April 30, 2014

Sheriff paints out graffiti

Sheriff Rick Ramsay doesn't just do lip service to his belief in community service and keeping our community clean. Yesterday, as he was driving through Key West, he spotted some graffiti on a dumpster on Truman Avenue. He stopped and painted over it.

"If we allow graffiti like this in one spot, pretty soon it is all over," he said. "I tell my officers if they see graffiti, I want it gone in 24 hours. And I follow that rule as well," he said.

He carries multiple colors of paint in his car just for that purpose and can frequently be seen stopping alongside the road to paint some over as he travels up and down the highway.

Thanks for the animal farm support

Sheriff Rick Ramsay and Farmer Jeanne Selander present a certificate of thanks to David Sloan, who paid a visit to the Sheriff’s Animal Farm Tuesday to accept it.

Sloan was one of the organizers of the Cow Key Channel 0 K Bridge Run, which benefited the Animal Farm. The farm is, in large part, supported by donations from people like Sloan, and from those individuals who visit the farm and choose to give money in support of the wonderful facility. The farm is open to the public second and fourth Sundays and is home to over 250 animals, most of which were abandoned, abused or otherwise in desperate need of a good home. 

Torch Run money goes to the MARC House

Sheriff Rick Ramsay and Sheriff’s Office member Jo Socha presented a check to members of the MARC House. The $1,900 was raised by selling T-shirts for the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run. Left to right, Ben Neff, Pam Nelson, Serina Seahorne, Sheriff Ramsay, Amanda Kirkman, Tony Maynard and Jo Socha. Socha was one of the organizers of the Torch Run and is on the MARC House Board of Directors along with the Sheriff.

National Correctional Officers and Employees Week

Next week, May 4th through the 10th, is National Correctional Officers and Employees Week. The week was originally enacted by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. It is a week set aside to recognize these hard working correctional professionals and the valuable public service they provide.

Much of what they do is “behind the scenes” in a county, state or federal corrections facility. Every day they work in a place most of us have never been and don’t ever want to be. It is a tough job that requires a great amount of patience to perform every day.

Correctional Officers are many different things to many different people. They are law enforcement officers, counselors, supervisors and sometimes medical first responders.

The people who work in our Monroe County Sheriff’s Office jail facilities are well trained and professional in their job performance. They are also dedicated to their community.

“Our corrections employees are exemplary in their field. We are tremendously proud of the job they do. They are also some of the first of our members to step up when it comes to community service work,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “They are involved in many charitable activities, including fund raisers for the MARC House, Salvation Army, the American Cancer Society and they are always present in large numbers for the community clean ups we hold county-wide,” he said.

Next week, if you know anyone who works in one of our jail facilities, or in another corrections facility in some other jurisdiction, let them know you appreciate their hard work and the tough job they do.

Search Warrant on Stock Island

Stock Island - A search warrant was served Tuesday at a Stock Island residence. 

Detectives from the Special Investigations Unit, along with Lower Keys Criminal Investigation detectives and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration served the warrant at 6529 Maloney Avenue, Lot 6, on Stock Island just before 2 p.m.  Inside the trailer, detectives found 30 year old Delila Bryant, 57 year old William Kirkpatrick, 37 year old Eric Myles and 43 year old Elizabeth Ebinger. 

The search of the residence turned up 5.3 grams of methamphetamine, 19 Dronabinol pills, 2 grams of cocaine, 3 grams of powdered amphetamine, over 50 miscellaneous prescription pills, a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.  Additionally, inside the residence was equipment and precursor chemicals required for a portable methamphetamine lab.  A search of a vehicle on the property turned up two methadone pills, more marijuana and drug paraphernalia. 

Kirkpatrick was charged with the production of methamphetamines, possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell\manufacture\deliver, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, possession of drug paraphernalia and providing a false name to a law enforcement officer.  Kirkpatrick originally told detectives his first name was “Jack” and gave a different date of birth to them when they asked for his identification information. Myles was charged with the possession of cocaine, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Bryant was charged with marijuana possession. Ebinger was charged with possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, marijuana possession, and possession of drug paraphernalia.  

They were all booked into the Key West jail.

April 29, 2014

Search warrant results in one arrest

Key Largo - A search warrant was served this morning in a Key Largo residence.  Detectives from the Special Investigations Division, Special Operations Unit served the warrant at 50 Andros Road, in Key Largo.  Inside the residence Detectives found 27 year old Kevin J. Cornell. 

The search of the residence turned up over 60 grams of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and $4,000.00 in cash - suspected proceeds from drug sales.  Cornell was charged with possession of Marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of drug paraphernalia.  Additionally,  Cornell was charged with three active warrants for sale of marijuana with a bond totaling over $32,500.  Cornell was booked into the Plantation Key jail.

Marathon man charged in road rage incident

A Marathon man was arrested after he showed another driver a gun during the course of a road rage incident.

The victim called the Sheriff’s Office just before 9 p.m. Monday to report the incident. He said a man in a blue Ford minivan had pointed a black colored handgun at him in the parking lot of the Mobile gas station on Big Coppitt Key. He was able to give dispatchers the vehicle’s license tag number.

The van was stopped on Stock Island by Deputies Andrew Hudson and Donald Stulken. 26 year old Andrew Bermudez of Marathon was driving. When the deputies questioned Bermudez, he admitted to having a handgun in the van. He said he was driving on highway U.S. One when a Mercedes was behind him, following closely. He said he put on his brakes to let the car’s driver know he was following too closely. He said the Mercedes then passed him and did the same thing in front of him. He said later in the incident, he took his gun out of his glove compartment and tapped it against his driver’s side window to let the other driver know he had a gun.

The victim said he was southbound at the 16 mile marker when a blue van in front of him pulled off the road, then pulled back in behind him. He said the van was following closely behind him so he pulled off the roadway into the parking lot of a Big Coppitt gas station. He said the van pulled in as well, so he got out and approached it. That is when he said the driver of the van pointed a handgun at him.

Bermudez was arrested. He was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and he was booked into jail.

Man arrested for reckless driving, fleeing police

A Brazilian man was arrested Monday night after he was seen driving recklessly then tried to flee from deputies into a residential neighborhood.

Deputy Ralph Williams was parked beside the highway at the 89 mile marker when he saw a silver colored Mustang convertible pass him northbound at a high rate of speed. As he pulled out and turned on his lights and siren, he saw the car pass three vehicles using the center turn lane. The vehicle then braked hard and turned onto Fontaine Drive, a residential neighborhood. Several vehicles had to brake suddenly to avoid accidents as the car performed these maneuvers.

Since there was no other outlet for the road, Deputy Williams parked at the intersection of Fontaine Drive and Riviera Drive, waiting for the Mustang to exit, which it did a short time later. At that point, Deputy Williams again activated his lights and siren and this time, the Mustang stopped.

The driver, 28 year old Thiago De Torres Bilek, told the deputy he was in a hurry to get to Diver’s Direct before it closed. He said he was coming from Key West.

Deputy Patricia Garcia arrived to assist. When she called in the driver’s name and license number with Sheriff’s dispatchers, they told her the same vehicle had been the subject of a number of calls from other drivers in the lower and middle Keys reporting reckless behavior.

De Torres Bilek was arrested. He was charged with reckless driving and fleeing and eluding police. He was booked into jail.

Woman charged with burglary, dealing stolen property

A Marathon woman was arrested Monday for stealing jewelry from her roommate and then pawning it at a local pawn shop.

The victim called the Sheriff’s Office on April 23rd to report her roommate, 27 year old Allison Peryam, took jewelry from her bedroom. Investigations revealed Peryam then took the jewelry to a Marathon pawn shop and pawned it for cash. The victim rents a room in the same house as Peryam.

A warrant was issued for her arrest. On Monday she was booked into jail on charges of burglary, grand theft, dealing in stolen property and fraud.

April 28, 2014

Saturday is anniversary of deputy’s on-duty death

Saturday will be the 16 year anniversary of the death of Deputy Michael Alexander, who was killed in the line of duty May 3rd, 1998. This week, the Sheriff’s Office remembers his death, and the service and sacrifice he gave to his community.

Deputy Michael Alexander died in a traffic accident while on duty working for the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. He had just left roll call at the Plantation Key Substation and was en route to his duty station at the Ocean Reef Community. For some reason, he had pulled off the highway and onto Val Jean Way, in Tavernier. He was stopped at a stop sign at Val Jean Way and Highway U.S. One when he pulled out into the path of an oncoming semi-tractor trailer truck. He was broadsided on the driver’s side by the truck.

Deputy Alexander had worked for the Monroe County Sheriff's Office for just less than a year at the time he was killed. He worked on the midnight shift as a deputy at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo. He was also on the Monroe County Sheriff's Office Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team.

Prior to working in the Florida Keys, Deputy Alexander worked for the Miami-Dade Police Department for 16 years. He left that department as a Lieutenant. 

Motorcycle ride may cause traffic slow downs on Sunday

This motorcycle ride raises money for the children of Miami-Dade police officers killed in the line of duty. It happens twice a year. The ride starts at 9 a.m. and goes from Miami-Dade County to the Postcard Inn, Islamorada. The ride will take place on Sunday, May 4th and may cause some traffic slow-downs as the motorcycles all travel in a group.

April 27, 2014

Corrections officer arrested in Miami-Dade County

A Monroe County Sheriff’s Office corrections deputy was arrested Saturday morning by Miami-Dade police.

19 year old Juan Morales Jr. was booked into the Miami-Dade County jail with two other men on charges of grand theft and criminal mischief. According to a report by Miami-Dade police, they were caught with a tire and rim they had allegedly stolen off of a vehicle on S.W. 149th Avenue.

Morales Jr. has been employed by the Sheriff’s Office since September of 2013.

April 25, 2014

Come honor fallen officers!

This special ceremony to honor our fallen officers is coming up in May.
Mark your calendars now and show your respect for their sacrifice!

Graffiti eradicated!!!

Before and after pictures of graffiti under the Seven Mile Bridge. The district called for help from ICA. Company employees jumped on the MCSO boat with Deputy Willie Guerra and painted over it right away.

Relay for Life in Key West tonight

Relay for Life in Key West begins tonight at 7 p.m. and continues until tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 9 a.m. The event will be held at Higgs Beach. Come on our and support all the Relay for Life teams, including the Sheriff's Office team - Jailhouse Rock!!!

Congratulations on promotion

Congratulations to newly promoted Sgt. Trevor Wirth, who will be working in the Lower Keys as a road patrol supervisor.

April 24, 2014

Neighbors, smoking crack together, have dispute involving machete

Key Largo – A couple who was smoking crack with a neighbor called the Sheriff’s Office after the neighbor started swinging a machete at them.

Deputies responded to Point Pleasant Drive in Key Largo at 11:15 p.m. to reports someone was swinging a machete at people. When they arrived, they found a couple who said their neighbor, 53 year old Antonio Motes-Diaz had swung his machete at them after a dispute. As the deputies investigated the incident, the couple admitted they’d been drinking beer and smoking crack cocaine with Motes before the incident.

Motes told deputies the couple became upset when he ran out of crack cocaine. Motes said the woman spat at him, and the man attacked him. Motes said he retreated into his apartment where he got first a baseball bat and then a machete to “defend himself”.

Motes was arrested and charged with aggravated assault. The male half of the couple, 26 year old Christopher Stevens, was also arrested after he was found to be in possession of Alprazolam, the generic form of Xanax, which he did not have a prescription for. Both men were taken to jail.

New Hampshire man dies while diving

A 48 year old man from New Hampshire died while diving offshore of Duck Key Wednesday afternoon.

Matthew Prior was on a dive trip with his family on board a vessel named “Seafari”. According to witnesses, he and a number of others were diving on a hooka rig and he’d been underwater about 15 minutes. A dive instructor underwater with Prior said Prior indicated several times he was alright before signaling he wanted to surface. As he was surfacing, Prior suddenly became unresponsive.

The instructor grabbed him, took him to the surface and called for help. Prior was taken on board the boat and CPR was started. All divers and snorkelers were gathered and the boat headed back to shore.

Prior was pronounced dead at Fishermen’s Hospital. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death.

April 23, 2014

Cleanup in Key Largo

The Sheriff's Office held a cleanup in the Hibiscus Park neighborhood of Key Largo this week. Thanks to Keys Sanitary Service for helping out with the event, and thanks to Deputy E.B Askins for taking these great photos.

Marathon slots available in Citizen’s Police Academy

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office will be holding its next  Citizen’s Police Academies starting in May and we are still looking for people in the Marathon area who are interested in learning more about law enforcement and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

Classes in Marathon will begin May 7th and will continue through graduation the week of June 24th. They will be held at the Sheriff’s Aviation Hanger at the Marathon airport. Attendees will be asked to commit to spending every Wednesday night between the hours of 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. They will also be asked to participate in at least one ride-along with a deputy during the academy period.

“If you have always wanted to know more about law enforcement this is a terrific opportunity,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “We’ve held academies like this for the past two years and everyone who attended them really enjoyed themselves. We don’t just stand in a classroom and lecture; you will have the opportunity to have a hands-on law enforcement experience if you attend one of these academies,” he said.

Classes will include:
·       An orientation and introduction to patrol procedures
·       A tour of one of the jail facilities
·       Introduction to weapons: simunitions and Taser
·       Traffic / Felony stops
·       Crime Scene Investigations, including a hands on mock crime scene
·       Building searches
·       Introduction to specialty units: SWAT, Bomb, Dive, Major Crimes and Special Investigations

Anyone who is interested should contact Captain Gene Thompson, gthompson@keysso.net or Lt. Derek Paul, dpaul@keysso.net , or call 305-289-2430.

April 20, 2014

Three from Miami arrested for rod and reel thefts

Detectives say they have cleared numerous rod and reel theft cases that have taken place between Duck Key and Key Largo over the last three months. Three Miami men were arrested Saturday, caught stealing equipment from boats at Robbie’s Marina in Islamorada.

Deputies were called to Robbie’s Marina in Islamorada just before 7 a.m. A witness at the marina called the Sheriff’s Office after a confrontation with three people over stolen fishing equipment.

The witness – a charter boat captain at the marina – said he was getting his boat ready for a charter when he noticed he was missing a bait cooler and a couple of rods and reels. He said two other people on nearby boats also said they were missing gear.

He said he noticed three men at the marina he didn’t recognize who were on an outer dock feeding Tarpon. He said it is unusual for anyone to be at the marina at that hour, so he became suspicious. He and the other theft victims went to the parking lot and saw a green Toyota 4-Runner parked there. Inside the vehicle, through open windows, he saw all the stolen rods and reels and his bait cooler. He took a picture of the truck’s license tag and the stolen items inside.

At that point, the three men who’d been feeding Tarpon walked up and confronted the victims. The victims told the men to return their stolen items but the men refused, got in their truck and drove away. The victims then called the Sheriff’s Office.

A notice to be on the lookout for the truck was issued over police radios and the vehicle was stopped at the 86 mile marker by Sgt. Eric Mixon and Deputies Nelson Sanchez and Todd Wyatt. The three men inside were identified by the first witness as the men he had a confrontation with at the marina. Inside the vehicle was the stolen property. Deputies also found burglary tools inside the vehicle, including bolt cutters, screw drivers, two head lamps, two flashlights and a face covering.

18 year old Hector Torres, 18 year old Alfredo Melian Casanova and 18 year old Kristofer LLuis were arrested. During subsequent interviews by detectives, they admitted to committing multiple burglaries and thefts between January and April from various locations in middle and upper Florida Keys. They said the property they stole was subsequently sold at the Homestead Flea Market.

All three were booked into jail on multiple counts of burglary, grand theft and possession of burglary tools. The vehicle was seized for possible forfeiture. The investigation is continuing and more charges are expected.

April 18, 2014

Two arrested in connection with rod and reel thefts

A Big Pine Key man and a Cudjoe Key man have been arrested in connection with recent rod and reel thefts in the Lower Keys.

On April 13th at 6 a.m., deputies were called to a home on Cudjoe Key. 33 year old John Farley said he’d just seen someone take rods and reels from underneath his home on Cutlass Drive. He gave dispatchers a description of the car the man fled in, along with a license tag number. Just minutes later, the car was stopped by Deputy Linda Kohout. The driver was identified as 32 year old Joshua Causey. In the car, deputies found 11 rod and reel combinations, along with a radio controlled boat motor.

Farley identified Causey as the man he saw stealing his rods and reels. He identified six of the rods and reels as his along with the boat motor. The property was returned to him. He said he did not want to press charges against Causey. The other items in the car were taken by the deputies for further investigation. At the time of the traffic stop, Causey told deputies he and Farley were friends. He said he’d been at Farley’s house and they’d argued. He said Farley told him to take the fishing equipment and to leave. He said Farley must have called the Sheriff’s Office after he left. Due to conflicting stories, Causey was not arrested and the case was assigned to detectives.

The case began to get more complicated after three more reports of rod and reel thefts came in over the next two days. A man on Big Coppitt Key, a man on Summerland Key and a man on Sugarloaf Key all reported their fishing equipment stolen; two of  from storage areas under their residences and one  from a porch area where they had been propped up to dry. Detectives from the Lower Keys Criminal Investigative Unit were assigned to all the cases and began to unravel the details.

Some of the rods and reels reported stolen from the other residences turned out to be the ones seized in the traffic stop. Some of the stolen rods and reels turned out to be ones returned to Farley after he identified them as his. Some of the stolen rods and reels turned up at Farley’s house when detectives went to talk to him as they investigated.

Both men were arrested Thursday. Causey was charged with two counts of grand theft in connection with the crimes in Summerland Key and Sugarloaf Key. Farley was charged with two counts of grand theft in connection with the crimes on Big Coppitt Key and on Sugarloaf Key. Investigations are continuing.

April 17, 2014

Kid's cleanup!

Event benefits MARC House

Deputy participates in race

We are very proud of Deputy Dee Torres who participated in the Miami 2014 Spartan Race, which included an 8 mile run with 20 obstacles. She said it was a lot of fun and looking at her, I believe it! Great job, Dee!

Sheriff's Office helps out at memorial wall exhibit

 The Vietnam Memorial traveling wall visited Key Largo this week and many in the Sheriff’s Office helped out with the worthy event. Here are Reserves Paul Petek (top left) and Ben Elmore who worked guarding the wall over the weekend.

MCSO at job fair

Charles Slebodnick from the Human Resources Division represented the agency this week at a Florida Keys Community College job fair.

Caller threatens bombing in apparent scam call

A caller to the Big Pine Key CVS pharmacy threatened to blow the store up Wednesday.

A man called the business at 7 p.m. and told the clerk who answered the phone to fill a Green Dot card with $500 or he would blow up the store. The clerk handed the phone to a co-worker and the man repeated his threats to her. The two hung up the phone and called the Sheriff’s Office.

They told Deputy Kendall Bailey they think the caller intended to have them load the card with $500 and then give him the number off the back so he could use the money.

The two employees handled the situation properly, according to Sheriff Rick Ramsay.

“This call threatening to blow up the store is a bit extreme, but there are many scams around that are similar. Generally someone is trying to force you to send them money quickly so you don’t have time to think about it,” he said. “If someone calls and tells you to do something and it just doesn’t feel right to you, it probably isn’t. Take the time to check it out – call us and we will help you find out if the situation is a scam or not.”

Some other examples of scams being reported locally:

Some businesses are currently getting calls from people claiming to be from utility companies, threatening to turn off electricity if they don’t pay their bills using green dot money cards or other types of prepaid cards. Oftentimes, they are using phone “spoofing” technology so it appears the call is coming from the utility company.

A person will get a phone call about a friend or family member who is in trouble. That friend or family member needs money quickly to get out of whatever trouble they are in. Typically, the scammer asks for you to go to the store and get green dot prepaid card and give them the number on the card; they may also ask that a money order be wired to a certain location.

Man arrested for molesting young girl

A Sugarloaf Key man is in jail charged with having sexual relations with a young girl.

The victim’s mother came home on April 3rd and found 32 year old Emanuel Llama naked in her 13 year old daughter’s bedroom. A confrontation ensued and Llama left her house.

At that point, the victim confided to her mother and to a friend that 32 year old Emanuel Llama forced her to have sexual relations with him on numerous occasions between July of 2012 and now. She said he also forced her to watch pornographic movies with him.

Major Crimes Detective Lissette Zuelch obtained a warrant for Llama’s arrest after investigating the case. On Wednesday, Llama was charged with lewd and lascivious behavior with a victim between the ages of 12 and 16 and lewd and lascivious molestation of a victim between the ages of 12 and 16. 

April 16, 2014

Clean up scheduled for Key West!

Just a reminder to put this event on your calendar and come on out and join us for a Key West clean up!

Man dies after being pinned under vehicle while working on it

A 77 year old Marathon man was working on his vehicle at his home on Avenue H, Coco Plum Road in Marathon when it fell on him, killing him on Tuesday morning.

Manuel Perez reportedly used a forklift to pick up his truck. He was underneath it working on it when it somehow slipped off the forklift, falling on top of him.

Family members found him and called for help. They used the forklift to lift the truck off Perez and began performing CPR. He was transported to Fishermen’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

April 15, 2014

Make sure you lock up your fishing equipment

Every year, as spring and summer approach, the Sheriff’s Office begins to see more crimes related to boats, boating and fishing. Recently, detective units county-wide have seen an uptick in the theft of various types of fishing equipment – particularly rods and reels.

Since February, there have been approximately 30 reports county-wide of fishing equipment stolen. Most of the stolen equipment has been rods and reels, with some dive equipment and one small outboard motor. In virtually all these cases, the thefts have been easily preventable. The items have virtually all been unsecured, either easily accessible on board a boat, stored underneath a home outside, or in an unlocked downstairs enclosure.

Thefts that have occurred in close geographic areas may or may not be connected. Many of the cases have similarities with others or are very close in time and place to each other. Detectives do not believe, however, that this is an organized “ring” of thieves.

“I think we have a few here and a few there being committed by the same people,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “Do I think they are all connected county-wide? No, I don’t,” he said. “We are working hard on these cases. We could use citizens’ help both when it comes to preventing these crimes and when it comes to solving them.”

These crimes are most likely crimes of opportunity, detectives say. Someone just decides to go door to door in a neighborhood looking for things of value to steal. It just so happens we are a marine centered community and many times the things they find to steal that are easily accessible include rods, reels and other fishing equipment.

·       In the Lower Keys, there have been eight such thefts between Cudjoe Key and Big Coppitt Key; four on Cudjoe, two on Sugarloaf and one each on Summerland Key and Big Coppitt Key. In four of those cases, property has been recovered and returned to the owner.
·       In the Middle Keys there have been nine cases, three in Duck Key, three in Layton and three on Conch Key.
·       In the Upper Keys, there have been 13 cases, seven in Islamorada and six in Key Largo.

Fortunately, there are steps everyone can take to avoid becoming a victim of this type of crime. Do not leave your equipment unsecured. Take your rods and reels off your boat at the end of a fishing trip. Make sure these valuable items are locked up securely.

There are also things you can do to help with our investigation of such crimes. First of all, you should be aware of suspicious vehicles, vessels or people in your neighborhood and shouldn’t hesitate to call the Sheriff’s Office if you see something suspicious. In addition, make sure you document any valuables you own. Take photographs and record serial numbers. If possible, engrave items with your driver’s license number or mark them with some kind of identifying mark you will remember. This will help us when and if we recover property to sort out who it belongs to and return the property to the rightful owner.

If you hear about anyone trying to sell rods and reels or fishing equipment, call the Sheriff’s Office right away. Anyone with information about this type of crime should contact the Sheriff’s Office. Callers may also contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Tipsters can remain anonymous and, if a tip leads to an arrest in the case, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted on line at www.tipsubmit.com

Don't forget to recognize your local public safety dispatcher!

This week is National Public Safety Telecommunicator's Week. Anyone who relies on these people as a radio lifeline or who has called 911 for help knows how hard their job is and how hard they work at it. Sheriff Rick Ramsay is one of those who has relied his entire career on receiving fast, accurate and important information from our Communication's Division and he appreciated them this week with this flower / candy arrangement. Have you said thank your local dispatcher or communications officer yet? If not, it is only Tuesday....you still have some time!

April 14, 2014

Miami man charged with vehicle burglaries

A Miami man was arrested Sunday after surveillance video in a parking lot helped to identify him as the suspect in two vehicle burglaries.

Deputies Chuck Kellenberger and Rosary Ponce responded to a vehicle burglary at 4 p.m. at Island Fish Company in Marathon. When they arrived they met with the victim, who said someone smashed the window of his car and stole his Ipad Mini from inside. He said it happened between 3:40 p.m. when he’d parked and 4 p.m. when he discovered the crime. He described a distinctive image on the lock screen of the Ipad as a way to identify it. A second burglary was also discovered by deputies who were checking the parking lot and found it’s window smashed. The car’s owner was found inside the business and she confirmed her wallet had been stolen..

Surveillance video of the parking lot showed a Dodge Charger pull up beside the first vehicle. It showed a man later identified as 40 year old Nelson Gonzalez of Miami beside the vehicle walking around it. A second person was in the car with him. A notice to be on the lookout for the charger was issued, along with a description of the suspect.

Key Colony Beach Police Officer Colleen Gonzalez was dispatched to a disabled vehicle across the street from KCB City Hall a short time later. She found a red Charger with a flat tire. A woman was with the car. She said her boyfriend was getting a new tire for the car. Officer Gonzalez notified the deputies about the car and they responded to the scene.

When the boyfriend returned, he fit the description of the suspect in the vehicle burglaries. An Ipad Mini was found underneath the driver’s seat of the Charger. The lock screen image identified it as the one stolen in the first vehicle burglary. Gonzalez then admitted he’d burglarized the two vehicles. He assisted deputies in recovering items stolen in the second burglary as well.

Gonzalez was arrested. He was charged with two counts each of vehicle burglary and grand theft. He was booked into jail.

April 13, 2014

Man arrested for abusing animal

A Marathon man was arrested for abusing his dog Saturday.

Deputies responded to Winn Dixie shopping center in Marathon to reports a witness had seen a man yanking a dog by a chain and kicking the dog in the face. The man was described as wearing a white tank top and camouflage pants and his vehicle was an RV parked near McDonalds.

When Deputies Chuck Kellenberger and Rosary Ponce arrived at 11 a.m., they saw a man fitting the description with a chain hooked to the bumper of his RV. The man – identified later as 32 year old Anthony Wollweber – was trying to hook the other end of the chain to a dog’s collar. The dog – a 10 month old brown pit bull – was clearly afraid of Wollweber. It was laying on it’s belly, tail tucked under, cringing away from him.

The witness was still on scene and she told deputies she saw Wollweber dragging the dog by a chain and kicking the dog in the face.

Wollweber told deputies he woke up to find the dog had ingested seawater and had vomited and was covered in feces. He said he’d taken the dog to a nearby convenience store and hosed the dog off. He said the dog was normally cooperative, but wasn’t today so he admitted to kicking the dog “but not hard”.

Animal Control was called to the scene and took custody of the dog. Wollweber was arrested and charged with cruelty to animals and was booked into jail.

April 12, 2014

Man almost shot in confrontation with sergeant

A disturbed man who pointed what looked like a real firearm at a Sheriff’s sergeant Friday was almost shot. He later told deputies he was “protecting 110th street from drug dealers and prostitutes.”

Sgt. Dennis Coleman was on patrol on Highway U.S. One at 12:45 p.m. near Marathon City Hall when he saw 44 year old Wayne Michaelson waving a handgun around. He pulled up behind Michaelson and, with his own firearm at the ready, told him to put down the gun. Michaelson did lay down on the ground, but he kept the gun and a plastic bag at his side. As the sergeant continued to give him orders, Michaelson brought the firearm in front of him and pointed it at Sgt. Coleman. At that point, Sgt. Coleman said he began to put pressure on the trigger of his gun in preparation to shoot Michaelson. Suddenly, Michaelson put the gun down, placing it in the plastic bag and saving his own life.

Other officers arrived as back-up and Michaelson was taken into custody. Michaelson told Deputy Vince Weiner he’d just purchased what turned out to be an airsoft pistol to “protect 110th Street from prostitutes and drug dealers”. He also said he felt threatened by passing cars when the “passed him at 55-60 miles an hour and made noises.”

Michaelson was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest with violence. He was taken to jail.

April 11, 2014

Golf Tournament to benefit Special Olympics

MCSO vs. KWPD tomorrow at 11 a.m.

Clean up in Key West!

Easter on the Animal Farm Sunday!

Deputy stops illegal dump truck full of gravel

Thanks to reports from observant citizens a dump truck with numerous violations was stopped at the 104 mile marker of the highway Thursday.

The Sheriff’s Office received calls from drivers about a dump truck full of gravel southbound on the 18 mile stretch. The tarp which was supposed to be covering the load was askew and it was losing gravel as it traveled. Callers said the truck did not appear to have a license tag.

Deputy Dave Campbell was at the 105 mile marker when he saw the truck pass by. He pulled it over. The license tag on the back was unreadable and the tag on the front was bent under. A check of the registration revealed it expired in December.

An FHP Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Compliance Officer responded to the scene. She found two bad tires on the truck. Because the truck was not properly registered, the law says it is only qualified to carry a 10,000 pound load. The truck was weighed roadside and was found to be carrying 66,000 pounds putting it way over its legal weight limit.

With all the citations issued, the driver, 36 year old Mairon Perez of Miami will have to pay over $4,000 in fines.

April 8, 2014

Note about low flying aircraft in Islamorada and about calling Sheriff's Office dispatch

FYI, everyone - please pass this along. Our dispatchers say they are getting lots of calls about a low flying aircraft in the Islamorada area. Apparently a Michael Kors commercial is being filmed yesterday and today in that area and the aircraft in question is connected with that event.

I want to remind everyone that our dispatch center should not be contacted to satisfy curiosity or to find out general information. They are extremely busy taking care of emergency calls and dispatching emergency responders to those calls. You should only contact them to report crimes, potential crimes or other emergency situations in which you need the assistance of a deputy, firefighter or paramedic.

Don't forget this event, coming up on Saturday!!!

National Telecommunicators Week – help us recognize these important people!

April 13th to the 19th is National Public Safety Telecommunications Week and during that week, the Sheriff’s Office will be recognizing the diligence and professionalism of our Telecommunicators – Sheriff’s dispatchers - who serve in our communications center in Marathon. We would like to encourage others to recognize them as well. Our dispatchers are the first ones to get emergency calls and what they do with those calls can often greatly influence the outcome of the event in question. The pressure and stress of the job is high, and the hard work they do every day deserves thanks from all of us.

, Communications Supervisor Terri DeVooght in front of an array
of computer screens used in the Sheriff’s Office Communications Division.
Since 1968 – 44 years ago -  9-1-1 has served as the vital link between the American public and emergency services, and it is with great pride that our highly skilled Public Safety Dispatchers who have contributed substantially to the apprehension of criminals, suppression of fires, and treatment of patients be recognized for their efforts.

“Our dispatchers are a crucial part in our efforts to keep this community safe,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “They talk with people in crisis on a regular basis; they keep track of our deputies and detectives and make sure they are safe; and they do it all so well we sometimes take them for granted. This week is a time for us all to remember how hard they work, and how much they do,” he said.

Public Safety Agencies nationwide take one week a year - the second full week in April - to recognize the pivotal role played by telecommunicators, dispatchers, communications operators, radio control personnel - ALL those people, by whatever job title, who utilize telephones, radios, computers and technical skill to provide support to Law Enforcement, Fire Services, Emergency Medical Services and other governmental field personnel. Each year, National Telecommunicators Week is dedicated to the men and women who serve as public safety telecommunicators. In 1991, Congress proclaimed it as a special national week of recognition.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office would like everyone to take a little time to think about the crucial role played by our Sheriff's Office Communications Officers. They handle thousands of phone calls, dispatch deputies, firefighters and paramedics, and do their utmost to keep the public safe as they perform one of the most stressful positions in law enforcement. Anyone who wishes to do something to recognize these hard working individuals can email the director of the division, Lt. Charlene Sprinkle-Huff at csprinkle@keysso.net.

In honor of these dedicated men and women, here is a review of the rules to follow when you call 911 to report a crime or emergency:

The 911 System

911 is an emergency response service provided by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office to assist the citizens of our county with receiving law enforcement, fire, and ambulance service during times of crisis. Sheriff’s Office Communications Officers answer special emergency phone lines 24 hours a day so the citizens of Monroe County may receive help as expeditiously as possible. The Sheriff's Office answers these emergency phone lines for Monroe County, the cities of Marathon, Islamorada and Key Colony Beach as well as for Firefighters and ambulances county wide.
At the same time as they answer 911 calls, Sheriff' s Office Communications Officers also answer non- emergency calls on regular phone lines. Obviously, someone in a crisis situation will get assistance prior to someone calling with a non-emergency situation.

When Should You call 911?

911 Emergency calls should be made only in cases such as a crime in progress, such as a fire, a medical emergency, or a similar immediately threatening case. A possible 911 situation can involve something you see - a burglar breaking in to a neighbor’s house, a fire, an automobile accident. It can also involve what you hear - a woman screaming or yelling "Don’t hit me again," gunfire, an explosion or glass breaking. Also, a reckless or suspected drunk driver is always a 911 call. They’re potential killers not only of themselves, but of innocent bystanders as well.
Before you call, gather as many facts as you can under the circumstances and write them down so you won’t forget them. Take a second look - a minute gathering more complete information may be worth the delay. If you are describing a person, important points include the race of the person, whether it is a male or a female, what the person is wearing, the color of his or her hair and any other outstanding characteristics. With a car description, a tag number is great if you can get it, and a report that the vehicle had a ladder on top or a dented left front fender is more useful than simply describing the vehicle as a "white van".
The job of the communications officer is to gather as much pertinent information relative to the situation as possible and to keep you on the phone if at all possible. This action better prepares deputies coming to your aid.

What to expect when you call 911

When you call 911 emergency lines, one of the first things you will be asked is "Is this an emergency? This question is a necessary one because unfortunately, some people do call 911 for non-emergencies. Communications Officers must often deal with 911 calls for directions, weather conditions or traffic information. This misuse of 911 is unacceptable, and has the potential of delaying true emergency calls.
Once it is established you do have an emergency situation, the Communications Officer will ask you a series of questions in an effort to get enough information so he/she can send the proper assistance to you as soon as possible. Try to answer the questions as calmly and clearly as possible. Help will be sent to you right away, and the more cooperative you are over the phone, the faster help will arrive. When you call 911, a computerized system will automatically tell the Communications Officer your address and phone number. If you have any special medical conditions you can register that information with the Sheriff’s Office and that information can be included in the system, and will be available to Communications officers when you call. The officer will continue to talk with you after help has been dispatched to you. The longer he/she can keep you on the phone and the more information that can be relayed to the responding deputy, ambulance or fire truck, the better and safer the situation is.
Communications officers in Monroe County are trained in Emergency Medical Dispatching. This means if you have a medical emergency, the Communications Officer will be able to assist you with initial treatment steps, such as performing CPR, the Heimlich Maneuver for choking victims, or other common medical emergencies.

Misuse of the 911 Emergency system

Unfortunately a substantial number of 911 calls received by MCSO Communications Officers are not of an emergency nature. If you are reporting a non-emergency situation such as a suspicious person, a previously stolen bike or a dog continually barking, 911 is not the proper number to call. The Sheriff’s Office offers non-emergency phone numbers for the reporting of such calls. Your call will still be handled appropriately, but this will allow true emergencies to be handled first.

Let me re-emphasize: 911 is for emergency calls only and is not equipped to answer questions, give directions, weather forecasts or road conditions. How would you like it if you had a real emergency and someone else was tying up the Communications Officer asking where the closest post office is? To report a non-emergency call, the following phone numbers may be called 24 hours a day: 305-745-3184, 305-289-2430, 305-853-3211, 305-289-2351.

Card Sound Road gets a face lift

Several areas on the Monroe County side of Card Sound Road got a face lift over the past three months thanks to Sgt. Tom Kiffney and Deputy Dave Minor. The officers were aware of a number of areas which were gathering spots on the weekends for people who would leave behind their trash and even vandalize the areas with graffiti. These spots were also hot-spots for trouble, with deputies responding to fight calls, traffic incidents and other types of disturbances.

Sgt. Kiffney and Deputy Minor organized this effort with the help of Monroe County Public Works, cleaning up the trash and putting up barricades and “No Trespassing” signs that will hopefully keep this from happening in the future.

Sheriff's Office helps out at Peacock Supportive Living

Here at the Sheriff's Office we don't just do "lip service" to community service. We actively participate in it every day. A large group of Sheriff's Office members turned out this past Saturday to help out the Peacock Supportive Living facility for the mentally ill in Key West. These people are awesome!!!!

Woman arrested for attempting to strangle child

A Rock Harbor woman was arrested Monday night after she used a belt in an attempt to strangle a 10 year old boy.

A second child who witnessed the incident called a relative for help. The relative in turn called the Sheriff’s Office and then responded to the residence at the 95.3 mile marker of the highway to meet with deputies at 10:30 p.m. When Deputy Greg LaRochelle arrived on the scene he found the suspect, 31 year old Ada Orellana Dubon extremely intoxicated and she could barely speak. The relative said Dubon has ongoing issues involving alcohol.

Both children told the same story. They said Dubon put a belt around the boy’s neck and began tightening it. They said during the incident Dubon said she was going to kill the victim.

Dubon was charged with aggravated battery on a child and she was taken to jail.

April 7, 2014

Man arrested for burglary, battery

An Islamorada man was arrested Saturday for forcing his way into a home and battering the occupant.

The victim said she and a friend returned to her home at the 90.2 mile marker in Islamorada at 5 a.m. Saturday when someone began banging on her door. When she opened the door, she saw a friend of hers, 29 year old Daniel Bradley. She said Bradley appeared angry and was yelling “Where is Dude?”  She asked who “Dude” is? He yelled “You know Dude. Where the hell is he?” She said he grabbed her and pushed her so she shoved him outside and shut and locked the door.

She said a few minutes later, he kicked in the front door. She said he headed straight for her still yelling “Where is Dude?” She said at that point she and her friend pushed him over the couch and punched him. She said he jumped up and attacked her again. She fought him off and he finally ran out the door, yelling “Where is Dude?”

Bradley was found walking on the highway a short distance away and he was taken into custody. When Deputy Ray Jodlowski asked for his side of the story, he said he had nothing to say. He was charged with burglary with battery on the occupant.

Man found dead offshore of Rockland Key

Detectives say no foul play is suspected in the death of a man offshore of Rockland Key Saturday.

Deputy Kim Trullender responded to a report of a body in the water on the gulf side at the 9 mile marker of Highway U.S. One at 1 p.m. Saturday. When he arrived he met with two men who’d found the victim. They said they were snorkeling when they saw the body just offshore.

The body was a 52 year old white male wearing cut off shorts. He had a snorkel, fins and a mask on, as if he’d been snorkeling when he died. He was identified after his wallet, social security card, credit cards and some check stubs belonging to him were found nearby. It appeared he may have been camping in that area. Deputy Trullender found a tent, cooking utensils, a cooler and a fire pit in the area, along with a large pile of empty beer cans and a yellow bicycle. Detectives say out of concern for the man’s family they will release his identity to the public after they notify his next of kin.

There were no obvious signs of foul play and Detective Manny Cuervo said the death is most likely due to an accident or to natural causes. The body was turned over to the Medical Examiner, however, to determine the specific cause of death.

Kentucky woman arrested after fleeing police

A Kentucky woman was arrested on numerous charges after she fled police in a stolen car Saturday night.

Deputy Orlando Alvarez was at 28th Street in Marathon just before midnight when the red Ford SUV passed him northbound at 60 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone. He attempted to pull the vehicle over, but it would not stop. He called in the car’s tag number and  followed the vehicle with his lights and siren activated until he reached the 60 mile marker. At that point he radioed ahead for other deputies to be on the lookout for it, and he broke off his pursuit for safety reasons.

Deputies at the 74 mile marker spotted the vehicle and began pursuit of it again after Sheriff’s dispatchers discovered the vehicle was reported stolen from Broward County. Sergeants on duty who were monitoring radio traffic from the pursuit directed deputies to set up stinger spikes at the south end of the Snake Creek Bridge. The spikes were successful at stopping the car. All three people in the car were detained.

The driver, 38 year old Rebecca Adams said she didn’t stop the car for law enforcement because “she was scared”. She also admitted to knowing her driver’s license was suspended. A passenger in the car told Deputy Alvarez Adams offered him a ride from Key West to north Florida. He said he told Adams to pull over for officers but she reportedly told him “I’m not going back to jail. I’m going to keep going until I run out of gas.”

Adams was arrested. She was charged with fleeing and eluding police, driving with her license suspended, grand theft of a vehicle and she was issued a citation for unlawful speed. She was booked into jail.

Dispute ends in jail on drug charges

Sheriff’s deputies took a man to jail on drug charges after responding to a disturbance early Sunday.

When they arrived at 5 a.m. they found George Johnson outside his house on Hibiscus Lane in Key Largo. They could see a woman inside the residence. While Deputy Pedro Garcia spoke with Johnson, Deputy Vaughn O’Keefe made contact with the woman who was inside.

The woman invited the deputies inside the house. When they entered they saw a pile of white powder suspected to be cocaine in the kitchen. Other evidence in the kitchen indicated someone was cooking the powdered cocaine to create crack cocaine. A pot on the stove contained a liquid with white powder floating in it; a glass bottle on the top of the refrigerator contained a clear crystal substance. All the suspicious substances were taken into custody and will be sent to a lab for analysis.

Johnson was confronted with the evidence of drugs and said another man was at his residence earlier cooking crack cocaine. He claimed the substances found in his home did not belong to him.

Johnson was arrested. He was charged with trafficking in cocaine, possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

April 4, 2014

Explorers at delegates conference

This sharp looking group of Explorers represented the Sheriff’s Office well at a recent state-wide Explorer Delegates conference. Advisors SRO Deputies Will Schlegelmilch and Nancy Torrijos helped out as the explorers competed in building searches, defensive tactics and other law enforcement related skills.

Clean up in Islamorada

 The Sheriff’s Office organized a clean up of Indian Key fill at the 78 - 79 mile marker in Islamorada. Trash was picked up both on land and on the water.

Deputy fixes bikes / scooters

Deputy Nelson Sanchez recently fixed up some used scooters and bicycles and donated them to needy kids at Plantation Key School. Here he is with school counselor Kristen Butcher, who helped identify the kids in need.

Key Largo man charged with illegally dumping small boat

A Key Largo man was booked into jail, charged with illegally dumping a small vessel on the side of the road on Coral Way near the 105 mile marker of the highway.

Sgt. Jason Madnick responded March 10th to a report of an abandoned boat left blocking a driveway on Coral Way in Key Largo. He found a small catamaran on the side of the road. A witness told him he’d seen the same boat in the back of a truck the day before. He told Sgt. Madnick the person who owns the truck lives on Ryan Avenue.

Subsequent investigation identified 63 year old Reinaldo Carballero as the owner of the truck. When Sgt. Madnick confronted Carballero about the dumping case, the man said he’d picked the boat up to take it home, then realized it wasn’t worth keeping and returned to the place he found it.

Sgt. Madnick obtained a warrant for Carballero’s arrest and he was picked up on Thursday and charged with illegal dumping. He was booked into jail.

Dive death offshore of Islamorada

A New Mexico man died while diving offshore of Islamorada Thursday.

55 year old Stephen Benavidez of Albuquerque, New Mexico was in the Keys visiting with his wife. He was on a three day dive trip on board the vessel “Giant Stride” with Key Dives out of Bud and Mary’s Marina. He started on Wednesday with two dives and completed his third dive of the trip Thursday morning with no trouble. He was on the fourth dive of the trip  when he suddenly surfaced, yelling for help.

The captain threw out a tow line, but Benavidez couldn’t grasp it. Two dive guides from the boat were sent out to get him. By the time they reached him, he was not breathing. Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation was performed as they brought Benavidez in to the dock at the marina. The boat was met by paramedics who transported him to Mariner’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead just after noon.

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

Search warrant served in Marathon

Marathon - A search warrant was served Thursday evening at a Marathon residence. 

Detectives from the Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Unit served the warrant at 600 51st Street, Apartment-#4, in Marathon.  The residence was under the control of 23 year old Javier Porter-Fleming. 

The search of the residence turned up 54 grams of Marijuana, 20 grams of powder Cocaine, 15 Oxycodone pills and drug paraphernalia.  Porter-Fleming was charged with possession of Marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of Cocaine with intent to distribute, trafficking in opium and possession of drug paraphernalia.  

He was booked into the Monroe County jail.

Kids Fishing Tourney a big hit!

 The Big Pine Fishing Tournament this past weekend was a big hit with lots of families turning out for the event. Thanks to everyone who helped out and especially to Deputy Linda Kohout who really put a lot of time and effort into it. Here are some pictures.