Office.

In addition, anyone attempting to sell such equipment on the street, door to door or for an absurdly low price should be a clue that there is something wrong. If someone tries to sell you any type of property, make sure you call the Sheriff’s Office before purchasing it. If the person selling it to you is above board, they should have no problem having a law enforcement officer check it first to make sure it is not stolen before making the transaction. If they do not agree, do not purchase the property. If you do, and you suspect it might be stolen, you could face charges.

Anyone with information about this, or any felony crime should contact the Sheriff’s Office. Callers who may also contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a tipster calles Crime Stoppers, the caller can remain anonymous and, if a tip leads to an arrest in the case, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted on line at

Two men wanted for stealing GPS units

Warrants have been issued for the arrest of two Hialeah men. They are accused electronic equipment from boats parked behind homes in Key Largo. Both men were identified by fingerprints found at the scenes of the crimes.

41 year old Omar Mora Martinez’ fingerprints were found on board a boat that had been burglarized in October of 2012 on Cactus Street in Key Largo. A Garmin GPS and a depth sounder were taken from the boat, valued at a total of $2,600. Damage was done to the boat’s electrical wiring during the process of the theft.

27 year old Luis Sanifel’s fingerprints were found on board a boat that had been burglarized on Mockingbird Road in Key Largo.  A GPS and a depth sounder were taken from the boat, valued at a total of $4,800. Damage was done to the boat’s electrical wiring during the process of the theft.

Both men are wanted for burglary, grand theft, trespassing and criminal mischief.

Anyone with information about where these men are should contact the Sheriff’s Office. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a tip called in to Crime Stoppers leads to an arrest in the case, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted on line at

Man arrested for stealing from employer

Seized dump truck
A Key Largo man was arrested today and faces charges of stealing from a former employer, Amerigas.

The company called the Sheriff’s Office in April to report the crimes. They told Detective Robert Dosh a previous employee – 50 year old Elby Alonso – worked for them between July and November of 2012 delivering propane tanks. While working for the company, he was issued a fleet fuel card which he was allowed to use to fuel the truck he was driving while he worked.

Seized pickup truck
The company let him go because they suspected he was stealing propane tanks and selling them on the side. They also suspected he was using his company fuel card to fuel his personal vehicles.

Once he was terminated, his fuel cards were terminated as well.  A short time later, though, the district manager of the company noticed a fuel card belonging to a vehicle that was no longer in service was being used on a regular basis. Between December and April, the card was used to charge approximately $8,000 worth of fuel.

The company’s security technician investigated the use of the card initially. He traced the employee pin number being used with the card to an employee in Key West. He then discovered the card was being used in Key Largo when the employee whose pin was being used was at work in Key West, so he knew someone else was fraudulently using the pin number and signing for the fuel card. The card was being used in Key Largo to purchase large amounts of fuel, including a large amount of diesel. The district manager knew Alonso owned a dump truck and suspected he was the one using the card to fuel the dump truck.

A trace was put on the card so the manger would be notified when it was being used. On Wednesday, Detective Dosh followed Alonso and saw him fuel the dump truck at the Hess Gas Station in Key Largo. At the same time as he was fueling the truck, the manager received notification the card was being used fraudulently.

In addition, a customer of Amerigas told the district manager Alonso had tried to sell him propane tanks belonging to the company for cash. An inventory revealed approximately 20 – 30 propane tanks are missing from the company and unaccounted for.

Alonso was arrested Thursday. He was charged with grand theft, fraudulent use of a credit card, fraudulently using another person’s identity and fraudulently signing another person’s name. His pickup truck and his dump truck were both seized for possible forfeiture.