March 27, 2014

Stock Island man arrested for gun threats

A Stock Island man was arrested for threatening to shoot his girlfriend with a shotgun.

Deputies responded just before 1 a.m. today to a report of a man with a gun in the area of 6621 Maloney Avenue on Stock Island. When they arrived in the area, they saw two women and two children running down the street. They told the deputies 23 year old Robert Morejon had just pointed a shotgun at one of them and threatened to kill her.

The victim said she lives with Morejon and he’s been acting strangely for a few days, making remarks about killing people. She said that night they were in bed together when he threatened her life. She said at one point she reached for her cell phone several times, but he pushed her away from it.

She said he pulled a shotgun from behind the dresser and pointed it at her. She said that is when she grabbed her children and ran out the door.

The woman with the victim was her mother. She said she saw Morejon walk out of the bedroom with the shotgun in his hands.

A gun case was later found hidden in the bedroom between the mattress and box springs.

Deputies Ian Cooper and David Lariz saw Morejon walking down Maloney Avenue. They were able to detain him without incident. He was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, battery and tampering with evidence. He was booked into jail.

March 26, 2014

Stock Island man arrested for molesting boy

A Stock Island man was arrested Tuesday, charged with molesting a young boy.

Major Crimes Detective Lissette Zuelch investigated the case against 26 year old Robert Morales. The conclusion of her investigation was that Morales sexually molested a six year old boy. The boy told family members what happened.

The Sheriff’s Office became involved when a family member of the victim first confronted then punched Morales. When deputies responded to the disturbance they were told about the molestation accusations.

Florida law prohibits anyone from identifying the victim in this case, or from disclosing any information which might identify him.

Morales was arrested and charged with lewd and lascivious  molestation of a child. His bond is set at $500,000.

March 25, 2014

Man charged with beating another man

A homeless man from Islamorada was arrested Monday, charged with beating another man after they had been drinking together.

Suspect 26 year old Justin Marlowe and the 50 year old victim were reportedly drinking together Sunday night into Monday morning at Hog Heaven bar. The two left together at approximately 3 a.m. After leaving, the victim says Marlowe attacked him, knocking him unconscious.

The victim told Detective Bob Dosh he awoke to find Marlowe standing over him. He said he could tell he had been injured badly and told the suspect he needed medical assistance. Marlowe got the victim s cell phone and dropped it on him so he could call for help. Marlowe then fled on his bicycle before help arrived.

The victim was taken to Mariner s Hospital. Doctors there said he would have to be taken to the Ryder Trauma Center for treatment of facial fractures. Deputy Martin Digrius found Marlowe Monday afternoon walking southbound on the highway at the 87 mile marker. He was arrested for aggravated battery and was booked into jail.

March 22, 2014

Man wanted on numerous warrants apprehended with the help of Crime Stoppers

A designated career criminal wanted on both Monroe County and Key West Police felony warrants was apprehended with the assistance of a Crime Stoppers tip and an alert deputy Friday.

Deputy David Lariz had information from a Crime Stoppers tip that 34 year old Frank Jones might be traveling on the highway in a mint green BMW. At 5:30 p.m., Deputy Lariz spotted the car southbound at the 11 mile marker of the highway.

He followed it and watched it pull into a condominium complex at 201 Coppitt Road. Frank Jones, wanted on multiple charges including false imprisonment and aggravated battery, got out of the driver s seat. Two small children got out of the back seat and a woman, the registered owner of the car, got out of the passenger seat.

Deputy Lariz confronted Jones. Jones was visibly nervous and began to back away. Deputy Lariz asked Jones to give up quietly and not to cause any problems in front of the children. Jones began reaching in his pockets despite the deputies orders to keep his hands in sight. Deputy Lariz deployed his Taser, hitting Jones but Jones was still able to turn and flee southbound on the highway. He was apprehended with the assistance of Lt. John Crane from the Sheriff s Detention Center, who was in the area at the time and acted as backup.

Jones license had been suspended numerous times. He was taken into custody, and faces the following charges:

Driving with license suspended with knowledge
Resisting arrest
Failure to register as a career offender
Aggravated battery and kidnapping / false imprisonment (Key West Police warrant)

Woman hiding from the feds for 18 years found in Key West

A woman who failed to appear in court on federal charges in Kansas City 18 years ago was apprehended in Key West Friday, living on a houseboat under another name.

Michelle Singleton, now 66 years old, failed to appear in federal court for sentencing on charges of payroll check fraud in March of 1996. A federal fugitive warrant was issued for her arrest. According to reports, the Secret Service recently received information she was possibly living in Key West under the assumed name of Catherine Harris.

An agent from the Kansas City office called Detective Sgt. Donald Catala with the information. When Detective Sgt. Catala looked at a photo of Harris, he recognized her as a person he has seen many times in the city of Key West. A check of computer records showed a woman by the name of Harris was living at an address in the Hilton Haven neighborhood of Key West. She had a 1994 Honda with a Florida tag, and had obtained a Florida driver s license in 2006 which expired in 2012.

A comparison of a picture of Singleton with the driver s license photo of Harris confirmed they were one and the same.

A Secret Service agent from the local office responded to Key West and met with the detective sergeant and with Detective Dave Chavka. They all went to the houseboat she was living on, which is moored at a pier at 15 Hilton Haven Drive. Singleton was on board. When they asked her for her identification, she gave them her expired license. They asked for her birth certificate and, when she got it from a file, some other pieces of paper fell out. Those pieces of paper turned out to be the social security card and birth certificate for Singleton.

She said she d obtained a birth certificate with the name Harris one month after fleeing from Kansas City. She used that birth certificate to initially obtain her Florida Driver s license. She said she had not renewed her driver s license because they had changed the rules for applying for it and she did not have all the proper identification she needed to apply for the renewal.

She admitted she was, indeed, Michelle Singleton. She was taken into federal custody on the federal fugitive charges. Singleton told the officers when they found her she was in the process of trying to sell the houseboat and move to the Dominican Republic.

March 21, 2014

Truck burns on Crane Boulevard

Deputy Aaron Coller took these pictures of a semi tractor trailer truck which caught fire early this morning on Crane Boulevard, Sugarloaf Key. Crane Boulevard was closed to traffic from 1:30 until about 5:30 a.m. as firefighters first fought the blaze and then the fire marshals office took a first look at it. The Fire Marshal will be investigating the cause of the fire, which completely destroyed the truck. The trailer was empty at the time of the fire, but there was about 125 gallons of fuel in the truck, which caused an explosion which was heard by neighbors in the area. 

March 20, 2014

Poker game leads to beer bottle attack

One man was arrested and a second went to the hospital after a fight over money broke out during  a poker game early today.

When Deputy Deanna Torres arrived at the home on Aviation Boulevard in Marathon at 2 a.m., they met the victim’s brother outside. He told them his brother had been hit in the head with an empty Corona beer bottle and was bleeding heavily. He advised the deputies not to go inside alone because there were a lot of people inside “acting crazy”.

Deputies Garrett Test and Danielle Malone arrived quickly on the scene and the three officers entered the house. They found the victim covered in blood, sitting just inside the door. They found a number of other people inside, and broken bottles and blood trails leading too all the rooms in the house with the largest concentration of blood in the living room.

The victim and other witnesses identified the suspect as 21 year old Isaac Vargas, a roommate of the victim. He was arrested and charged with aggravated battery. The victim was taken to Fishermen’s Hospital where received numerous staples to close two wounds in his head.

March 19, 2014

Special Olympics Torch Run coming up

Local law enforcement agencies will be running through the streets of Key West again this year in early April carrying the Special Olympics torch in a kick off to the Florida State Special Olympics games. The games will be held in Lake Buena Vista, Florida in May. Members of the public who like to run and who want to participate are welcome to come along.

The annual Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run is scheduled for April 4th. Runners will meet at the Florida Keys Community College campus that morning, with the run kicking off at 9 a.m. Along the course, runners will be stopping to meet and greet Monroe County School children and Special Olympics athletes. 

Stops will include:

Gerald Adams Elementary School
Publix Supermarket in Key Plaza (Publix is a major contributor to Special Olympics)
Poinciana Elementary School
Key Wet High School
HOB School
MARC House
Glenn Archer School
There will be a ceremonial “hand-off” of the torch from the Sheriff’s Office to Key West Police at the Southernmost Point, and the run will then continue to Mallory Square where it ends.

There will be water stops at all the schools and the pace will be slow – no faster than 10 minute miles. Runners can choose to run the entire time, or just select legs of the journey. Support vehicles will accompany the runners.

T-shirts can be purchases on run day or beforehand. Contact Sheriff’s Office member Jo Socha for shirts or more details at 305-292-7042 or Those who wish to participate are asked to register with either Jo, or Sheriff’s Office member Jim Painter at 305-292-7027 or .
After the Key West event, the torch will travel across the state, carried by Law Enforcement personnel from many agencies.  For more information go to:
Please come join us in this special event.

March 18, 2014

Illegal camp cleaned up

Sheriff’s Deputy Linda Kohout responded recently to a report of people illegally camping in a wooded area just south of the Bahia Honda Bridge. When she got there she found a group illegally camping in the woods. The area they were staying in was piled with trash and debris. Deputy Kohout encouraged them to clean up the area themselves and informed them they were not allowed to continue staying there. The group complied with her requests and brought this pile of debris to the roadside, where it was picked up by Infrastructure Corporation of America (ICA), a company contracted to clean up the Department of Transportation right of way. Over 1,200 pounds of trash were removed.

Sheriff receives award for National HIDTA Program

Sheriff Rick Ramsay recently visited his High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) offices in Miami to receive an award for his support of the National HIDTA Program.

Lt. Colonel Tim Wagner with the South Florida HIDTA Office and Director Bill Martin with the National HIDTA Assistance Office were on hand to give the Sheriff the “Outstanding Support to the National HIDTA Program” award from the Executive Office of the President, Office of National Drug Control Policy. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office manages the HIDTA Offices in South Florida and in Puerto Rico.

In the photo, Director Martin, Sheriff Ramsay and Lt. Colonel Wagner with the award.

Background information about Sheriff’s Office relationship with HIDTA:

The Monroe County Sheriff ’s Office is a major participant in the South Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program (SFLHIDTA), which comprises operations and intelligence efforts in Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties.
HIDTA disrupts the market for illegal drugs in the United States by assisting Federal, State, and local law enforcement entities in their efforts to investigate drug trafficking organizations, with particular emphasis on drug trafficking regions that have harmful effects on other parts of the United States.

The Sheriff’s Office received one of the first HIDTA grants in 1991 and used those funds to create the Monroe Task Force, which Investigates narcotics related money laundering organizations  on an international scale. The unit is still in existence, having seized over $65 million dollars in illicit Narcotics-derived financial proceeds. It brought in over $25 million in asset sharing to the Sheriff ’s Office in just one case and has since brought in millions more to benefit the citizens of Monroe County.

The Marathon HIDTA  group consists of partnerships with the Internal Revenue Service, HSI (Homeland Security Investigations, USSS (US Secret Service) and FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement).

In 1994, the Sheriff elected to further assist in the HIDTA effort by serving as a fiscal agent (fiduciary) in the South Florida HIDTA and the Puerto Rico- Virgin Islands HIDTA. The Sheriff ’s Office handles over $20 million in grant funds for those two projects and for the National HIDTA Assistance Center, also located in Miami. The SFLHIDTA has seized an average of $713 million worth of illicit drugs per year from regional and international drug trafficking organizations. Drugs seized include cocaine, heroin, marijuana, ecstasy, methamphetamine and all types of diverted pharmaceutical medications.

The Monroe County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) initiative fulfills a unique need for the law enforcement community.  Part of the greater South Florida HIDTA group and even larger National HIDTA organization, it addresses the unique issues of drug-trafficking and money-laundering in South Florida.  The task force comprises federal, state and local law enforcement officers.

Man arrested for not completing work he was paid for

A Rock Harbor man hired to do a survey of a home was paid for the work but never completed it. He was arrested for grand theft.

The victim said he hired 55 year old Lawrence Frank to do a survey of his Islamorada home prior to pulling permits for construction. He said he paid Frank $450 up front to do the survey, but Frank never showed up to do the work.

Since the victim hired Frank on the recommendation of his contractor, he asked the contractor to call Frank about it. The contractor called Frank numerous times, but Frank never returned his calls. The victim himself then tried to call Frank, but found all his phone numbers had been disconnected. He went to Frank’s Office at the 83.2 mile marker of the highway and found that Frank had vacated his offices as well.

Detective Yunier Galvez was assigned to investigate. He obtained a warrant for Frank’s arrest and today Frank was charged with Grand Theft and he was booked into jail.

White crowned pigeon rescued

This injured white crowned pigeon was rescued on Industrial Road, Big Pine Key by Deputy Wendy Negron and Sgt. Evan Calhoun (in the picture). This species is apparently on the "Threatened Species" list. It was taken to Marathon Wild Bird Center for care.

March 17, 2014

Traffic stop leads to marine violations

A trio from Miami were pulled over in a car northbound on Big Pine Key Sunday for a  traffic violation. The case turned into a marine violation case after the deputy found illegal fish in a cooler in the car.

The red sport utility vehicle was northbound at 2:20 a.m. Sunday when Deputy Kendall Bailey pulled it over for having no tag light. The driver, 55 year old Larry Brown, turned out to have a suspended driver’s license.

As Deputy Bailey was issuing Brown a notice to appear in court for driving with his license suspended, he noticed a cooler in the back of the vehicle. He asked to see what was inside. Brown told him they’d been fishing from a bridge on Cudjoe Key. He opened the cooler, revealing a large number of fish inside.

Deputy Bailey called for assistance from the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. After counting and measuring the fish, there were a total of 80 mangrove snapper – 65 over the bag limit. Twelve of the fish were undersized. They also had one undersized Mutton Snapper and one undersized School Master.

Brown, 33 year old Travis Rolle and 56 year old Yvonne Jackson – all Miami residents -  were issued marine violations in connection with the undersized and over the limit fish.

March 14, 2014

Graffiti eradicated in Islamorada

In Islamorada, Lt. Dave Carey and Sgt. Greg Johnson’s squad were out recently painting out graffiti around the 80 mile marker of the highway.

Graffiti painted over

 Deputies in Marathon had to apply two coats of paint to this lovely artwork behind Kmart. The graffiti eradication work was done by Sgt. Joel Slough’s squad: Deputies Danielle Malone, Deanna Torres, Garrett Bragg (above), Garrett Test (below)and James Hager.

March 13, 2014

Crime Prevention Tip: Safety when traveling

Tourist season is in full swing in the Florida Keys. While you and your family are traveling, it's important to remember tourists make tempting targets for thieves. Often lost or distracted, weighed down with bags, and carrying cameras, plane tickets, money, and other valuables, unsuspecting travelers can attract crime like a magnet.

Here are a few tips to help you stay safe:

·       Don't display expensive jewelry, cameras, bags, and other items that might draw attention.
·       Check maps before you go out so you can move around confidently.
·       Stick to well-lighted, well-traveled streets – don’t take shortcuts.
·       Always lock your car when it's parked, even if the stop is going to be brief. Always keep valuables out of sight, preferably locked in the trunk. Don't advertise you're a tourist by leaving maps or guidebooks on the seat or dashboard - keep them in the glove compartment or underneath the seat.
·       Traveling safely with your family also means sticking together and keeping an eye on your children at all times. Make sure they know where you're staying (name and address), and teach them what to do if they get lost or separated. You might want to agree on a meeting place, just in case. And by all means, make sure your kids know not to accept rides, gifts or favors from strangers.

Make your family vacation a memorable one for all the right reasons. Stay safe and enjoy the Florida Keys.

Basketball for Relay for Life

Mark your calendars for this great event, which raises money for Relay for Life. Come watch the Sheriff's Office "Stars" play the Key West Police "Finest" in a rematch basketball game. Last year's game was a lot of fun to watch - I hope we will get a great crowd this year to cheer on our local law enforcement teams and to raise money for a great cause!!! Saturday, April 12th at 11 a.m., Key West High School. Be there!

March 12, 2014

Airport emergency drill

 The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office took part in an emergency drill at the Key West airport yesterday. The scenario involved a plane which crash landed after a passenger caused a disruption on board. There were many simulated casualties played by volunteers. Firefighters, paramedics, deputies and hospital personnel were involved in practicing what they would do and how they would respond should such an incident occur.

March 11, 2014

Sheriff has new mobile app

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has a new way to communicate with the public. A new mobile application for smartphones is now available on Google Play and the Apple Store.

“We think it is important to let people know what we are doing, and this is just one more way for us to do that,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “This app will give people immediate information about traffic accidents via our WebCAD feature as well as information about arrests and news and events from the Sheriff’s Office.”

 The smartphone application brings the ever popular Arrests / Mug shots feature from the Sheriff’s Office website to people’s phones. WebCAD – the Sheriff’s Office live calls for service which people now access via the web – will bring traffic updates to people’s phones. The application will also feature the Sheriff’s Office Blog, Facebook pages and Twitter feed. Other features:

Make a CrimeStoppers tip from your phone

Call or email members of the Sheriff’s Office from the app

Take the Sheriff’s Office survey to let us know what you think of our service

Make a comment about the Sheriff’s Office, or commend an employee

See a complete listing, including photos, of sexual offenders who live in Monroe County

The cost of developing the app comes from funds derived from advertising on the Sheriff’s Office website. No taxpayer money was used for the application. Currently, bonding companies and attorneys can purchase ads on the site. The ads bring in approximately $25,000 per year. The initial development costs of the app were $6,000 and yearly maintenance, which will also come from advertising funds, will be about $2,000 a year. The app was developed by /

Links to the app:

March 10, 2014

A Stock Island man was arrested for trafficking in cocaine Sunday.

A search warrant was served at 11:30 a.m. Sunday at 5312 3rd Avenue Apartment 6 after a multi-agency investigation revealed the occupant of the apartment was selling large amounts of cocaine.

68 year old Juan Vazquez was at home when the search warrant was served by investigators from Monroe County Sheriff's Office HIDTA, Key West Police Special Investigations Unit, Homeland Security Investigations and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The search of the residence revealed a large number of individual bags of cocaine hidden in a coffee table in the front living room and cocaine hidden under the kitchen sink and on top of the bed in the bedroom. A total of 231.6 grams of cocaine were found.

A large amount of cash - $2,914 - was found hidden in the wall of the hot water heater closet.  The cash was seized for possible forfeiture as the possible proceeds of drug sales.

March 8, 2014

Fire destroys trailer

A trailer caught fire in Roy s Trailer Park on Maloney Avenue, Stock Island Friday night. Sheriff s dispatchers received a call of an unknown problem at Lot 47 in the trailer park at 8:15 p.m. When Deputy Andrew Hudson arrived, he found smoke coming from the trailer and no one inside.

Deputy Hudson called for firefighters to assist and began to evacuate surrounding trailers.

The fire was extinguished and the victims who lived there were assisted by the American Red Cross with necessities and a place to stay.

March 7, 2014

Community Clean Up

Old Settler’s Park in Tavernier got a face lift last weekend when a large group from the Sheriff’s Office and the community got together for a community clean up.

Cleaning up our mile of highway

This group on the left took care of our very own mile of Highway U.S. One this week. Once a month, we hold a clean up day for the area of mile marker 90 in Islamorada.

Graffiti painted over in the Lower Keys

Why anyone would want to ruin this beautiful ocean view with graffiti is beyond me. Lucky thing we saw it and took care of it quickly. Here are before and after pictures of just some of the graffiti painted over in the Lower Keys this week.

Animal Farm at Conchfest

 Jeanne Selander and her animals attended the Conchfest event at Bayview Park last weekend. The kids particularly loved Mo the Sloth and Chanel the Skunk but all the animals were a big hit with everyone at the Key West event.

Relay for life dance event

Detention Deputy Brittany Linares held a Dance for Life event at the White Street Pier in Key West, raising $850 for Relay for Life.

Explorers learn about law enforcement

 Sheriff’s explorers and cadets were busy this week in the Upper and Lower Keys. On the left, SRO Deputies Dave Stark and Larry O’Neill taught their group about our in-car computers. On the right, SRO Sgt. Glenn Test brought his kids to the Crime Lab, where Detective John Underwood talked to them about Crime Scene investigation. Property assistant Candy Busald helped out and Sheriff Rick Ramsay showed up to say hello.

Deputy rides for MS

Deputy Nelson Sanchez and his wife participated in the MS Bike Ride from FIU in Miami to Key Largo. Between the two of them, they raised $1,000 for multiple sclerosis. He is considering forming an MCSO team for next year.

Contractor arrested for grand theft

The owner of a company that installs boat lifts was arrested Thursday for taking money to install a boat lift and then failing to do the work.

This is the fourth criminal case against Englund and his company in the last five years investigated by Monroe County detectives. In three of those cases, 61 year old Peter Englund has been arrested for grand theft for taking money from people to do work for them, and then failing to do the work.

Englund gives a home address in Delray Beach, Florida and owns a company called Viking Marine. In his latest criminal offense, Englund took $1,500 from a Key Largo resident who lives on Adams Drive. He contracted to install a boat lift at the man’s residence in March of 2013, but after that he never showed up to do the work. Repeated phone calls from the homeowner got no response from Englund.

In previous cases, he did the same thing to homeowners in Big Pine Key, Key Largo and Tavernier. Only one case was resolved without criminal charges when Englund agreed to repay the deposit money the homeowner paid to him because he said he was too busy to complete the work.

Englund was booked into jail Thursday on grand theft charges. 

Marathon man charged with animal cruelty

A Marathon man is in jail, charged with cruelly abusing a pit bull terrier named “Wally” in front of witnesses.

At 12:45 a.m., Deputies Garrett Brag, Garrett Test and Deanna Torres responded to the Marathon Grill and Alehouse to a disturbance. When they arrived, they found the suspect, 21 year old Benjamin Check, pacing in the parking lot, visibly agitated. Witnesses in the parking lot said they’d seen Check violently abusing his dog, a pit bull terrier named “Wally”.

The witnesses said they saw Check pick Wally up by the ears and slam him into the ground repeatedly. They also saw him thrust his knee into Wally’s side. They said during the entire attack, Wally was crying out in pain.

A search of Check turned up a wallet in his pocket that did not belong to him. The wallet’s owner was on the scene. He said he did not give Check permission to take his wallet.

Animal Control was called to the scene and took Wally into their custody for his protection and for treatment of any injuries he may have sustained.

Check went to jail on charges of petit theft and animal cruelty.

March 6, 2014

Man eats money he stole

A Marathon man was arrested for battering and robbing his girlfriend. On the way to jail, he then ate a large portion of the money he stole from her.

Sgt. Joel Slough and Deputy Vince Weiner responded to Ocean Terrace in Marathon at 8:45 p.m. to reports of a domestic dispute. When they arrived, they found the suspect Leosvel Cordova Parrado who was clearly intoxicated. The victim, his girlfriend and her son were also on the scene.

The victim told deputies they were at a party earlier and Parrado became angry and demanded they return home. She said once they were at home, he pushed her around in their residence and the two of them struggled over her wallet, which he took from her by force. The wallet contained $750 in cash.

When deputies placed Parrado under arrest, they found a large amount of cash in his pocket along with a valium pill which he did not have a prescription for. He said the pill belonged to his girlfriend. The cash was left in his pocket temporarily as the deputies walked him outside to a patrol vehicle. Once outside, they attempted to find the cash but it was missing from his pocket. They asked him where it was and he said he took it out of his pocket inside the house and threw it on the bed.

Parrado was handcuffed and placed in a patrol car. As Sgt. Slough was driving to the detention center in Marathon, he heard a strange noise in the back of his car. When he looked in his rearview mirror, he saw Parrado with his mouth full of cash. He was literally chewing  – and choking on - the cash he had stolen from his girlfriend.

Sgt. Slough pulled over and attempted to recover the money Parrado was eating, but when he counted the remaining cash he found $277 missing from the whole amount the girlfriend said he stole. Some of the money was found in his underwear and deputies think that is where he hid it prior to eating it.

Parrado was charged with robbery, battery, grand theft, resisting arrest, possession of a controlled substance and tampering with evidence.

Stock Island man charged with selling marijuana

A Stock Island man is in jail today charged with selling several pounds of marijuana.

29 year old Timothy Bouchard of Miriam Street on Stock Island is accused of selling the large amount of marijuana in late February during an operation conducted by the Sheriff’s Monroe HIDTA group along with Key West Police detectives from their Special Investigations Unit and investigators from Homeland Security Investigations and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

A warrant was obtained for his arrest and he was picked up Wednesday, charged with sale of marijuana.

March 5, 2014

Sheriff’s Office: County crime down 12.5%

Although the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has not publicly released their Major Index Crimes report for the state, the Sheriff’s Office has received information from that agency which indicates crime in the areas patrolled by the Sheriff’s Office went down in 2013 by 12.5% over the previous year.

“This is tremendous news,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. The year in question was his first year as Sheriff of Monroe County. “This is a substantial reduction in major crimes here and we should all be proud of the hard work that brought this about.”

Sheriff Ramsay attributes the lower rate of crime to the hard work of his deputies and the close partnership his agency has with the community.

“I believe the hard work of our deputies, and the close working relationship they have with the community they serve is responsible for making our county a safer place,” he said. “I think we are on the right track with the community initiatives we have been concentrating on since I took office. There is no reason why this downward trend in crime cannot continue in the future if we all work hard together to improve our streets and neighborhoods.”

Sheriff Ramsay has pushed hard when it comes to cleanliness and quality of life in the Keys. He has taken the well-known “Broken Windows Theory” of crime and criminal behavior to heart and so have the people who work for him.

The Broken Windows theory posits that the appearance of disorder – including trash on the streets, graffiti and abandoned homes and vehicles – leads to more disorder and criminal behavior. It theorizes that keeping neighborhoods clean and in good shape encourages people who live there to maintain order and discourages crime from taking place.

Sheriff Ramsay has set up numerous neighborhood clean ups; his officers paint out graffiti within 24 hours of finding it; he has overseen the installation of street lights, and is often seen himself picking up trash and painting out unsightly graffiti on the side of the road.

“It is rewarding and gratifying to see the results of our efforts in this reduction in crime,” said Sheriff Ramsay. “I want to thank everyone for their support and assistance in our efforts. It is only as a team that we can continue to be effective.”

Reduction of crime is not the only positive aspect of the FDLE report. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office saw crime clearance rates go up as well. The clearance rate for crime in Monroe County increased from 24.4% in 2012 to 29.7% in 2013.

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

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

While the FDLE information is preliminary and has not officially been released to the public, it shows the following numbers for specific Major Index Crimes in Monroe County:

·       Total Index crimes went down, from 1,953 in 2012 to 1,708 in 2013.
·       Murder, Forcible Sex Offenses and Robbery all saw no change from 2012 to 2013.
·       Aggravated Assaults increased by 20%, from 143 to 172.
·       Burglaries decreased by 12.2%, from 344 to 302.
·       Larceny (which includes all types of theft related property crimes) went down by 17%, from 1,378 to 1,144.

·       Motor Vehicle Theft increased by 4.2%, from 48 to 50.

March 4, 2014

Major Crimes inspected

The Major Crimes Unit went through its annual formal inspection recently. Here is Det. Rosa DiGiovanni being inspected by Major Lou Caputo and Lt. Lee Ann Holroyd.

Bomb Squad talks to Cadets

 Sgt. Mike DiGiovanni spent time in the Upper Keys with Plantation Key School cadets, talking to them about the Bomb Squad. He even put on his bomb suit and let the kids see how it works to protect him in the event of an explosion. SROs Deputies Dave Stark and Larry O’Neill invited the Cub Scouts, other kids and school staff to attend the session as well.

Sheriff's Office employees mentor youth

Juvenile Programs members Sherwood Hanford and Nat Whitehouse recently attended Mentor Training for the Florida Youth Challenge Academy. Both Woody and Nat regularly mentor local kids through the program, which is operated by the National Guard. With them in the photo are their two current mentees who are in the academy: Christopher Perez and Aliyah Ajiduro-Yanez.

Graffiti removed in the Lower Keys

Deputy Linda Kohout and Big Pine Road Prison inmate Moreno removed graffiti this week from the right of way at the 23 mile marker, Cudjoe Key. Here is a before and after picture.

Deputies cleaning up

Deputies Freddy Rodriguez and Lazaro Valdes have been working to clean up campsites along Highway U.S. One just south of the Boca Chica Bridge. Here is Deputy Valdes at just one of the many they have cleaned up recently.

Speeding leads to drug charges

A Long Key man is in jail on drug charges after he was stopped for speeding early today.

Sgt. Sydney Whitehouse was on patrol at 2 a.m. at the 99.5 mile marker of the highway, southbound when he spotted a white Dodge minivan traveling over the speed limit. He pulled the vehicle over at the 97 mile marker.

The driver, Eric Rodriguez Campos admitted he knew his license was suspended. In fact a check on it revealed several suspensions and a cancellation of the license in November. Campos was arrested and charged with driving with a suspended license.

A digital scale with cocaine residue was found in one of his pants pockets. A search of his vehicle prior to it being towed turned up a can of Brake Parts Cleaner with a false bottom. Hidden inside the false bottom was a plastic bag containing 15 grams of powdered cocaine.

Campos was further charged with possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia. He was booked into jail.

Big Pine man faces gun charges

A Big Pine man was arrested on a warrant for being a felon in possession of a firearm and for failing to register as a convicted felon.

Deputy Aaron Coller responded to a fight at Sea Horse Campground on Big Pine Key Friday night at 11 p.m. When he arrived, he found a group of neighbors gathered around two men fighting. He broke up the fight, and one of the men began to walk quickly away. 42 year old Ronald Jacobs was detained until Deputy Coller could determine what took place.

Witnesses said Jacobs had attacked his girlfriend. When several people intervened, the fight broke out. A witness to the fight said he d seen Jacobs with a long gun  either a rifle or shotgun. Another witness said Jacobs had a large knife.

A shotgun was, indeed, found inside the home where Jacobs is living with his girlfriend. A check of his background revealed he is a convicted felon who has not registered in Monroe County.

As Jacobs was in the process of being arrested Friday night, he began to have medical problems and paramedics were called to the scene. Jacobs was eventually transported to Lower Keys Hospital where he was admitted for treatment.

A warrant was obtained for the charges. After he was discharged from the hospital, he was arrested and was booked into jail for failing to register as a convicted felon and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Stock Island man arrested for stabbing

A Stock Island man is under arrest, charged with stabbing another man in a fight over a woman.

Witnesses and the victim say 32 year old Keeney Diaz and the victim were fighting over the victim s girlfriend. The fight took place Monday at 11 a.m. on Robin Lane on Stock Island. During the fight, Diaz reportedly pulled out a knife. When the victim saw the knife he turned to flee. Diaz then allegedly stabbed him in the lower back with the knife.

Deputy Matt Dowling was nearby when the victim approached him to report being stabbed. Paramedics were called. Deputy Dowling responded to Robin Lane, to the rear of a home on 5th Avenue. He asked a man he found there if Diaz was inside. The man said Diaz was inside.

Diaz then stepped outside the home and he was taken into custody and placed in the rear of Deputy Dowling s patrol car. When Deputy Dowling told Diaz he was being arrested, Diaz began to struggle in the back of the vehicle. Deputies David Lariz and Kim Trullender were on scene to assist and they attempted to calm Diaz, who kicked and struggled with them violently.

Diaz was transported to jail where he was booked for aggravated battery and resisting arrest with violence.

March 3, 2014

Sheriff’s Office checks for underage alcohol sales

Note: the undercover operatives used in these operations are carefully chosen so they appear clearly to be underage.  It is in no way the intention of the operation to trick anyone into selling alcohol illegally.

On February 28, 2014, The Sheriff’s Special Investigations Division conducted an operation checking businesses that sell alcohol in the Upper Keys.  Twelve businesses were checked including restaurants, convenience stores and bars.  Four of the businesses served alcohol to a minor during our investigation.  The four clerks who sold the alcohol were issued Notices to Appear before a Monroe County Judge. 

The following are a list of the Business, and attendants who sold the alcohol:
  • Mobil Gas Station- 81644 Overseas Highway, Islamorada.  Attendant: Andreanne Virgile, 21 years of age.  Notice to appear issued.
  • Tiny’s - 82788 Overseas Highway, Islamorada.  Attendant: Chad Boals, 29 years of age.  Notice to appear issued. 
  • Chevron Gas Station - 84001 Overseas Highway, Islamorada.  Attendant: Patricia Henke, 62 years of age.  Notice to appear issued. 
  • Circle K – 92780 Overseas Highway, Key Largo.  Attendant: Chris Avramides,  43 years of age.  Notice to appear issued. 
The Sale Clerk violations are up to 60 days in jail, a $500.00 fine, $235.00 in court cost, $75.00 in cost of prosecution, and $40.00 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.

Man found dead under Jewfish Creek Bridge

The circumstances surrounding the death of a Homestead man remain unknown pending an autopsy. His body was found Saturday about 70 feet below the Jewfish Creek Bridge, in a wooded area. His car was found parked at the top of the bridge.

Deputy E.B. Askins responded Saturday at 10:15 a.m. to a report of a suspicious vehicle in the northbound lanes at the top of the bridge. When he checked on it, the blue Jeep had a red tow notice on it from the Florida Highway Patrol, dated Friday, February 28th.

Later Saturday morning, the roommate of the car’s owner called Sheriff’s dispatchers.  He said he was traveling into Monroe County for work Saturday morning and saw his roommate’s car parked on the top of the bridge. He said he hadn’t heard from 42 year old Michael Schmidt since Thursday. He said Schmidt called him that day about 4 p.m. to ask him to let his dog out for him. He said he’d not heard from Schmidt since that conversation. The roommate said he’d been in contact with Schmidt’s parents, who said they also had not heard from their son.

The roommate and a friend responded to the bridge to pick up the vehicle so it wouldn’t be towed. They brought a spare key for the car they’d gotten from Schmidt’s parents. They said they found nothing wrong with the car which would cause it to have been abandoned. It reportedly started right up and wasn’t out of gas. The two looked over the edge of the bridge and saw what they believed to be a body about 70 feet below, in a wooded area. They called the Sheriff’s Office to report it.

The body was retrieved from the wooded area with the assistance of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office for identification. Due to damage from the fall, the body’s identity was not immediately obvious. The body was identified by fingerprints as Schmidt’s. The circumstances surrounding his death are unknown, although there are no obvious signs or indications of foul play in his death. An autopsy will be done in an attempt to determine the cause of his death.

Elderly man, lost, recovered in the Keys

An elderly man reported missing with a statewide Silver Alert was found safe in Tavernier this weekend.

The 82 year old from Port St. Lucie was at the Circle K store at the 92 mile marker Sunday at 2 a.m. The clerk at the store called the Sheriff’s Office because he recognized the man from a Silver Alert he’d seen on the Florida State Lottery gaming machine in the store.

When Deputy Michael Claudy arrived, he found the man tired and disoriented. Deputy Claudy was able to contact the man’s family and he and his vehicle were returned home safely.

Woman arrested for knife threats

A Big Pine Key woman who stole towels from the laundry room of a trailer park threatened the owners of the towels with a knife when they tried to get them back from her.

When a 19 year old man went to the laundry facility at Sea Horse Trailer Park just after 8 p.m. Sunday to get bath towels his mother left in one of the dryers, he found they were missing. Another man in the laundry told him he’d seen 52 year old Robin Grabey take them. The 19 year old and a 27 year old friend confronted Grabey asking for the towels back. Grabey then pulled a folding knife from her pocket, opened it and told them she would stab them.

A witness who saw Grabey make the threats told Deputy Aaron Coller he saw the entire chain of events. He gave the same account of events as the two victims.

Grabey was found at her trailer at lot #101 and she was arrested. She was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and she was booked into jail.