February 20, 2017

Islamorada event expected to create heavy traffic

The Annual Nautical Flea Market in Islamorada is coming up this weekend and is expected to cause heavy traffic and significant delays for drivers.

Sheriff’s deputies will be on hand directing traffic, but the large number of cars associated with this event will be an issue. Anyone traveling through the Islamorada area during this time should be aware of it and plan extra time for the trip. Those people needing to make flights in Miami should plan up to an extra two hours in order to make it in time.

The Nautical Flea Market will take place at Founder’s Park Saturday, February 25th from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sunday, February 26th from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Delays will most likely take place for up to an hour after the event closes each day.

Those planning to attend the event: there will be free parking at Coral Shores High School with a free shuttle to take people to and from the flea market.

February 19, 2017

Man charged with stabbing another man

An Islamorada man is in jail, charged with stabbing his wife’s boyfriend.

Sgt. Yunier Galvez responded to Sea Breeze Trailer Park at the 87.4 mile marker of the highway at 1:30 a.m. Saturday to a report of a stabbing. When he arrived, he found the 40 year old victim outside of trailer #64, holding his stomach. He said he’d been stabbed by a man inside the trailer, 55 year old Fredrick Kimble.

The victim lives in the trailer with Kimble and Kimble’s wife. Kimble and his wife are reportedly estranged and the victim and the wife are now a couple.

Two Florida Highway Patrol troopers arrived on the scene as backup for Sgt. Galvez. The three officers went into the trailer to investigate further.

Interviews with the victim and his girlfriend revealed they were all outside the trailer together when Kimble and his wife began to argue. The victim said he  intervened and told Kimble to stop yelling at her. He said she began to pull him away from Kimble; it was at that point the victim “felt a stab” to his abdomen and realized Kimble had stabbed him with a knife.

The victim was airlifted to a Miami hospital for treatment of a stab wound. Kimble was placed under arrest, charged with aggravated battery. The pocket knife used in the stabbing was recovered from his pants pocket.

Two women charged with neglect of children

Two Stock Island women were arrested early Friday, charged with neglecting two small children.

Deputy David Lariz responded to Roy’s Trailer Park just after midnight Friday to a report of two small children wandering around by themselves. They’d been found by a tow truck driver from Arnold’s Towing. The small girls, both two years old, were crying and appeared to be cold. One was nude and the other was wearing only a tshirt and underwear. Deputy Lariz got a towel out of his car to cover the nude child and then began to look for someone responsible for them.

Two women showed up in the area a short time later and said they were the ones  responsible for the children. Investigations revealed the two women, who said they had been drinking alcohol, had left the children alone in a nearby trailer while they went to visit friends in another trailer.  They said they were only gone a short time and when they returned, they found the door to the trailer open and the children gone.

24 year old Jessica Saintil and 23 year old Yveline Saintal were both arrested and charged with child neglect.

Fort Lauderdale man faces gun charges

A Fort Lauderdale man was arrested for improperly exhibiting a firearm at a bar in Key Largo.

Deputy Ignacio Molina responded to the Hilton Resort in Key Largo at 2:40 a.m. today to reports a patron at the bar was armed and had on several occasions shown weapons to other patrons.

The bartender and others at the bar said 54 year old Richard Andrews was in the bar drinking with other bar patrons. At one point, he reportedly pulled up his shirt and shown people a handgun in his waistband. On another occasion, he reportedly took out a knife and showed it to a group of people at the bar.

When someone made fun of the knife, Andrews reportedly took the gun out of his waistband and placed it on the bar. At that point he was asked to leave the bar and the Sheriff’s Office was called to the scene.

Andrews was found in his hotel room. He produced the gun when Deputy Molina asked him about it. He also produced a concealed weapons permit.

Andrews was charged with use of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol and with improper exhibition of a firearm. He was booked into jail.

February 17, 2017

Detectives looking for second suspect in Marathon robbery

Sheriff’s Detective Leon Bourcier has identified and obtained warrants for the arrest of a second suspect in the February 2nd Robbery of a Marathon man.

46 year old Timothy Scott Farmer of Marathon is wanted on charges of robbery and battery. The victim reported the crime to the Sheriff’s Office on February 2nd. He told detectives he was on his way home from work when two men attacked and robbed him.

The first suspect, 21 year old Cordney Hayes, was arrested February 9th.

Anyone who knows where Farmer is should contact the Sheriff's Office at 305-289-2430. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a Crimestoppers tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crimestoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may be made anonymously on line at www.tipsubmit.com or via a text message to 274637 using the keyword TIP136.

Speaking to Crime Watch

Lower Keys Detective Sgt. Smith, Detectives Spencer Curry, John Gabay, and Marine Deputy James Hager recently attended a crime watch meeting with Big Pine residents. During this meeting they discussed fraud investigations and keeping your identity safe; they also discussed different topics pertaining to marine related activity (boating safety, derelict vessels, fishing/ resource laws and regulations.

Cleaning up on Stock Island

Recently Deputy Matt Dowling received complaints about abandoned vehicles and rusted boat trailers on Laurel Avenue on Stock Island. He enlisted the help of Deputies Lazaro Valdes and James Hager and tagged the abandoned items for removal. A vehicle with attached tag not assigned was also towed.  Deputies posted notice on approximately 7 abandoned boat trailers/ vehicles.

Cleaning up on Big PIne

Deputy Todd Jones located an illegal camp in a wooded area on Big Pine Key. the camp was full of trash. He enlisted squad members Richard Wang and James Hager to help clean out the wooded area and remove the trash. Public Works also helped out with hauling away all the debris.

Speaking to members of AARP

District One’s Criminal investigations Unit conducted a crime prevention seminar on fraud and identity theft to AARP members.  Detective Sgt. David Smith and Detectives Spencer Curry and David Fernandez discussed fraud and I.D. theft.  The audience was filled with about 40 members of AARP.

Helping the homeless

Deputy Aaron Coller and Deputy / Trainee Ryan Chlebanowski helped out a homeless resident of Marathon who’d been walking around barefoot for days by getting him these sandals from the KAIR organization.

February 15, 2017

Key Largo woman falls victim to federal grant scam

A Key Largo woman reported to the Sheriff’s Office Tuesday she fell victim to a scam promising Federal Grant Money.

The victim said she received a Facebook message from a friend telling her how she can apply for Federal Grant Money. She contacted the person in the Facebook post who gave the name of Kelly Boykin. The scammer told her to send $500 to process the application via Western Union.

After she sent the money, Boykin told her she needed more money. This time she was told to send $2,000 via Western Union. After more delays, she was asked to send a further $3,000. She told the scammer she could only afford $1,169, which she then sent via Western Union.

She was alerted to the fact it was a scam when one of the people she spoke with on the phone mentioned the money “clearing customs”. At this point, she called the Sheriff’s Office.

The Federal Trade Commission has more information on-line about such scams. They say:
·         Never give out bank account information
·         Don’t EVER pay money for a “free” government grant

Marathon woman loses money to fake IRS scammers

This time of year we always start getting calls about crooks using the name of the IRS to scam money from people.

A Marathon woman called the Sheriff’s Office Tuesday to report being scammed out of $4,200. She said she got a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS saying she owned taxes for the years 2010 to 2015. She was told to purchase a large number of iTunes gift cards and call in the card numbers to the scammer. She was also instructed to do perform three Wells Fargo Money Transfers, which she did.

According to the IRS, they will never call you to demand immediate payment. They won’t call you at all without first sending you a bill in the mail.

They will never require you to pay in a certain way, like requiring payment in prepaid gift cards or Wells Fargo Money Transfers.

They will never ask you for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

They will never threaten to bring police or other law enforcement agencies to arrest you for not paying.

Here is a good source of more information, straight from the IRS:

Deputy needs help identifying woman

Deputy Rosary Ponce is asking for help identifying a woman who paid for a bathing suit with a fake $100 bill.

The woman bought the black colored size 20 bathing suit February 11th just before 8 p.m. at the Sandal Factory in Marathon. She said she was buying it for her mother. She paid for the bathing suit with a $100 bill. The clerk said she looked closely at the bill and used a counterfeit detector pen on it. She said it looked well used – or as she put it “washed a hundred times”. But the pen did not indicate it was fake so she took the bill.

The bank called on Tuesday to say the bill was a fake. The store pulled surveillance photos of the woman making the transaction. The clerk said the woman is a black female in her 20s with a slim build. At the time she was wearing black pants and a black tank top. She was the passenger in a silver Dodge Charger with a Florida Handicap sign hanging in the front window. Deputy Ponce would like help in identifying her so she can interview her in connection with this case.

Anyone with information about this case should contact the Sheriff's Office at 305-289-2430. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a Crimestoppers tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crimestoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may be made anonymously on line at www.tipsubmit.com or via a text message to 274637 using the keyword TIP136.

February 14, 2017

Sheriff’s detectives investigating vehicle thefts

Sheriff’s detectives are investigating the theft of two personal watercraft, three all-terrain vehicles, a truck, an SUV and three trailers stolen from Upper Keys neighborhoods this month.

The first theft was reported February 1st from a home on Pearl Avenue, Plantation Key. A man called to report he’d been out of town and someone had taken two 2015 Yamaha Wave Runners on a trailer. The trailer was secured by a cable and a large lock prior to the theft taking place. The Wave Runners were black with gold trim.

The rest of the thefts took place between the night of February 9th and the morning of the tenth.

  • ·         Two ATVs on a trailer and a white Infinity QX80 SUV were stolen from home on Indian Mound Trail in Tavernier. The ATVs were secured to a pole with a cable and a lock. The cable and lock were found on the ground. The cable had been cut. The victim still had the keys to the Infinity. It is unknown if the vehicle was locked or not.
  • ·         A gray 2004 Ford F250 was taken from home on Normandy Drive in Key Largo. The truck was not locked, but the victim has the keys. The truck was recovered the following day in Miami-Dade County in good condition. 
  • ·         An ATV was stolen from Drury Drive in Key Largo. It was a blue and white 2015 Yamaha on a trailer. The trailer was not stolen. It had been moved and the ATV was removed from it.
  •  ·         A utility trailer was stolen from Pueblo Street in Tavernier. It was a 2004 Magic Tilt trailer, 6’x14’ single axle with fold down rear gate. It had a black metal frame and old weathered wood.

Update on Big Pine Key death investigation

Sheriff’s detectives and the medical examiner’s office are still working to identify a body found in a wooded area on Big Pine Key.

The remains were found by a man and his brother on Saturday; they were in the area to retrieve some belongings left at a homeless camp in the area, which is just past the intersection of 5th Avenue and Chambers Street. The body appears to have been there for some time.

Detectives say they still have not made positive identification of the dead person; they are also working to confirm the sex of the victim, although they say there are some indications the person may be a male. There were some papers found in the vicinity of the body, with some identifying information but they do not know if the papers belonged to the person who died, or were from some other person who has stayed in the vicinity. There were signs of a homeless encampment near where the body was located.

The Medical Examiner’s Office has possession of the body and the investigation is continuing.

Marathon man arrested for threats, extortion

A Marathon man was arrested after stalking and threatening a Marathon couple.

The suspect, 51 year old Matthew Collins, is a previous employee of the male victim. While working for the victim, he reportedly injured his knee. The victim said he offered to have Collins’ knee  looked at afterward. Collins was subsequently terminated from employment with the victim’s business.

The victims said since then, for the past year and a half, Collins has been periodically contacting them; this behavior escalated on January 12th when he called them 12 times in 24 hours. The victims did not answer the calls and instead, let them go to voice mail so they would have a recording of them. They provided these recordings to Deputy Aaron Coller, who investigated the case.

During his calls he makes threats, referring to his knee injury and says he wants them to pay him $5,000 or “he knows where they live.” In one message, he says they can either pay for his knee or pay for their daughter’s knee, saying a knee for a knee is a fair trade. On another call, he made a threat to kill them.

Deputy Coller obtained warrants for the arrest of Collins, who was picked up on February 9th. He was booked into jail charged with aggravated stalking and extortion.

Key Largo woman charged with fraud

A Key Largo woman was arrested after she was caught stealing and using another woman’s credit card information.

The suspect, 39 year old Michele Moser, works at a Key Largo restaurant that takes on line orders. The victim told Deputy Dave Campbell she placed an order at that restaurant and soon after, someone used her credit card to order pizza for delivery. She contacted the pizza restaurant and was given the address where the pizza was delivered. It was a home on La Paloma Road, where suspect Moser lives.

Deputy Campbell went to the restaurant where Moser works and the manager was cooperative, showing the deputy video of the transaction where the victim called in to make an order. The video shows Moser taking the order. The credit card information is routinely printed out from a printer under the register. The employee who handles the transaction is supposed to process the card for payment, then use a black marker to cover all the credit card information on the receipt. In the video, Moser appears to take a picture of the credit card information. This is one way of acquiring credit card information for fraud purposes.

It is shortly after this happens that the victim’s card is used for the pizza delivery to Moser’s house.

A warrant was obtained for the arrest of Moser. She was picked up on Monday and charged with  fraudulent use of a credit card and use or possession of another person’s identification without their consent.

February 13, 2017

Update: More charges in Marathon vehicle burglaries

Sheriff’s detectives in Marathon say they have warrants charging two more young men with a spate of burglaries which took place earlier this month.

19 year old Thomas Lancaster, who is currently in jail on unrelated charges, is being charged today with three counts of vehicle burglary, one count of grand theft of a firearm and two counts of theft.

21 year old Shemar Fantroy is currently not in custody and is wanted for the same charges. 

Anyone with information about the location of Fantroy should contact the Sheriff's Office. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a Crimestoppers tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crimestoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may be made anonymously on line at www.tipsubmit.com or via a text message to 274637 using the keyword TIP136.

February 12, 2017

Dead body located in Big Pine wooded area

Sheriff’s detectives are investigating the circumstances surrounding a body found in a wooded area of Big Pine Key Saturday.

The body was located by a homeless man who, along with his brother, reported finding the body just after 7 p.m. Saturday. It was in a wooded area just past the intersection of 5th Avenue and Chambers Street. The body remains unidentified and appears to have been there for some time.

The Medical Examiner has taken possession of the body and will be investigating along with detectives from the Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit.

February 10, 2017

Marathon man charged with robbery

A Marathon man was arrested for the February 2nd robbery of a man on his way home from work.

The victim told Deputy Matthew Corey he was riding his bike home from work at about 9:45 p.m. He said he was in the vicinity of the Fairway Market in Marathon when he rode past two men who were walking on the sidewalk. He said he’d seen the men before, around town.

He said one of the men asked him for a cigarette and he stopped to give them one. As he was getting a cigarette out of the pack, the men attacked him. They punched him, knocking him off his bike and onto the ground. They continued to kick and punch him, then rummaged through his pockets. They took his cell phone and his bicycle. They asked him for money, but he said he didn’t have any.

Detective Leon Bourcier was assigned to investigate the case. He received information one of the suspects might be 21 year old Cordney Hayes. The victim was able to make a positive identification of Hayes as one of the men who robbed him. A warrant was issued for Hayes and he was picked up on Thursday. He was charged with robbery and battery and he was booked into jail.

Need to identify possible suspect

Sheriff’s detectives are looking for help to identify a man they want to talk to in connection with a vehicle theft at the Key West airport.

The vehicle, a blue 2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, was parked at the airport the morning of January 27th. The owner / driver of the vehicle parked in the one hour parking lot and left the keys inside. The driver arranged for the jeep to be picked up later in the morning. When two men showed up at 9:15 a.m. to pick it up, it was gone.

A review of surveillance video from the airport shows the suspect getting into the jeep and driving it away from the airport shortly after the victim parks it and leaves to catch his flight.

Anyone with information about this crime should contact Detective Spencer Curry at the Sheriff's Office, 305-292-7060. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a Crimestoppers tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crimestoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may be made anonymously on line at www.tipsubmit.com or via a text message to 274637 using the keyword TIP136.

Key West man charged with burglary

A Key West man was arrested Thursday night, charged with burglarizing his ex-girlfriend’s house.

The victim called the Sheriff’s Office at 10:45 p.m. to report her ex-boyfriend was outside her house, pounding on the doors and windows trying to get in. She said she’d locked herself inside with her kids because she was afraid of him.

When Deputies Alexandra Davis and Denise Dery arrived at the house on Sugarloaf Boulevard, they found a silver colored truck parked outside; the suspect, identified as 40 year old Wade Beeman, had entered the house using a hidden key.  The victim and her children were locked in the bathroom.

They searched the house for the suspect and did not find him. It appears he left the house through sliding glass doors in the bedroom. When the deputies went back outside, the silver truck, which belongs to Beeman, was gone.

The victim said the only thing missing from the house was two copies of her house keys.

Deputy Davis made contact with Beeman by phone and he agreed to meet with her at his home on Trinity Drive in Key West. He was arrested at that location. He was charged with burglary to an occupied dwelling and theft and he was taken to jail.

Stock Island man faces more charges

A Stock Island man arrested last week for burglarizing a Sugarloaf Key home and pawning the jewelry he stole faces further charges today.

Pawn shop records show that 28 year old Patrick Tierney pawned a number of items reported stolen from a residence on 9th Avenue, Stock Island. The items included three Corona Lite tents and an air compressor, were reported stolen on January 8th.

The items were located at a Key West Pawn Shop and will be returned to the owner. Tierney faces additional charges of grand theft, providing false ownership information during a pawn transaction and dealing in stolen property.

February 8, 2017

Teen arrested for vehicle burglaries

A 16 year old Marathon youth is in jail today. He was charged in connection with multiple vehicle burglaries which took place in the Marathon area late last week.

The 16 year old faces three counts of felony burglary  and one count of theft. An expensive pair of Costa sunglasses, stolen from one of the vehicles, was recovered from the suspect and will be returned to the owner. More charges are pending against him and more arrests of additional suspects are expected.

Detectives and deputies took reports of 18 vehicles burglarized in various areas of Marathon between Wednesday morning and Friday morning. A surveillance video of the suspects released to the public netted numerous tips which helped detectives to identify the suspects.

Man dies while diving

Update: The diver who died this morning after diving the wreck of the Eagle, offshore of the Upper Keys is identified as Eric Schichtel, 62, of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

A man from New Mexico died while diving offshore of the Upper Keys, on the wreck of the Eagle.

The man’s name is being withheld until detectives can notify his next of kin.

The man was on a dive trip with Key Dives on the vessel Giant Stride when the incident occurred at 9:45 a.m. He was diving with two others when he surfaced and became unresponsive. He was pulled on board the boat and CPR was performed as they brought him back to Bud and Mary’s Marina in Islamorada.

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

Crime Rate down again in 2016

Preliminary numbers compiled by the Sheriff’s Office show a continuing decrease in crime of 15.6% for 2016 in Monroe County. These numbers are being reported to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. FDLE compiles all such statistics for the state of Florida each year.

This decrease is for all areas of Monroe County excluding the city of Key West. The Key West Police Department submits their own similar report to FDLE.

The Sheriff’s Office saw burglary go down by 12.4%; larceny crimes, which include theft, shoplifting, theft from a motor vehicle and bicycle thefts, went down by 19.9%

“Traditionally, property crimes like burglary and theft are a particular area of concern for us,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “Our tourist and transient economy lends itself to these types of crimes and we are very happy to see these numbers continue to drop.”

Some violent crimes saw an increase and others decreased;  crimes like murder, rape and robbery occur in extremely low numbers in Monroe County, so a difference of just a few crimes can make a big difference in percentage of increase or decrease from year to year. Murder went from 2 in 2015 to 1 in 2016; rape was reported 17 times in 2015 and 21 times in 2016; 10 robberies were reported in 2015 and 15 in 2016. Aggravated assaults – which happen more frequently – decreased by 17 percent in 2016, going from 171 in 2015 to 142 in 2016.

The clearance rate of crimes in 2016 was 31.2%. This has improved over the 2015 rate of 30.7%.

“The clearance rate of crimes is of particular significance to me and I continue to emphasize its importance to all our members who work in the field,” said Sheriff Ramsay. “The fact that this number continues to improve shows we are putting the criminals in jail where they belong, where they can’t prey on our law abiding citizens and visitors,” he said.

This solve rate on crimes has improved steadily over the past few years. In 2012, the clearance rate stood at 24.2%. It has gotten better each year since then.

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

Traffic stop leads to stolen firearm

A traffic stop led to the arrest of two Homestead men and the seizure of a firearm reported stolen in a vehicle burglary.

Deputy Cody Kerns was on patrol at 7 p.m. Tuesday when he stopped a northbound black Chevrolet Avalanche at the 104 mile marker. The vehicle’s tag light was out. Deputy Kerns made contact with the driver, 34 year old Charles Hanna, who it turned out does not have a valid driver’s license.

Hanna said he was driving the vehicle for a co-worker. Just as he was relating that information to the deputy, a second vehicle – a grey Ford transit van – pulled up behind them. The driver was identified as 43 year old Jacquelyn McCormick. McCormick admitted to knowing Hanna’s license was suspended and letting him drive the vehicle anyway.

Deputy Kerns could smell the odor of marijuana coming from inside the van. He asked both men if they had any weapons in their possession. McCormick said he had a gun – a Luger 9mm handgun - in the center console of the van.

A check of the gun’s serial numbers revealed it had been stolen in a vehicle burglary in Florida City. A backpack in the back seat of the Chevy Avalanche had a container of marijuana in it. Also in the backpack was paperwork with Hanna’s name on it, although Hanna claimed the backpack was not his.

Both men were arrested. Hanna was charged with driving with no valid license and possession of marijuana. McCormick was charged with grand theft of a firearm and allowing someone to drive a motor vehicle knowing they did not have a valid license. They were booked into jail.

February 7, 2017

Stock Island man arrested for burglary

A Stock Island man was arrested and charged with breaking into a Sugarloaf Key residence and stealing jewelry.

Deputy Freddy Rodriguez responded to a home on Flying Fish Lane, Sugarloaf Key on February 2nd to a report of a burglary. The residents of the home left around 11 a.m. and returned home at 3 p.m. to find someone had broken in.

Approximately $6,000 worth of jewelry was taken from inside. It appears the suspect broke in through a window and left through the front door.

A witness reported seeing an unfamiliar vehicle in the area – a dark colored Chevrolet Suburban with a large sticker on the driver’s side. A neighbor had surveillance cameras which captured a thin white male wearing blue shorts and a white shirt with long black sleeves on the property about the same time as the burglary took place. The cameras also captured the Chevy Suburban with the large sticker on it in the area at the same time.

Further investigation revealed a vehicle fitting that description parked on 2nd Avenue, Stock Island. Detective David Fernandez, who was assigned to investigate, waited near the vehicle until a man came out and climbed inside. Detective Fernandez pulled the vehicle over and identified the driver as 28 year old Patrick Tierney. Tierney fit the description of the man captured on camera at the scene of the burglary.

A friend who was with Tierney told Detective Fernandez Tierney had given her three rings recently; she turned the rings over to the detective. She also turned over a white shirt with black long sleeves she said belonged to Tierney. In an interview with Tierney, he admitted to breaking in to the home. He said he pawned some of the stolen jewelry at a local pawn shop.

Tierney was arrested. He was charged with burglary, grand theft and criminal mischief and he was booked into jail. The investigation into this case and into other possibly connected cases is continuing. More charges are pending.

Woman charged with cashing fraudulent check

A Fort Lauderdale woman was arrested Monday for attempting to cash a fraudulent check at a Key Largo bank.

Sgt. Jason Madnick responded to Centennial Bank at the 100.2 mile marker at 3 p.m. after the bank manager called to report someone attempting to cash a fraudulent check. When he arrived, he encountered 24 year old Rose Marie Normann, who was trying to cash a check for $7,503.99. The check she was trying to cash was similar to a number of fraudulent checks cashed in the past week at Centennial Banks throughout the Keys. Those fraudulent check cases are currently under investigation by Sheriff’s detectives.

The check was written on the account of “Allied Vision Group Inc.” out of Fort Lauderdale. A call to the president of that company confirmed the check to be fraudulent.

Normann had arrived at the bank in a blue Nissan SUV, which was parked at an adjacent business with two men waiting inside. When Sgt. Madnick walked outside to make contact with those two men, they pulled out of the parking lot and began to head southbound on the highway. Deputy Ben Ellmore was on his way to the bank to provide backup and pulled the vehicle over. He identified the two occupants of the car as Armando Mejide Mir and Yoel Perez Corrales, both 24 years old from the Miami area.

In an interview with Sgt. Madnick, Normann said she’d been to the Keys prior to this, a few days before, and cashed another check at a Centennial Bank for a large amount of cash.

She was charged with uttering a forged instrument and criminal use of personal identification. More charges against her and the two men who were with her are pending further investigation.

February 6, 2017

Three charged with stealing cardboard

Three Miami residents were arrested in the early morning hours Saturday, caught red handed after stealing bundles of cardboard from the K-Mart store in Marathon.

Deputy Mark Martin responded to the area behind the store shortly after midnight Saturday. The store manager told him she’d received a call from an employee who lives in the area. The employee told her three men had just taken bundles of cardboard from behind the store. The employee saw the three men who did it and the truck – a light colored ISUZU truck.

A notice to be on the lookout for the truck was issued over police radios. Within a short time, Deputies Orlando Alvarez and Mario Benedetti spotted and stopped the truck at the 69 mile marker as it was traveling northbound. The truck was loaded with bundles of cardboard. The witness was taken to the scene of the traffic stop where she positively identified both the men and the truck as the ones she saw stealing the cardboard.

32 year old Yosvany Martinez Darias, 70 year old Jorge Serrano and a 16 year old male – all from Miami – were arrested. They were charged with grand theft. The two adults were booked into jail and the juvenile was turned over to the custody of a responsible adult.

Marine related thefts under investigation

Detectives are investigating the theft of electronics from three boats at Duck Key Marina.

The crimes were reported Saturday morning by an employee of the Marina. He told Deputy Rosary Ponce someone had entered three vessels taking high-end multi-functional displays from each one. The values of the displays range from $1,500 to $3,500.00.

The boats the items were stolen from included a 27 foot Sea Vee, a 33 foot Scout and a 29 foot Pro Sport LLC. All three vessels were inside a fenced, gated area at the rear.

Sheriff Rick Ramsay would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone not to leave expensive items on their vessels at any time. Remove electronics, fishing equipment and dive equipment from the boat and secure it somewhere safe. Because of the number of boats in Monroe County, thieves see our area as a good opportunity to steal such items. Prevent this type of crime by removing the opportunity.

Anyone with information about these crimes should contact the Sheriff's Office. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a Crimestoppers tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crimestoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may be made anonymously on line at www.tipsubmit.com or via a text message to 274637 using the keyword TIP136.

Man arrested after fleeing from deputies

An Islamorada man is in jail after a chaotic incident during which he barricaded himself in a house refusing to come out; fled from deputies in a vehicle, finally crashing the vehicle; poured gasoline in a house threatening to burn it; fled through a wooded area on foot and was shot with a  Taser after saying he had a gun.

The incident started at 8 a.m. Saturday when deputies responded to a report of a domestic incident. A woman called and said she’d had an argument with her husband at their house at the 74.4 mile marker of the highway at about 3 a.m. She said she had to leave the house because she feared for her own safety. She said her husband, 37 year old James Ellis, was out of control. She wanted deputies to check on him because she was worried about his state of mind.

When deputies arrived at the house, Islamorada Fire/Rescue was on the scene putting out an illegal burn in the yard of the residence. Ellis was on scene and was yelling not to put out the fire. There was a pile of belongings on fire in the yard; it appeared Ellis had thrown clothing, electronic equipment and other items into the yard and lit them on fire. A neighbor told deputies Ellis had been in the yard earlier using a machete to cut up items in the pile.

When deputies attempted to make direct contact with Ellis, he locked himself in the house and refused to come out. He said he had gasoline inside and would burn the house if anyone tried to get inside. After a number of attempts by deputies and by his wife to talk him out of the house, everyone left the scene with the intention of following up at a later time when things had calmed down.

Deputies responded back to the house at 11:20 a.m. when a neighbor called to say Ellis had broken the windows of the house and was throwing more belongings out of the windows.  The caller said Ellis had just left northbound driving a grey Kia Soul.

Deputy Nelson Sanchez spotted the vehicle northbound at the 77 mile marker and tried to stop it. At that point, deputies knew about the earlier incident and also knew Ellis had an outstanding warrant for failure to comply with court requirements in a Broward County robbery case.  Ellis also has a suspended driver’s license.

Ellis momentarily stopped his vehicle at Indian Key Fill, but took off from that location as Deputy Sanchez attempted to make contact with him, speeding back southbound. Deputy Sanchez followed, but decided to call off his pursuit of the suspect due to the dangerous way Ellis was driving, speeding and passing cars dangerously. Minutes after calling off the pursuit, the Kia Soul was involved in a crash near the 75 mile marker.

From the crash scene, Ellis ran to his nearby home with Deputy Sanchez behind him. Deputy Sanchez was ordering him to stop, but Ellis continued to run, up the stairs of the house, jumping through the broken front window. As Deputy Sanchez chased him, he saw Ellis in the house pouring gasoline around. At that point, Deputy Sanchez backed off and began to get bystanders in the area to a safe distance.

Ellis jumped out a back window of the house and fled running into a wooded area. As Deputy Sanchez chased him, he heard Ellis say “I have a gun” and Ellis began to reach toward his back. Deputy Sanchez deployed his Taser and he and Deputy Rosary Ponce were able to take Ellis into custody.

Ellis was charged with fleeing and eluding law enforcement, reckless driving, driving with his license suspended and with the outstanding warrant from Broward County. He was booked into jail.

February 4, 2017

Islamorada woman in custody for kidnapping

An Islamorada woman was arrested today for kidnapping her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend. During the attack, she threatened the woman with a knife, gagging her and tying a rope around her neck.

The incident took place January 27th. 51 year old Laura Bauler entered the victim’s residence on Parker Drive without permission. The victim was in bed at 11:45 p.m. when Bauler forced her out of bed at knifepoint. Bauler then tied a kitchen towel over her mouth and tied a rope around her neck, all the time threatening to kill her with the knife she was holding.

Bauler drove the victim to the Key Lantern Motel, where she was staying. She forced her into a closet, then later into a bathtub. Once in the bathtub Bauler ordered the victim to take off her clothes.

Once the victim was nude, Bauler forced her to go outside. The victim, once outside, began to run away and scream for help. Bauler caught up with her, tackling her to the ground. They were fighting on the ground when a couple who lived next door intervened. They pulled Bauler off of the victim and took the victim into their residence. Bauler fled the scene.

When Sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene at 1:22 a.m., the victim explained that she is now living with Bauler’s ex-boyfriend and she believe that is why the attack took place.

A warrant was issued for Bauler’s arrest. She was booked into jail today on charges of kidnapping, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, battery, kidnapping and burglary. Bond is set at $145,000.00.

February 3, 2017

Detectives investigating multiple Marathon vehicle burglaries

Sheriff’s deputies and detectives are still taking reports today of multiple vehicle burglaries which took place overnight in Marathon.

As is the usual case, all the vehicles targeted were unlocked, including one vehicle parked on Morton Street on Grassy Key with a Glock 9mm handgun inside which was stolen.

“We continue to remind people that these types of crimes are easily preventable”, said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “It is simple: just lock your car doors. In most cases, that is all it takes.”

Detectives and deputies say they have taken more than ten vehicle burglary reports so far, with burglaries taking place all over the city of Marathon, including on 95th Street, Tingler Avenue, Sombrero Beach Boulevard and Morton Street, on Grassy Key. The suspects got away with sunglasses, cash, and electronics. The exact number of burglaries and their locations are still being tallied. More details will be released when they are available.

There was some surveillance video captured of the burglars. If anyone hears anything about these crimes or recognizes the suspects in the video, call the Sheriff’s Office immediately. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a Crimestoppers tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crimestoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may be made anonymously on line at www.tipsubmit.com or via a text message to 274637 using the keyword TIP136.

Fun at Family Fun Fest!

 Having fun at the Marathon Family Fun Fest:

Members of the Sheriff's Office attended and took part in the Marathon Family Fun Fest this past weekend. Farmer Jeanne Selander was there with her animals from the Sheriff's Animal Farm and here are Deputies Shannon O'Connell and Joshua Baer having a little fun while working at the fest.

Safety Patrol fundraiser

Sgt. Scott Ward and his squad helped out during a recent fund-raiser for the Safety Patrol program at Key Largo School. The group had a fish fry to support an educational trip to Washington D.C. for the students.

Man attacked and robbed in Marathon

A Marathon man told deputies he was attacked and robbed on his way home from work Thursday night.

The 46 year old victim told Deputy Matthew Cory he was riding his bike home from work at about 9:45 p.m. He said he was in the vicinity of the Fairway Market in Marathon when he rode past two men who were walking on the sidewalk. He said he’d seen the men before, around town.

He said one of the men asked him for a cigarette and he stopped to give them one. As he was getting a cigarette out of the pack, the men attacked him. They punched him, knocking him off his bike and onto the ground. They continued to kick and punch him, then rummaged through his pockets. They took his cell phone and his bicycle. They asked him for money, but he said he didn’t have any.

The victim walked to Fishermen’s Hospital for treatment of injuries to his face. The hospital called the Sheriff’s Office to report the attack.

The suspects are described as black males; one in his 30s with “the largest dreads in the city”, according to the victim. The other is in his 40s, very tall with short hair. The victim said the second suspect has only been in town for a short time.

Detective Leon Bourcier has been assigned to investigate the case.

Anyone with information about this crime should contact the Sheriff's Office. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a Crimestoppers tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crimestoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may be made anonymously on line at www.tipsubmit.com or via a text message to 274637 using the keyword TIP136.

Man arrested for threatening behavior

A Canadian man was arrested Thursday night when he threatened to hit another man with a brush from a barbecue grill.

The two men were staying at adjacent campsites at the Fiesta Key campground. The suspect, Daniel Fournier was intoxicated and numerous witnesses said he’d been harassing his neighbors in the campsite next door throughout the day. Security at the campground finally called the Sheriff’s Office after he made threats to hit another man with a large barbecue grill brush. The brush had a sharp scraper on one side and Fournier reportedly held it over his head as if to hit the other man.

The Security officer requested Fournier and his wife be asked to leave the campground. They said the couple could take a taxi to a hotel for the night and return for their belongings in the morning.

Fournier refused to listen when Deputy Seth Hopp told him he would have to leave or be arrested. He was given numerous warnings. Deputy Hopp finally grabbed Fournier by the arm in an attempt to place him in handcuffs and under arrest. Fournier fought with the deputy, struggling to escape from his control.

Fournier was arrested. He was charged with aggravated assault, disorderly intoxication and resisting arrest. He was booked into jail.

Hook removed from bird's wing

A group of officers spent the day out fishing and at the end of the day, they found this bird at a filet table at the docks. They removed the hook and released the bird unharmed. Always looking out for the environment and our feathered and furry friends, even when off duty! Thanks to Sgt. Nick Whiteman and Deputies Seth Hopp, Garrett Bragg and Daniel Hill.

February 2, 2017

Job opening

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office has a job opening for a Finance Assistant 1 - Receptionist. This position is located at the headquarters building on Stock Island. For more information and to fill out a preliminary application, visit our web site at http://www.keysso.net/admin_divs/hrd/hrd.htm.

School visits the Sheriff's Office

A group of students from the Montessori Ocean Studies Charter School visited the Roth Building. They had the opportunity to meet McGruff, got a tour of the building and got to sit in a patrol car while they were there.

Cleaning up graffiti

Sgt. Syd Whitehouse’s shift found some large graffiti behind a closed business at the 102 mile marker in Key Largo. They covered it over using paint and supplies donated by Public Works. Working on the project was Deputies Ignacio Molina, Jean Gonzalez and Dave Campbell.

Cleaning up in Layton and on Duck Key

Great turnout for cleanup projects in Layton and on Duck Key this past week. Many people from the Sheriff’s Office as well as the two communities turned out. In Layton, they collected 1,440 pounds of trash and on Duck Key, they picked up 1,200 pounds of trash. And fun was had by all!

Man arrested for stealing car from employer

A man who stole a car from his employer after being fired from his job was arrested in North Carolina on an outstanding grand theft warrant. He was driving the car he stole at the time of his arrest.

48 year old Keith Bradshaw worked for a jewelry store in Key West. He was fired after his employer confronted him about missing jewelry. The employer had provided Bradshaw with a car to drive as part of his job. He attempted numerous times to get the car back from Bradshaw without success; he finally reported the car stolen to the Sheriff’s Office.

A warrant was issued for Bradshaw’s arrest. On December 27th, the vehicle was stopped in Morganton, North Carolina. Bradshaw was driving. Another license tag had been attached to the vehicle, a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt, but a check of the vehicle identification number revealed it had been reported stolen.

Bradshaw was arrested. On Wednesday, he was returned to Monroe County to face grand theft charges. The car was returned to its owner.

Key Largo man arrested for fleeing from deputies

A Key Largo man is in jail today after fleeing from Sheriff’s deputies in his vehicle to avoid an arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol.

At 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sgt. Scott Ward was on patrol and noticed a black Dodge Charger, running, parked at a business that has been closed for several months at the 102.2 mile marker. He stopped to see what the vehicle was doing there. The driver was identified by his driver’s license as 51 year old Johnny Earl De Brule. Sgt. Ward could smell the odor of alcohol coming from the car and De Brule showed signs of being impaired. Sgt. Ward asked him if he would perform field sobriety exercises to ensure he was in good shape to operate a vehicle.

De Brule refused. He was informed that he could be arrested if he refused. Sgt. Ward asked him to step out of his vehicle. At that point, De Brule locked his car doors. When Sgt. Ward attempted to reach inside the car to unlock it, De Brule slapped his hand away.

At that point, De Brule put his car in drive and sped away, heading southbound. As he drove away, he said “I’m not doing this.” Deputy Chris Kilmurray had arrived as back up on the scene and he and Sgt. Ward followed De Brule southbound with lights and sirens.

De Brule drove to Atlantic Avenue at the 99 mile marker of the highway, where he turned left. He finally stopped his car at his home on Bahama Avenue. As the officers pulled up behind him, he got out of his car and began to walk toward the house. He ignored all the officers commands to stop.

They tackled him in front of the house, handcuffed him and took him into custody. He was charged with fleeing and eluding law enforcement, resisting arrest, and driving under the influence of alcohol. He was booked into jail.

February 1, 2017

Woman scammed in RV purchase

A Marathon woman was scammed out of $8,500 in a scam involving a fake eBay website and the sale of a recreational vehicle using gift cards.

The 67 year old female victim told Deputy Ryan Chlebanowski she contacted a woman who had listed an RV for sale on the  eBay motors website. The two women agreed on a price of $10,000 for the vehicle. The suspect, who gave her name as Juliana Thompson, told the victim to use the eBay Vehicle Purchase Protection program as a protection against fraud.

The victim was directed to a special eBay web page with a “Buy it Now” option. The web page gave her given instructions in how to set up the vehicle protection plan and how to make payments using eBay gift cards. She was instructed to purchase $10,000 worth of eBay gift cards and she was given an email address to send the gift card information to, in order to make payment on the purchase. The instructions said once all the payments were made, the RV would be shipped to her and that if anything went wrong, eBay would refund the money under the protection program.

She made the payments using multiple cards and never received the RV. When she contacted eBay customer support, they told her she’d been scammed. She was able to cancel three of the gift cards before they were cashed, but is still out $8,500.00.

EBay told her the eBay Motors page used in the scam was a fake page and did not belong to them. It is easy to set up a fake web page and often, the web addresses used in frauds are similar to the real thing. Fake web pages often use real looking logos and page layouts similar to the real pages.

There is a warning on the eBay web site that the vehicle protection plan they offer is ONLY for vehicles purchased directly on eBay; not for any other type of vehicle purchase. Many fraud schemes utilize payment by gift cards and this should always be red flag. If anyone asks you to pay in advance using a gift card, green dot card, a money order or a money gram, be extremely cautious; there is a good chance you are dealing with a scammer and once they cash out these methods of payment, it is nearly impossible to get the money back.

Human remains found on Big Pine Key

Human remains found on Big Pine Key Tuesday may be those of a man reported missing in July of 2014.

An employee of Mosquito Control called the Sheriff’s Office at 3:30 p.m. He was in the area of Industrial Road on Big Pine Key checking for standing water in a wooded area when he found bones he believed to be human. When Deputies Ken Fricke and Josh Gordon arrived, they confirmed the remains were human and found a man’s wallet nearby as well as what looked like the remains of an old homeless campsite.

The wallet had identification in it belonging to a man reported missing in July of 2014. At the time of the report, a friend of the missing man said he was worried because his friend was homeless and diabetic and was having trouble obtaining medication for his illness. The Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit investigated. As part of the investigation, they did obtain DNA from the missing man’s family members. That DNA was entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUS).

The remains were turned over to the Medical Examiner to see if they can be positively identified as belonging to the missing man. His family has not yet been notified that he may have been found and his name is being withheld pending that notification.