July 31, 2013

Marker flare recovered

This large military marker flare was recovered by the Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad at Bahia Honda State Park. The Bomb Squad has been called to the park twice in two weeks to recover such flares. This one was found on top of a trash barrel in the park, where someone apparently placed it after finding it either on the beach or in the water. Bomb Squad Leader Sgt. Mike Digiovanni would like to remind everyone not to touch such items when you find them. Instead, mark or note their location and call the Sheriff’s Office. Our trained bomb squad members are equipped to safely remove them and dispose of them.

July 30, 2013

Update on vehicle burglaries

·         Detectives are still investigating a series of vehicle burglaries which were reported yesterday. A total of 12 vehicles were burglarized at the north end of the Seven Mile Bridge, on Grassy Key at the Dolphin Research Center, at the Long Key Bridge and at Robbie’s Marina on Lower Matecumbe Key. Suspects smashed out windows on all the vehicles, taking valuables from inside. Several possible suspects have been identified, although none have yet been charged in connection with the vehicle burglaries. Detectives have recovered some of the stolen items. They do expect to make arrests in connection with the case.

Two rescued from water after jumping from bridge

Two men who jumped from the Vaca Cut Bridge at 2:15 a.m. today were rescued by Sheriff’s Office Marine Deputy Wilfredo Guerra.

19 year old John Gelnaw and 20 year old Alec Ferguson of Ormond Beach jumped from the bridge for unknown reasons. Another man who was in the area called the Sheriff’s Office and said he could hear them yelling for help as they floated with the current out toward the bayside.

Deputy Wilfredo Guerra responded on his vessel and, after the two were in the water for about an hour, he was able to locate them and pull them onto his boat.

The two were checked out by rescue units and were uninjured by their escapade.

Detectives investigate vehicle burglaries

Sheriff’s detectives are investigating eight vehicle burglaries which took place between Grassy Key and the 77.5 mile marker on Lower Matecumbe Key Monday afternoon.

Vehicles parked at the Dolphin Research Center, the Long Key Bridge and in the vicinity of Robbie’s Marina on Lower Matecumbe Key all had windows smashed out and items taken from inside. Stolen items included cell phones, tablet computers, cameras, cash, credit cards and jewelry.

Deputies conducted a traffic stop at the 90 mile marker on a suspect vehicle they had information might have been involved in the crimes. The vehicle, which had four people inside, fled from the traffic stop. Deputies pursued and one of the vehicle’s tires came off at the 91 mile marker. It turned onto Coconut Row, stopped and all four people inside jumped out and ran.

Two women from the car were found hiding nearby. One male was later found waiting at a nearby bus stop and was arrested for giving deputies a false name. The driver of the car was not found.

Items, including check books and electronic equipment, were found discarded in the same area where the suspects fled. The items were turned over to detectives to determine if they were items stolen during the vehicle burglaries.

The women were not arrested. Investigations into the case continue.

July 29, 2013

Detective asks for help in stolen boat case

A Sheriff’s detective assigned to investigate a stolen boat case is asking for the public’s assistance.

The boat’s owner lives in Virginia Beach. On July 8th, he parked the vessel, a 2008 38 foot Edgewater with twin 350 Yamaha engines, at his friend’s home at 2650 Manor Lane in Marathon. When he returned on July 23rd, he found the boat gone. He immediately called the Sheriff’s Office to report the missing vessel. The boat and all the equipment on board is valued at approximately $160,000.

Detective Nicholis Whiteman is the investigating detective on the case.

Anyone with information about this crime should contact the Sheriff’s Office. Callers may also contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Tipsters 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 www.tipsubmit.com.

Diver reported missing; found dead

The man found dead in the water just offshore of Marathon yesterday is identified as 65 year old Manuel Duran. Duran lived on a boat anchored just off shore, near where his body was found.The body of a diver who was reported missing has been found offshore of Marathon.

The 65 year old man was last seen by family members Saturday, when he left to go fishing and diving. His niece called the Sheriff’s Office this morning (Monday) at 11 a.m. to report him missing. She said he was possibly diving at the north end of the Seven Mile Bridge.

A search was conducted by the Sheriff’s Office, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Coast Guard.  His body was recovered just before 2 p.m. floating about 100 yards from the Seven Mile Marina in Marathon.

No further information is currently available. Detectives are still working on the case.

Kid's clean up in Marathon

Sgt. Dennis Coleman organized a Kid's clean up in Marathon, at Crane Point Museum and Nature Center this past Saturday. A group of community minded kids and their parents had a great time picking up trash around the area, and then spent time at the museum and nature center afterwards.

Big Pine man arrested for baseball bat attack

A 19 year old Big Pine man was arrested early today for aggravated battery after he repeatedly hit another man with a metal baseball bat.

Deputy Andrew Hudson responded to a 911 hang up call from a house on Avenue F, Big Pine Key at 11:50 p.m. Sunday. The woman who lives at the house where the call originated told the deputy she called because there was a group of people outside her house. She said she hung up because the group left the area.

As Deputy Hudson was leaving, he saw a small group of people still in the area. He stopped to speak to them. One of them said there had been a fight. He said 19 year old Craig Veitinger had been in the street with a baseball bat. He said a man named Max had fled into the woods when Deputy Hudson showed up.

Deputy Hudson attempted to find “Max” in the area with no success.

A few hours later, Deputy Hudson was at the Tom Thumb convenience store on Big Pine Key when a red Dodge Durango pulled up. A male passenger in the truck told the deputy there was an injured man, 22 year old Max Sanchez, in the vehicle. He said Sanchez had been hit several times with a baseball bat and might have a broken arm. Deputy Hudson found Sanchez laying in the back seat of the vehicle, unresponsive, He had blood on his clothing and an obviously broken arm. Sanchez was airlifted to the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami for injuries to his body and his head. He is currently in stable condition. The others in the Durango said they found Sanchez in the bushes on Avenue F, unresponsive. They told Deputy Hudson a possible suspect was at Seahorse Campground on Big Pine Key.

Deputy Hudson went to Seahorse Campground and found a number of witnesses who said they saw Veitinger hit Sanchez repeatedly with a metal baseball bat.

Veitinger was found at his residence, the house on Avenue F where the original 911 call came from. He had a cut on his mouth and smelled strongly of alcohol. He said he’d been hit in the face by Sanchez. He said he saw a bat on the ground, but did not remember using it on Sanchez. He was taken to the hospital where he received stitches for the cut on his mouth. He was then  arrested and charged with aggravated battery.

July 26, 2013

Fundraiser for Special Olympics

Fishing seminar

Deputy Nelson Sanchez and FWC Officer Bobby Dube recently spoke to the Islamorada Fishing Club about new ordinaces, fishing laws and regulations in the Florida Keys.

Certificate of Appreciation

Capt. Don Fanelli and Col. Bill Cameron presented a certificate of appreciation to Robert Nickel. Nickel helped foil a burglary in his neighborhood by confronting three suspects trying to force their way into a home. He got their tag number and called the Sheriff’s Office. All three were arrested.

Mural finishes clean up in Marathon

To finish up a clean up project in Marathon, a blank wall at 6200 Overseas Hwy was painted by artist Marianne Motches, Deputy Linda Kohout and Sgt. Dennis Coleman. Supplies came from Motches and Keys Cops for Kids. Looks great!

Bike safety class

Sgt. Eric Mixon, Deputies Ray Jodlowski and Larry O’Neill and Reserve Officer Clevenger held a bike safety class at St. James Children’s Center in Islamorada. They taught kids about the rules of the road, how to do hand signals and bicycle safety.

Sunshine Key graffiti eradicated

A large amount of graffiti showed up recently on Sunshine Key, on bridges, signs, poles, pipes and trash cans. District One members were busy for a few days painting out the unsightly mess. See the before and after pictures of the Ohio-Missouri bridge and, Det. Sgt. Donnie Catala painting over some graffiti on the side of it. He, Lt. Donnie Elomina and Capt. Gene Thompson stopped Tuesday to help with the graffiti eradication efforts.

July 25, 2013

Diver dies offshore of Plantation Key

A scuba diver died today in the waters offshore of Plantation Key.

Sheriff’s detectives are investigating the case. The victim, a 52 year old male from Pennsylvania, was in a private vessel with two male friends. They were in the area of Davis Reef. He and one of the friends were diving together. The victim signaled that he wanted to surface. The two of them surfaced, but as the friend was removing his dive gear he looked back and saw that the victim had slipped back under the surface.

The friend went back underwater and pulled the victim to the boat. He was unresponsive. A passing boater stopped and helped get the victim into the boat. A call was made to 911. The victim’s friends started CPR and started for shore. They brought the victim in to Tavernier Creek Marina where paramedics took over and transported him to Mariner’s Hospital.

The man was pronounced dead at Mariner’s Hospital. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death. As a courtesy to the victim’s family the Sheriff’s Office is withholding his name until they can be notified of his death.

It is unknown if the three men were participating in two day sport lobster season activities.

Sexual Predator notification

Note: I am told Campana is only here temporarily for a construction job and will be returning to his permanent address in New Port Richey, Florida.

The Sheriff’s Office has been notified by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that a court designated Sexual Predator has registered his new address in Marathon.

Daniel Alan Campana, 45, registered his new address with FDLE as 7196 Overseas Highway in Marathon. According to a Florida Department of Corrections web site, Campana was in prison from November of 1996 until September of 2005 after being charged under Florida Statute 794.011(2)(a) “Person 18 or older commits sexual battery and/or injures sexual organs of a victim less than 12”, a capital felony crime. The DOC web site does not indicate that Campana is currently under any kind of probation or parole.

The Sheriff’s Office is required by law to notify the community when someone designated as a Sexual Predator moves into the county and registers as a resident here.

July 24, 2013

Sport lobster season relatively quiet so far

So far, the two day sport lobster season has been a relatively quiet one in the Florida Keys. Deputies have been out all day checking boat ramps, looking in coolers and doing boat checks on the water. The extra patrols will continue through tomorrow as the Sheriff’s Office does its best to keep everyone operating within the law, and keep everyone safe.

In thephotos (Photo credit to Sheriff’s Sgt. Glenn Test):

Deputy Wilfredo Guerra and Detective Nick Whiteman have been patrolling all day together on a Waverunner, checking boats and patrolling the shoreline for anyone who might be in violation of the law and county ordinances. In the photo, Deputy Guerra holds a seized short lobster over Detective Whiteman’s head joking around before returning the crustacean alive to the water.

Deputy Wilfredo Guerra goes to great lengths to check out what people might be up to in the water. Here, he jumped into the water to recover six undersized lobster and an egg bearing stone crab from this man who was snorkeling at the 69 mile marker on the bayside today. The man was cited for his violations.

National Night Out events scheduled county-wide

Officers visit with the community at last year's Key Largo event.
On Tuesday, August 6th, the Sheriff's Office will sponsor National Night Out events in the Upper, Middle and Lower Keys. All of the events will feature food, refreshments, and a great chance to meet your neighbors, members of the Sheriff’s Office from a wide variety of divisions, departments and special teams and many others who are involved in the field of public safety here in the Florida Keys.

The goal of National Night Out is to bring the community together to discuss how we can all make our neighborhoods safer and more secure in the future. The Sheriff's Office will have extensive Crime Prevention information to share at the event. Community members will learn how to heighten their crime and drug prevention awareness.

The Sheriff’s Office hopes to generate support for, and participation in, local anti-crime programs and strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships. Everyone participating will send a message to criminals letting them know that Monroe County neighborhoods are organized and fighting back against crime.

“This yearly event is an important one for agency. We get the opportunity to meet the people we are charged with serving and protecting,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “National Night Out is a lot of fun for us, and for those who attend. I hope everyone will take this opportunity to meet their neighbors, learn about Crime Prevention and meet the deputies who are out there patrolling our community and keeping it safe,” he said.

The Key Largo event will be Tuesday, August 6th from 6 – 8 p.m. at Key Largo Community Park located at the 99mm of Highway U.S. One. Captain Don Fanelli and Lieutenant Mitch Horn want to invite the entire community to attend their free event. Members of the Sheriff’s Office will be on hand, along with others from the public safety community; there will be food, refreshments, music and lots of fun.

The Islamorada National Night Out event will be held at Founder’s Park in Islamorada Tuesday, August 6th from 6 to 8 p.m. Captain Corey Bryan and Lt. Derek Paul invite everyone to join them and have some fun. Visit with members of the Sheriff’s Office, Islamorada Fire/Rescue and other public safety and community groups. There will be free food, music and refreshments.

The Marathon event will be held on Tuesday, August 6th from 6 to 8 p.m. at Marathon Community Park. Captain Chad Scibilia, Lt. Bruce Winegarden and Lt. Nancy Alvarez invite everyone to join them and have some fun. There will be free food and refreshments, and residents will be able to visit many law enforcement, public safety and community groups at the event. The Masonic Lodge Child ID trailer will be on hand, along with the Blood Mobile.  The Sheriff’s Office will also partner with local Rotary clubs and the UNITED WAY at National Night Out for the annual Stuff the Bus campaign, collecting school supplies for needy Monroe County students.

The Lower Keys Sheriff’s Office will hold a National Night Out event at Bernstein Park on Stock Island, Tuesday, August 6th  from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. This event will feature a special appearance by Farmer Jeanne Selander and a selection of animals from the Sheriff’s Office Animal Farm. A wide variety of law enforcement and other public safety agencies will be on hand as well.

Event will benefit the Animal Farm

An upcoming shopping event will benefit the Sheriff’s Office Animal Farm.

The “Animal Jam Shop and  Share” at Lilly Pulitzer in Key West will be held on August 3rd from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Shop their fall collection and visit with some special guests from the Animal Farm who will make an appearance at the event.

Refreshments will be served and exclusive gifts will be given away with a $250 purchase (while supplies last). Ten percent of the sales during the event will benefit the Sheriff’s Office Animal Farm. Lilly Pulitzer is located at 600 Front Street.

Upper Keys clean up yields large amounts of trash

 Sheriff’s Office warns illegal dumping will be prosecuted

On July 12th, a clean up in the Harry Harris Subdivision in Tavernier resulted in the removal of a large amount of trash that had accumulated in the area with the assistance of Bruce Williams from Advanced Disposal Services.

Upper Keys Captain Don Fanelli says much of the trash came from an area outside the rear gates of Ocean Point Condos, in the area of Planters Point. He says this area has, in the past, been used by the community as a dumping area because it is the place where the condominium complex places its trash for pickup.

“We have asked the condos not to use this area for trash disposal anymore and we are asking everyone else not to dump their trash here either,” said Captain Fanelli. “We have put up signs warning people about illegal dumping and we will be patrolling the area with this specific issue in mind. If necessary, other types of surveillance will be used as well. We want to work with the community to keep this area clean,” he said.

The Sheriff’s Office is encouraging people to call 305-289-2351 immediately if they see anyone illegally dumping anywhere in the county. Illegal dumpers will be prosecuted if they are caught.

Neighbor caught burglarizing Key Largo home

A Key Largo man was caught burglarizing a deceased neighbor’s home Tuesday morning.

The elderly owner of the home on Janet Place in Key Largo is dead and a roommate of hers who still lives in the home called the Sheriff’s Office just before 11 a.m. to report someone was inside. The roommate was inside as well. He’d locked himself in his room. He told dispatchers there were video cameras inside the home and he was monitoring the suspect’s progress as he rummaged through the house. He gave dispatcher’s a description of the suspect from the video feeds.

When Deputy Christian Galls arrived, he found 45 year old Eddy Lopez Jemot walking quickly away from the house. Lopez Jemot fit the suspect’s description so he was detained. He claimed to have permission to be in the house from the owner’s relatives, although he did not know the name of the person who gave him permission. He had three debit cards in his pocket which had the dead woman’s name on them. Lopez Jemot lived nearby, in the same neighborhood.

The owner’s son was contacted and told Deputy Galls Lopez Jemot did not have permission to be inside the home. The suspect was arrested. He was charged with burglary and theft and he was booked into jail.

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

Author Peter Parente, Farmer Jeanne Selander and Mo the Sloth.

The Sheriff's Animal Farm will be open this Sunday July 28th, 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).

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 www.facebook.com/KeysAnimalFarm

July 23, 2013

Duck Key construction light to be closely monitored this weekend

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office is expecting heavy traffic on the weekend following the Lobster mini season, particularly north bound on Highway U.S. One on July 27th and 28th.

On the Memorial Day holiday weekend, we experienced a severe traffic backup miles long due to the temporary construction light installed on U.S. One at the entrance to Duck Key. In an effort to avoid this happening again this weekend, the Sheriff’s Office will be manually controlling the intersection at the entrance to Duck Key.
As officers control the light, the main priority will be to maintain traffic flow along the highway. We anticipate this may cause a significant delay of up to 20 minutes for vehicles exiting Duck Key.

We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause, and ask that you plan ahead for these anticipated delays.

Inmate dies of apparent natural causes

An inmate in the Stock Island detention center died of apparent natural causes this morning.

The 67 year old man was arrested July 18th on drug related charges. According to detectives, he had a number of medical issues and was being routinely checked by nurses in the facility. One of the nurses did such a routine check on him at 5:50 a.m. today and he checked out with no problems. A short time later, a corrections deputy on duty in Dorm F spoke with him, asking him how he was feeling. The man said he was feeling fine.

At 6:11 a.m., the same officer noticed the man was laying on his bunk, pale and taking shallow breaths. He notified the jail medical unit. The man stopped breathing. Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation was performed and an AED unit was also used in an effort to revive him. Paramedics responded to the jail and the man was transported to Lower Keys Hospital, where he was declared dead.

Detective Manny Cuervo said there was no sign of trauma on the body, and video cameras inside the jail captured the entire incident, confirming the account of events given by the corrections deputy on duty. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of the man’s death.

Sheriff’s detectives will be working with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; this partnership is routine in the event of an inmate death.

Detective Manny Cuervo is attempting to locate the man’s next of kin to notify them of his death as a courtesy to them, before releasing his name to the public.

July 22, 2013

Clean Up – Stock Island


The Sheriff’s Office invites the community to help us clean up the area between Murray Marine and the Key Haven Boat Ramp on Saturday morning.

Starting at 8:30 a.m. on July 27th, members of the Sheriff’s Office will be spending a couple of hours picking up accumulated trash along the highway between Murray Marine and the Key Haven Boat Ramp. Anyone can come help in the effort.

“We are proud of our community, and we want to help to keep it clean and crime free,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “We are conducting clean ups in various areas county-wide because we believe taking care of the small stuff is just as important as taking care of the big stuff. Commitment to Community is one of our core values here at the Sheriff’s Office and this is just one way we have of showing how important our community is to us.”

Two day sport lobster season is this week

The Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone the two day sport lobster season is coming up this week. Anyone who plans to participate in catching lobster in Monroe County during the two day season on July 24th and 25th should make sure to familiarize themselves with both state law and with local ordinances in the Florida Keys.

The Sheriff’s Office will have extra patrols at boat ramps, bridges and on the water during the two day season. Anyone caught with illegal lobster will be charged accordingly. All Sheriff’s Office boats will be on patrol, and deputies will also be operating a number of WaveRunners donated to the Sheriff’s Office by Riva South Motorsports. Riva South donates the WaveRunners  each year to be used for law enforcement purposes such as this, as well as for regular patrols of hard to reach shoreline areas and residential canals.

According to state law, during the two-day sport lobster season, recreational divers and snorkelers can take up to six lobsters per person daily in Monroe County. Spiny lobsters must have a carapace length greater than 3 inches to be legally taken during the open season. Divers must possess a measuring device, and lobsters must be in the water while they are measured. Harvest of egg-bearing females is prohibited. Spiny lobsters must remain in whole condition until they are brought to shore. Harvesters cannot use any device that might puncture, penetrate or crush the shell of the lobster. Night diving for spiny lobsters during the two-day sport season is not allowed in Monroe County, and all harvest of lobsters is prohibited in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park during the two-day season. Lobster harvest is also prohibited at all times in Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, Biscayne Bay/Card Sound Spiny Lobster Sanctuary, certain areas in Pennekamp Park, and no-take areas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

A Monroe County ordinance makes it “unlawful for any person to dive or snorkel in any manmade water body or marina, or within 300 feet of an improved residential or commercial shoreline beginning three days prior to the opening of and during the entirety of the lobster mini-season and for the first five days of commercial lobster season.” This ordinance also applies in the cities of Marathon and Islamorada, except that the restriction does not apply in Marathon the first five days of the commercial season.

You must have a recreational saltwater fishing license and a spiny lobster permit to recreationally harvest spiny lobsters unless you are exempt from recreational license requirements. Information about these licenses and permits is available online at MyFWC.com/License.

Commercial fishermen may begin putting their traps in the water Aug. 1, and recreational and commercial fishermen may harvest spiny lobsters starting Aug. 6.

Before, during and just after the two day sport season there will be more boats and trailers on the roadways, and more traffic in general. Sheriff Rick Ramsay wants to remind everyone to drive carefully. Pay attention to those around you, be patient and don’t pass in no passing zones. Drinking and driving is, of course, illegal; drunk boating is also illegal and our officers will be watching for this dangerous behavior on the water as well as on the roadways of the county.

 “We enjoy all the visitors here in the Keys during the two day sport season,” said Sheriff Ramsay. “But we want to make sure everyone is aware of the law, and is behaving in a responsible, and safe, manner.”

Three cited for over the limit mangrove snapper

Key Largo – Three men from Miami were cited for fishing violations early today after they were caught in possession of 73 Grey / Mangrove Snappers – well over the limit of five per person.

Sheriff’s dispatchers received information from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 2:30 a.m.  that a silver Honda Pilot was northbound in Key Largo and may be carrying a large number of Grey / Mangrove Snapper. Deputy Tony Conde stopped the car at the 104 mile marker. Deputy Diosvel Fumero backed him up, along with Sgt. Sydney Whitehouse.

Three men in the car told the deputies they had been on a “party boat” out of Marathon and had fish from the boat in two coolers in the car. They opened the coolers, showing the deputies a large number of the fish – a total of 73 in all – 58 over the limit for three people.

42 year old Shawn Francis, 24 year old Xavier Carrasquillo and 18 year old Shaquille Francis were all cited for possessing over the limit Grey / Mangrove Snappers.

July 19, 2013

Warrant sweep nets eight arrests, clears 26 warrants

Detectives with the Special Investigations Division wrapped up a five month narcotics investigation in Marathon, arresting eight people on 26 charges Thursday. The investigation targeted suspects selling drugs in the area of Marathon. Several more arrests are expected in connection with the investigation.

Participating in the Marathon warrant sweep was Customs and Border Protection, Drug Enforcement Administration, Marathon HIDTA and Sheriff deputies.

The following suspects were arrested:
Maikel Martinez-Alvarez, 32, of Marathon.
Two counts sale of cocaine, one count use of a two way communications device to facilitate a felony.

Hiram  Cancel, 26, of Marathon.
Two counts purchase of cocaine, two counts sale of cocaine and one count of use of a two way communications device to facilitate a felony.
Lazaro Hernandez, 64, of Marathon.
Four counts sale of cocaine.
Leonardo Perez-Serrano, 50, of Marathon.
Three counts each of sale of cocaine and use of a two way communications device to facilitate a felony.
Manuel Suarez, 59, of Marathon.
3 counts sale of cocaine.
Enrique Valdes, Sr., 57, of Marathon.
3 counts sale of cocaine.
Karl Lobsinger, 67, of Marathon.
Trafficking in Hydrocodone and sale of Hydrocodone.
Yandy Carrillo, 27, of Marathon.

Possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.

Woman dies on dive trip

A woman from Merritt Island, Florida died while on a dive trip offshore of Islamorada Thursday afternoon.

54 year old Joy Meyers was on board a vessel owned by Key Dives of Islamorada. She was diving with a group of divers and a guide on Patch reef at a depth of about 23 feet when she indicated she was having some kind of trouble. The guide escorted her to the surface. Meyers got back on board the vessel around 2 p.m. and the guide returned to the water to continue with the other divers. Meyers sat down on a bench and began removing her gear. She indicated she was “feeling tired”.

A short time later, a crew member noticed she was sitting on the bench with her chin on her chest. He checked her and she was not breathing. The other divers were called back to the boat and CPR was begun on Meyers.

The boat returned to the dock, meeting paramedics at Bud and Mary’s Marina. Meyers was taken to Mariner’s Hospital where she was declared dead. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of her death.

July 12, 2013

Update: suspect to be charged with arson

Update, Friday 7:45 p.m.: After consultation between the Monroe County State Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s detectives, Stuart James Collins has been further charged with attempted second degree murder. Other charges against him include arson with great bodily injury and arson with property damage.

The North Carolina Man who allegedly lit a truck on fire early today, severely injuring a man inside, will be charged with two second degree felony counts of arson, according to detectives.

Stuart James Collins, 28 years old, from Jamestown, North Carolina will be charged today with arson with great bodily harm and arson with property damage. The victim in the case, 52 year old Jose Gonzales, remains in critical condition at Ryder Trauma Center in Miami, suffering from second and third degree burns to 61% of his body, including on his arms, legs, back and head.

Initial investigations lead detectives to believe the two men had words in JJ’s Doghouse bar just prior to the fire, possibly arguing over a woman. Collins lit the truck on fire using a gasoline can which he overturned and lighted. The work truck, owned by Florida Paving and Trucking, had a tank of diesel fuel and a generator on it. There were several explosions resulting from the fire. Gonzales was in the cab of the truck when it burned. As firefighters and deputies arrived, they heard the explosions and saw Gonzales jump from the truck, on fire. He was severely injured. The building housing JJ’s Doghouse bar was also damaged by the fire and explosions.

Collins initially fled the scene. He eventually returned the scene of the fire and was apprehended there this afternoon.

The Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit is working together with the State Fire Marshall’s Office on the investigation.

Explorers compete at State Delegate's conference

 Sheriff’s Office Explorers traveled to Port St. Lucie to compete and to learn at this year’s Explorer Delegates Conference. Advisor/SRO Deputy Will Schlegelmilch and Deputy Dahlgren Marks went along as chaperones for the team of 23 Explorers who attended. Competing in firearms, Explorer Thomas Mirabella was in the Sharpshooter classification with a score of 409 out of possible 500 and placed 3rd in 38 caliber revolvers. Explorer Kyle Cassidy participated with the 9mm semi automatic Glock 19 and placed 2nd in the Marksman category with a score of 389/500. Other events included Felony Stops, Unknown Traffic stops, Officer down, Crime Scene, Drill, Building Searches, and a Physical Agility Test. In these events our team placed 3rd in building searches with Kayle Perez, Amberlyn Casas, Harry Normington and Ryan Ramos competing; second in Drill thanks to Deputy E.B. Askins who assisted with Drill team training. In the PAT test, Cindy Zaldivar had the fastest girls score with a 4:26 time and Amberlyn Casas had the second fastest time of 4:38. Events such as this give our Explorers a great idea of at what they have to look forward to with a law enforcement career. All of those who participate also appreciate all the support they get from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. Thanks goes out to Deputy Marks for his hard work during the week. He had a huge impact with the kids. He went above and beyond in participating in all of the training, and working with other counties. Deputy Schlegelmilch said he got many comments praising Deputy Marks and his participation.

Delivering food to the needy

Detective Sgt. Linda Mixon and Detective Rosa Digiovanni deliver food to Kair in Marathon. KAIR is a Food Pantry and provides Emergency Services for those in Need in the Florida Keys.

Golf raises money for Special Olympics

A recent golf tournament, organized by Sheriff’s Office member Jo Socha, raised $8,000 for the Special Olympics. $1,000 of it was donated by Sheriff’s Deputy Garrett Bragg. Accepting the check was Scott Hart and MARC Board members Susan Harrison and Rick Ramsay.

North Carolina man believed to have set truck fire that burned Homestead man

UPDATE, 11:56 a.m. - It seems we have Stuart James Collins in our custody, without further incident. Will post an update with details later. Collins is the man we believe lit a truck on fire, injuring a Homestead man in the process early today in Marathon.

Marathon – Detectives say they need help locating a man they believe to be responsible for setting a truck on fire in Marathon early today. A Homestead man was severely burned in the fire and is in critical condition at the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami.

52 year old Jose Gonzales suffered second and third degree burns over 61% of his body when his work truck was set on fire. The truck was parked near the Dog House bar on 107th Street in Marathon when the fire occurred at 3:45 a.m. today. Major Crimes Detective Manny Cuervo said he would like to locate 28 year old Stuart James Collins. Collins is a white male, about six foot one inches tall with a slim build who has short blonde hair, hazel or blue eyes. Investigations at the scene and interviews with witnesses led detectives to believe Collins is the one who set the fire.

The truck that burned belonged to Florida Paving and Trucking Incorporated out of Homestead.

Anyone with information about this crime should contact the Sheriff’s Office. Callers may also contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Tipsters 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 www.tipsubmit.com.

28 year old Stuart James Collins
28 year old Stuart James Collins
Truck that burned in Marathon early today.

Vehicle arson fire seriously injures one

Marathon – A vehicle fire at a 107th Street bar this morning sent one person to a Miami hospital with severe burns.

Detectives and the Fire Marshall's Office will be investigating the fire, which is believed to be arson.
A person from the Dog House bar called the Sheriff’s Office at 3:43 a.m. to report a truck on fire. He said he was evacuating everyone from the bar in case the fire escalated.

Deputies and firefighters responded. One man was found to have been injured in the fire. 52 year old Jose Gonzales of Homestead was airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center for treatment of severe burns.

Major Crimes Detective Manny Cuervo says it appears Gonzales was inside the cab of his work truck, possibly sleeping or resting when someone appears to have lit it on fire by tipping over a gas can and lighting the fuel.

Gonzales worked for Florida Paving and Trucking Incorporated out of Homestead. Also on the truck was a generator and a tank of diesel fuel. There were several explosions reported as the truck burned.

Investigations are continuing. The Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit and the Fire Marshall's Office are working together on the case.

July 11, 2013

Traffic Safety Zone for July


On a monthly basis, the Sheriff's Traffic Enforcement Unit will be focusing on various problem areas in the Florida Keys, targeting violations which have been an issue in those areas.

In July, the Traffic Enforcement Unit will be working the four-lane in the Lower Keys from College Road to Mile Marker 10. They will focus on speeding, failing to move over for emergency vehicles, improper passing and careless driving.

They will, of course, also be paying attention to other violations as well, but these in particular will be a priority.

Sexual Predator notification

A man designated by the courts as a Sexual Predator was recently released from prison and told the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) he intends to reside at a Key Largo address now that he is not incarcerated.

The Sheriff’s Office is required by law to notify the community when someone designated as a Sexual Predator moves into the county and registers as a resident here. 35 year old Miguel Soto gives his new address as 516 Boyd Drive in Key Largo, according to a notice from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

A web site operated by the FDOC says Soto was arrested on a number of charges in Miami-Dade County in July of 1996, including multiple counts of burglary and sexual battery. The web site also says that he will be under community supervision on “sex offender probation” until July of 2016.

July 10, 2013

Marathon clean up canceled; will be rescheduled

Due to Tropical Storm Chantal, the clean up scheduled this Saturday for Coco Plum Beach in Marathon is canceled. Sorry! We will reschedule it for a future date and let you know.

July 9, 2013

Stock Island clean up planned

Marathon clean up planned

This clean up is cancelled and will be rescheduled.

Sheriff's Office cleans up near Boca Chica Bridge

Deputies and detectives cleaned up an area by the Boca Chica Bridge, adjacent to the bicycle path where campers and homeless folks left their trash and debris. Thanks to Community Partner Waste Management and Greg Sullivan for their help, and for the help from the Corrections Bureau - they provided inmate workers to assist with the project.

Inmates cleaning the highway

Inmates were out twice last week, cleaning up the highway in the middle and upper Keys picking up trash and debris.

Corrections cleans up

A group of corrections employees got together recently for a clean up at Newman Methodist Church in Key West.

Bomb Squad handles military flare report

Boy Scouts camping on Munson Island (27mm oceanside) found a military marker flare and called for help from the Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad. Sgt. Mike Digiovanni and Deputy Chris Duncan used the opportunity to educate them about use of the flares, and their potential hazards.

Sheriff’s Office has several clean ups planned

Sheriff Rick Ramsay has made community involvement and the betterment of Monroe County and the Florida Keys a priority for his agency. In addition to fighting crime on a daily basis, and helping those in need, the Sheriff believes a cleaner community will also be a safer one because people who take pride in their community will also be more vigilant about reporting crime and taking care of problems before they escalate.

The Sheriff’s Office has been organizing and participating in  a series of community clean ups over past months. We encourage members of the community to turn out and to participate in these clean ups with us.

·         Friday, July 12th at 10 a.m., Harry Harris Park Subdivision. Please call Captain Fanelli at 305-853-3211  if you plan to participate.
·         Saturday, July 13th from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Coco Plum Beach in Marathon. Meet at the public entrance to the beach. Call Detective Deb Ryan at 305-289-2410 for details.
·         Saturday, July 27th from 8:30 - 10:30 a.m. between Murray Marine and the Key Haven Boat Ramp on Stock Island. Call Captain Gene Thompson with any questions at 305-745-3184.

·         Saturday, July 27th at 8:30 a.m. at Crane Point Hammock in Marathon (across from K-Mart). Kids clean up. Contact Sgt. Dennis Coleman with questions, 305-289-2430.

July 7, 2013

One arrested, one airlifted after fight on Stock Island

Stock Island – One man is in jail and the other was airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center in Miami after a fight in the early morning hours on Stock Island.

Several witnesses saw 42 year old Charles Miller and 45 year old Jesus Rodriguez fighting at the intersection of 1st Avenue and 2nd Street at 1 a.m. During the fight, Miller reportedly knocked Rodriguez to the ground, then was seen hitting him two more times, and kicking him in the face before fleeing. A woman who witnessed the fight followed Miller, calling 911 as she watched him flee into Coral Hammock condominium complex. Another witness who said he was walking to the Tom Thumb to get a soda called 911 to say the victim was not breathing and he was attempting to do CPR.

Key West Police Officer Thomas Anglin arrived to assist with searching for the suspect. He and his K-9 partner found Miller hiding underneath one of the condos and he was ordered to come out with his hands visible, which he did.

Miller was treated at the hospital for minor injuries to his foot and the back of his head. The victim was transported to the hospital and then airlifted by Trauma Star to Ryder Trauma Center where he is in critical condition.

Miller told Detective Diane Mimosa he was walking down the street and met a woman whom he didn’t know. He said he gave her $10 to buy beer. He said she went into the store and came out without the beer. He said he asked her for his money back. He said she then ran over to Rodriguez, who was on a bike. Rodriguez then reportedly got off the bike and the two men started fighting.

Miller was booked into jail, charged with aggravated battery.

Man arrested after disturbing flight

A 50 year old Tampa man was arrested Saturday after causing a disturbance on an airplane Saturday.

Sgt. Sue Morgan was notified of an inbound Silver Airways flight on which a man was causing trouble. She met the flight on the Key West Airport tarmac at noon, along with several others from airport security and Customs and Border Protection.

As 50 year old Richard Calderoni was handcuffed, passengers on the flight began cheering. A number of them told the officers they were afraid on the flight because of Calderoni’s disruptive behavior.

According to the flight crew, Calderoni was asked several times to shut off his electronic equipment and refused. He was reportedly loud and used abusive language. At one point, he stretched his legs into the isle blocking the female flight attendant’s path. He told her she “must be miserable in her job” and she said when she looked at him he was rubbing his groin area as if he were masturbating.

The pilot told Sgt. Morgan he considered turning the flight around, but considered the other passengers and decided to just call ahead for law enforcement.

Calderoni was arrested and charged with disturbing the peace. He was booked into jail.

July 5, 2013

Two arrested after brawl at Key Largo bar

Two people went to jail after a brawl at a Key Largo bar spilled over into the parking lot.

Deputies were dispatched to the Big Chill Bar at 10:45 p.m. Thursday. When Deputy Bryan Cross arrived on the scene, approximately 50 people were gathered in the parking lot. Other deputies were on scene attempting to determine what happened.

Investigations revealed a group of people from Key Largo – a couple with their 21 year old daughter and her friend – had been eating a pizza at the bar when a couple from Miami walked up and tried to grab some of the pizza from the box. A confrontation ensued; the couple from Miami – identified as 44 year old George Burns and 43 year old Midiala Siverio Dunn – began calling the two girls fat. At some point, a fight began. Burns allegedly struck both girls, knocking one to the ground.

Burns and Dunn then reportedly left the bar and were confronted in the parking lot by the victim’s father. He and Burns began fighting. A woman in the parking lot reportedly approached Dunn, who was standing near the two fighting men, and told her to move out of the way so she didn’t get hurt. Dunn then allegedly punched her.

Several witnesses corroborated the story told by the victims. Burns and Dunn were both treated for injuries at Mariner’s Hospital and were then arrested. Burns was charged with three counts of battery. Dunn was charged with battery. They were both booked into jail.

Man charged with threatening woman, strangling her dog

A Marathon man was arrested early today, charged with threatening to rape and kill a woman. He was also charged with strangling her dog. The dog is alive and, although scared, appears to be in good shape.

The victim, a homeless woman, told Deputy Greg LaRochelle she was sleeping in the produce stand in the parking lot of the Fairway Market on 39th Street at 1 a.m. when she woke up and saw a man holding her dog around the neck, strangling him. She attempted to intervene, and he hit her in the face. She said after hitting her, he threatened to rape her and kill her. She said he started strangling her dog again and she fled the area, fearing for her life.

A witness was driving by and saw the victim running away from a large black male who was chasing her, later identified as her attacker, 49 year old Albert Gardner. The victim waved him down and asked him for help. At that point, Gardner broke off the chase, fleeing up Louisa Street.

Deputy LaRochelle found Gardner on Louisa Street and detained him. After investigation into the circumstances, Gardner was arrested. He was charged with  assault, battery and animal cruelty.  The victim was treated for the bump on her head by paramedics. Sgt. Marc Maison found the dog alive, hiding underneath a card at the produce stand. The dog was whimpering, but appeared to be uninjured. He and his owner were reunited.

July 4, 2013

Fire on roof, Gilbert's Resort

 A fire on the roof of a building at Gilbert’s Resort and Marina this afternoon was extinguished quickly and safely by firefighters and a good Samaritan.

Fire on the roof of a building at the resort was reported at 1:08 p.m. When deputies and firefighters arrived on the scene a man was already on the roof with a hose attempting to put the fire out.

The fire was under control quickly, reportedly out by 1:24 p.m. It was reported that no one was in the building at the time, and there were no injuries.

Three Cuban migrants come ashore in Marathon

Three adult males from Cuba came ashore this morning on Coco Plum Beach in Marathon. They were reportedly in good shape and did not need medical attention. Customs and Border Protection responded and took them into custody.

Three Cuban migrants come ashore in Marathon

Three adult males from Cuba came ashore this morning on Coco Plum Beach in Marathon. They were reportedly in good shape and did not need medical attention. Customs and Border Protection responded and took them into custody.

July 3, 2013

Search warrant in Key Largo

Key Largo – Sheriff’s Special Investigations detectives served a search warrant today at a Key Largo residence. 

The warrant was served at 1103 Grand Street, Apartment A in Key Largo. Inside, detectives located 48 year old Kim Marie Gilzow and a friend. 

The search of the residence turned up  22 crack cocaine rocks, two Oxycontin pills, several baggies with cocaine residue and several crack pipes. 

Gilzow was charged with possession of cocaine, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Trespassing leads to drug arrest

Deputies responding to reports of a trespassing in Marathon charged a man with possessing a felony amount of marijuana and introduction of contraband to a jail facility.

The victim called the Sheriff’s Office on Saturday morning after her ex-boyfriend, Jeff Pollock, refused to leave her home on Camino Real in Marathon. She told Deputy Bradford Colen she let him stay the night, but in the morning when she told him to leave he refused and laughed at her.

Pollack told Deputy Colen he lived at the apartment. Deputy Colen reminded Pollack that he had been one of the officers who’d helped Pollack  move out of the residence a few months earlier. In addition, the victim had a copy of Pollack’s current lease showing he lived somewhere else. A check on Sheriff’s Office records also showed a trespass warning given to Pollack for the residence at an earlier date.

Because Pollack had already been warned, Deputy Colen placed him under arrest for trespass after warning and put him in the back of his patrol car for transport to jail.

Prior to leaving, Pollack told the deputy he had a briefcase in the residence with a lot of cash inside and he would like to take it with him. The deputy retrieved the briefcase. When Deputy Colen asked Pollack to give him the code to open it, Pollack refused. Both Pollack and the briefcase were transported to jail.

Once there, the deputy asked Pollack again for the code to open the briefcase and Pollack finally agreed. Inside, Deputy Colen found $9,480 in cash and 27 grams of marijuana. Pollack was charged with possession of marijuana and introduction of marijuana to a detention facility. He was booked into jail.

The cash was seized for possible forfeiture.

Don't forget Rotary / Crime Stoppers fourth of July Run/Walk!

Businesses being targeted by fraudulent calls

The Sheriff’s Office is investigating a report of a business that received a call claiming to be from a debt collector working for Florida Keys Electric Co-op. The caller threatened to have the power turned off immediately if someone didn’t pay cash owed on their electric bill.

Since the initial report, the Sheriff’s Office has learned there may be other customers of FKEC who have received such calls.

Last week, an employee of Kaiyo Grill in Islamorada received a call from a female who said her name was “Erica” claiming to be working for FKEC. She said the restaurant owed $750 on their electric bill. She told the employee they had 30 minutes to pay or the power would be shut off.

The caller told the victim she would not accept a check and gave him several other options for paying. That same day, he went to the local Winn Dixie and bought a Visa gift card for half the amount. He called her back and gave her the identifying number off the back of the card so she could access the money immediately. He told her that is all he could pay her today and would pay the rest the following day.

She instructed him to go the next day and buy a “Green Dot Pay-Pal” card for the remainder of the amount. He did that, and then called her and gave the access information for that card as well.

After paying the woman the total amount she said was owed, the victim then called FKEC to check on the situation. He was informed FKEC does not make bill collections in this manner. Calls to the number he had for “Erica”  are now going unanswered.

Investigations are continuing. Anyone who has received similar calls should contact the Sheriff’s Office.

July 2, 2013

Sheriff’s Office remembers Deputy Guy Bradley, killed in the line of duty

This week, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office remembers Guy Bradley, who worked as a game warden and was a deputy with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office early in the 20th Century. He was shot and killed while on duty, July 8, 1905.

Guy M. Bradley was one of the country’s first game wardens. He was hired in 1902 by the American Ornithologist’s Union at the request of the Audubon Society. He traveled to Key West shortly after taking the job and was deputized by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office so he would have the authority to arrest those hunting illegally. He was shot and killed July 8, 1905, while attempting to arrest men for killing Egrets in the Everglades.

According to a number of historical accounts, Walter Smith, a well-known plume hunter, sailed to Oyster Keys Rookery. In sight of Guy Bradley’s cottage, Smith’s son Tom and a friend went ashore and started killing Egrets. Smith was reportedly angry with Bradley for arresting Tom on two previous occasions. He had threatened to kill Bradley if he ever attempted to arrest him or any of his family again.

After hearing the gunfire, Bradley approached Smith in his skiff in an attempt to arrest the son and his companion, who were loading dead plume birds onto their boat. There was a subsequent confrontation. Smith claims Bradley fired his gun first, hitting his boat. Smith shot and killed Bradley with his rifle.

Smith turned himself in to authorities in Key West the following day. Bradley’s body was found by his brother, still adrift in his skiff. Smith spent five months in jail because he couldn’t make the $5,000 bond. He was found not guilty of murder after the grand jury reportedly found there was insufficient evidence to convict him, this despite evidence presented to the jury that Bradley’s gun had not been fired.

While Smith was in jail, Bradley’s two brothers-in-law took revenge, burning down Smith’s Flamingo home.
Bradley was buried on a shell ridge at Cape Sable overlooking Florida Bay. A monument was erected by the Florida Audubon Society. The grave was later washed away during Hurricane Donna in 1960.

It took two more such deaths before state governments began passing legislation outlawing the plume trade, and Congress finally banned the import of hats decorated with bird feathers.

Bradley’s original gravestone was recovered, and is on display at the Flamingo Visitor Center. A plaque was also dedicated to Bradley's memory, and reads: "Audubon warden was shot and killed off this shore by outlaw feather hunters, July 8, 1905. His martyrdom created nationwide indignation, strengthened bird protection laws and helped bring Everglades National Park into being."

Two awards were established in his name. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation established the Guy Bradley Award for achievement in wildlife law enforcement. Another, the Guy Bradley Lifetime Conservation Award established by the Audubon Society, is given to those who “promote conservation and offer workable conservation solutions.”