September 30, 2013

Man arrested after caught sleeping in van

Key Largo – A man was arrested Sunday morning after the owner of a van caught him sleeping inside.

Deputy Jacques Rozek responded Coin Laundry in Key Largo at 8:30 a.m. to reports of a vehicle burglary. When he arrived, the owner told him he’d opened his delivery van that morning and found John Miller sleeping inside. He said Miller had the remains of a 12 pack of Budweiser Beer in the van and appeared to be passed out, drunk. He said Miller left the van after he was caught inside.

Miller was found across the street sitting on a picnic table and admitted to sleeping in the van. He was arrested, charged with vehicle burglary and he was taken to jail.

September 26, 2013

Boca Raton man arrested for drugs

A Boca Raton man was arrested after a traffic stop revealed the presence of drugs in his vehicle.

25 year old Timothy Parker was stopped at the 105 mile marker of the highway at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday because he had visibly illegal window tinting on his black Dodge Challenger. Parker, who has a concealed weapons permit, admitted to having two handguns in the car. Special Investigations detectives on scene took the guns for safe-keeping as the traffic stop was conducted.

A Miami-Dade K-9 Officer was also on the scene and the dog conducted a sniff of the outside of the vehicle. The dog alerted and Parker was asked if there were drugs in the car. He admitted to having marijuana in the car.

Marijuana was found in the trunk and inside the vehicle. Hallucinogenic mushrooms were also found, along with several items of drug paraphernalia.

Parker was arrested and charged with possessing a felony amount of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. The mushrooms will be sent to a lab for testing after which more charges may be pending.

Key Largo man charged with threats, resisting arrest

A Key Largo man was arrested Wednesday night after he threatened a neighbor with a gun. The gun was later determined to be a pellet gun resembling a real handgun.

The two men live in a residence on Point Pleasant Drive in Key Largo which shares one water line. 34 year old  Todd Alexander was using the water line for laundry when his neighbor got home from work just after 10 p.m. and wanted to use the water for a shower. According to Deputy Vaughn O’Keefe the water line must be detached from the washer in order to be used for a shower and Alexander did not want the water detached from the washer.

According to the victim, the two men exchanged heated words. He said Alexander then went into his residence and got what looked to him like a gun. He said Alexander pointed the gun at him. At that point, the victim said he fled into his residence and called 911.

When deputies arrived, Alexander gave them permission to search his home. They found the pellet gun in a kitchen cabinet. It matched the description of the gun the victim said was pointed at him.

Alexander was arrested. He fought with deputies as he was being escorted to a patrol car for transport to jail. He was charged with aggravated assault and resisting arrest.

September 25, 2013

Sheriff’s Office WebCAD now in mobile version

For those of you who use our on line WebCAD – our web page that shows live calls for service as deputies are responding to them – we have a new mobile version that is designed for better viewing on Smartphone screens.

The purpose of WebCAD is to let people know what is happening. If someone hears a siren in their neighborhood, they can look on line and see what type of call might be taking place. For officer safety reasons, we don’t give exact addresses or details of the call, but it will list a general type such as “fire” or “reckless driver” or “domestic” and a general location such as “Stock Island” , “Key Largo” or “Plantation Key”.

When it comes to traffic accidents, we try to give more information so people can assess road conditions and plan their travel accordingly. Accident calls will include a more specific location and, when the accident will effect road conditions, Sheriff’s dispatchers enter information about road blocks, number of vehicles involved and, when possible, an estimate of the time the road will be closed.

The mobile version of our WebCAD can be found at:

For serious accidents involving injury that are expected to close the road for a lengthy period of time, people can also follow us on Twitter @mcsonews and on Facebook at MCSO – Florida Keys. These social media pages also offer information about crimes that occur in the county and photos and information about what the Sheriff’s Office is doing on a day to day basis.

September 24, 2013

Bomb Squad trains with the military

Members of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad attended explosive recognition/military installation security training with members of the Navy. The Bomb Squad conducts training jointly with the Navy several times a year.

Explorers travel to Lee County for competition

 Explorers competition fun and successful
Sheriff’s Explorers traveled to Lee County this month to compete against other Explorer posts from around the state. New School Resource Deputies Dave Stark and Nancy Torrijos went along as advisors for the first time, along with veteran SRO Deputy Will Schlegelmilch.
The indoor range in Ft. Meyers was an impressive state of the-art facility. Explorer Lieutenant Thomas Mirabella took 3rd place in the Sharpshooter division in 9mm with a score of 416 out of a possible 500. This is particularly impressive because this was his first time shooting the Glock 17.
The training Lee County offered included the usual traffic stops, building clearing and domestic violence response. Our explorers performed exceptionally well in all these areas.
Lee County also offered some different physical training. Explorers got into the water to test their endurance, treading water for 10 minutes and swimming  50 yards while holding a 10 pound brick over their head. They also received training in how to rescue someone safely from the water.

Man charged with lewd acts

A 27 year old Rockland Key man was arrested today, charged with performing lewd acts in front of a young boy.

The incident took place in October of 2012 and was reported to law enforcement in May of 2013 after the victim told  his school counselor. The victim told Detective Rosa DiGiovanni he was in the same room with Christopher Sheeler late one evening when Sheeler was watching pornography on his cell phone. He said Sheeler hooked the phone up to the television so they could both see it. He then masturbated in front of the victim and encouraged victim to do so as well.

After investigating the allegations, Detective DiGiovanni obtained a warrant for Sheeler’s arrest. Today, he was charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious behavior and he was booked into jail.

September 22, 2013

Woman arrested for gun threats

Big Coppitt Key – A Big Coppitt Key woman was arrested Saturday afternoon for threatening a neighbor with a gun.

When Deputy Wendy Negron arrived at the Shore Drive home just after 4 p.m., the male victim told her he’d  just been threatened with a gun by the woman who lives upstairs.

Deputy Negron went upstairs and knocked on the door. 40 year old Shana Brady answered and told the deputy her gun was in her bedroom. A semi automatic handgun, loaded with the safety disengaged, was recovered from the bedroom.

She said her downstairs tenant’s dog was barking and scratching at her door. She said she got her gun and went downstairs with the dog. She said she knocked on the door downstairs and the tenant opened it. She said he started to threaten her so she pulled out her gun and pointed it at him.

Brady was arrested. She was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and she was booked into jail.

Man arrested for knife threats

Marathon – Deputy Chris Duncan was on patrol at 2 p.m. Saturday in the vicinity of  55th Street and Highway U.S. 1 in Marathon when a motorist flagged him down. The motorist said he’d just witnessed a man threaten another man with a knife at a nearby bus stop.

Deputy Duncan responded to the bus stop and, as he was approaching two men, he saw one of them putting something into a back pack. He ordered the man to keep his hands in sight, but the man ignored the order and continued his actions. The man was later identified as 50 year old Chris Daniel Conrad.

Further investigation revealed the item the man was putting into the back pack was a knife. The other man told Deputy Duncan Conrad had threatened to kill him with the knife. This report was consistent with the report from the witness.

Conrad was arrested. He was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest. He was booked into jail.

September 21, 2013

Check on businesses that sell alcohol

Marathon - On Friday, the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Division conducted an operation checking businesses that sell alcohol in the Middle Keys. Thirteen businesses were checked including restaurants, convenience stores and bars. Three of the businesses served alcohol to a minor during the investigation. The three people who sold the alcohol were given notices to appear in court before a Monroe County Judge.

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

  • Mobile gas station and convenience store, 1415 Overseas Hwy Marathon. Anthony Alfredo Figaro Pena, 21 of Marathon. This is the second offence for this business. 
  • Brass Monkey Bar, 232 55th  Street in Marathon.  Gloria Anne Holohanm, 79, of Marathon. This is the second violation for this attendant and the third violation for the business. This will be referred to Alcohol Beverage and Tobacco for follow up. 
  • Walgreens liquor store, 10870 Overseas Hwy Marathon. Frank William Miller, 64, of Marathon. This is the 2nd violation for the business.  

The Sales Clerk violations are up to 60 days in jail with a $500 fine, $235 in court costs, $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. 

September 20, 2013

A Stock Island man was arrested Thursday on multiple charges relating to two separate cases; another man is still wanted

Dalvis Perez, wanted on several outstanding warrants
On Thursday, deputies responded to harassing phone calls at the Thrifty Car Rental counter at the Key West Airport. When Deputy Matthew Krol arrived, the victim told him 29 year old Orlando Grimon had been calling her repeatedly on the business phone and on her cell phone. The deputy answered the phone twice when Grimon called and told him to stop calling. Grimon told the deputy it was free speech, he had a right to call and he he was going to keep calling. He used some obscenities, then hung up. He continued to call the victim as Deputy Krol spoke to her.

The victim told the deputy Grimon had threatened to damage her car, and had threatened to hurt her. When Deputy Krol took the victim out to her car to check on it, they found a large dent in the hood which she said wasn’t there previously.

Grimon was spotted, in his vehicle, parked near the airport and he was taken into custody. He was charged with making harassing phone calls and aggravated stalking.

A check on Grimon’s name revealed an outstanding warrant for his arrest. Grimon was wanted for dealing in stolen property and for criminal mischief. The charges stem from an incident that took place on Stock Island at the end of August.

On August 28th, three vehicles were burglarized at Coral Hammock’s Condominiums on MacDonald Avenue on Stock Island. A purse, Iphone and two handguns were stolen from the vehicles. While deputies were on the scene investigating, dispatchers sent them to a fight call on Laurel Avenue, just a block away.

When they got to the fight, they found Grimon driving away from the scene. He told them he was the one who called 911. He said he just bought an Iphone from another man, 26 year old Dalvis Perez, for $100. He said when the phone didn’t work, he got mad and returned the phone demanding his money back. He said after he got his money back he threw the phone on the ground, shattering it. He said he thought Perez pointed a gun at him so he called 911. He said the weapon Perez had turned out to be a stick.

In subsequent interviews, Grimon said he knew the phone was worth more than the money he paid for it. He admitted he should have known the phone was stolen since he’d known Perez for years and had similar dealings with him in the past. Pieces of the phone he broke were recovered, including the SIM card, and it was identified the phone stolen from one of the vehicles at Coral Hammock.

There are currently outstanding warrants on file for Perez. He was caught on surveillance video using a credit card stolen from one of the vehicles that was burglarized, and the purse stolen in the vehicle burglaries was recovered from a dumpster in front of his trailer on Stock Island. Perez is wanted for fraudulent use of someone else’s ID and fraudulent use of a credit card, as well as dealing in stolen property.

The guns stolen from the burglarized vehicles have not yet been recovered. They are described as a .44 magnum Smith and Wesson revolver with a black finish and a 9 mm semi automatic Ultra Star handgun with a black finish.

Detective Spenser Bryan is the investigator assigned to the case.

Anyone with information about this crime, about the location of Perez or the location of the two handguns 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

September 19, 2013

Command staff changes at the Sheriff’s Office

Captain Don Hiller
 Sheriff Rick Ramsay this week announced changes to his command staff at the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. The changes will take place effective October 7th .

Captain Gene Thompson, who had been heading up the Lower Keys District, is transferring to the Middle Keys. He will be heading up Districts 4 and 5, and the Special Operations Division.
Captain Don Hiller, who has been in charge of our Internal Affairs Division, Professional Standards and the Key West Airport will be transferring to the Lower Keys District One captain’s position. He will also be handling our Monroe High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area unit (HIDTA) as well as Lower Keys Court Security.
Captain Chad Scibilia
Captain Chad Scibilia will transfer from the Middle Keys District to the Internal Affairs Division. He will also command Professional Standards and Key West Airport Security.

These moves were made to ensure diversity of experience in the Sheriff’s command staff.

“It is important that our captains be familiar with different areas of command in order to make sure they – and our agency – are as flexible and prepared as we can be,” said Sheriff Ramsay.

Captain Gene Thompson

September 18, 2013

Sheriff's Animal Farm open Sunday, September 22nd

The Sheriff's Animal Farm will be open this Sunday September 22nd, between 1 - 3 p.m. 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

September 17, 2013

Big Pine man arrested for motel burglary

Big Pine Key – A Big Pine Key man was arrested Monday morning after he broke in to a room at the Big Pine Motel.

61 year old Mark Moses reportedly tried to check into the motel Sunday night but his credit card was declined and he didn’t have enough cash to pay in advance. The following morning at 6 a.m., a guest reported loud noise coming from room #22 and broken glass outside of the room. When the motel owner went to check on it, he knocked on the door. He said a man opened the door, and then closed it quickly saying something about somebody shooting something.

The owner then called for help from the Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies Kim Trullender and Jon Riggs responded. They knocked on the door and Moses answered. He was naked. They got him to exit the room without any issues and helped him to cover himself. Moses had covered the broken window with a towel and a picture from the room.

Inside the room, they found evidence Moses had entered the room using a coral rock to break the window. Moses had removed a steam cleaning machine from one of the maid’s closets at the hotel and had it in the room. He also had cleaning supplies, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, prescription pills, cold medicine, wet clothing and marijuana strewn all over the room.

Moses was arrested. He was charged with defrauding an innkeeper, criminal mischief, burglary, theft, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. He was booked into jail.

September 16, 2013

Man airlifted after being hit with a golf club

A Marathon man was airlifted to the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami after he was hit numerous times in the head and face with a fist and with a golf club early today.

The incident took place at residence on Fat Deer Key at 1:30 a.m. Deputies responded to calls a man had been injured by another man.

The 34 year old victim was conscious and was able to talk with deputies when they arrived. He told them another person who lives at that location had attacked him. He said  18 year old Jesse Rizzo had hit him in the head multiple times with a golf club and with his fists. He said their disagreement was over Facebook activity.

Rizzo was still on the scene. He admitted to striking the victim with the golf club, which was recovered from Rizzo’s room.

The victim was airlifted to the Ryder Trauma Center for treatment of his injuries. Rizzo was arrested. He was charged with aggravated battery and he was booked into jail.

September 14, 2013

Two teens charged with fight involving metal pipe and machete

Key Largo – A fight in the street on Largo Road in late August has resulted in the arrest of two Key Largo teens for aggravated battery.

The incident took place on August 25th at 1:30 a.m. A group of teens were walking down the road when a red Dodge Charger drove by them. One person in the group slapped the back of the car because he felt it passed too closely.

The Charger stopped in the roadway and two teens got out. A verbal confrontation occurred and they got back in the car and drove a distance down the road. They stopped, armed themselves with a metal pipe and a machete, and returned. At that point, a physical fight took place.

During the fight, the two teens from the Charger – 17 year old Roberto Fumero of Key Largo and 18 year old Jose Robaina of Tavernier – hit a teen in the other group a number of times with their weapons, injuring him on his torso, back, right forearm and left shoulder.  

Deputy Ian Barnett investigated the case, interviewing the victim, other teens who were involved in the incident. He was able to identify the two who were armed with weapons.

He obtained warrants for their arrest and on Friday, Fumero and Robaina were arrested. They were both charged with aggravated battery.

Marathon woman charged with cutting man

Marathon – A Marathon woman has been charged with aggravated battery after she cut a man on the arm in the parking lot of Walgreen’s Drug Store September 5th.

The victim told detectives he paid a woman $100 for sex the night before the attack. He said he saw her the following day and she, without warning, pulled out a knife and cut his arm with it.

Detective Trevor Wirth was assigned to investigate the case. He spoke with the victim and several witnesses. During the course of his investigations, he was able to identify her as Angela Specker. Her identity was confirmed through the use of a photo line-up.

 Specker told Detective Wirth she stabbed the victim because she was angry about the way he treated her the night before. She said he was aggressive, slapping her and pulling her hair as they attempted to engage in sexual activity. She said when he finished he threw $100 at her. She said when she saw him the following day she became enraged and cut him on the arm.

A warrant was obtained for Specker and on Friday, she was arrested and charged with aggravated battery.

September 13, 2013

Don't forget Clean Up!

Bomb Squad teaches academy students

Members of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad conducted an explosive recognition class for the Basic Law Enforcement Class #50. Pictured are Sean Moran(in the suit) William Kreiss, Derrick Lopez, Elizabeth Manrique, Johnathan Rodriguez, and Deputy Chris Duncan. Taking the picture is classmate Jon Doughtry.

Congratulations to newest Master Deputies

Sheriff Rick Ramsay and Major Tommy Taylor congratulated Detention Deputies Jeanette Joseph and Dahlgren Marks this week for earning their Master Deputy stripe to wear on their uniform. Master deputy certification isn’t easy to earn, and involves the following requirement: 
  • At least five years of service with the Sheriff’s Office
  • Above standard performance evaluations for the past three years
  • An enhanced education, including at least 30 semester hours in college, or at least 120 hours of specialized law enforcement training
  • Meeting all annual retraining requirements, including maintaining all required certifications, such as CPR, Firearms training, training in OC gas, baton, Taser or anything else required by their current assignment
  • No discipline in three years
  • At least 20 hours of community service / volunteer work in the community in a one year period

 In order to maintain their Master Deputy status, they must continue to comply with the requirements of the program each year. 

Sheriff’s Office thanks Community Partners

Captain Don Fanelli and Major Lou Caputo
thank Todd Carter from Keys Sanitation. 
 The Sheriff’s Office efforts to clean up our community from Key West to Key Largo could not be nearly as successful without the partnership of local businesses and citizens. Thanks to the following Community Partners for their help with the many projects we have held during the past several months in the Upper Keys.
Captain Corey Bryan and Lt. Derek Paul thank Coral
Shores High School Principal Dave Murphy. 

Lt. Paul and Captain Bryan thanking
Larry Gillis with the Moose Lodge. 

Captain Bryan thanks Judy Hull with the
Islamorada Chamber of Commerce. 

 Captain Bryan thanks J.C. Mikula with
Back Country Cowboys.

Captain Bryan and Lt. Paul thank Kara Lundgren
with the Hampton Inn in Islamorada

Sheriff’s Office Attends 911 Ceremony at Elks Lodge, Islamorada

Members of the Sheriff’s Office were on hand for the 911 ceremony held Wednesday at the Islamorada Elk’s Lodge. Thanks to Sue Heim for the photos!

Big Coppitt man charged with vehicle burglary

Several alert neighbors on Big Coppitt Key were instrumental in the arrest of a man for vehicle burglary early today.

Sheriff’s dispatchers received a call from a resident of Avenue G on Big Coppitt Key at 5:30 a.m. today. He said he’s seen a man on a bicycle in his front yard by his truck. He’d then seen the man ride to a next door neighbor’s house and try the door on his vehicle. When Deputy Valdes arrived on Avenue G, another resident of the street flagged him down to report the man on the bicycle went into his tenant’s vehicle and ransacked the inside. He described the man as a white male wearing a dark green shirt and shorts riding a bicycle.

Deputy Valdes and Sgt. Tom Walker searched the area and found a man fitting the description hiding underneath a set of stairs at a house across from the house where the vehicle burglary took place. He was ordered out of his hiding place. He was identified as 51 year old Robert Ebbitt. Ebbitt said he was in the area looking for a place to sleep.

Ebbitt was arrested. He was charged with burglary and with loitering and prowling. He was booked into jail.

September 12, 2013

Search warrant served on Stock Island

Stock Island – A search warrant was served today at noon at a Stock Island residence.

Detectives from the Special Investigations Unit, along with the Lower Keys Criminal Investigations detectives served the warrant at 5700 Laurel Avenue Lot 2 on Stock Island. Outside the residence detectives found 25 year old Antwane Anglin. Inside, detectives found 26 year old Antonio Curry. 

The search of the residence turned up approximately 15 grams of powder cocaine, 82 Morphine pills,  drug paraphernalia and approximately $5,500 in suspected drug proceeds.  

Curry was charged with trafficking in opiates, possession of cocaine, and  possession of drug paraphernalia. Anglin was charged with possession of cocaine. Both men were booked into jail.

Stolen vessel recovered; two arrested

A boat, stolen from a Marathon residence was recovered after a chase with Customs and Border Enforcement. It was equipped for a migrant smuggling operation. Two Las Vegas men were arrested.

The boat – a 26 foot Robalo valued at $65,000 – was taken sometime between 10 p.m. Tuesday and 2 a.m. Wednesday from a home on Sombrero Boulevard. When the owner realized it was gone at 2 a.m., he called the Sheriff’s Office.

A  CBP boat was on patrol offshore of Marathon as part of an extra patrol due to recent vessel thefts in the area. It had a Monroe County HIDTA / Sheriff’s detective on board along with the CBP agents operating the vessel.

They spotted a vessel on the ocean side of Boot Key and attempted to stop it. The vessel they attempted to stop turned out to be the one stolen from Sombrero Boulevard. It  refused to stop, taking evasive measures. At one point, the vessel rammed the CBP vessel causing a crack in the stolen vessel which then began taking on water.

The vessel was finally stopped. Two men were on board. The vessel was equipped with several large drums filled with gasoline.

Ledian Yusnier Acosta-Gonzalez and Dioselis Fuentes-Nodarse both of Las Vegas, Nevada were taken into custody. They said they took the boat, loaded it with gas, food and water with the intention of going to Cuba. They said they were planning to illegally smuggle five Cubans into the United States.

They said the fled from CBP intending to beach the vessel and flee on foot.

Both men were charged with grand theft with property damage and a health and safety law violation for having the gasoline on the vessel. Acosta-Gonzalez was additionally charged with assault on a law enforcement officer, fleeing police in a boat and criminal mischief.

The special patrol was originally set up because alert citizens in the vicinity of Sombrero Boulevard had reported suspicious people and activity in their neighborhood.  The patrol involved the Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Unit, Sheriff’s Office road patrol, Monroe HIDTA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Alert neighbors are a crucial part of the law enforcement equation. Remember to call the Sheriff’s Office if you see any unknown person or vehicle in your neighborhood.  Anyone with additional information is encouraged to call Detective Trevor Wirth or if you wish to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-346 TIPS.

September 11, 2013

Texting while driving banned in Florida effective October 1st

Traffic Enforcement Officer Thomas Hill talks
to a group of Sheriff’s Office Explorers at Marathon High School
about the dangers of distracted driving, and the new texting
while driving law which goes into effect on October 1st.
As of October 1st, it will be against the law to text while you are driving in the State of Florida. The Sheriff’s Office wants to make sure everyone is aware of the new law, and is aware of the dangers of distracted driving.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), texting while driving is the most alarming distraction of all because it not only takes your eyes off the road, but it also occupies your hands and your mind. Studies show sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. If you are driving at 55 miles per hour, that is enough time to drive the length of an entire football field – blindfolded.

In 2011, over 3,000 people in the U.S. were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver and an additional 387,000 people were injured, according to statistics from the NHTSA.

“We are glad to see Florida moving in the right direction with this new law,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “We would like to see a law that is even more restrictive when it comes to distracted driving, which is responsible for many deaths and injuries on our roadways. But this is a step in the right direction,” he said.

Distracted driving has always been an issue for law enforcement officers. People who drive while distracted – by texting, cell phone use, or any number of other activities – are stopped frequently for driving erratically and can be cited for careless driving under current laws. Now, officers will have the added ability to write a traffic ticket for texting while driving.

If you are stopped for another infraction, such as speeding, failing to signal for a turn or running a stop sign, as of October 1st you may also receive a citation for texting if you are engaged in that activity at the time of the stop. The fine for the citation will be $30. As passed by the Florida legislature, it is a secondary offense – meaning you must be stopped for another infraction. In addition, the law does not make it illegal to text while a vehicle is stationary. 

September 10, 2013

Recovered property implicates suspect in other crimes

Key Largo – A man arrested for stealing people’s property from a hotel beach in Key Largo while they swam in the water faces more charges.

22 year old Sterling Brower was arrested Friday after he was spotted stealing items from the beach at the Hilton Hotel in Key Largo. He fled from the beach as employees called the Sheriff’s office. He was seen placing stolen items into the trunk of a Mercedes in the parking lot before fleeing the area on foot.

Brower was found on an adjacent property and was initially charged with three counts of grand theft and resisting arrest.

Detectives responded to the scene and obtained a search warrant for the trunk of the car. Inside they found property belonging to people who were on the hotel beach.  They also found property belonging to the victims of a vehicle burglary which took place earlier in the day.

Two men having lunch at Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen in Key Largo returned to their vehicle Friday afternoon to find their bags missing from inside. Items stolen from their vehicle were also found in Brower’s trunk.

Brower was additionally charged with burglary and grand theft in connection with the vehicle burglary.

Marathon man faces more charges

A Marathon man, arrested last week for pawning items stolen in a business burglary, faces more charges.

Detective Nicholis Whiteman charged 38 year old Jose Ortiz with possession of a weapon by a convicted felon and with dealing in stolen property.

The charges stem from a burglary reported August 21st. Someone broke in to Island Auto Repair and stole a Smith and Wesson 9mm semi-automatic handgun.

A week after the burglary, Detective Whiteman received information about the location of the gun. He spoke with a Marathon man who admitted to having a gun fitting the description of the stolen gun. He said Ortiz gave it to him as payment for money Ortiz owed him.

He turned the gun over to the detective, who confirmed it was, indeed, the stolen weapon.

September 7, 2013

Big Coppitt man charged with child cruelty

A Big Coppitt Key man was arrested Friday, charged with hitting a 14 year old.

Florida law prohibits identifying the victim of child abuse so many details of the incident are protected from release to the public.

34 year old John Roberts is accused of pushing the child and hitting her in the face, causing a cut on her lip and a bloody nose. After the incident took place, the girl went to a friend’s house. The friend’s parents called the Sheriff’s Office after seeing her injuries.

Roberts was charged with child cruelty and he was booked into jail.

Man charged with stealing items from the beach

Key Largo – A Key Largo man was arrested Thursday after witnesses say him stealing items people left on the beach while they were swimming.

The incident took place at the Hilton Hotel at the 97 mile marker in Key Largo at 4:30 p.m. Witnesses – including hotel employees - told responding deputies they saw 22 year old Sterling Brower taking items from the beach. The stolen items belonged to guests who  had left their belongings on the beach while swimming.

The witnesses said Brower had fled once he realized he had been seen stealing the items. He was seen putting all the stolen items into the trunk of a gold colored Mercedes in the parking lot, then jumped over a fence onto adjoining property.

Brower was apprehended on the adjoining property and was positively identified by the witnesses. Detectives arrived and obtained a search warrant for the trunk of the Mercedes, which was registered to Brower. All the stolen items – including Iphones, camera equipment, purses and Ipods, were found in the trunk and were returned to the owners.

Brower was arrested. He was charged with three counts of grand theft and with resisting arrest. He was booked into jail.

Woman arrested for prostitution

A Stock Island woman was arrested after she agreed to trade a sexual act for $40.

An undercover operative was in the vicinity of 5th Street and McDonald Avenue at 4 p.m. when he met with 45 year old Dorothy Austin. He told her he was stressed and she offered sex as a de-stressor.

He told her he had $40 he would exchange for oral sex; she said she was the best on Stock Island and for that amount of money would take her time.

He paid her and, after she accepted the cash, she was arrested. Austin was charged with prostitution and she was booked into jail.

September 6, 2013

New Corrections Academy class

HR Specialist Charles Slebodnick starts the new Corrections Academy class off on the right foot this week with some training about employment with the Sheriff’s Office.

Helping out the Animal Shelter in Marathon

Lt. James Sheagren wields a chain saw as he and other volunteers from the Marathon Detention Center help out at the SHARK Animal Shelter in Marathon. They did some major tree trimming at the facility. Also helping out was Sgt.s Morales and Paskiewicz, Bill Reich and SHARK Director Nycole.

Child Safety Seat Technician class

Members of the Sheriff’s Office attended a child safety seat technician class recently. Attending the class were  Deputies Dave Stark, Thomas Hill and Sgt. Mike DiGiovanni. The photo was taken at a public event held as part of the class, where participants got hands on experience inspecting and installing car seats. Andrew Hudson was on hand at the event to help show off the Bomb Squad robot. The Florida Keys healthy Start Coalition sponsored the class.

Event raised money for Special Olympics

The Tip-a-Cop fund raiser held at Boondocks recently raised over $2,000 for Monroe County Special Olympics. The second annual event, organized by the Sheriff’s Office own Jo Socha, was fun for everyone. Left to right, Jo Socha, Sheriff Ramsay, Scott Hart, Maria Pierce and Pat Hart.

Dive Team cleans up!

The Sheriff’s Office Dive Team spent time at Crocker Reef,  a popular fishing site off of Islamorada,  removing a considerable amount of fishing line and related debris from the coral. They then went to the sandbar at Whale Harbor Channel, filling several garbage bags with bottles, cans, and other trash left over from the holiday weekend.

Helicopter crews learn how to escape after crashing in the water

Crews from Monroe County’s Trauma Star rescue helicopter and from private operator Lifenet trained together this week, learning how to escape from a helicopter that crashes into the water.

Lee County’s Waterbourne Strike team offered the training, which shows participants what it is like to be trapped inside an aircraft underwater, and how to safely get out without panicking. The training was offered at Florida Keys Community College.

See video, courtesy of Sheriff’s Office Aviation Director Brooks Bateman.

In the photo and video: The floating cage-like structure is used to simulate a helicopter cockpit. Students are strapped in and turned upside down in the water. They have to extricate themselves from the straps as instructors stand by in case they panic. Students are also trained in a “blackout” helmet to simulate escape in night-time conditions.

Woman arrested for prostitution

Stock Island – A Stock Island woman was arrested Thursday night for prostitution.

43 year old Anathea Clay was booked into jail on prostitution charges after she agreed to have sex with an undercover operative in exchange for money.

The operative was working in the area of Fifth Street and Maloney Avenue after the Sheriff’s Office received reports of prostitutes working in the Stock Island area. Clay agreed to have sex with him in exchange for $31. She was arrested on prostitution charges. 

Man arrested for making false 911 report

Key Largo – A Key Largo man who falsely reported a burglary at his home was arrested Thursday.

Dispatchers received a call from 40 year old Shane Earp that his home on Bowen Drive was being burglarized by an unknown person. He told dispatchers he’d received an anonymous call about the break-in, and wasn’t home at the time.

When Deputy E.B. Askins and Sgt. Susan Keene arrived, they found the front door open. They found a woman inside who turned out to be Earp’s girlfriend. A short time later, Earp showed up as well.

Earp told the officers he’d called in the burglary because he had broken up with his girlfriend the  night before and didn’t want her to damage his property in the house. Investigations revealed Earp and the girlfriend had both been living in the house, and she had every legal right to be there, whether he was there or not.

Earp was arrested and charged with misuse of the 911 system and he was booked into jail.

September 5, 2013

Meet new addition Bam Bam, the miniature horse this Sunday, September 8th

The Sheriff's Animal Farm will be open this Sunday, September 8th between 1 - 3 p.m. Come visit us and meet our newest addition: Bam Bam, the miniature horse. Bam Bam joins Peanut and Nikki, the other two miniature horses at the farm. Bam Bam has a wonderful disposition and loves people. He comes to us from the South Florida SPCA.

Sadly, he and five other horses were dumped along a canal in Homestead. He is 18 years old and stands 32 inches tall. He is blind in one eye, limps from what appears to be a previous injury and has other health issues that require the attention the Sheriff’s Office Animal Farm -  as a small facility - can give him.

Farmer Jeanne and Dr. Doug Mader will be working to see if they can alleviate some of Bam Bam’s health problems and make him as comfortable and happy as he can possibly be.

The Sheriff’s Office Animal farm is a haven for abandoned and abused animals, and has taken in many such animals who are not suited to traditional shelters and who need a good home.

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

Marathon man arrested for pawning stolen items

A Marathon man was arrested Wednesday, charged with pawning items stolen during a business burglary in August.

The Tackle Box in Marathon was burglarized August 10th. Someone broke in and stole silver dollars and a men’s 14 karat gold wedding band with a diamond in it. Two days later, pawn shop records show that 38 year old Jose Ortiz went to Molly’s Pawn and More on Big Pine Key and pawned those same items.

When confronted with this information by Detective Nicholis Whiteman, Ortiz said he bought the items from someone on 39th Street for $150. He could not give the detective a name or description of the person he said he bought them from.

Ortiz was arrested. He was charged with trafficking in property he knew or should have known to be stolen. He was booked into jail.

September 21st: Thank a Police Officer day

September 21st is "Thank a Police Officer day". Take time out to thank a law enforcement officer for his or her service - buy a cop a cup of coffee or breakfast, drop some cookies off at your local law enforcement offices - or just say "thanks". Even when you are sleeping, law enforcement officers are out keeping our neighborhoods safe.

September 4, 2013

Identity of man who died diving is released

Detectives say they have notified the next of kin of the man who died while diving offshore of Big Pine Key Monday.

The man who died just after surfacing from a dive on Big Pine Shoal is identified as 65 year old Michael White of Orlando.

An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death.

Trash Truck in the water

We are on the scene of a Waste Management garbage truck which went into the water near the 6 mile marker, at the south end of the Boca Chica Bridge. The truck was southbound at the time of the accident. There are no injuries, but due to the equipment on scene attempting to remove it traffic will be slow in that area.

Update: Boat stolen from Marathon home; Insurance Company offers $10,000 reward for information leading to return of vessel.

A 35 foot Intrepid boat was stolen August 19th from a boat lift behind a house on Bulevar De Palmas in Marathon. Detectives need the public’s assistance locating the stolen vessel.

 The Insurance Company covering the loss, Harbor and Ocean Services Inc. of Fort Lauderdale,  is offering a reward of $10,000 for the safe return of the vessel.

The 35 foot Intrepid Cuddy Cabin is valued at an estimated $300,000. A neighbor noticed it missing and called the owner to ask him about it. The owner, who is in Illinois, told him no one had permission to have the boat, and asked him to call the Sheriff’s Office to report it as stolen.

Deputy Brad Colen responded and found the cover to the boat lift controls open and the lift lowered.

The vessel had twin Yamaha 300 horse power four stroke engines on it, along with a Garmin chart plotter and a radar system installed, as well as an autopilot system.

Detective Trevor Wirth is investigating 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 from Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted on line at

Man dies while diving

Big Pine Key – An Orlando man died while diving offshore of Big Pine Key Monday.

Deputy Aaron Coller responded to the Dolphin Marina on Little Torch Key at 6:15 p.m. to reports a diver was being brought in from offshore, not breathing. CPR was being performed on board a Tow Boat US boat that had picked him up and was bringing him to shore.

The 65 year old victim was scuba diving with a friend. They had been diving for two days, and were on the third dive of the day in 15 – 20 feet of water at Big Pine Shoal. The friend said they surfaced and were taking off their equipment on different sides of the boat. He said he spoke to the victim and got no response so he checked on him. He said he didn’t see him near the boat He said he looked around and spotted what looked like dive gear floating on the surface a distance away. Then he realized it was the victim.

He swam out to him and pulled him back to the boat and got him out of the water. He called for help on his VHF radio and two boats that were a few miles away responded, including the Tow Boat US boat.

After the victim was brought to shore, he was transported by paramedics to Fishermen’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death.

Detectives are attempting to notify his next of kin today and will release his name after they are made aware of the death.

September 3, 2013

Man found dead in Memorial Park in Tavernier

Tavernier – A man was found dead in Memorial Park in Tavernier Monday afternoon.

A man riding a scooter south on U.S. One at  12:30 p.m. Monday spotted the body in the park and called the Sheriff’s Office to report it. Deputies and detectives responded. Detectives say they have identified the body as that of a 68 year old homeless man. They are attempting to find his next of kin to notify them of his death and are withholding he name until they are able to do so.

There were no obvious signs of foul play on the body and detectives say they believe he may have died of natural causes. The Medical Examiner will be performing an autopsy to determine the cause of the man’s death.

Man treated for stab wound

Marathon – A Marathon man told Sheriff’s deputies he was stabbed in the arm Monday by a woman he paid to have sex with.

The victim told Deputy Chris Duncan he met the suspect at JJ’s Dog House on Sunday. He said he paid $100 to have sex with her. He said on Monday, he was just leaving Walgreen’s liquor store at 5 p.m. when she ran up to him, said “perfect timing” and then stabbed him in the forearm.

The victim was initially treated at Fishermen’s Hospital in Marathon, and was transferred to Baptist Hospital in Miami for surgery.

Detective Trevor Wirth is investigating the case.

September 1, 2013

Miami man dies while boating

Key Largo – A Miami man died Saturday after he jumped in the water from his boat for a swim and was swept away by the current.

43 year old Luis Fernandez was on the 17 foot vessel with his girlfriend, fishing in the vicinity of Carysfort off the Atlantic side of Key Largo. He jumped in the water to cool off at about 5:45 p.m. She said the current began sweeping him away. He grabbed for a fishing line they had in the water and it broke. She tried to throw him a life preserver, but he was so far away at that point he couldn’t reach it.

His girlfriend, who is 46 years of age and also from Miami, said it was the first time she’d ever been on a boat and she did not know how to operate it.

The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission responded and located Fernandez’ body. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death.

Miami man dies while boating

Key Largo – A Miami man died Saturday after he jumped in the water from his boat for a swim and was swept away by the current.

43 year old Luis Fernandez was on the 17 foot vessel with his girlfriend, fishing. He jumped in the water to cool off at about 5:45 p.m. She said the current began sweeping him away. He grabbed for a fishing line they had in the water and it broke. She tried to throw him a life preserver, but he was so far away at that point he couldn’t reach it.

His girlfriend, who is 46 years of age and also from Miami, said it was the first time she’d ever been on a boat and she did not know how to operate it.

The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission responded and located Fernandez’ body. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death.