February 29, 2016

Honoring Deputy Frank Adams during black history stroll

Programs Director Keena Allen participated in the Key West Black History Stroll; one of the stops was the Key West Cemetery where she spoke about Deputy Frank Adams, the first deputy to be killed in the line of duty in the Florida Keys on October 7th, 1901.

Helping out the food bank

The Bureau of Corrections turned out again to help unload a truck for the Saint Mary Star of the Sea food pantry. In the photo: Lt.s Patrick Major, James Sheagren, Joseph Linares, Todd Silvers; Sgt. Alvarez Rice; Deputies Charles Montano, Denise Dery, Charles Miles, Yvonne Dixon and Burney Stafford, plus inmate / trustys.

Graffiti eradication

The war on graffiti continues in the Lower Keys: Deputy John Allen and Deputy Spencer Curry painted over graffiti at the CVS pharmacy on Sock Island. Deputy Jorge Prince and Deputy Darren Jensen painted over graffiti at Higgs Beach.

Day care worker charged with child abuse

A Key Largo woman who works as a day care teacher at St. Justin Church in Key Largo was arrested today for child abuse.

51 year old Virginia Amaya is accused of injuring a 4 year old girl’s lip during the course of disciplining her for misbehavior on the playground. The incident took place on February 24th. It was reported to the Sheriff’s Office by the school’s administrator.

According to reports by Major Crimes Detective Vince Weiner, several children were misbehaving on the playground. Amaya reportedly was scolding the children when she pushed the 4 year old’s head down, hitting her lip on a table.

Amaya was arrested today and charged with child abuse. She was booked into jail. 

February 27, 2016

Inmate dies after having apparent seizure

An inmate at the Stock Island jail who had an apparent seizure in his cell just after midnight was pronounced dead at Lower Keys Hospital.

28 year old Michael Gunderson of Sugarloaf Key  was arrested February 23rd after being stopped on the Boca Chica four lane for driving erratically. He was found to have no driver’s license and was in possession of heroin, cocaine and marijuana, all of which he was charged for possession.

The Corrections deputy on duty was doing a regularly scheduled check of cells  at approximately 11:30 p.m. when he saw Gunderson laying on the floor of his cell with a blanket on top of him. Gunderson had no roommate and was alone in the cell. The deputy opened the cell door to tell Gunderson to get back onto his bunk. At that point, the deputy saw Gunderson’s hands were clenched. Further observation revealed he appeared to be having a seizure.

Nurses on duty at the jail responded to the housing unit and the fire department was also notified and responded. Gunderson was transported to Lower Keys Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Major Crimes Detective Manuel Cuervo responded to investigate. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement was also notified and will be investigating. Detective Cuervo said there were no obvious signs of foul play.

February 26, 2016

Detention Records Assistant job openings

We currently have job openings for Detention Records Assistant. If you are interested in this job, or any employment with the Sheriff's Office you can visit our web site at: http://www.keysso.net/admin_divs/hrd/hrd.htm

Graduating from Project Alert

These kids, from Mrs. Kate Hofstetter’s class at Treasure  Village Montessori School, are celebrating. They just graduated an 11 week intensive drug, alcohol, and tobacco resistance course called Project Alert.  Project Alert, taught by Sheriff's Office School Resource Officers, helps kids in 7th grade learn about the consequences of giving in to peer pressure as it relates to alcohol, tobacco and drug use.  Each lesson has a specific topic, and kids act out skits during which they get to practice resistance skills. This particular classs was taught by SRO Deputy Larry O'Neill. The last class day ended with students writing a commitment essay on why they wish to live a healthy drug free life.  In the picture, they are tossing up their essays as they would toss up their graduation caps.

Couple charged with fake $100 bills

A sharp cashier at a Key Largo business helped the Sheriff’s Office catch a couple passing fake $100 bills Thursday.
At 3 p.m., Detective Barney Sajdak heard over his police radio a notice to be on the lookout for a vehicle occupied by a couple involved in attempting to pass a fake $100 bill at Mother Ocean Consignment at the 99 mile marker of the highway. The clerk called the Sheriff’s Office after a woman gave her a $100 bill to pay for a purchase; the cashier recognized it was fake, gave it back to the woman, and then called to report it. The vehicle – a black Ford Ranger truck – left headed southbound on the highway with a man and a woman inside.

Det. Sajdak spotted a similar vehicle parked in front of a hardware store at the 92 mile marker. He pulled in and contacted the driver, 70 year old Francisco Montes-Quinones of Hialeah Gardens, Florida. The detective asked the man where his wife was, but the man refused to answer. He then asked the man if he had any money and if so, could he see it. Quinones opened his wallet, revealing a number of bills, including several that were a different color and had a different feel to them. In addition, in checking the serial numbers, the detective noticed all the serial numbers were identical. More of the fake currency was later found above the sun visor of the truck, in an envelope.

Quinones was detained; his wife, 52 year old Mariela Carvajal-Perez, then exited the Island D├ęcor store nearby. She was carrying a shopping bag. At that point, Deputy Matt Koval had arrived on scene to assist, so Det. Sajdak went into the store to talk with the owner. She confirmed Perez had just purchased an item using a $100 bill and had received $78.50 in change. She produced the $100 bill which was identical to the others found in Quinones’ wallet.

Both Quinones and Perez were arrested. Quinones was charged with possession of more than ten counterfeit United States bank notes – he had 19 fake bills in his possession. Perez was charged with uttering forged bills for her use of the fake money in the store. Both were booked into jail.

 More charges may be pending. Investigations are continuing into their connection with other reports of fake $100 bills passed at Upper Keys businesses in recent weeks.

Skeletal remains found on Summerland Key identified as missing man

Skeletal remains found on Summerland Key in December have been identified as a missing man from Norway.

Major Crimes Detective Manny Cuervo says dental records were instrumental in making the positive identi-fication. He says the body of the man found on Summerland Key is that if 56 year old Guiseppe Codiglia. Codiglia was reported missing by his son, Mats Codiglia Weberg in June of 2015.

Weberg said his father traveled to the United States in February of 2015 and spent time visiting a friend in New Jersey. Weberg said his father would check in with his family a couple of times a week, but stopped calling in late May. While in the States, Codiglia was reportedly traveling in a motor home registered to his friend in New Jersey. The motor home was towed from Summerland Boat Rental by Anchor Towing on May 28th and the owner was notified about the tow. He told Weberg where it was and the son came to the Keys looking for his father. When he was unsuccessful in locating him, the son reported the missing man to the Sheriff’s Office.

The motor home appeared undisturbed inside, and contained personal items belonging to Codiglia includ-ing clothing, a laptop computer, cell phone, and a gun case with paperwork for a .38 caliber Charter Arms revolver. There was no sign of a struggle or indications of foul play inside. Codiglia’s wallet, keys, passport and a second cell phone were not inside, however, leading to the possibility that he had simply walked away from the motor home and disappeared.

Flyers were issued with his information, and he was listed as missing with both the Florida and National Crime Information Centers (FCIC/NCIC). Detective Cuervo also called the Norwegian Embassy and notified them to be on the lookout for Codiglia should he return to his home country. Several tips were received from people who thought they spotted Codiglia, but none of them turned out to be true sightings.

On December 28th, human skeletal remains were found in a mangrove area on Summerland Key. A gun was found with the remains, matching the make, model and serial number of the paperwork found in the motor home in which Codiglia was traveling. Detective Cuervo contacted Norwegian authorities for assistance in obtaining dental records for comparison to confirm the remains were Codiglia’s. In late January, the dental records were provided to Interpol in Washington and forwarded to Detective Cuervo. He gave the records to the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office for comparison. On February 18th, that office confirmed the remains were those of Guiseppe Codiglia. His family was then notified of that identification.

At this time, detectives say it appears Codiglia may have committed suicide. At the time of his disappear-ance, family members indicate he was having significant financial difficulties in Norway stemming from a bankruptcy, he’d recently lost his business and owed considerable funds to the government.

February 25, 2016

Explorers: looking sharp!

Explorer Posts 904 and 906 got together recently at Sombrero Beach in Marathon to take these gorgeous pictures. 

Keeping our highway clean!

This dedicated group got together last week to clean up one of the miles of highway adopted by the Sheriff’s Office - this one in Marathon. Great effort, crew!

Airport formal inspection

 Sheriff's Office employees at the Key West Airport had their annual formal inspection this week. Looking sharp!

Job openings: Communications Officer

The Sheriff's Office has current job openings for Communications Officers. For more information about these job openings, or about any employment with the Sheriff's Office, visit our web site at: http://www.keysso.net/admin_divs/hrd/hrd.htm

Road rage involving gun

A Kentucky man was arrested today in Key West after he pointed a gun at the driver and passenger of a truck as he was driving southbound on highway U.S. One.

The victims were traveling in a Dot Palm landscaping truck southbound just before 10 a.m. today when a white Chevy Silverado truck reportedly cut into the path of their vehicle in the vicinity of the Bahia Honda Bridge. The occupants of the vehicles reportedly exchanged gestures with one another. The driver of the truck, 58 year old Calvin Hudson of Rockfield, Kentucky pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the men in the Dot Palm truck. The victims said Hudson first pulled up beside them on the right hand side and pointed the gun at the passenger; he then pulled up on the left side and pointed the gun at the driver. The occupants of the Dot Palm truck called the Sheriff’s Office to report the incident.

Deputy Wang spotted and stopped the truck in the city of Key West, near Searstown Shopping Center. Hudson told Deputy Richard Wang he and his wife, who was also in the truck, had driven to Key West on vacation. The gun was found in a hidden compartment under the drink holders in the center console.  Hudson was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was booked into jail.

February 23, 2016

Dive team recovers truck from canal

The Sheriff’s Office Dive team and Marine deputy recovered a truck submerged in a canal on Summerland Key.

Deputy Richard Wang responded to East Shore Drive on Summerland Key Friday to reports of a truck in a canal. Two people paddle boarding spotted the truck in about 15 feet of water and called to report it.

Dive team members, assisted by Sheriff’s Marine Deputy James Hager and Anchor Towing, removed the truck from the water. The algae growth on the truck indicated it had been in that location for some time. The key was in the ignition and it was in neutral. The tag had been removed and all the windows were open.

The 2003 white Ford F150 was registered to Geico Insurance Company. According to a records check on the vehicle, an insurance claim had been paid on the vehicle in July of 2009. A report of a missing vehicle was filed with Homestead Police Department at that time, but the truck was not at that time classified as stolen, according to the records.

Sheriff's Animal Farm open Sunday, February 28th; Eater on the Farm is March 13th

The Sheriff's Animal Farm will be open this Sunday February 28th, between 1 - 3 p.m. Bring the family and come visit the animals at the farm, including horses, a cow, pigs, goats, bunnies, alligators, tropical birds, a Kinkajou, Sloths, a Lemur, Kramer the Emu, a family of Patagonian Cavys, a skunk, an opossum, tortoises and turtles, snakes and many more. It is free of charge (donations are welcome).

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

And, don’t forget to mark your calendars now because Easter on the Animal Farm is scheduled for Sunday, March 13th. Kids can visit and have their pictures taken with the Easter Bunny, hunt Easter eggs, participate in arts and crafts, visit the Home Depot workshop, listen to live music and much more.

You can keep up with the farm and it’s animals on Facebook. Visit our page at www.facebook.com/KeysAnimalFarm

Law officers face off in basketball game March 12th

In an event to raise money for Relay for Life, the Sheriff’s Office and the Key West Police will face off on the basketball court March 12th.

The Sheriff’s “Stars” will play the KWPD “Finest” in the fourth annual “Let’s Dunk on Cancer” game at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 12th at the Key West High School gymnasium. The event is open to the public. A $5 donation would be appreciated at the door and there will be food, drinks and raffle tickets on sale. All proceeds will benefit Relay for Life.

“This event is a lot of fun for everyone involved. It is a hard fought, good-natured competition for a great cause. We get a chance to play with our friends at the police department. Come on out and have fun with us on March 12th,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay.

February 22, 2016

Armed man confronts deputies

Sheriff’s deputies took a Marathon man into custody peacefully Friday after he pulled a gun on them as they tried to serve an active warrant.

Deputies Danielle Malone, William Daniels and Key Colony Beach Officer John Smith went to a home on 4th Avenue Ocean in Marathon just before 10 p.m. Friday. They were there to serve an arrest warrant on 43 year old David Williams.

Deputy Malone knocked on the door and Williams opened the door. When he saw she was a deputy, he tried to slam the door shut. Deputy Malone was able to grab the door and open it. Williams, who was just inside the door, began stepping backwards and raised a gun toward Deputy Malone.

Deputy Malone was able to take cover outside the door and yelled “gun” to let the other officers know Williams was armed. She then yelled for William to drop the gun and come out with his hands in the air.

At that point, Williams complied with orders and surrendered peacefully. The loaded firearm was located inside, on the couch. Williams later apologized for pointing the gun at the officers.

Williams was with the warrant; he was further charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

February 21, 2016

Traffic delays expected at Cow Key Channel

Just received notice: FDOT says crews will be working on Cow Key Channel Bridge on the northbound side. There will be lane closures due to this work between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. Monday through Friday of this week. Please expect potentially major traffic delays and plan accordingly if you must travel through the area of the triangle during that time period. They say there will be officers stationed at the triangle and at College Road in an attempt to keep traffic flowing as much as possible.

February 19, 2016

Play bingo and raise money for a great cause!

If you like bingo, or just having fun, this event promises to deliver!!! Come on out and join us and raise money for Christina's Courage!

MCSO vs. KWPD Basketball Game!

Graffiti eradicated

 Deputy Darren Jensen and Wendy Negron painting out graffiti at Higg’s Beach in Key West.

Cleaning up Cudjoe Key

A large number of Navy personnel turned out to help the Sheriff’s Office with the Adopt a Highway cleanup on Cudjoe Key this week. Thanks to Deputy Austin Hopp and his wife Melissa - she is in the Navy and helped to encourage the involvement. About 600 pounds of trash were collected during the effort between mile marker’s 20 and 22. The cleanup was coordinated by Sgt. Linda Mixon and her squad.

Cleaning up in Key Largo

Sgt. Jason Madnick’s road patrol squad cleaning up illegal dumping on Lake Street in Key Largo this week

Man arrested for stealing truck

A homeless Key West man was charged Thursday with stealing a truck from where it was parked at the 39 mile marker of the highway.

The owner of the 2009 Dodge Ram 3500 truck told Deputy Todd Jones he parked it at the Ohio Bahia Honda Channel Bridge to take his morning walk. He put the keys in the gas cap compartment. As he was walking on the bike/walking path, he saw his truck pass him heading south on U.S. One. When he got back to his residence on Sunshine Key, he called to report the theft.

As Deputy Jones was taking the theft report, Sheriff’s Office dispatchers informed him that Key West Police had the stolen truck and a suspect in custody on numerous charges from an incident in the city of Key West. Deputy Jones responded to the Stock Island Detention Center where he additionally charged the suspect, 40 year old Chad Watson, with grand theft of a vehicle.

February 18, 2016

Small plane crash - no injuries

 A small plane crashed upon trying to land at Tavenero Airport, a small private airport in Tavernier. One person – the pilot – was on board and was not injured. Florida Highway Patrol will be investigating the case. The Federal Aviation Administration has also been notified
When the plane crashed, it hit some phone lines in the area of Plantation Avenue. People who live in that area may experience problems with their service. The phone company has been notified.

Thanks to Sheriff's Office Lt. David Carey for taking these photos.

Talking to kids about safety

SRO Deputy Larry O’Neill talked with students at Treasure Village Montessori school about stranger danger, calling 911 and what to do if they get lost or seperated from a parent. Everyone got MCSO goodies, coloring books and junior deputy badges.

Talking to kids about law enforcement

Deputies Garrett Bragg, David Fernandez and Sgt. Trevor Wirth visited with Mr. Williams Criminal Justice class at Key West High School to talk about the Sheriff’s SWAT team and about what it is like to be a law enforcement officer.

Don't forget this cleanup Saturday in Marathon!

Man dies snorkeling offshore of Key Largo

A Cincinnati, Ohio man died while snorkeling offshore of Key Largo Wednesday.

65 year old Michael Schmidt and his wife were on board the 42 foot catamaran Reef Roamer, on a snorkeling trip. They were both in the water at about 2:45 p.m. when Schmidt began having trouble. Both the crew on the vessel and other snorkelers in the water heard Schmidt’s wife call for assistance. The vessel’s mate jumped in the water and swam to him, then towed him back to the boat performing rescue breathing on the way. Once on board the vessel, CPR was performed until the Coast Guard arrived on scene, after which they took over attempts to save Schmidt’s life.

The boat, escorted by the Coast Guard arrived at the Port Largo Homeowner’s Park at 3:20 p.m. At that point,  paramedics from Key Largo fire rescue transported him to Mariner’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Cuban tug offshore of Marathon

The Sheriff's Office Dive team is currently assisting the U.S. Coast Guard with the inspection of a Cuban tugboat disabled offshore of Marathon.

February 17, 2016

Mark your calendars for Easter on the Farm!

Found / abandoned property

Here is a list list of found or abandoned property. The Sheriff's Office has exhausted all other avenues for finding the owners, so thank you to all of you for taking a look at this current list to see if you know who these items might belong to. If you know, please contact one of our Property offices and refer to the Offense # associated with the item.

February 16, 2016

School is all clear and safe

Officers searching Marathon High School have declared the school "all clear" and it is safe for students and faculty to return. There were no devices found at the school. We take these cases very seriously and we will be investigating who may have made this false bomb threat at the school.

Deputy following backhoe on Seven Mile Bridge early today

Here is a short video clip of Deputy Orlando Alvarez following the
backhoe on the Seven Mile Bridge in the early morning hours today.

Update on bomb threat, Marathon High School

Update: Multiple officers from several different agencies on Marathon High School campus searching room by room to make sure the school is safe. Kids and employees are safely evacuated. Please be patient as we are doing all we can to ensure the campus is free from any danger before we allow anyone back into the school.

Bomb threat Marathon High School

There has been a bomb threat at Marathon High School. Students and employees of the school are being evacuated as a precautionary measure while deputies search the school and make sure all is safe. Students are fine, but if parents feel the need to come to the area, they should go to Kmart where they will receive regular updates on the situation. Parents will not be allowed to go to the school itself for security reasons.

Backhoe from Seven Mile Bridge incident this morning

Here are a few photos of the backhoe that wreaked havoc on the Seven Mile Bridge this morning. These were taken after the spikes were used to flatten the tires, which finally stopped it at the north end of the bridge.

Photos taken by Lt. Derek Paul, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office

Man arrested after taking backhoe for a dangerous joyride on the Seven Mile Bridge

The Seven Mile Bridge was closed to traffic for over three hours early today after a man dumped boulders on the roadway with a backhoe at the north end of the bridge. He then took the backhoe for a ride, traveling back and forth on the bridge for an hour and a half.

59 year old Carl Blahnik damaged the roadway and the sides of the bridge with the backhoe as he recklessly traveled first southbound, then northbound changing directions several times. Deputies following him with lights and sirens had to also reverse directions several times to avoid being struck by the backhoe. One deputy’s patrol vehicle was damaged during the pursuit. Deputies finally left the bridge for their own safety, also making sure all other vehicles exited the bridge as well.

Finally, at about 1:20 a.m., Blahnik drove off the north end of the bridge and waiting deputies threw Stinger Spike strips in front of the backhoe puncturing its tires. The vehicle came to a rest and Blahnik was arrested. He complained of pain in his shoulder and trouble breathing so he was taken to Fishermen’s Hospital before being taken to jail.

It took more than an hour and a half to clean the roadway of debris with the assistance of Florida Highway Patrol and make sure the bridge was safe. Traffic was finally allowed to resume just after 3 a.m.

Blahnik was charged with reckless driving, fleeing and eluding police, digging up or any way disturbing any street or highway (FL. Statute 316.2035.3), failing to register a motor vehicle and grand theft of a vehicle.

Blahnik was carrying a Wisconsin identification card at the time of his arrest, but an encounter deputies had with him Monday morning revealed he is possibly homeless and staying in a wooded area near Coco Plum Beach. It is believed the backhoe may have been taken from a construction site at Marathon City Park.

Two charged with reckless driving

Two Geiger Key residents were arrested Monday morning after a traffic enforcement deputy saw them driving recklessly at high rates of speed on the Boca Chica four lane in the Lower Keys.

The Sheriff’s Office has received numerous complaints from citizens about speeding in the construction zone on the four lane stretch of highway between Stock Island and Big Coppitt Key. The speed limit for the area has been set at 45 miles per hour while construction is being done.

On Monday morning, Deputy John McGee was on patrol at 8 a.m. on his motorcycle in that area when he spotted two vehicles – a green four door sedan and a blue pickup truck - traveling at over 85 miles per hour in that area. The vehicles appeared to be racing each other. The truck was behind the car, so Deputy McGee got behind the lead vehicle in an attempt to pull them both over. The woman driving the car – identified as 25 year old Melissa Bazley – refused to pull over. He pulled up to the driver’s side window, which was down, and motioned and yelled for her to pull over. She still refused.

Deputy McGee finally got both vehicles stopped. Bazely refused to produce her driver’s license, instead asking the deputy “why are you harassing me?” After repeatedly ordering her to produce her license, she continued to refuse. The male – identified as 24 year old Shaun Stevens – also began to get belligerent with the deputy, so he called for backup officers to assist.

Bazely had to be forcibly removed from her car because she continued to be completely non-compliant with all orders. Stevens was also resistive, and at one point as he confronted Deputy McGee, he stepped out into the roadway into oncoming traffic. Stevens at protested that they were “just speeding to get home” and asked why the deputy had to “harass them like that”.

Both of them were arrested and taken to jail. Bazley was charged with failure to obey a law enforcement officer, participating in unlawful racing and resisting arrest. Stevens was charged with participating in unlawful racing.

February 14, 2016

New update for Smartphone App

For those of you who have our Monroe County Sheriff's Office Smartphone App, there is a new update available. It repairs a problem we have been having with IPhones not receiving our push notifications properly.

In order to benefit from this fix, please download the new update as soon as possible. If you have an older IPhone - an IPhone 4 or 5 - you will have to uninstall the app and reinstall it.Once you do this, you should once again begin receiving our notifications on your phone.

Thank you for your patience. Please share this information with others who may have the app.

For those of you who do not have our app and with to download it, search the Google Play store or the Apple Store for "Monroe County Sheriff's Office". We use our notifications to let you know when there are major accidents on the highway or other issues which might cause extended delays in traffic. The app also features our live Calls for Service, Arrests / Mug Shots, a list of Sexual Offenders and their locations and much more.

February 12, 2016

Cadets in training

Sheriff's Office School Resource Deputies Dave Stark and Larry O’Neill conducted training for cadets on traffic stops and officer safety. Cadets Jayden Gattorno and Michael Anchetta got to practice doing traffic stops, talking on the radio using the military phonetic alphabet, and using proper police lingo and procedures.

Adopt-a-highway cleanup, Lower Keys!

Clean up in the Lower Keys next week! Join us in cleaning up our highway!

Clean up in Marathon!

Clean up coming up in Marathon next week! Join us as we keep our community clean and safe!

Cleaning up Stock Island

Deputy Lazaro Valdes working hard to clean up Stock Island and Key Haven. On the left, he is shown working with Monroe County Public Works to clean up trash curb side on Maloney Avenue, Stock Island. On the right, he works with Tow Truck Operator Ricky Arnold to remove abandoned boat trailers on Key Haven Boulevard.

Continuing the fight against graffiti

Continuing the fight against graffiti in the Lower Keys: Left to right, Deputies Spencer Curry and Freddy Rodriguez paint out graffiti on dumpsters at Watson Field, Big Pine Key while Deputy Donald Stulken cleans up graffiti on a  barricade.