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

March 29, 2005
 
Sobriety Checkpoint nets 6 DUI arrests
 
A Sobriety Checkpoint at the 87 mile marker in Islamorada over the weekend put six drunk drivers in jail. Three people with drugs were also arrested, and 7 other arrests on various charges brought the total number of people booked into the Plantation Key Detention Center to 16 between Saturday night at 10 p.m. and Sunday morning at 3 a.m.
 
Deputies, assisted by the Florida Highway Patrol, stopped a total of 310 vehicles during the five hour time of the checkpoint.

Key Largo man reports being robbed

A Key Largo man told deputies he was robbed in the early morning hours Saturday in the parking lot of a bank at the 92 mile marker of highway U.S. One.

The victim said he'd been involved in a minor accident in the parking lot of an Islamorada restaurant at 4 a.m. He said the couple in the other car agreed to pay him cash for the damage to his car. They decided to go to a nearby bank to get money out of the automated teller machine. The victim's friend rode in the other car, a silver Mercedes with Pennsylvania tags, to make sure the couple complied with the agreement.

Once they arrived, the female passenger got money out of the bank and handed it over. The victim said he was counting it on the hood of his car when someone hit him in the head and he fell to the ground. The next thing he remembers is waking up on the ground, with scrapes and bruises. The Mercedes was gone, along with the couple.

His friend says he saw the male driver hit the victim. He then ran to aid his friend, and had a confrontation with the driver, who then got into his Mercedes and left northbound on the highway. The victim then reported the robbery to the Sheriff's Office.

March 28, 2005

Work release inmate fails to return to the jail


                    Amado Cardenas

A Monroe County Detention Center inmate who failed to return from his work release assignment Friday is wanted for escape.

39 year old Amado Cardenas was in jail on charges of failure to appear in court, theft of utility services and molesting crab traps. He was in the Detention Center's work release program, working at a local restaurant and returning to the jail after his work shift ended. On Friday, when his shift ended, he failed to return. When he is apprehended, he will be charged with escape.

Anyone with information about where Cardenas is or might be should call the Sheriff's Office. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers whose tip leads to an arrest are eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Secure and anonymous email tips can be made at www.tipsubmit.com

March 24, 2005

Key Largo man fights with officers during arrest

A Key Largo man fought violently with deputies Wednesday night as they were arresting him for possessing drug paraphernalia.

During a routine patrol of the Hibiscus Park area of Key Largo just after 10 p.m., Deputy Edward Askins noticed a group of three men standing near a car parked on a dark vacant lot. Music was blaring from the car's speakers, so the deputy approached to ask them to turn the music down in compliance with the County's noise ordinance. The noise ordinance forbids loud noise after 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on the weekend.

As he approached, the men became agitated and began circling around him. Deputy Juan Berrios arrived as back up, and the deputies did pat down searches of each man looking for weapons. One man, 33 year old Christopher Wynn, had a long cylindrical shaped object in his pocket which turned out to be a pipe. Residue in the pipe tested positive for cocaine.

As the deputies were placing Wynn in handcuffs, he began to fight. He hit Deputy Askins in the face, slipped his hand out of the handcuffs, slapped the crack pipe out of Deputy Berrios' hand and ran away. The deputies chased him, finally catching him four lots away, in the side yard of a house. Wynn continued to fight, striking both deputies numerous times. He grabbed Deputy Askin's gun, unsnapped the holster and tried to take the gun out of the holster, but was unable to do so. He was finally subdued, restrained with handcuffs and was transported to the Monroe County Detention Center. He was charged with two counts each of battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting an officer with violence; he was also charged with obstruction for trying to deprive Deputy Askins of his firearm, and with possession of drug paraphernalia.

Big Pine man charged with burglary

Alert neighbors on Avenue D, Big Pine Key called the Sheriff's Office when they spotted a man breaking in to a trailer Wednesday afternoon.

When deputies arrived on the scene just before 4 p.m., they found 51 year old Thomas Wolgamott still inside the trailer. They ordered him out and he complied. Investigations revealed a broken window in the rear door, and a hatchet most likely used to break it just inside the door. According to a report by Deputy David Chavka, the homeowner was contacted and she said he did not have permission to be inside. She and Wolgamott reportedly used to live together in the trailer.

Wolgamott was arrested and charged with armed burglary and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

March 23, 2005

Stock Island man charged with drugs and with having obscene item on his car

A Sheriff's deputy pulled a car over on Stock Island last night (Tuesday) for having fake male genitalia hanging from the bumper. He arrested the driver after he discovered marijuana in the car as well.

Deputy David Lariz Jr. was patrolling Stock Island when he spotted a pink Chevrolet Caprice with the obscene item hanging from the rear bumper. He pulled the car over and cited the driver, 22 year old Ignacio Hernandez of Stock Island, for the third degree misdemeanor crime. Deputy Lariz then radioed to Key West Police, asking them to send a K-9 team to the scene to check the outside of the car for the presence of drugs.

While waiting for the K-9 team, Hernandez admitted to the deputy that he had drugs in the car.  He said he sells marijuana to make extra money. When the K-9 team arrived, the dog alerted twice on the outside of the car. In the armrest of the car, Deputy Lariz found a plastic bag with six smaller bags inside containing marijuana.

Hernandez was further charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell. Because the drug arrest was made within 1000 feet of a housing project, the charge is a first degree felony.

Man arrested on a warrant for March 2nd assault

A Sheriff's deputy arrested a Stock Island man on an outstanding warrant for attacking a man on March 2nd with a pipe, and threatening him with a knife.

According to reports by Deputy Maretta McNichol and Detective Donald Catala, the victim went to the Stock Island Waste Transfer Station on the afternoon of March 2nd and was preparing to dump a load there when 45 year old Jose Gil attacked him with a pipe. Gil, who works at the transfer station, hit the man twice with the pipe, then dropped it and left. The victim went to the office at the transfer station to report what happened. When he left the office, Gil was outside waiting for him. He grabbed the victim around the neck, punched him in the face, and then pulled out a knife, swinging it at him. Gil's employer intervened, telling him to leave the property.

After investigating the allegations, Detective Catala drafted a warrant for Gil's arrest, which was signed by Judge Wayne Miller. On Tuesday, Gil was arrested by Deputy Paul Schultz on the grounds of the transfer station, where he reportedly still works. He was charged with aggravated assault, aggravated battery and battery and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Suspicious device destroyed at Hawk's Cay

Click here for photos taken at the scene

Sheriff's deputies, detectives and the Sheriff's Office Bomb Squad spent hours at Hawk's Cay employee housing today after a suspicious device resembling a pipe bomb was found outside a man's apartment door.

The device was disrupted without incident by the Bomb Squad and detectives say it may have been someone's idea of a joke. If it was meant as a joke, it's still a third degree felony crime to plant a hoax bomb and the Sheriff's Office is taking it very seriously.

"This incident took a significant amount of man hours and also inconvenienced a large number of people, including employees who lived in the apartments where the device was found, and some people staying at Hawk's Cay Resort, who weren't allowed to return to their residences. Even if it was a hoax device, we aren't laughing," said Sheriff Rick Roth.

Detectives and deputies are investigating the case to try and find out who may have left the brown cylindrical item full of a blue colored liquid outside the man's apartment. The device reportedly had something resembling a fuse protruding out of it, and had some type of line attached to the man's door.

Anyone with information about this case should call the Sheriff's Office. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers whose tip leads to an arrest are eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Secure and anonymous email tips can be made at www.tipsubmit.com

March 21, 2005

Pennsylvania man dies on dive trip

A Pennsylvania man died after surfacing from a dive offshore of the upper Keys Saturday morning.

Detective Terry Smith says 52 year old Ted Young of York Pennsylvania was on his second dive of the day. According to his dive partner, the two of them went diving on board the boat Aqua Nuts out of Kelly's on the Bay in Key Largo with a group of 28 divers. It was their second day of diving. They had completed their first dive at 30 feet, and their second one at 20 feet. Young reportedly surfaced and, using his snorkel, began swimming back to the dive boat.

Detective Smith said Young got ahead of his partner, who lost sight of him. When the partner got back to the boat, Young was not there. That is when people on board another nearby boat told them a diver was in distress in the water. The boat's mate and four other divers jumped in and Young was pulled from the water onto the boat. While the boat headed to shore, those on board performed Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation. When the boat arrived at Port Largo Homeowner's Park, it was met by Key Largo Fire Rescue, but Young was pronounced dead shortly after their arrival.

An autopsy is being performed today (Monday) to determine the cause of Young's death, but Detective Smith said he observed no signs of foul play and did not receive any information during his investigation to indicate foul play is involved. The investigation is continuing.

Marathon man jailed for aggravated assault

Deputies arrested a Marathon man Saturday for aggravated assault. The man is accused of threatening two divers with a shot gun as they dove for lobster near his dock.

Deputy Derek Paul, assisted by Key Colony Beach Police Officer Lindsay Birklund responded to reports that two divers had been threatened by a man with a shotgun. When they met with the victims shortly after 3 p.m., the two men said they'd been diving near a dock behind a residence on 122nd Street in Marathon when a man began yelling at them to leave. They said they refused to leave, so the man, later identified as 68 year old Jerry Binns,went inside his residence, got a shotgun and pointed it at them. The two men, who are visiting from St. Petersburg, said they were afraid he would shoot them so they got back onto their boat and returned to Key Colony Beach, where they are staying. Once there, they called the Sheriff's Office.

When Deputy Paul interviewed Binns, he admitted to yelling at the men, who he said were diving underneath his dock. He admitted to getting the shotgun and carrying it outside, but he denied pointing it at them men.

Binns was arrested and charged with aggravated assault. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Deputies chase three motorcycles; arrest drivers

Deputies chased three motorcycles northbound on U.S. One, Sunday afternoon, finally stopping and charging the drivers with fleeing from police.

The three speeding motorcycles were first spotted by Deputy Anne Latham at the 86 mile marker. They were traveling at a high rate of speed, and weaving in and out of traffic. She turned on her lights and siren and one of the bikes, driven by 20 year old Thomas Otonoga of Cooper City, Florida, stopped right away. The others sped up in an attempt to flee. Deputy Latham stopped and radioed a description of the motorcycles to deputies north of her position. When she checked Otonoga's license through computers, she found he did not have a motorcycle endorsement, so he was charged and taken to the Monroe County Detention Center.

The two remaining motorcycles were spotted by Deputy David Minor at the 87 mile marker. He activated his lights and siren and one of the motorcycle drivers pulled over within a half mile. The other continued north at high speed. Deputy Minor asked the driver for his name and he initially gave a false one. He was taken to the Monroe County Detention Center where he was identified by his fingerprints as 23 year old Luis Xavier of Sunrise, Florida. A check on his license revealed it had been revoked after four suspensions for failing to appear in court. He was booked into jail for fleeing from police, driving without a license and for being a habitual traffic offender.

The last motorcycle was spotted near the 92 mile marker by Sgt. Thomas Kiffney, still weaving dangerously in and out of traffic at high speeds. He accelerated when he saw Sgt. Kiffney behind him, so the sergeant radioed ahead for help. Deputies Matt Koval, Sever Hustad and Sgt. Lou Caputo joined in the attempt to stop the motorcycle. Deputy Hustad saw the bike pull off the highway into Tradewinds Plaza where it sped around in back of the plaza, through a residential area and down a trail which leads to the Largo Garden's Subdivision. The motorcycle finally stopped on Judy Place in the subdivision and gave himself up. 24 year old Isaac Benavides of Florida City was charged with fleeing from deputies, and having  no motorcycle endorsement on his license and he was booked into jail.

March 18, 2005

Islamorada deputies investigate hate crime

Deputies are investigating a possible hate crime at an Islamorada business.

Deputy David Minor responded to Island Silver and Spice just after 8 a.m. after dispatchers received a call from the business owner, Glen Saiger. Saiger said someone had damaged a sign outside his business and had changed wording on the sign to read "Jew City".

Deputy Minor examined the sign and discovered someone had ripped open the sign, damaging it. They had moved lettering around on each side of the sign. Saiger said when he left the premises at 6 p.m. Thursday night, one side of the sign read "Unique Sea Life Jewelry" and the other side read "Tropical Casual Clothing". When he arrived this morning (Friday), the wording had been changed. One side read "Unique Sea Life El" and the other read "Tropical Casual Jew City". Some of the letters that had been on the sign were missing.

Anyone with information about this incident should report that information to the Sheriff's Office immediately. The crimes, which include Criminal Mischief and Theft, are both first degree misdemeanors. Because the crime appears to fall under the Florida Hate Crime statute 775.085, "Evidencing Prejudice while committing offense", those crimes are increased by one degree to third degree felonies. If a person with information would like to remain anonymous, he/she may call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers are eligible for a cash reward if the tip leads to an arrest in the case. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Anonymous and secure Crime Stoppers email tips can be submitted at www.tipsubmit.com.

March 14, 2005

Stock Island man charged with battery, sexual assault

A Stock Island man attacked a woman Sunday in the early morning hours, dragging her into a tent and trying to force her to have sex with him.

The attack took place at 1 a.m. Sunday in a wooded area just off of 5th Street on Stock Island. 37 year old Timothy Odon dragged the 39 year old woman into his tent and ripped off her clothes. Witnesses staying in tents nearby heard him threatening to kill her if she didn't have sex with him, and they heard him graphically describing how he was going to rape her. The witnesses intervened, and helped the victim to escape from the tent. Odon left the area, then returned threatening again to kill her.

When Sgt. Daryl Hull arrived the witnesses were still assisting the victim, who had a cut lip, bruises and marks around her neck where Odon tried to choke her. One of the witnesses helped deputies locate Odon, who was on the right of way of U.S. One near the golf course on Stock Island. He was arrested, charged with aggravated assault, battery and sexual assault and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. The victim refused medical treatment.

Deputy interrupts drug deal; two arrested

A deputy, dispatched to reports of a suspicious vehicle, interrupted a drug deal Saturday night and arrested two people who were involved.

When Deputy John Allen arrived at a restaurant on 5th Avenue, Stock Island, just before 9 p.m. Saturday, he spotted a blue Dodge with a man in the driver's seat and a woman leaning in through an open passenger door. When the deputy walked up to the car, he saw the woman, 36 year old Teri Cross of Key West, hand the man, 74 year old Chester Dean, a plastic bag containing items that were small white and square shaped. Deputy Allen quickly opened the driver's side door and grabbed the bag from Dean. He then called for back up and Deputy Tom Walker arrived a short time later.

Further investigation revealed a crumpled up $20 bill on the seat. The substance in the bag tested positive as crack cocaine. Upon questioning, Dean admitted the drugs were his. He said he sold Cross some crack, and the $20 was what she paid him for two rocks. Deputies found over $1,500 in cash in his pockets and seized it for possible forfeiture. Cross refused to make a statement, but a search of her purse turned up some prescription drugs that were not in her name.

Both Dean and Cross were arrested. Dean was charged with possession of cocaine. Cross was charged with possession of cocaine and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription. They were both taken to jail.

Boca Raton man charged with reckless driving

A Boca Raton man was arrested in the early morning hours Saturday after deputies saw him driving his truck recklessly on Coco Plum Road in Marathon.

Deputies Chuck Kellenberger, Mike Digiovanni and Rosa Perez were on Coco Plum Road responding to a noise complaint just after 1 a.m. when they heard a truck squeal around the corner, turning from U.S. One onto Coco Plum Road. The deputies were out of their patrol cars, but when the truck sped by them, they tried to slow the driver down by shining their flash lights at the truck. The truck sped up instead, and the driver turned the truck's headlights off. The deputies jumped into their patrol cars, giving chase with lights and sirens. They saw the truck turn off the road onto Avenue I, and saw it pull quickly into a parking lot at Marie's Yacht Harbor. The driver, 37 year old Michael Hoyt, fled from the truck on foot.

He was found hiding under a dock on the property. He told the deputies he fled because he was drunk. Hoyt failed in his attempts to complete field sobriety exercises. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center on charges of reckless driving, fleeing and eluding police and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Homestead man charged with fleeing from deputies

A Homestead man was arrested Sunday after Sheriff's dispatchers received multiple reports of a car driving recklessly in a Key Largo neighborhood just after midnight.

When Deputy Lyle Agins arrived in the vicinity of Samson Road near the 101.5 mile marker of Highway U.S. One he spotted a 1993 Dodge make an unsafe U-turn near the intersection of the highway and Samson Road. The deputy turned on his lights and siren in an attempt to stop  the car, but the vehicle fled, turning on to Hammock Trail and into an apartment complex there. The deputy found the car parked in the parking lot. A man was standing beside it, near the trunk.

Deputy Agins asked the man for his name and he gave it as Jose Hernandez, 21 years of age. Hernandez lives in the apartment complex. He told the deputy his cousin, 20 year old Yosuhan Garcia, was the one driving the car. A short time later, Garcia returned to the area. Deputy Agins interviewed him and Garcia said he fled because he didn't want to lose his license. A check of his name revealed his license had already been revoked in January for "Racing on a public traffic way". In addition, the car's license tag had been expired since November. Garcia was arrested for fleeing from a law enforcement officer. He was also issued citations for making an improper U-turn, driving with his license revoked and driving a car with an expired license tag. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Marathon man arrested for shoplifting Hydrocodone

A Marathon man was arrested Sunday morning after he was caught shoplifting a large bottle of Hydrocodone from the CVS Pharmacy in Marathon.

When Deputy Dennis Coleman arrived at the pharmacy, he found 20 year old Nicholas Salisbury being held on the ground by five people who later turned out to be two managers and three people who'd been shopping in the store. There was a crowd gathered around him and he was struggling to get free, so Deputy Coleman handcuffed him and placed him in his patrol car.

Investigation revealed that Salisbury reached over the pharmacy counter and grabbed a bottle of the pills. The Pharmacy Technician yelled several times for him to stop, then grabbed a stapler and hit Salisbury over the head with it. Salisbury fled toward the front of the store. The Pharmacy manager saw the altercation and jumped over the counter, chasing Salisbury. The store manager saw the two men running through the store and joined in the chase. In the meantime, the Pharmacy Technician called 911 for help.

Salisbury was tackled just 10 feet from the front doors of the store. Deputy Coleman charged Salisbury with retail theft, disorderly conduct and possession of a controlled substance and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Man arrested for shoplifting found to have drugs in his possession

A Marathon man who was caught shoplifting tomatoes was also charged with drug possession by deputies Sunday afternoon.

Deputy Robin Tanner was dispatched to the Publix Grocery Store just after 5 p.m. She found Deputy Wilfredo Guerra in the manager's office. Deputy Guerra was at the store working an off duty detail when he spotted 24 year old Floyd Swaidan put a package of cherry tomatoes in a black nylon bag he was carrying. The deputy informed the store manager of what he saw and the manager confronted Swaidan, asking to look in his bag.

In the bag, Swaidan had several items stolen from the store, including the tomatoes, cashews and some spareribs from the deli.  Swaidan also admitted to having drugs in the bag, and the deputies found 30 grams of marijuana, eight oxycodone pills and nine propoxyphene pills. Swaidan was charged with retail theft, possession of marijuana and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

March 8, 2005

Big Pine woman arrested for reckless driving

A Big Pine Key woman who almost hit two deputies directing traffic at an accident scene today was arrested for reckless driving.

Sgt. Daryl Hull and Deputy Paul Schultz were directing traffic at 6 a.m. today (Tuesday) at the scene of an accident on Summerland Key at the 25 mile marker of the highway. There was a fire truck, ambulance and several marked law enforcement vehicles on the scene with lights flashing. The accident, involving a car which ran into the back of a semi-truck, was blocking the northbound lane of traffic. Sgt. Hull was directing southbound traffic onto the shoulder of the roadway, while Deputy Schultz was directing northbound traffic into the open southbound lane. They were both standing in the roadway in order to facilitate directing traffic through the scene.

Suddenly, a white 1997 Cadillac came barreling through the accident scene, traveling an estimated 40 to 45 miles per hour. The car never slowed down, and both officers had to jump out of the way to avoid being hit by the car, driven by 51 year old Suzanne McKnight. Deputy Schultz pursued the vehicle in his patrol car, pulling it over at the 24 mile marker. Deputy Schultz had to order McKnight repeatedly to roll down her window. She finally complied and he explained why he'd stopped her. She told him that he and Sgt. Hull "shouldn't have been standing in the middle of the road." She said she saw them both, but it made her angry that they were standing there.

She was arrested, charged with reckless driving, and she was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

March 7, 2005

Inmate charged after resisting officers, inciting other inmates to create disturbance

An inmate at the Plantation Key Detention facility was charged Saturday night with causing a disturbance and resisting officers.

According to Corrections Officers at the facility, one of the dorms where inmates stay was becoming loud and unruly Saturday night at 11:30 p.m. so the officers ordered that the television be turned off and that all the inmates go to their bunks. INmate Dominicke Terrell, 21 years of age, began to protest loudly, using obscene language and telling the officers the treatment wasn't fair. As he continued to yell, other inmates became unruly as well. After officers warned Terrell several times to quiet down, they finally ordered him to go to the isolation cell for confinement. He refused, telling them he would fight them.

They tried to physically escort him to the isolation cell and he began to struggle, hitting one officer in the face and knocking two officers radios off of their belts and onto the floor. The officers finally had to use pepper spray several times to subdue him. Deputies arrived from road patrol as back up and they restored order in the dorm area while Terrell was first taken to the isolation cell, then was decontaminated, and was finally placed into a restraint chair to calm him down.

Terrell, already in jail on multiple drug related violation of probation charges, was further charged with resisting an officer with violence, obstruction by depriving the officers of their means of communication, and inciting a riot.

Teens charged with auto burglary, using stolen credit cards

Sheriff's deputies arrested three teenagers Saturday afternoon for auto burglary and using stolen credit cards.

Two of the youths are accused of breaking in to at least four cars in the parking lot of the Big Pine House of Music Friday night then all three used credit cards stolen during the burglaries at several locations on Big Pine Key.

Deputies discovered they did it after a victim called her credit card company and was given a list of places her stolen card had been used. She went first to the Big Pine Restaurant, where the owner told her three teenagers used her card to pay for food. He gave her a description of the trio. She then went to Winn Dixie grocery store where an employee told her a boy she knew as Orlando Martin used the stolen card to pay for nine DVDs at the store.

The victim then called the Sheriff's Office and passed this information along to Deputy David Chavka who went to Martin's home to talk to him. When he arrived at the house, he found Martin and 16 year old Alexis Caletri there together. Martin told the deputy that Caletri and 16 year old Sylvia Bollig came to his house Thursday night and spent the night. He said the  next morning he saw a number of items including purses and credit cards that the girl's brought with them to his house. He said they all knew the items were stolen, and he admitted that they used one of the stolen cards at the Big Pine Restaurant, at Paradise Petroleum and at Winn Dixie.

When the deputy questioned Caletri, she told him she and Bollig went to the Big Pine House of Music Thursday night and entered every car in the parking lot that had an unlocked door, taking items from inside the cars. She said they took all the stolen items to Martin's house. She said she told her parents she was staying at Bollig's house and Bollig told her parents she was staying with Caletri.

All three teens were charged with burglary, theft, forgery and fraudulent use of a credit card. They were all booked at the Monroe County Detention Center and then turned over to the custody of their parents. The investigation is continuing.

Deputies investigate damage to vehicles on Big Coppitt Key

Deputies are investigating reports of numerous vehicles damaged on Avenue A and Avenue B, Big Coppitt Key.

The vehicle owners all called the Sheriff's Office Friday to report damage to their cars. The vehicles, parked in front of homes in the area, had tires slashed, mirror's broken and paint scratched. Other property damage was done as well including a tree uprooted and a garden hose and grill cover slashed at one house.

Anyone with information about this case can call the Sheriff's Office, or Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers may remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward if the tip leads to an arrest in the case. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

Detectives arrest six in drug sting

A drug sting operation on Stock Island run by detectives from the Sheriff's Office Special Investigations Division netted six arrests Friday night.

Undercover operatives sold crack cocaine in the vicinity of Fifth Avenue, Stock Island Friday night. Those purchasing the illegal substance were then arrested and charged with possession of cocaine. Detectives from the Key West Police Department assisted in the operation, along with the Sheriff's Special Weapons and Tactics team.

The following people were arrested during the sting:

 

March 4, 2005

Auto body shop owner charged with selling drugs

The owner of an auto body shop on Big Pine Key was arrested Thursday by Sheriff's detectives after he was caught selling cocaine.

Sheriff's detectives from the Special Investigations Division, working with Key West Police detectives and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, arrested 43 year old Angel Fonte at his business, Tropical Auto Body on Fifth Avenue, Big Pine Key. He was charged with sale of cocaine and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Prior to the arrest, an undercover operative from the Sheriff's Office bought 4.6 grams of cocaine from Fonte for $200.00. The detectives then confronted him, telling him he was under investigation for sale of the illegal drug.

The detectives asked him for consent to search his property. Fonte has both his business and his residence in the same location. He agreed to allow a search, and told detectives they would find a cigarette box on top of the paint booth in his garage. Inside, he said they would find cocaine. Seven grams of the drug were found in the box. Detectives also found $349 in cash in Fonte's living room, and a handgun.

Fonte was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Three arrested for burglary of Key Largo home

Three boys were arrested Thursday for burglarizing a Key Largo home.

Deputies Laura Garcia and Lee Cowart responded to reports of a burglary at a home on Lignumvitae Drive just before 3 p.m. They found the front door kicked in and many items obviously missing from inside. A neighbor told the deputies he saw three boys drive up to the home, then saw them loading items from the house into their car. He said he thought nothing of it because one of the boys was the boyfriend of a girl, 16 year old Ashley Jones, who lives at the house.

The deputies recognized the neighbor's description of the car and it's occupants. Earlier in the day they had contact with them when they picked up Ashley, who had been reported missing by her mother - the owner of the burglarized house. Deputy Garcia asked Deputy Steve Kalogeras to go to Largo Cargo Apartments in Key Largo where they'd found the missing girl earlier and see if the boys were there. He sat watching the apartment for about 15 minutes, at which time the car drove up with the boys and some of the stolen items inside, including a large television set and computer equipment. He confronted the boys, asking them to get out of the car.

Deputy Cowart arrived as back up, and, after Deputy Kalogeras read them their Miranda rights, he told them he would like to question them. At that point, one of them - 17 year old David Gilliland of Tavernier, fled on foot with Deputy Cowart in pursuit. Deputy Garcia arrived and joined the foot pursuit. The two deputies finally caught Gilliland at the entrance to Bayside Resort at the 99 mile marker and he was taken into custody. During the chase, Gilliland threw something into some bushes. The item was recovered and turned out to be a plastic bag with Xanax pills inside.

Upon questioning, Gilliland admitted that all three of them broke into the house on Lignumvitae Drive and burglarized it. He said they did it to get back at Ashley's mother for having her picked up by the Sheriff's Office.

Gilliland, along with 16 year old Finley Morrow and 21 year old Ryan Steele were all arrested and charged with burglary and theft. Gilliland was also charged with resisting arrest and with possession of the Xanax pills without a prescription. All three were booked at the Monroe County Detention Center.

Stock Island woman arrested for threats

Deputies arrested a Stock Island woman for threatening to kill a man Thursday morning on Maloney Avenue.

Deputies Jorge Morffi and Maretta McNichol responded to the Tom Thumb store on Maloney Avenue to reports that a woman with a knife was chasing a man and yelling that she was going to kill him. When they arrived, they found Laguandra Marius standing in the parking lot. Across the street was 29 year old Sinyi Martinez. Just as the deputies pulled up, Marius began to run at Martinez, yelling that she was going to kill him and put him "six feet under next to his mother."

Deputy Morffi ordered Marius to stop, but she did not. The deputies finally caught her and, after a struggle, were able to subdue her and take her into custody. Even after she was under arrest, Marius reportedly continued to threaten the victim's life, saying she was going to "put holes all over his body." She was charged with assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct and she was booked into jail.

March 3, 2005

Marathon High student charged with pointing gun at bus driver

A school bus driver told deputies a Marathon High School student drove by his bus and pointed what looked like a real handgun at him.

The driver said he was in his bus at a bus stop at the intersection of Hibiscus Street and  County Road just after 7 a.m. picking up students. He said a white Chevrolet Lumina drove by the bus with a teen hanging out a rear passenger window. He said the teen, who he recognized as 17 year old Edward Bernhard, had what looked like a black semi-automatic handgun in his hand and he was pointing it in the victim's direction.

The victim called the high school and reported the incident to the vice-principle, giving her the names of the students he saw in the car. The vice-principle passed the information on to School Resource Officer Tony Pabon. Deputy Pabon responded to the school parking lot where he found the car described by the bus driver. There were five students in or around the car, including Bernhard who was still in the rear passenger seat. The driver of the car was standing at the rear of the car, with the trunk open.

Deputy Pabon confronted Bernhard, asking if he had a gun. Bernhard confirmed that he did have a gun. He said it was a "soft pellet gun" . Two of the students in the car told Deputy Pabon that Bernhard had pointed the gun at the bus driver and had fired it. Bernhard later admitted to it as well.

In the trunk of the car, the deputy found four firearms and several bags of pellets. The guns included two reproductions of a Berretta 92F semi-automatic handgun, a reproduction of a Berretta fully-automatic mini-submachine gun and a reproduction of a Mac 11 submachine gun. There was also a reproduction of a silencer for the Mac 11. According to Deputy Pabon, the guns resembled the real thing so exactly, he had trouble telling the difference himself.

Bernhard was charged with aggravated assault on a school official and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

March 1, 2005

Key West man charged with threatening deputy

A Key West man warned for trespassing at Higgs Beach, and at a restaurant located on the Beach, was arrested after he refused to leave the area, caused a disturbance and threatened a deputy.

Deputy Paul Schultz was working an off-duty spring break detail at Higgs Beach Monday at 9:30 p.m. when he received reports of a man refusing to leave Salute Restaurant, located on the beach. When he, along with Deputy Reggie Williams, arrived at the restaurant, he found 45 year old David Dufresne inside. The manager told Deputy Schultz Dufresne was drunk and causing a disturbance, bothering restaurant patrons. The deputy asked an obviously intoxicated and defiant Dufresne to leave, and to vacate the entire Higgs Beach area.

Dufresne yelled obscenities at the deputies and refused to leave. After repeated warnings, he was finally arrested. He struggled with the deputies, who finally got him handcuffed and into the back of a patrol car. As he was being transported to the Monroe County Detention Center, he repeatedly threatened to kill Deputy Schultz, members of his family, and any law enforcement officer he came into contact with in the future. Once at the Detention Center, he was placed into a holding cell. While in the cell, he continued to yell threats and obscenities at Deputy Schultz and Corrections Officers, punching the holding cell window and throwing things at it.

He was charged with threatening the deputy and his family, resisting arrest and disorderly intoxication and he was booked into the detention center.

San Clamente man arrested for threats with a hatchet

Islamorada - Deputies were dispatched Monday at 4:15 p.m. to the Islamorada Coast Guard Station to reports of a man who threatened another man with a hatchet.

According to witnesses, the incident occurred during some type of filming for a company called Powerski International on board three boats offshore of Islamorada. The suspect, 45 year old James Walker, of San Clemente, Florida gives his occupation as vice-president of the company. Witnesses say during filming, Walker hit one victim with a fishing pole, then struggled as the victim attempted to hold him down to keep him from hitting him again. Walker then got on board another boat and demanded he be taken to shore. He allegedly took a hatchet out of his bag and told the captain if he didn't head for shore right away, he would hit him in the face with the hatchet and kill him. When the captain of the vessel didn't head shoreward immediately, Walker allegedly hit him in the face with his fist and tried to take control of the vessel. The Coast Guard was contacted and responded to the scene, escorting the three vessels to shore.

Walker was charged with one count of aggravated assault and two counts of battery. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.