November 30, 2014

Key Largo man charged with gun threat

Key Largo – A Key Largo man was arrested Friday evening after he pointed a gun at another man during a confrontation.

The incident took place at 8 p.m. at Denny’s Latin CafĂ© at the 99.5 mile marker of the highway. Two brothers from Tavernier, Alexis and Alan Murgas, were sitting at an outside table using a laptop computer when 33 year old Kristian Demblans pulled up in his pickup truck with his girlfriend.

Witnesses say Demblans tussled with Alexis Murgas over the computer. Demblans later told deputies he sold the computer to Murgas and was still owed money for it. During  the confrontation, Demblans allegedly pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the victim.

He and his girlfriend then got back into the pickup truck and headed southbound. The victim called the Sheriff’s Office to report being threatened with a gun.

Deputy Pedro Garcia spotted Demblans  in his pickup truck as he headed southbound at the 99 mile marker. Deputy Garcia followed Demblans waiting for back up to arrive. As he followed the truck, he saw Demblans do several U-turns, turning northbound and then turning southbound again. Deputy Garcia and Detective Barney Sajdak finally stopped the truck at the 99 mile marker southbound. Inside the truck they found a loaded Glock handgun on the driver’s side floorboard. They also found a rifle in the vehicle.

Demblans was arrested. He was charged with battery and aggravated assault with a firearm. He was booked into jail.

November 27, 2014

Two arrested on drug charges

Two men from the Upper Keys were arrested Tuesday night after a traffic stop revealed the presence of drugs.

FHP Trooper and K-9 Officer M. Jordan initially stopped the 1998 Mercury sedan for speeding at the 104 mile marker of the highway at 9:40 p.m. Deputy Pedro Garcia backed him up on the traffic stop.

Two men were in the vehicle. The driver, 21 year old Erdel Yanes of Islamorada and the passenger, 29 year old Jesiah Macshane of Tavernier.

Subsequent investigations revealed a plastic bag in Macshane’s pocket with Ecstasy pills inside. Macshane also had a plastic bag with Marijuana in his shoe and a large amount of cash in his possession as well. Macshane told Deputy Garcia the pills had been in the center console of the car prior to the traffic stop. He said Yanes told him to put them in his pocket when they were stopped.

Yanes said the pills belonged to a friend from Homestead who had left them in his car the night before. He said he was on his way to Homestead to return the pills when he was stopped.

A total of 36 pills, or 11.5 grams of Ecstasy were seized along with 6.5 grams of Marijuana and $4,000 in cash.

Both men were arrested. They were both charged with trafficking and possession of illegal narcotics and possession of drug paraphernalia. Macshane was also charged with possession of Marijuana. They were both booked into jail.

Man steals from church while performing community service

A Big Pine Key man was arrested for stealing items from a church while he was serving community service there.

On November 24th, the pastor of the Vineyard Community Church on Big Pine Key noticed a number of items missing from his church, including computer equipment, an air compressor, Nintendo controllers and two recurve bows. The pastor’s son went to a local pawn shop and found the items at the shop. They called the Sheriff’s Office to report the theft.

Detective Dave Brummer was assigned to investigate. He found out from the pawn shop the items had been brought in by 22 year old Brian Sheppard. During an interview with the detective, Sheppard admitted he was on probation and working community service at the church between August and October of this year. He said he took the  items from the church and pawned them at Molly’s Pawn and More on Big Pine Key.

A warrant was obtained for Sheppard and on Wednesday, Sheppard was arrested. He was charged with grand theft, dealing in stolen property and fraud. He was booked into jail.

November 24, 2014

Graffiti eradication

Deputy Nancy Roberts, who is currently in training with Deputy Vicki Fleck, spotted graffiti on the Geiger Key Bridge on Old Boca Chica Road. They  gathered the necessary supplies and painted over the graffiti. Great job keeping our community clean!

Sheriff’s Office remembers fallen officer

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office is remembering this week an officer who died in the line of duty six years ago, November 26th, 2008.

Sheriff's Deputy Nick Pham was killed in the line of duty in a traffic accident. Deputy Pham was working traffic patrol for the Sheriff’s Traffic Enforcement Unit when his patrol car collided with a semi-tractor trailer truck at the 62 mile marker of highway U.S. One at 12:20 p.m.

Deputy Pham was hired on September 15, 2004. He was initially assigned to road patrol in the upper Keys in Sector 7 – the Key Largo area. In July of 2006, he transferred to the Traffic Enforcement Unit, working traffic enforcement county-wide.

November 23, 2014

Highway cleanup

This small but mighty group took care of our adopted stretch of highway from the 88 to the 89 mile marker of U.S. One this week.

Conversation helps bring kids, law enforcement closer

A “Bridging the GAAP” conversation held at Marathon High School recently. GAAP stands for Gaining Appreciation by Adjusting Perspectives. The conversation was organized by the Department of Juvenile Justice and attended by DJJ, the Sheriff’s Office and area young people. Its aim was to bring law enforcement and youth together to discuss key issues of concern between the two groups. The hope is by having such a dialogue, we can reduce youth arrests and reduce minority over representation in the juvenile justice system.

Deputy cleans up on Big Pine

Deputy Jon Riggs spent some time recently cleaning up the area around Walgreen’s Pharmacy on Big Pine Key.

November 22, 2014

Man arrested for burglarizing neighbor’s shed

A Sugarloaf Key man was arrested Friday for burglarizing his neighbor’s shed.

The victim said he went to his tool shed at around 5:30 p.m. Friday and caught the suspect, 42 year old Lester Farias, inside. Farias fled and the victim followed him, calling 911 as he walked behind Farias. He told Deputy Spencer Curry he saw Farias dropping items as he fled.

Detective Dave Chavka responded followed by Deputy Curry, Deputy Ian Cooper and Sgt. Ken Fricke. A search of the area turned up a number of items taken from the shed and subsequently dropped by the suspect as he fled. The recovered items included a knife, a pair of gloves and a plastic storage container full of tools. The victim identified all of the items as coming from his shed.

Farias was taken into custody. He was armed burglary and grand theft and he was booked into jail.

November 21, 2014

Fugitive taken into custody in Homestead

36 year old Horkene Cade, wanted for multiple felony charges and facing a prison sentence, was safely taken into custody tonight in Homestead. Participating in the arrest were Homestead Police and the Monroe County Sheriff's Special Investigation's Unit.

November 20, 2014

Wanted felon may be armed and dangerous

A man who is facing a prison sentence failed to show up after he was granted a furlough from jail. Detectives say since he will be heading for prison he may feel he has nothing to lose.

When 36 year old Horkene Cade was arrested in July by the Florida Highway Patrol, he was charged with being a felon in possession of a weapon. At the time of the arrest, he was already facing felony charges of possession of a weapon and possession of cocaine.

On November 12th, he was furloughed by a judge prior to going to prison on his charges. He was due to return to custody on November 17th and he didn’t show up. On November 18th, new warrants were issued for his arrest. He is now wanted for additional charges of failure to appear in court for the following charges: failing to register as a career offender, two counts of possession of a weapon by a convicted felon and possession of cocaine. There is no bond allowed on the warrants.

Due to the weapon related charges, and the fact that he is facing prison time, Detectives are warning people to be careful not to confront him and to call 911 if he is spotted.

Cade is from Marathon. He is described as a black male, six foot eight inches tall, 260 pounds. He may be in the Florida City area. He may be driving a 1999 Lincoln Continental, white and tan in color. The vehicle has a Miami Dolphin fan Florida license plate D4ACG.

Anyone with information about Cade’s whereabouts should contact law enforcement. 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 or via a text message to 274637 using the keyword TIP136.

Two reports of frightening email scam

The Sheriff’s Office has had two reports of a frightening email scam sent to local residents. We would just like to make people aware of this scam and warn people not to reply to it.

The email purports to be from a professional “hit man” hired by a “friend” to kill the person receiving the communication. The scammer cautions against contacting the police and wants a return email: “Contact my email if you want to live”.

The email warns “Your life is going to end as soon as you don’t comply”, says “I have sent my men to track you down in location and have carried out the necessary investigation needed for the operation on you”. It says that the victim is being watched and ends with “Warning: do not think of contacting the police or even telling anyone, or else I will extend it to your family, in case I notice something funny. Good luck as I await your reply.”

While this is obviously a scam, it is certainly a frightening one. The next step in the scam is most likely to extort money from the people who choose to reply to it.

November 19, 2014

Deputy asks for help identifying suspect

A deputy investigating a credit card fraud case is asking for help identifying the woman believed to have committed the crime.

The victim, a Marathon resident, reported someone used her Mastercard credit card on October 9th at 11:30 a.m. to make a purchase at the Marathon Home Depot for $996.44.  She reported the purchase to the credit card company and her card was canceled. Deputy Leon Bourcier was assigned to the case. The credit card company said the item purchased was a Makita saw.

Deputy Bourcier worked with management at Home Depot to obtain more information about the purchase. He was able to obtain still photos from their video surveillance system of the purchase. The photos showed a woman with dark hair buying a saw at a self-checkout counter at the store.

Deputy Bourcier would like the public’s assistance identifying the suspect. Anyone with information or anyone who thinks they recognize the woman in the photos 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 or via a text message to 274637 using the keyword TIP136.

Holiday Shopping Safety Tips

The holiday season can be distracting, with lots of holiday decorations and crowds of people. When you are out shopping for the holidays, make sure you pay attention to what is happening at all times.  There are always people who will try to take advantage of distractions to commit crimes and you don’t want to become a victim during the holidays.
Stay alert and aware of what is going on around you.
Deter pickpockets.  Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front trouser pocket.
Tell a security guard or store employee if you see an unattended bag or package. The same applies when taking mass transit: report any unattended packages to security or staff.
ALWAYS leave yourself extra time. People in a hurry tend to pay less attention to what is going on around them.
If you see anything suspicious, call 911.

Vehicle safety
Park in a well-lighted area and be sure to lock your car doors.
Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle. This will allow you to open the car door quickly, and keys can always be used as a weapon if necessary.
Check the back seat and around the car before getting in.
NEVER leave doors unlocked or windows open.
Hide shopping bags and gifts in the trunk so they aren’t visible to those passing by your car.

Be smart about your purchases
Avoid carrying cash if at all possible. Use credit cards instead. Credit cards are much safer than cash or debit cards because they leave you less vulnerable to thieves. Many cards offer increased warranties, and other protections for your purchases as well.
Double check that you have your credit cards and wallet after you pay for your items.
Check receipts to see whether your full credit card number appears. If a receipt has your full number on it, take a pen and thoroughly scratch it out.
Save all receipts.  Print and save all confirmations from your online purchases.   Start a file folder to keep all receipts together and to help you verify credit card or bank statements as they come in.
Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Don’t put your purse down, and carry your purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put your wallet in an inside pocket or in a front pants pocket. This will deter pickpockets and purse snatchers.

Shopping with children
If you are shopping with your children, talk to them ahead of time about what to do if they get lost in the crowd. Have a central meeting place or teach them to go immediately to a store clerk or a security guard and ask for help.
If they are old enough, make sure they know your home phone number, your cell phone number and that your name is not just “Mommy” or “Daddy”.
Ensure that any children with you know your cell phone number. Give cards with contact information to any who don’t.

Shopping Online
Before shopping on the Internet, secure your personal computers by updating your security software. Everyone’s computer should have anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-spam software, as well as a good firewall installed.
Keep your personal information private and your passwords secure. Do not respond to requests to “verify” your password or credit card information unless you initiated the contact. Legitimate businesses will not contact you in this manner.
Beware of “bargains” from companies with whom you are unfamiliar—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Shop with companies you know and trust. Check for background information if you plan to buy from a new or unfamiliar company.

November 18, 2014

Click it or Ticket starts state-wide

The state-wide Click it or Ticket campaign began on Monday and will run through the end of November. Sheriff’s deputies – and particularly traffic enforcement deputies – will be out county-wide keeping an eye out for people who are not wearing safety belts.

This is just a reminder: they are called “safety” belts for a reason.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2.2 million adult drivers and passengers were treated in emergency rooms as a result of being injured in motor vehicle accidents in 2012.  And safety belts in automobiles reduce serious crash related injuries by about half.

Always wear your safety belt, even if you are only going a short distance in your car. And make sure young drivers in your family wear them as well. It could make the difference between life and death if you are involved in an automobile accident.

Sheriff's Animal Farm open this Sunday

 The Sheriff's Animal Farm will be open this Sunday November 23rd, between 1 - 3 p.m. Bring the family and come visit the animals at the farm, including horses, a cow, pigs, goats, bunnies, alligators, tropical birds, Kinkajous, Sloths, a Lemur, Kramer the Emu, a family of Patagonian Cavys, a skunk, an opossum, tortoises and turtles, snakes and many more. It is free of charge, but donations are welcomed because that is how the farm is sustained.

The farm is located just off of College Road, on Stock Island, at the Sheriff’s Office Headquarters complex. Groups may schedule special tours at the farm by calling Farmer Jeanne Selander at 305-293-7300. Visits to the farm are free, and donations are welcome.

November 17, 2014

Cadets learn about fitness

Upper Keys cadets learned the value of fitness from Advisors Deputies Larry O’Neill and Dave Stark this week. They visited the Sheriff's Office Plantation Key gym.

Graffiti eradicated

 Sgt. Mike DiGiovanni’s squad recently took care of covering up graffiti at a dumpster at the 83 mile marker in Islamorada. They also notified Advanced Disposal of the damage to the property.

Long time employee retires

At a ceremony held recently in Marathon, Sgt. Cornelies Jones, who is retiring after 20 years with the Sheriff’s Office, was promoted to Lieutenant prior to his retirement. Here he is, pictured with Sheriff Rick Ramsay receiving his promotion.

Long time employee retires

At a ceremony held recently in Marathon, Lt. Mitch Horn, who is retiring after 30 years with the Sheriff’s Office, was promoted to Captain prior to his retirement. Here he is, pictured with Sheriff Rick Ramsay receiving his promotion.

Sheriff hands out quarterly awards

The Sheriff’s Office held its quarterly awards ceremony on November 7th. Employees received recognition for their years of service, and a group of employees who performed exemplary service during the third quarter of 2014 were recognized as the Sheriff’s “Employees of the Quarter”. In the picture, left to right, quarterly award winners: Deputy John McGee, Reserve Officer Paul Peteck, Sheriff’s Aide Donatella Kelly, Explorer Caileigh Lutz, Detention Sgt. Juan Morales all pictured with Sheriff Rick Ramsay.

Detectives investigating lower unit, GPS thefts

Sheriff’s detectives in Marathon are investigating a rash of boat related thefts.

A number of the thefts were reported to the Sheriff’s Office; others were discovered as deputies began canvassing the areas of the reported thefts.

On Gulfstream Boulevard, two lower units from 250 Yamaha four stroke engines were taken from one house; two lower units from 300 HP Yamaha engines were taken from a second house. The cover on the boat was also cut and a GPS was stolen from the boat.  At a third residence, two propellers were stolen and someone attempted to remove the lower unit. At a fourth residence, two lower units were stolen from 250 HP Mercury engines.

On 75th Street Ocean West: two lower units from 225 HP Yamaha four stroke engines stolen.

On Tingler Lane: A GPS was stolen from one boat; a second GPS was removed from a boat, but was still attached by wires and was not taken.

Anyone with information about these crimes should contact the Sheriff’s Office at 305-289-2430. Callers may also contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Crime Stoppers 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 or via a text message to 274637 using the keyword TIP136.

November 14, 2014

Two arrested after they pawn coins that belong to pawn shop employee

Two men are under arrest in Marathon after they tried to pawn coins that belonged to an employee of the pawn shop. Investigations also revealed a connection to several vehicle burglaries and a residential burglary in the Marathon area.

The employee of Joe’s Pawn shop, Roger Hall, told Deputy Nick Whiteman he noticed his truck had been entered before going to work Thursday morning. He said cash and some old foreign coins were missing from the truck, but he didn’t report the incident to the Sheriff’s Office.

But when 23 year old Jesus Barreto of Marathon and 23 year old Shean Palmer of Miami entered the pawn shop at noon Thursday with some old coins, he recognized the coins as his. He confronted the two men about it, and then called the Sheriff’s Office.

Victim Roger Hall holds a tray of the coins stolen
from his truck. Two men came into the pawn shop
where Hall works and tried to pawn them. They
were arrested.
Barreto and Palmer left the shop and were found a short time later at McDonald’s restaurant. Barreto chose not to speak to officers, but Palmer agreed to talk. He said he and Barreto were together in the early morning hours. He said Barreto told him he was going to do some “hits and licks”, which Palmer said meant that Barreto was going to do some vehicle and residential burglaries. Palmer produced a phone and a tablet computer from his backpack which he said Barreto later gave to him to hold.

At about the same time, Detective Michael Sielicki was investigating a residential burglary at 751 63rd Street West in Marathon. Items taken from the home included a phone and tablet computer. A photo of the victim of the burglary was found on the home screen of the phone in Palmer’s backpack.

At the residential burglary scene, Detective Sielicki found an envelope with a car registration in it. On the registration was a name and address from a neighbor down the street. Detective Sielicki left his card for the neighbor and the neighbor called him a short time later. The neighbor confirmed both his cars had been entered during the night. The victim said he has video surveillance. He allowed detectives to view it. On the video, they saw a man enter one of the cars at the home and rummage through it. The clothing worn by the man on the video matched that worn by Barreto when he was found at McDonald’s.

Barreto was charged with burglary of an occupied structure, burglary of a conveyance, grand theft, dealing in stolen property and theft. Palmer was charged with grand theft, theft and dealing in stolen property.

Detectives are still investigating several more burglaries in Marathon overnight. There may be further charges against the two men.

November 12, 2014

Building community partnerships

Deputy Andrew Hudson shows Deputy Ryan Aper the importance of community partnerships as they install trespass warning signs on the new CVS Pharmacy on Stock Island.

Cadets learn patrol procedures

In the Upper Keys, Cadets practiced patrol procedures including radio operation and they participated in scenarios in which they acted as both officers and subjects. They also had a special guest speaker last week from the U.S. Marine Corps. Sgt. Ariel Taverez, who spoke about honor, commitment and having respect for others.

Explorers learn defensive tactics

Lower Keys Explorers trained in defensive tactics this week with Deputy Thomas Hill graciously offering his services as instructor.

Sajdak teaches CSI workshop

 The students of Palmer Trinity High School Forensics class attended a Crime Scene work shop hosted by District 7 Detective Barney Sajdak this week.

Red Ribbon Week

Deputy Wilfredo Guerra, Detective Bobby Burkett and Lt. Derek Paul all visited Stanley Switlik School last week to talk about being drug free during Red Ribbon week.

Sheriff’s Office attends county-wide career day events

The Sheriff’s Office visited career day events at Monroe County high schools this week to talk with students about working in the field of law enforcement. Human Resource Specialists Charles Slebodnick and Suzanne Alexander attended all the events county-wide. They had help from the districts and the detention centers. In the photos, Detention Deputy Ruth Echevarria and Lt. Derek Paul talk with students at Marathon High School and Lt.s Al Ramirez, Lee Ann Holroyd, Patrick Major and Sgt. Mike DiGiovanni at Coral Shores High School.

Woman charged with stealing purse, using credit cards

A Stock Island woman was arrested Tuesday for stealing another woman’s purse and using the credit cards at several local businesses.

21 year old Erica Palomino and the victim both work at the Key West International Airport for separate airlines. On Sunday, the victim left her purse on top of employee lockers at the airport. When she discovered the purse was gone later in the day, she began to cancel her credit cards and discovered someone had used them at several locations, including Banana Republic, Express and the Chevron Station on Stock Island.

Detective Dave Chavka was assigned to investigate. They responded to the locations where the cards were used. They obtained video from Banana Republic and the Chevron station. Both videos showed Palomino using the stolen credit cards. Airport Sgt. David Smith and Deputy Sonya Morgan recognized and identified her as someone who also works at the airport.

Detectives confronted Palomino and she admitted to stealing the purse and using the cards. She was arrested Tuesday and charged with grand theft, fraud - illegal use of credit cards and three counts of fraud - using the identification of another person. She was booked into jail.

November 11, 2014

Annual “SMART Ride” may cause traffic slow downs

The Annual “SMART Ride” bicycle fundraising event will be taking place this coming weekend. Approximately 450 bike riders will travel southbound from Miami to Key West beginning on November 14th at 6:30 a.m. They will travel as far as Hawk’s Cay the first day. They will then travel on November 15th from Hawk’s Cay to Key West, starting out at 7:30 a.m.

The riders will not be riding in a large group, but will be spread out over the planned route. They will be accompanied by support vehicles and will have “pit stops” set up every 13 – 20 miles along the route. The Sheriff’s Office has worked with event coordinators to keep the ride from disrupting traffic, however some slowdowns may occur. The ride coordinators have been instructed that support vehicles are NOT to slow down or block traffic at any time during the event.

The Sheriff’s Office recommends anyone planning to travel over the weekend plan a little extra time to make sure they get to their destination on time. Also, make sure if you do plan to drive on the highway to keep an eye out for the participating bike riders and to be careful while passing them.

November 10, 2014

Pembroke Pines man stabbed at Islamorada bar

A 28 year old Pembroke Pines man was stabbed Sunday night at a bar in Islamorada.

Shane Arscott told Deputy Garrett Test he was at the back bar at Hog Heaven just before midnight. He said he was saving a seat for a woman when a man sat down in it. The two men reportedly began to argue and suddenly Arscott said it felt like someone hit him in the back. He then realized he’d been stabbed.

A friend of his drove him to Mariner’s Hospital where the Sheriff’s Office was notified of the incident. Arscott was later transported to Kendall Regional Medical Center in Homestead for treatment of the stab wound.

Detectives will be investigating the incident.