January 29, 2016

Two more counterfeit bills reported

Two more Key Largo salons have reported receiving counterfeit $100 bills under similar circumstances, bringing the total so far to four of the fake bills passed in the Key Largo area this week.

In all four cases a man fitting a similar description has entered hair or nail salons and has purchased gift certificates for $40 - $50 using a fake $100 bill and receiving cash for the balance.

The most recent two cases to be reported occurred at T & T Nails and Linda Lee’s Hairport, both salons in Key Largo. The first two reported incidents were at Tiffany’s Styling Salon and Tina Nails and Spa. In three of the four cases, the bills were reportedly passed on Wednesday afternoon. The case at Linda Lee’s Hairport reportedly took place Tuesday afternoon, but wasn’t discovered until today.

All witnesses say the fake bills were passed by an older Hispanic male, possibly in his 60s with graying or salt and pepper hair and a heavy accent.

All businesses should be wary of accepting such bills and should check them carefully. In all of these cases the bills were exactly the same, bearing the same exact serial number of “LE66130232B”.

Anyone with information about the case should contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys at 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted on line at www.tipsubmit.com.

January 28, 2016

Duck Key cleanup Saturday!

Explorer posts learn traffic stops

 Cadets and Explorers throughout the county learned the ins and outs of traffic stops during their weekly training last week. The Sheriff’s Office Explorer program teaches kids about various aspects of law enforcement under the watchful and helpful eyes of Sheriff’s Office School Resource Officers, who act as advisors for the Lower, Middle and Upper Keys Explorer posts.

Deputy helps Special Olympics

Deputy George Rosemeyer with Special Olympics athlete Heyden Finney as they support a Special Olympics fund raising and awareness campaign.  Special Olympics is supported throughout Monroe County by Publix, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and many other local sponsors.

Dumped tires removed

Before and after photos of large piles of tires dumped on a dirt road off of State Road 905 in Key Largo. The cleanup effort was handled jointly by Sheriff’s Sgt. Tom Kiffney, Deputy David Minor, Monroe County Public Works and Florida Keys Electric Coop. Anyone who has information about who might have dumped these tires should contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys at 1-800-346-TIPS.

Deputies train in the Lower Keys

District One deputies in the Lower Keys were busy last week. Sgt. Linda Mixon’s squad trained with stinger spikes; Sgt. Trevor Wirth’s squad went over handgun familiarization and cleaning and, Sgt. Mixon’s squad performed traffic stops on Cudjoe Key in response to complaints about speeding.

Sheriff's Office holds boating course

 You can feel the chill just looking at the photos. The Sheriff’s Office held a law enforcement boat operation course recently. Thirteen dedicated students took part, mostly in the wind and rain, learning to pilot the vessels, how to do vessel stops and pursuit training. A big thanks to the instructors, Sgt. Mike Digiovanni, Deputies Martin Digrius and Wilfredo Guerra, Christopher Mattson from FWC, and Deputy Nelson Sanchez.

Counterfeit bills passed at two salons in Key Largo

Counterfeit $100 bills were used at two Key Largo businesses Wednesday afternoon.

In both instances, a man with a similar description walked in to the businesses – Tiffany’s Styling Salon and Tina Nails and Spa – and used counterfeit $100 bills to purchase gift certificates. He received certificates for $40 from one business and $50 from the other business and the balance was returned to him in cash. After he left, the businesses discovered the bills were fake.

The man is described as 5’9 – 5’10 inches tall, 45 – 60 years old with gray or salt and pepper hair and a Spanish accent. He was wearing a grey shirt, possibly striped and faded jeans. 

January 27, 2016

Sheriff’s Office: County crime down 8.3%

Although the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has not publicly released their Major Index Crimes report for the state, preliminary information indicates crime in the areas patrolled by the Sheriff’s Office went down in 2015 by 8.3% over the previous year.

Sheriff Rick Ramsay attributes the lower rate of crime to the hard work of his deputies and the close partnership his agency has with the community. Since he became sheriff, the rate of Major Index Crimes, as tracked by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, has decreased a total of 26.7% in areas patrolled by the Sheriff’s Office.

“I believe the hard work of our deputies, and the close working relationship we have with the community we serve is responsible for the crime rate continuing to decrease year after year,” he said. “I think we are on the right track with our community initiatives and there is no reason why this downward trend in crime cannot continue into the future if we all work hard together.”

Preliminary information also shows the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office saw crime clearance rates increase, another positive trend. The clearance rate for crime in Monroe County has increased steadily from 24.2% in 2012 to 30.7% in 2015. This equates to an overall increase in the solve rate of 26.7% since 2013.

There are two ways to clear a case: by arresting someone for the crime, or by designating the crime "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.

“This number – our clearance rate – is of particular significance to us. It tells us that not only is the crime rate steadily decreasing, but we are getting better at solving the crimes that occur,” said the Sheriff. “We are putting the criminals in jail where they belong, where they can’t prey on our law abiding citizens and visitors,” he said.

While this Major Crime Index information is preliminary and has not officially been released by FDLE to the public, Sheriff’s Office records show the following numbers for specific Major Index Crimes in Monroe County:

•             Total Index crimes went down, from 1,607 in 2014 to 1,474 om 2015
•             Murder increased from 0 in 2014 to 2 in 2015
•             Forcible Sex Offenses increased from 17 in 2014 to 21 in 2015
•             Robbery decreased from 21 in 2014 to 10 in 2015
•             Aggravated Assaults increased from 150 in 2014 to 171
•             Burglaries decreased from 257 in 2014 to 234 in 2015
•             Larceny (which includes all types of theft related property crimes) went down from 1,102 to 1,008

•             Motor Vehicle Theft decreased by from 60 to 28

January 26, 2016

Reserve Lieutenant retires

 Long time Reserve Lieutenant Bob Smith (pictured with Sheriff Rick Ramsay and diving with the Sheriff's dive team) was recognized for his thousands of hours of volunteer service as he retires from the ranks of Sheriff’s Office reserve force. Lt. Smith began working as a Sheriff’s Office reserve in January of 1989 and has worked continuously since then. Reserves donate their time to the office, and Bob was very active in many areas, particularly as part of the Sheriff’s Office Dive Team. His dedicated and selfless service will certainly be missed.

Sheriff awards medal

Sheriff Rick Ramsay awarded Deputies Josh Gordon and David Lariz with the Sheriff’s Medal for their involvement in an armed confrontation on Stock Island.  Deputy Gordon was shot in the chest. The bullet was stopped by his bullet proof vest. Deputy Lariz backed up Deputy Gordon and returned fire after Deputy Gordon was hit.

Sheriff honors employees of the quarter

The Sheriff’s Office held a ceremony January 15th to honor its employees of the quarter for the fourth quarter of 2015. These employees were recognized for exemplary performance above and beyond the normal course of their regular assigned duties during the time period of October 1, 2015 – December 31st, 2015. In the photo, left to right: Explorer Mako Geide, School Resource Deputy Derick Velez, Detention Deputy William Brown, Reserve Deputy Harrold Knowles, Farmer Jeanne Selander with Sheriff Rick Ramsay.

January 22, 2016

Detectives arrest suspect in school bomb threat case

This morning, Sheriff’s detectives arrested a 15 year old girl for her part in false bomb threats called in to Key West High School and Marathon High School in December.

Charlynn Marrero, whose family lives on Long Key, was arrested at Marathon High School as school was starting. She is a student at the school. She stands accused of assisting another person in calling in a bomb threat at the school December 14th. The first threat call made to Key West High School was made in error; the caller mistakenly thought Marrero went to that school. After that call was made, Marrero sent the caller a map and contact information for her school after which the second treat call to Marathon High was made.

Both schools were evacuated for several hours, and school was finally canceled for the day at Key West High School as officers searched the campuses for explosive devices. None were located. Extensive manpower and time was expended during the course of investigating the threats.

“Bomb threats are no joke and we take them very seriously,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “These threats took a lot of time, a lot of people and a lot of resources to investigate. They also caused a great amount of fear for parents and school staff. Our detectives have worked hard on this investigation and we will continue to work toward identifying and arresting the second suspect in this case.”

Marrero and a friend approached School Resource Deputy Derick Velez on December 15th and told him an acquaintance of Marrero had made the bomb threat. Marrero told a number of different stories about how she met the male subject who called in the threat. At one point she said she went to school with him in another county which turned out not to be true. She also deleted a number of text messages between her and the other suspect, lying to detectives about the extent of her contact with him. Detectives eventually discovered through extensive investigation she’d met him on-line and they’d never met in person.

Investigations into his identity are continuing.

Marrero is charged with making a false report of a bomb, obstruction in a criminal investigation, tampering with evidence and use of a two way communications device to commit a felony crime.

January 21, 2016

Crocodile found in swimming pool

A homeowner at the 77 mile marker on Lower Matecumbe Key was surprised this morning at 7:30 a.m. to find this crocodile in his swimming pool. He called the Sheriff's Office. The Sheriff's Office asked for the assistance of the experts at Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and they assisted with removing the animal and returning him to his normal habitat in the ocean.

January 20, 2016

This Saturday, join us in Layton as we help the community clean up!

Mark your calendars and come help us cleanup on Duck Key!

Islamorada highway cleanup

Adopt a Highway cleanup crew in Islamorada last week.

Sheriff's employees win cooking awards

 Captain Corey Bryan, Lt. Al Ramirez and Det. Jacques Rozek participated in a charity event called “Chopped” involving local police and firefighters cooking an appetizer, main course and dessert. Al and Jacques won for best entree and Corey for best dessert. And they all had fun raising money for charity!

Explorer Post learns about leadership

Upper Keys Explorer Post 905 learned about leadership from Retired Army Colonel James Peterson, a West Point graduate who served in Vietnam and was an instructor at the Army War College. He travels the U.S. and teaches the subject to business leaders. Topics included understanding people and how to inspire others. Left to right, Colen Peterson, Explorers Tyler Callahan and Terry Cooper, SRO Dep. Larry O’Neill, Explorers Chris Dotschay, Jayden Gattorno, Michael Anchetta and SRO Dep. Dave Stark.

January 19, 2016

Craig’s List ad leads to more charges in boat theft case

A Craig’s list ad listing a stolen boat motor for sale led to further charges in connection with a boat theft case on Duck Key in August of 2015.

The 17 foot Action Craft boat on a trailer was stolen from a home on Duck Key in August of last year. Video from the entrance to the Duck Key community led to the arrest of the owner of CBD Construction, Inc. – 30 year old Carlos Davalos of Homestead, Florida. Davalos was arrested September 21st and charged with two counts of grand theft for stealing the boat and trailer.

On September 23rd, the boat was recovered in Lehigh Acres, Florida. It had been abandoned and burned. A receipt from a Dollar General store was found by arson investigators nearby. Video from that Dollar General store led investigators to 28 year old Marcos Martinez of Homestead. When interviewed, Martinez said he knows Davalos because he cuts Davalos’ hair. He said he was paid by Davalos to bring the boat to Lehigh Acres. He said he was there when the boat was stripped of valuable items and then burned.

Martinez was subsequently arrested in Miami-Dade County on October 1, 2015 and charged with possessing stolen property.

Last week, in a new development, the victim of the stolen boat, trailer and motor spotted his stolen motor, a 2002 115 hp Evinrude, on Craig’s List and called the lead investigator, Detective Michael Sielicki. Detective Sielicki called the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Unit to assist him with setting up an undercover sting operation on the person selling the motor. The seller, who said his name was “Jesse”, confirmed over the phone he was selling the motor for $2,500.00. He gave the undercover operative his address in Florida City.

The Sheriff’s Office was assisted with this portion of the investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Homeland Security Investigations.

Investigators went to the address to view the motor, ostensibly to purchase it. Once there, they observed the serial number had been removed from it. They offered “Jesse” $2,300.00 for the engine and he accepted their offer. Further investigation turned up a second serial number on the engine that had not been removed. It was confirmed the motor was the one stolen with the boat and trailer from Duck Key.

“Jesse”, identified as 31 year old Jesus Cruz of Florida City, was taken into custody by FWC. Florida City Police also responded. A check on his name showed he is a convicted felon and is wanted on a number of active felony warrants. He was also found to be in possession of a firearm, which his wife turned over to officers. Cruz was booked into jail in Miami-Dade County, charged with dealing in stolen property, use of a two way communications device to facilitate a felony, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of property with an altered serial number.

January 17, 2016

Vehicle burglaries in the Upper Keys

A number of vehicles were burglarized in the Upper Keys Friday with similar methods of entry used.

Suspects smashed windows in the vehicles in order to reach valuables left visible inside. The Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone to remove valuables from inside a vehicle or to place them in a location where they are not visible, like the trunk or under the seat.

A black Jeep parked at Pelican Cove resort had the front passenger window smashed Friday afternoon. A bag with a camera inside was taken from the floor of the passenger side.

A silver Nissan Pathfinder parked at Casa Mar Village Friday afternoon had the back window smashed. A backpack on the rear seat was taken with various children’s items inside.

A Volkswagen parked at Starbuck’s in Key Largo for a short time around noon Friday had the passenger side window smashed. A backpack on the floor on the passenger side was taken. Inside the backpack was a computer, wallet, credit cards, cash and jewelry.

A white Nissan parked at the Diving Museum in Islamorada Friday afternoon had the front passenger window smashed. A black bag was taken with an Ipad inside.

Detectives will be investigating these cases.

January 15, 2016

Iowa man faces charges for gun threats

An Iowa man was arrested Thursday night after he pulled a gun on another man staying at the same motel.

According to reports by Deputy Thomas Amador, both the victim and the suspect are staying at the Creekside Inn at the 90.6 mile marker of the highway. Deputies responded there at 9:20 after the victim, who is from Plantation, Florida, reported another man had threatened him with a gun.

The victim said he was sitting at a table outside, about 40 feet away from suspect, 55 year old Dale Noftsger of New Virginia, Iowa who was with a group of people. He said he was talking on his phone when Noftsger approached him and confronted him about talking on his phone. He said Noftsger then pulled out a gun and pointed it at him. The victim said he was going to call the police and Noftsger then reportedly used the gun to knock the phone to the ground.

Noftsger and the group with him left the area and the victim called the Sheriff’s Office for assistance.

When deputies arrived, they found Noftsger and his girlfriend asleep in their motel room. The loaded handgun was located in the room. Noftsger was arrested. He was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, improper exhibition of a firearm, use of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol and using intimidation or physical force to prevent someone from calling 911.

Man arrested for making a false bomb threat

A Stock Island man was arrested Thursday night for making a false bomb threat and misuse of 911.

41 year old Osmel Garcia called 911 at 6:45 p.m. and said there was a suspicious package on 2nd Street, Stock Island. He said he thought the package was a bomb and that he put it there. He then told Sheriff’s communications officers the bomb exploded. As deputies responded to the area, Garcia remained on the phone. He continued to make bizarre statements until the deputies arrived at the scene.

Deputies Donald Stullken and Austin Hopp asked Garcia where the reported package was. Garcia pointed to several different locations where there was no package. Garcia was making no sense, first saying there was a bomb and then saying there wasn’t one. Garcia admitted to drinking alcohol that evening.

Garcia was arrested. He was charged with misuse of 911 and with making a false bomb threat. He was booked into jail.

January 13, 2016

Drug Drop program: Environmentally friendly way to dispose of medications

Reminder: The Sheriff’s Office will accept old or outdated medications

Note: The Sheriff's Office will not accept medications from commercial establishments

Monroe County – The Monroe County The Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone about the drug disposal program offered at all our county Sheriff's Substations and the reasons why it is important to dispose of medications in the right way. The program has been an ongoing success. The Sheriff’s Office regularly collects hundreds of pounds of medications county wide each year. In the last six months of 2015, we collected and disposed of 330 pounds of medications county-wide.

Anyone – with the exception of commercial establishments - may bring no-longer-needed prescription drugs and other over the counter medications in, or call and someone will pick the medications up for disposal.

People who call to have medications picked up can do so with no questions asked. The goal of this program is to dispose of them properly, not to catch people with illegal drugs.

Proper disposal of prescription and over the counter medications is important. Flushing them down the toilet or sink can introduce dangerous and environmentally damaging substances into the water system; throwing them away in the trash can also introduce them into the environment, and runs the risk of them winding up in the wrong hands. The medications collected by the Sheriff’s Office are safely burned in the Sheriff's Burn Unit.

·        In the Upper Keys, medications will be accepted at the Islamorada and Plantation Key Substations Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. For pickup, call 305-853-3211 during office hours.
·        In the Middle Keys, the Marathon Substation will accept any medications Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For pickup, call 305-289-2430 during office hours.
·        In the Lower Keys, citizens can drop off medications at the Freeman Substation on Cudjoe Key or at the Sheriff's Office headquarters building on Stock Island Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or call 305-745-3184 for pickup.

Caution: people who are going to bring their medications in themselves need to make sure to keep prescriptions in the prescription bottle until they drop them off to show proof the prescription is legitimately theirs. Possession of a controlled substance without proof of a prescription in your name is against the law.

January 12, 2016

Explorer Color Guard

Looking sharp! The Sheriff’s Explorer Post 906 in Marathon presented the colors for the first time at the Marathon / Coral Shores varsity basketball game on December 18th at Marathon High School. The newly formed Explorer Color Guard will be performing this function at many upcoming high school events and at other events around the Marathon area. Left to right, Yanelys Vergara, Angel Muino, Darian Companioni, Daniela Leyva. Their advisor in the post is Sheriff’s Office School Resource Deputy Derick Velez.

January 11, 2016

Longtime employee retires

Longtime employee Captain Donnie Elomina retired from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office last week after 30 years with the agency.

At a luncheon held on Friday, friends and colleagues said goodbye to the long time Lower Keys Station Commander. Captain Elomina was hired in December of 1985 as a corrections deputy. He transferred to road patrol in October of 1987. After that, he worked in a number of different positions; as a detective, internal affairs inspector, detective sergeant and lieutenant in charge of the Lower Keys District Substation, supervising all Lower Keys Road Patrol deputies and detectives.

In the photo: Colonel Lou Caputo (left) and Major Chad Scibilia present Captain Elomina with a special shadow-box in recognition of his service.

Sheriff’s sergeant recognized for his service

Sheriff’s Traffic Enforcement Sergeant Kevin Mimosa was honored by the Wounded Warrior Project. For the past 11 years, Sgt. Mimosa has helped to organize the escorts for the Wounded Warrior Soldier Rides as they travel through the Florida Keys. This will be the last ride he is involved in, as he is preparing to retire within the next year. Attached is a picture of him receiving his plaque from Meghan Wagner, project manager for the Wounded Warrior Project.

Formal inspection in Marathon

Colonel Lou Caputo does love his job, especially when he gets to break out the Q-tips and inspect weapons for cleanliness! Here he is in Marathon, at their recent formal inspection.

Deputies help with cleanup effort

Detention Deputies Jameson Parker and Steven Jaroszewski participated in a Health Department adopt a highway cleanup on December 12th in the area of Key Haven.

January 8, 2016

Wounded Warriors ride through parts of the Keys

Wounded Warriors rode through parts of the Florida Keys today, from the VFW Hall in Key Largo to Coral Shores High School, then on to Islamorada. They were bused to the Marathon Fire Station for lunch after which they rode through Marathon and over the 7 Mile Bridge.

Community support was great. Here are some pictures from the day, taken by Traffic Enforcement Deputy John McGee.

January 7, 2016

Sheriff announces next Citizen’s Police Academies

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

Classes will begin the week of February 23rd  and will continue through graduation the week of April 13th. There will be three separate academies held during that time – one each in the Lower, Middle and Upper Keys. Attendees will be asked to commit to spending one night a week 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. All participants will be asked to attend the last session at the Sheriff’s Office hanger at the Marathon airport. Otherwise classes will be held in the individual district holding the academy. Note: there will be no classes held during the week of Easter.

  • In the Upper Keys, classes will meet at the Roth Building on Plantation Key.
  • In the Middle Keys, classes will meet at the Sheriff’s Office Aviation Hanger in Marathon.
  • In the Lower Keys, classes will meet at the Sheriff’s Headquarters building on Stock Island.

“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 four years and everyone who has attended 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

Space is limited, so anyone who is interested should contact the captain in the area where they wish to attend.

January 5, 2016

Wounded Warriors to ride through the Keys Friday

There will be a Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride coming up on Friday. I am posting here a flyer with an outline of the times the soldiers will be riding through the Florida Keys.

We have found in the past the times are not always accurate and there are sometimes delays for various reasons. To help with that, and to assist those people who want to come out and cheer them on Friday, we will be posting updates Friday to let you know where they are on the progress of their ride. Please keep an eye on this Facebook page, on our Twitter feed (@mcsonews) or download our App (search Google Play or the Apple Store for Monroe County Sheriff's Office).