Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

Issued by the Media Relations Office,
Public Information Officer Deputy Becky Herrin

 


Click on the highlighted headlines to hear an audio recording of the story

June 30, 2005

Three charged with trafficking in Ecstasy

Drugs, Money and Beer seized in Ecstasy Trafficking case

Three young men from the Stock Island area were arrested early today after deputies found 500 Ecstasy pills in their car during what started as a routine traffic stop.

Shortly after midnight, Deputy Chuck Kellenberger was on patrol on Highway U.S. One near 37th Street in Marathon. He saw an older model black Chevrolet Caprice pull up beside him, then pass him southbound. As the car entered the 35 mile per hour zone at the south end of Marathon, he saw the car suddenly brake and swerve to the left and right. He also noticed that the tint on the cars windows was extremely dark. Because of all these circumstances he decided to pull the car over and check on the driver.

Deputy Andrew Ensminger arrived at the traffic stop as a back up officer. He was standing at the back window of the car talking to the rear passenger as Deputy Kellenberger spoke with the driver. Deputy Ensminger noticed the passenger trying to hide a Corona beer behind his legs. Suspecting the passenger was under the legal age to possess alcohol, he removed him from the car and asked to see identification. The young man identified himself as 19 year old Trevor Wendler. He was arrested for being a minor in possession of alcohol.

Deputy Kellenberger received consent from the car's driver to search the vehicle. In the center console, he found an Oakley sunglass bag containing 500 Ecstasy pills valued on the street at approximately $7,500.00. The driver and front seat passenger were also placed under arrest. Wendler, 20 year old Jose Lopez and 24 year old Yoao Vega were all charged with trafficking in Ecstasy (Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) and they were booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. The young men said they had just returned to the Keys from Miami. A pair of brass knuckles were found under the rear passenger seat. The deputies seized over $500 in cash and the Caprice for possible forfeiture.

June 27, 2005

Man arrested for stabbing in Marathon

Sheriff's deputies arrested a Marathon man for stabbing another man in the leg. The victim was treated at Fishermen's Hospital in Marathon for a severe laceration and may be airlifted to Miami for further treatment of the wound.

Just before 3 a.m. today (Monday), Sheriff's dispatchers received a call from someone who said he was traveling on U.S. One on his way to work and saw someone running into the road yelling for help. When Deputy Greg Johnson arrived in the area of 82nd Street, he found the victim, 42 year old Vincent DeSilvas, laying on the ground. He was bleeding profusely from a leg wound that looked like it had been caused by a knife. The victim was able to tell the deputy that a man he knew as "Vance" had cut him. He said "Vance" lives on 83rd Street.

Once the victim was at the hospital, he was able to speak further about the incident. He told Deputy Johnson he had been at Vance's house drinking when they argued. He said Vance pulled out a large knife and cut him. The victim fled from the house and went first to the Elk's Club nearby where he pounded on the door and yelled for help. After no one came to his aid, he said he crawled to the highway looking for help.

A man who'd noticed the victim lying on the Street told Deputy Johnson he saw a white Dodge RAM pickup truck leave the area right before he spotted the victim. The victim told the deputy the Vance's roommate has a white Dodge RAM pickup truck.

Deputy Amanda Barger and Crime Scene Detective Jason Madnick found a blood trail which corroborated the victim's statement. Detective's Charlene Sprinkle-Huff and Rick Martin were able to identify "Vance" as 37 year old Vance Montoya, who lives at 592 83rd Street in Marathon. When the detectives confronted him at his home, he admitted to cutting DeSilvas. He was taken into custody and later said he'd used a 24 inch long knife to cause the injury, which was reportedly 8 inches long and four inches deep. Montoya was charged with aggravated battery, a second degree felony, and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Key Largo man charged with burglarizing car, stealing gun

A Key Largo man was arrested Saturday evening, charged with burglary of a vehicle. During the burglary he stole a gun, a watch, a checkbook and other items from the center console of the 1997 Chevrolet Suburban.

A witness told Deputy Matt Koval he saw the suspect, later identified as 32 year old Jason Seeger, leaning inside the car which was parked in the parking lot of the Best Western Motel in Key Largo.. He said he told the owner of the car, who was in her motel room nearby. She looked outside and saw Seeger walking away from her vehicle. She asked the witness to go tell her husband, who was at the motel pool. She then followed the suspect as he left the area.

She told Deputy Koval that she followed him north to Holiday Boulevard where she saw him throw some things into a trash can. Several items stolen from the 1997 Suburban were later found in that trash can. She asked a passerby to call the police. At that point, the witness caught up to her. He yelled at the suspect that the police were going to get him, and the suspect broke into a run, fleeing through the yards of several homes.

When deputies arrived, they searched the area and found a number of stolen items discarded in a wooded area, including the gun's holster and a magazine of ammunition. They interviewed the victim and a number of witnesses. During the course of the investigation, Sgt. Mitch Horn and Detective Jason Madnick received information from a man who said he thought he knew who committed the crime. He said an employee of his, Seeger, admitted to being involved with the vehicle burglary. The man was able to convince Seeger to turn himself in. Seeger was arrested at 6:30 p.m. and charged with armed burglary. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. Many of the items stolen in the burglary were recovered and returned to the owner. The gun, however, has not yet been recovered.

June 24, 2005

Elderly woman bilked out of money in a fraud scheme

An elderly Key Largo woman was bilked out of over $5,000 in a fraud scheme. An alert employee at TIB Bank realized what was happening and called her security department and the Sheriff's Office before the woman could pay out more money.

The 77 year old victim told Deputy Francisco Gaete she received a phone call June 21st from a man who said he was an "officer" in Canada. He told her she'd won $250,000 from a "Clearinghouse" and it was waiting at the border for her. He told her she needed to send $2,500 via Western Union. The money, he told her, was to pay taxes on the winnings. When she withdrew the money from her bank account at TIB, the teller she dealt with questioned her about withdrawing such a large amount. The victim told her it was for a family emergency.

The following day, the same man called her and said the money was going to be shipped to her in a Brinks truck, escorted by two police cars. He told her she should not tell anyone about this for security reasons. He told her she would have to send an amount equivalent to one percent of the total amount. He gave her a man's name to send it to, and told her to send it via Western Union. She again went to TIB bank and withdrew the money and sent it. The same bank employee asked her again why she needed such a large amount of cash but the victim told her she did not want to discuss it.

On June 23rd, the victim received a call from a man claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service. He told her she would have to pay taxes on her winnings in the amount of $2,600.00. He gave her one hour to send the money via Western Union. When she went to the bank to retrieve the money, the same bank employee told her the withdrawals were extremely unusual, and again asked what the  money was for. This time the victim told her the whole story, and the bank employee called her security department and notified the Sheriff's Office of what she recognized as a scam.

Deputy Gaete questioned the victim about the fraud scheme. The victim was able to produce detailed notes she had taken of the phone calls, including names given to her by the people who called, and information about where she sent the money. The case will be assigned to a detective for further investigation.

June 17, 2005

Marathon man caught with cocaine

Deputies on patrol caught a Marathon man with cocaine in his car.

Deputies Chuck Kellenberger, William Guerra and Derek Paul were on foot patrol in the area of 41st Street at 11:30 p.m. when they noticed a man slumped over on the front seat of his car, with the driver's door open. They approached the car and woke 37 year old Tommy Leatherwood, Jr. to ask him if he was all right.  Leatherwood immediately began to act nervous, and made several moves as if he were hiding something. One of the deputies looked into the car and saw a plastic bag with some sort of brownish chunks inside. At that point, Leatherwood was removed from the car so the substance could be examined more closely.

Leatherwood resisted when the officers tried to remove him from the car, so he was taken to the ground and handcuffed, charged with resisting arrest without violence. A search of his pockets turned up cocaine in a plastic bag and $453 in cash, mostly in $20 bills. A search of the car turned up more of the illegal drug, for a total of 25 grams recovered from Leatherwood and his car.

Leatherwood was charged with possession of cocaine, possession of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a place of worship and resisting arrest and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

June 15, 2005

Two search warrants served in the lower Keys

Two search warrants were served at homes in the lower Keys this morning (Wednesday) by Sheriff's detectives and the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team.

The Sheriff's Special Investigations Unit, working with the Drug Enforcement Administration, Key West Police and Border Patrol, served a warrant at #13 Bougainvillea Avenue in Key Haven at 5:30 a.m. The warrant was a result of an investigation into reported drug dealing at that residence. Inside, detectives found two bottles of the steroid testosterone, 14 grams of cocaine, 90 grams of marijuana, three Oxycontin pills and two Xanax pills, along with numerous items of drug paraphernalia. They also seized $3,000 in cash.

21 year old Pedro Gonzalez was arrested at the home, charged with possessing controlled substances, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. He was booked into jail.

The second warrant, served just minutes after the first, was at G27 Roberta Street. Detectives found 10 grams of marijuana inside, along with drug paraphernalia and $300 in cash. Twenty-one year old George Blanco and 19 year old Amber Tingley were arrested and charged with possession of the marijuana and paraphernalia. Both were booked into the jail.

Just prior to the warrant being served, officers noticed two people parked in a car on the street in front of the residence. They appeared to be acting suspiciously and trying to hide something in the car. A search turned up cocaine in the car, so 29 year old Marcio Macias and 34 year old Miguel Ramirez-Mendieta were arrested for possessing the drug and they were taken to jail.

June 14, 2005

Inmate dies in Detention Center Sick Bay

An inmate at the Monroe County Detention Center died Sunday while in the custody of the Sheriff's Office.

Detectives who are investigating the death say there were no obvious signs of foul play when they viewed the 40 year old man's body Sunday morning after the death was discovered. The man, whose name is not being released pending notification of his next of kin, was being held in a cell in the sick bay area, where sick or injured inmates are housed. He was arrested by Key West Police Saturday morning on an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court.

All inmates who come in to the facility are medically screened, and when he was booked in Saturday in the early morning hours, a nurse determined he needed to be in the sick bay due to health issues. Details of his medical condition cannot be released to the public due to the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Sunday at 6:15 a.m. Sickbay Corrections Officer Galloway discovered that the man was not breathing. She had just come on shift and was serving breakfast to inmates in the unit. He was laying in his bunk in the cell when she called out to him to wake up for breakfast, he failed to get up. She entered the cell and shook him by the shoulder, immediately noticing that he was cold to the touch and was not breathing. She called for medical assistance and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) was begun in an effort to revive him. A Key West Rescue unit arrived at the facility and, after assessing his condition and consulting with an Emergency Room physician, he was pronounced dead at 6:37 a.m.

The investigation into circumstances of the death is continuing. One of his cell mates told Detectives he last saw the man alive at 11:30 p.m., before he laid down on his bunk to sleep. The Medical Examiner's Office has conducted an autopsy. Please contact that office for the results of the autopsy.

Teen arrested for streaking nude through a college class

A 16 year old Islamorada boy was arrested Monday night after he took off his clothes and ran through a college class being held on the Coral Shores High School campus.

Off-duty Deputy Beverly Brazil was in the Human Growth and Development class at 8:30 p.m. when the boy ran in, naked, and began jumping around and yelling. When he ran back out, she ran after him, catching him a short distance away as he was trying to put his pants back on. She held him until Deputy Paul Kupke arrived and took him into custody. The boy said he was on the property skateboarding with friends when one of them dared him to run naked through the class.

He was charged with indecent exposure, trespassing, disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace and he was booked at the Monroe County Detention Center, then turned over to the custody of his mother.

Man arrested after deputies interrupt his illegal activities

A Stock Island man was arrested in the early morning hours Sunday after deputies caught him with crack cocaine.

Deputies Brian Kibbe and Evan Calhoun were in the vicinity of LaCuerva grocery on Stock Island at 1:30 a.m. observing traffic on the street when they noticed a large number of people walking and riding bikes up to a wooden gate leading to apartments nearby. During a short period of time, they saw five pedestrians, three bicyclists and people in four cars stop briefly at the gate, then return to the street and leave the area. The deputies became curious about this activity, so they decided to investigate further.

The two deputies walked up to the gate and knocked on it. They heard an apartment door open and close, then saw a man's closed fist come through the gate as if he were handing them something. Just then, the man himself looked through the fence and realized the people knocking on the gate were deputies and he quickly withdrew his hand and through something onto the ground. The item he through turned out to be a crack cocaine rock.

When the deputies placed him under arrest for possession of cocaine, the man said, "You gonna arrest me for one rock? Come on, man!" 65 year old Roberto Sanchez was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Woman arrested after kneeing deputy in the groin

A Stock Island woman, under arrest for possessing cocaine, incurred other charges after she kneed a deputy in the groin as he was placing him in the back of his patrol car.

Deputies Brian Kibbe and Evan Calhoun were sitting in their patrol cars in the vicinity of 4th Avenue Sunday at 5:15 a.m. when they saw the woman walk up to a fence and meet with a man who was standing on the other side. She handed  him something and he handed her something in return. The deputies became suspicious and Deputy Calhoun lit her up with his spotlight to further investigate what she was doing.

28 year old Shannon Gagne immediately put her hand in her pocket and pulled out two items, throwing them to the ground. She tried to step on the items, but missed and she was handcuffed. Two crack rocks were recovered from the ground nearby, so she was charged with possession of cocaine. As Deputy Calhoun was walking her to his patrol car, she turned and rammed her knee into his groin, causing, in his words, "immediate discomfort and pain." He went on to say that her actions were "unwanted, unappreciated, and could have caused permanent injury."

She was further charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and, after two Percocet pills and a crack pipe were found in her possession, she was charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. She was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

June 6, 2005

Crime Stopper tip helps nab fugitive

Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputies, assisted by Crime Stopper tips, apprehended fugitive Shawn Bailey on Stock Island early today. After receiving tips that Bailey was in a residence on Fifth Avenue, Deputy David Lariz set up surveillance outside the house. As he looked through an open window shortly after midnight, Lariz spotted the 19-year old Bailey sitting on a couch. Deputy Lariz called for assistance to set up a perimeter around the residence. Sheriff’s units and Key West Police units responded. Deputy Lariz and Deputy Tom Walker were given permission to enter the house by the resident. The deputies located Bailey hiding in a bedroom closet. Bailey refused to obey the orders of the deputies to lie on his stomach so he could be handcuffed. Deputy Lariz pepper sprayed Bailey, who finally complied. However, Bailey struggled with the officers, kicking, cursing and threatening them. The deputies placed a hobble restraint around Bailey’s legs in order to transport him to the patrol car and to jail. Bailey was wanted on a warrant for violation of probation for sale of cocaine and a misdemeanor warrant for failure to appear in court on a battery charge. Crime Stoppers of the Keys offered a $500 reward for information leading to his apprehension. Both tipsters in this case are eligible for the reward. Bailey is now in the county jail, facing additional charges of resisting arrest and threatening law enforcement officers. He is being held with no bond allowed.
Crime Stopper tips, so far this year, have assisted local law enforcement in making 13 arrests, including apprehension of five fugitives.

Detective interrupts Burglary in progress

Sheriff’s detective David Carey interrupted a burglary in process Sunday night on Key Largo that resulted in one arrest and the recovery of stolen property. Detective Carey, as he was driving on Bonefish Avenue, observed 25-year old Fabian Valencia and another suspect walking away from a house that Carey knew was vacant because the owners were away. Detective Carey confronted the two men and asked them what they were doing. In the meantime, another Deputy arrived on scene to check out the vacant house. The deputy discovered computer equipment piled outside an open sliding door at the rear of the house. A neighbor confirmed that the computer equipment was the property of the homeowner and that a television and other computer equipment were missing.
The Deputies took Valencia into custody, but the other suspect wrestled free of the officers and fled on foot. A search of the area failed to locate the suspect. However, Deputies know who the suspect is and will seek a warrant for his arrest. A search of Valencia’s vehicle, which was parked across the street from the burglarized house, resulted in the discovery of a pry tool under the driver’s seat and a cloth gloves and a screwdriver near the passenger seat. Valencia was booked into the county jail on Plantation Key on charges of grand theft and burglary.

June 3, 2005

Escapee captured

A man who escaped from the Monroe County jail in Marathon last April was apprehended Thursday night in N. Carolina. 24-year old Lonnie Parrish, who is from N. Carolina, escaped April 25 by climbing onto a roof in the recreation yard, throwing a blanket over razor wire that topped a chain link fence and climbing over the fence. Parrish made his escape with 46-year old Gutier Gonzalez, of Marathon. Gonzalez is still at large.
Parrish was initially arrested in the Keys on November 14, 2004 on battery charges. Authorities in Buncombe County, N. Carolina notified the Sheriff’s Office that Parrish was taken into custody. Details of his apprehension are not available. Parrish, however, will be held for extradition and faces escape charges in Monroe County.
Meanwhile, the Sheriff’s Office is still looking for Gonzalez, who is a white Latin male, 46 years old, five foot six inches tall, 150 pounds with grayish brown medium length hair. Crime Stoppers of the Keys will pay a $500 reward for information leading to his apprehension. Callers may remain anonymous. The Crime Stoppers’ hotline is 1-800-346-TIPS (8477). Tips may also be submitted over the Internet at www.Tipsubmit.com.