Issued by the Media Relations Office,
Public Information Officer Deputy Becky Herrin
Click here to read press releases on other Sheriff's Office events and occurrences
February 27, 2010
Man charged with attempted murder
A Homestead man is in jail charged with attempting to kill a woman by running her over in the parking lot of the Cheeca Lodge in Islamorada.
Deputies and detectives were dispatched to the Cheeca Lodge at the 81.8 mile marker of the highway at 4:45 p.m. to reports of a vehicle accident. When they arrived, they found the incident involved a man hitting a woman with a Chevrolet Suburban, then trying to run her over.
According to witnesses, and the victim – a 30 year old woman from Homestead – 22 year old Rodney Germain hit her in the back with the vehicle and then tried to run her over.
She said they were arguing because she loaned him her vehicle that morning to look for a job. She said he didn’t look for a job and when he returned to Cheeca Lodge that afternoon, he gave her a pile of bills and told her she had to pay them. When she refused, he threatened to take her car and not return later to pick her up. She told him she was going to call the police and report her car stolen.
She turned her back on him and began walking away from the Suburban. That is when he ran her down from behind, knocking her into a hedge in the parking lot. The vehicle struck a palm tree and a handicapped parking sign, breaking both the tree and the sign in half. Witnesses said Germain went forward and backward several times and it looked like he was trying run the victim over. She said she looked up from the ground and all she could see was the bumper of the car and the two front tires. She was able to scramble out from underneath the front of the car and escape into the nearby spa at the resort.
Employees of the spa called 911 for help. The victim did not require medical assistance.
Germain was still on the scene when Detective Mark Coleman and Deputy David Minor arrived. He was taken into custody and charged with attempted murder. He was booked into jail.
February 25, 2010
Detectives arrest Key Largo man for killing another man
Key Largo - A man who lives on a boat off shore of Key Largo is under arrest today, charged with killing another man.
The suspect, 59 year old Gary Raith, told Detective Terry Smith he was visiting with the victim, 63 year old Thomas Haas on Wednesday afternoon at Haas’s house at 25 Eagle Drive. He said they watched some television and had a couple of drinks together. He said they then went outside on the dock together and were watching the fish. At first, he said nothing unusual happened and he left the area.
When questioned further, Raith admitted to arguing with Haas. He said they were outside on the dock when the argument began. He said they argued about some type of substance Haas supposedly put in the gas tank of a boat Raith used to go back and forth to his sailboat, anchored off shore.
Raith said during the argument, he hit Haas in the face and then pushed him in the water. He said he got his bag and his dog and left without checking to see how Raith was.
Haas’s wife told detectives she hadn’t came home from work on Wednesday and saw Raith walking away from the house with a bag and his dog. She stopped to talk with him briefly and then went home. In the house, she saw some items in disarray and couldn’t find her husband. By Thursday morning, when he still hadn’t appeared, she and two friends began looking for him. Haas’s body was found floating underneath the dock behind the property.
Raith was arrested and charged with murder (F.S. 782.042 – Murder without premeditation – a first degree felony) and he was booked into jail.
February 24, 2010
Teen charged with burning boat on Stock Island
Stock Island - A 17 year old Big Coppitt teen was arrested after burning a boat stored at a business on 5th Avenue, Stock Island Tuesday night.
Witnesses say they saw 17 year old Daniel Drago run from the 21 foot Natico Catamaran just before it exploded into flames at 10 p.m. The boat was on a trailer at Keys Marine Service and Salvage being repaired at the time. Drago reportedly jumped a fence and ran, falling down as the explosion occurred. He got up and jumped into a car parked nearby - a red two door older model Honda which witnesses say had a loud muffler.
Deputy Evan Calhoun heard a notice to be on the lookout for the car on his police radio as he was responding to the location of the fire. He began looking for the car and spotted it northbound on U.S. One. He pulled it over at the 9.5 mile marker and found five people inside, including Drago. Sgt. Tom Walker backed him up on the traffic stop.
During questioning, two of the men in the car said the car's driver got a cell phone car from Drago telling him it was an emergency and he needed to be picked up on 5th Street on Stock Island. Deputy Calhoun said he saw fresh burns on Drago's arm and hand. He was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and baggy jeans - the same clothing described on the person fleeing from the boat fire.
Drago was arrested and charged with arson, felony criminal mischief, burglary and trespassing and he was booked at the Monroe County Detention Center. The boat and it's 150 horsepower Mercury engine appear to be a total loss. The Fire Marshall's Office is investigating. More arrests may be pending in the case.
February 21, 2010
Hialeah man charged with DePaula Jewelry store burglary
Tavernier – A Hialeah man, arrested for possessing burglary tools after a traffic stop early today, was also charged with burglarizing a Tavernier jewelry store February 7th.
Suspects broke in to DePaula Jewelers by cutting a hole in the roof. Video surveillance footage from the jewelry store burglary showed equipment used which was similar to that found in the vehicle driven by 40 year old Alfredo Hernandez, including a plasma torch and a large six foot gas cylinder. A jacket worn by one of the jewelry store suspects, with a reflective stripe down the sleeve was also recovered from the vehicle he was driving.
The vehicle itself – a 2001 white two door Ford Explorer – was also captured on video from the burglary.
Hernandez claimed he was in the Keys Saturday night visiting with his ex-wife and daughter in Marathon. He admitted to being there around 11 p.m., at the same time another jewelry store in Marathon – Midas Touch – was broken into. Suspects also cut a hole in the roof of that store, but were interrupted in their efforts when the alarm went off, alerting the owner. Hernandez’ ex-wife and daughter deny seeing him at any point in time.
He was charged with possessing burglary tools and driving with his license suspended; he was also charged with burglary DePaula Jewelry and grand theft from that store. The investigations into the Midas Touch burglary attempt are continuing.
Fire on 82nd Street in Marathon
Marathon - A fire on 82nd Street in Marathon destroyed a mobile home Saturday night.
Firefighters and deputies responded to reports of a fire at 10:20 p.m. The offense report is not yet complete, so few details are available. No one was injured in the fire, although two dogs rescued from inside were taken to the veterinarian for medical treatment. The State Fire Marshall was notified and is reported to be investigating.
Convenience store in Marathon robbed at gunpoint
Marathon – The clerk at the Tom Thumb convenience store in Marathon reported being robbed at gunpoint early today.
The clerk was at the store at the 48 mile marker of the highway at 5 a.m. when two men with bandanas over their faces walked in. She said one held a handgun pointed at her, while the other one put a bag on the counter and said “give me the money and open the safe.” She gave them the cash from the register, but told them she did not have access to the safe.
The two men took the money and fled from the store. She said they were both young black males. One was wearing a black jacket, and had a black bandana over his face; the second one had a jacket with a design on it, blue jeans and a red bandana.
Detectives are investigating. Anyone with information about the case should call the Sheriff's Office. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. A tipster whose information leads to an arrest is eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line is 1-800-346-TIPS or e-tips can be made at tipsubmit.com.
Burglary at Marathon jewelry store leads to arrest in of man in Tavernier
Marathon – A Marathon jewelry store was broken into Saturday night in a way similar to a break in at a Tavernier jewelry store earlier this month.
A Hialeah man is in custody after he was stopped in a vehicle at the 94 mile marker of the highway following the Marathon break in.
The owner of the Midas Touch jewelry store was notified her alarm had been set off at 11:15 p.m. Saturday. When she arrived to check the premises, she saw someone climbing out of the building through a hole cut in the ceiling. The alarm wires had been cut and the panel removed. She left the store and called 911 for help.
As she was waiting for deputies to arrive, she saw a blue car leaving the area. A notice to be on the lookout for that car was issued by Sheriff’s dispatchers.
Detective Sgt. David Carey was notified about the crime due to its similarity to a crime committed at DePaula Jewelers in Tavernier on February 7th. From his investigations of that crime, he knew the suspects sometimes use multiple vehicles, including a white Ford Explorer caught on video tape during the Tavernier crime. Sgt. Carey went on duty in order to participate in the search for the blue vehicle, as well as to keep an eye out for the suspect Ford Explorer from his case.
At 1 a.m., he spotted a Ford Explorer fitting the suspect description driving below the normal speed limit at the 94 mile marker of the highway. It’s turn signal was broken; he pulled it over to investigate further. Driving the vehicle was 40 year old Alfredo Hernandez of Hialeah, Florida. His driver’s license was suspended. When asked what he was doing in the Keys, he said he’d come to visit his ex-wife and daughter in Marathon. When they were contacted, they denied seeing him that night.
A search of the vehicle revealed an acetylene tank, a plasma cutter and acetylene torch; two pairs of gloves and a ski mask. Also found was a blue jacket with a reflective stripe on the sleeve. Detectives say a plasma cutter and torch were both known to have been used during the DePaula Jewelry store burglary. The suspect in the burglary, caught on video tape, was seen wearing a dark jacket with a reflective stripe on the sleeve.
Hernandez was placed under arrest. He was charged with possession of burglary tools and with driving with his license suspended. Investigations into his connection to the jewelry store burglaries is continuing.
Fight on Duval Street carries over to the county
Stock Island – A fight on Duval Street continued on Stock Island as the victim’s sister tried to take him to the Emergency room for treatment.
The 23 year old victim, who lives in Key West, told deputies he was in a bar on Duval earlier in the night when 32 year old Gabriel Gonzalez tried to pick a fight with him. He said he left the bar, but was jumped by Gonzalez and several of his friends across the street, where they beat him and threw bottles at him. He said he called his sister to come get him and take him to the hospital for treatment of his injuries.
On the way to the hospital, at the south end of College Road, a car swerved and sideswiped his sister’s car. According to the sister, she pulled over and Gonzalez and his friends jumped out of the other car and chased her brother down. She said Gonzalez kicked and beat her brother. She called 911 for assistance.
When deputies arrived, they found the victim on the ground, bleeding. An ambulance was called and paramedics took him to the Emergency room for treatment of injuries to his face, head and arms. The suspects were still on the scene.
According to deputies, Gonzalez admitted to injuring the victim. He was placed under arrest, charged with aggravated battery and aggravated assault. He was booked into jail.
February 20, 2010
Two Marathon residents charged with drugs
Marathon – Officers responding to a tip about drug sales arrested two for possessing crack cocaine.
A tip was received that narcotics were being sold at 725 105th Street East in Marathon. Officers arrived to check it out at 9:45 p.m. Friday. When they knocked on the door a woman answered. The officers could smell the odor of marijuana from inside.
They explained why they were there and asked the woman for permission to search. She gave them permission. There were several people inside the residence. They were all patted down for officer safety. During the pat down search of 32 year old Jerome Leatherwood, officers found cocaine in a cigarette box and in a plastic Tylenol bottle. Leatherwood’s girlfriend, 18 year old Michelle Cameron, was also there. She told officers the drugs in the possession of Leatherwood were hers.
Both Leatherwood and Cameron were arrested and charged with possession of cocaine.
Two accidents overnight
An accident at the 103 mm at 11:12 p.m. resulted in one person being airlifted to Miami. According to dispatch notes, the accident was a single vehicle which struck an electrical pole. Southbound lanes of traffic were shut down for about a half an hour. FHP is the investigating agency.
A pedestrian struck by a vehicle as he was running across 55th Street in Marathon was airlifted by the County’s Trauma Star helicopter. The accident took place at 8:30 p.m. in front of Publix. FHP is also investigating this incident.
February 19, 2010
Highway Interdiction operation, Upper Keys
A Highway Interdiction operation in the upper Keys Thursday night resulted in two drug arrests.
Sheriff's detectives from the Special Investigations Division stopped 26 vehicles during the operation, which was conducted between the 106 and the 80 mile markers of Highway U.S. One. They issued seven citations, two of which were criminal in nature, and eight warnings for safety related violations. They conducted 10 K-9 vehicle searches and arrested two people found to be in possession of drugs.
Assisting in the operation were troopers from the Florida Highway Patrol K-9 Unit, Border Patrol Agents, HIDTA - Monroe County, the Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Coast Guard Criminal Investigations.
During one of the stops, 31 year old Tanaris Walker of Marathon threw a bag from the vehicle which turned out to contain 12 crack cocaine rocks and a small amount of marijuana. Walker was charged with possession of crack cocaine and marijuana. During another traffic stop, detectives found eight crack cocaine rocks in the possession of 21 year old Tamara Williams of Marathon.Walker was charged with possession of cocaine and marijuana and tampering with evidence. Williams was charged with possession of cocaine. Both were booked into jail.
February 18, 2010
Big Coppitt woman arrested for marijuana
Big Coppitt Key - Acting on a tip, Sheriff's detectives arrested a Big Coppitt woman who was in possession of a large amount of marijuana.
Based on a tip, detectives from the Special Investigations Division went to #30 Flipper Road Wednesday evening. As detectives pulled up, they saw 51 year old Valerie Lamberson pulling up to the home in a gold colored four door vehicle. When questioned, Lamberson admitted to having a small amount of marijuana in her home for personal use and gave detectives permission to search the home, and the vehicle.
As detectives began searching the vehicle, they saw Lamberson stuffing something under a back seat cushion of the car. She then rushed inside the house, with officers following. Under the seat of the car, detectives found a marijuana pipe and three hand-rolled marijuana cigarettes. Inside the house, as detectives walked in the bedroom, they saw Lamberson diving head first into the closet, over the top of a pile of items in front of the closet door. When they asked her what she was doing, she said she was trying to hide her "personal use" marijuana in the closet. At that point, she backed out of the closet and handed detectives a ziplock bag with 60 grams of marijuana inside, along with three packages of rolling papers. She was placed under arrest.
As she was being walked out to a patrol car for transport to jail, she leaned over and whispered to her boyfriend, who was also on the scene. Deputy Evan Calhoun, who was following her, overheard her say something about a bag. He questioned the boyfriend about what bag she was referring to and he said she told him to retrieve a bag with more marijuana inside from across the street. Detectives found a black nylon bag across the street containing 355 grams of marijuana.
Lamberson was charged with possession with intent to sell marijuana; possession of drug paraphernalia and tampering with evidence and she was booked into jail.
February 12, 2010
Coral Springs couple charged with home invasion robbery, battery on an elderly person
February 11, 2010
Marathon man arrested after lengthy investigation
Marathon - A Marathon man was booked into jail today on numerous drug related charges after undercover operatives purchased illegal substances from him on four different occasions.
Since December of 2009, operatives working for the Sheriff's Office Special Investigations Division purchased Percocet pills three times and arranged to purchase powdered cocaine once from 47 year old John Lee Hayes. Hayes sold 58 Percocet pills on three different occasions. He then agreed to sell 1.5 ounces of cocaine; he showed up at the meeting place without the drugs and said he needed the money first before he could pick up the cocaine. He was then arrested.
Hayes was charged with three counts of Drug Trafficking, with conspiracy to commit a felony, use of a two way communications device to facilitate a felony (he used a cell phone to facilitate all of the drug crimes) and with driving with his license suspended.
February 9, 2010
Charges pending against two men in Super bowl party fight
Sugarloaf Key - Two men who fought at a party after the Super bowl are now facing charges for the injuries they caused each other.
The fight occurred at 2 a.m. Monday at a home on Starfish Lane on Sugarloaf Key. 27 year old Y Le, who lived at the home where the party was taking place, was reportedly trying to get people to leave the party because it was late. Another man, Vinh Pham of Key West, said he was playing cards at the party when Le told him to leave and he became angry.
Witnesses told responding Deputy Chris Rhinhart the two men argued and then began to fight. At one point, Le attacked Pham with a beer bottle causing deep lacerations to his face. Pham punched Le, causing his jaw to become dislocated.
As the fight continued, Pham reportedly put Le in a choke hold; Le in turn grabbed Pham’s testicles, puncturing them with his fingers.
Le refused medical treatment. Pham was taken to Lower Keys Medical Center. Pham faces battery charges for dislocating Le’s jaw and injuring his face in the fight; Le faces aggravated battery charges for cutting Pham’s face and injuring his testicles. Pham received a total of 52 stitches for his injuries.
Detective Juan Llera is the investigating officer and will be arresting both men later today on the charges.
Students discovered at beach party; 19 cited with alcohol related charges
Islamorada – Deputies responding to reports of a party on Port Antigua Beach Friday afternoon broke up a party and cited a large number of students with possessing alcohol.
When Deputy Winifred Higgins and Sgt. Roy Bogue arrived at 3 p.m., they found a large group of Coral Shores High School students on or near the private beach. The students told them they were there for “Senior Skip Day”. They had two boats pulled up to shore. There were various containers of alcohol on the boats, including beer, rum and vodka, and coolers of ice on the beach.
As the officers arrived, they saw the large group of kids gathered in the water around the two boats. As the kids realized police had arrived, the officers said they saw cups and cans go flying as the kids began trying to disperse. Several students attempted to flee the area but were later caught. A total of 12 students who were over 18 years of age received notices to appear in court for being minors consuming alcohol. Many of them were also charged with contributing to the delinquency of minors. Seven juveniles at the party received civil citations for consumption of alcohol by minors.
Parents were called to pick up their kids; adult boat owners responded to pick up their boats.
February 8, 2010
Detectives investigate jewelry store burglary – again
Tavernier - Sheriff’s detectives are investigating a second burglary at DePaula Jewelers in Tavernier. The first took place at the end of December.
Sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning, suspects cut through the roof of the business for the second time to gain entry. They again attempted to enter a safe inside, but were unsuccessful. They took a few pieces of jewelry from display cases inside.
The owner of the store, Jose DePaula, opened the store early Sunday morning and said he immediately noticed the new alarm system he’d installed was not working. He backed out and called the Sheriff’s Office immediately.
This crime is similar in many respects to the December break in, according to Detective Sgt. David Carey. Anyone with information about either crime should call the Sheriff’s Office immediately. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a tip to Crime Stoppers leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips can be made on line at www.tipsubmit.com.
February 4, 2010
Sheriff's Office, Key West Police serve search warrant
Key West - The Sheriff's Special Investigations Division along with the Key West Police Narcotics Unit served a search warrant Wednesday afternoon, arresting one person after finding 21 grams of cocaine, and 44 grams of marijuana.
The warrant was served at 6:00 p.m. at 1916 Seidenberg in Key West. The search turned up 21 grams of cocaine and 44 grams of marijuana. Also seized at the home was $1,204.00 in cash, believed to be proceeds from drug sales.
The resident, Reimundo Antonio Huete, was placed under arrest. Huete was charged with, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
Others at the house included Huete's girlfriend, 19 year old Dalia Lopez, along with 20 year old Santos Torres, 32 year old Natividad Campos, and 33 year old Erlin Villa. They were all from Honduras, and all admitted to entering the United States illegally. They were also in possession of fake documents including social security cards. Border Patrol responded and took them all into custody for deportation back to Honduras. An INS hold was placed on Huete so he cannot bond out of jail. He will also be deported when his sentence is complete in the United States.
Assisting with service of the search warrant was a City of Key West K-9 team.
Search warrant in Marathon results in several drug arrests
Marathon - Three people were arrested on drug charges after a search warrant was served in Marathon today.
The warrant was served at 9121 Overseas Highway, Apt A and resulted in the arrest of three people for trafficking in cocaine. The Sheriff's Office Special Investigations Division, and SWAT team executed the search at 6:00 a.m. Inside the residence the SWAT team located a crack cocaine lab. Detectives located 31 year old Anthony Ross, 33 year old Dywane John Hardge, 38 year old Monique Rene White, and her two children. During the search detectives located 31.87 grams of powder cocaine, 10.8 grams of crack cocaine, 32.2 grams of marijuana, 5 Morphine pills, 1 Glock 19 , and $473 dollars in drug proceeds. Several pieces of glassware used in the crack manufacturing process were also seized.
Ross, who is a convicted felon, admitted to selling crack cocaine and also claimed ownership of the crack cocaine and powder cocaine found in the residence. Ross also told detectives he purchased the Glock handgun. Hardge told detectives the marijuana in the residence was his. White was found to be in possession of 5 Morphine pills. Also located in the residence was a large flat screen television that was stolen from Indigo Reef Resort. The investigation into the location of this stolen property will be followed up by District 2 CIU.
Ross was charged with trafficking in cocaine, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and possession of drug paraphernalia and child endangerment. Hardge was charged with felony possession of marijuana. White was charged with possession of controlled substance and child endangerment. City of Marathon Deputies assisted in the search warrant. Deputy Ken Fricke and his K-9 Tracer were very helpful in locating the narcotics.
Department of Children and Families was notified, and will follow up on this investigation.
February 3, 2010
Miami man caught with marijuana
Big Coppitt Key - U.S. Customs working together with the Sheriff's Office arrested a Miami man with 7 pounds of marijuana Tuesday evening.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection followed a suspicious truck towing a boat with several engines to #45 Boundary Lane on Big Coppitt Key. The truck, driven by 33 year old Yascel Garcia of Miami, stopped at that location at about 7:30 p.m. Garcia and another man unhooked the boat, then parked the truck next to it. Sheriff's Office road patrol deputies and Special Investigations Detectives responded as back up as officers approached Garcia.
They asked for Garcia's permission to search his vessel and his truck. In the rear of the truck, they found a large duffel bag with marijuana inside. Garcia told the officers it belonged to him. The marijuana weighed 7.2 pounds. Garcia was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. His truck and his boat were seized for possible forfeiture. Garcia was booked into jail.
Homestead woman charged with stealing, pawning jewelry
Key Largo - A Homestead woman was charged Tuesday with stealing and pawning jewelry from a relative's house in Key Largo.
The jewelry theft was reported in December of 2009 and the case was assigned to Detective Patricia Garcia. The victim told the detective she suspected her husband's niece, who occasionally watched their house and dog for them. She said the thefts have been occurring for several months.
Working with Miami-Dade Police, Detective Garcia discovered that 32 year old Maria Rivera had pawned numerous items of jewelry at pawn shops in the Florida Keys and in Miami. A number of the jewelry items matched the description of jewelry stolen from the victim.
A warrant was obtained for Rivera's arrest and on Tuesday, she turned herself in to Detective Garcia at the Plantation Key Substation. She was charged with grand theft, dealing in stolen property and fraud and she was booked into jail.
February 1, 2010
Homestead man caught on stolen boat
Key Largo - A Homestead man was arrested Sunday after he was caught on board a boat he stole from a Key Largo residence.
The boat was reported stolen from a home on Hialeah Lane in Key Largo on January 15th. The owner of the 36 foot Sterling boat reported the theft after his boat mechanic discovered the boat was not docked at the home, where it belonged. The boat is valued at approximately $400,000.00, according to the owner.
According to agents from Customs and Border Protection, they apprehended 35 year old Wilfredo Deniz of Homestead about two miles offshore of Bahia Honda; he produced a letter he said was from the owner giving him permission to use the vessel. He said he was taking the boat to Cancun, Mexico for the owner. On board, agents said they found several illegal containers of fuel.
Deniz was charged with grand theft of the vessel and he was booked into jail.
Deputies arrest four at Key Largo party
Key Largo - Deputies, responding to reports of a party on Oleander Street in Key Largo arrested four people for various charges.
When they arrived at Oleander Street at 9:30 p.m. Friday, they found a group of people, including a large number of juveniles. When they pulled up, two men at the party began to walk away. When Deputy Michael Sielicki ordered them to stop, they continued to walk away. They were later found in a wooded area near by. The two turned out to be adults.. They were arrested after it was found that they'd provided alcohol to the juveniles. 26 year old Jarmoris Davis and 22 year old Eric Ping were both booked into jail for providing alcohol to minors and for resisting arrest.
Deputy Shiela Swindle responded as well. She made contact with 17 year old Annabelle Bricker and 19 year old John Wheeler. Bricker was driving a white van with Wheeler as a passenger. She said they were picking up alcohol to bring to the party. She also admitted to drinking alcohol, and to ingesting at least two canisters of Nitrous Oxide. In the van, Deputy Swindle found 78 canisters of Nitrous Oxide along with the paraphernalia used to ingest it. In a backpack belonging to Wheeler, the deputy found six bottles of beer.
Bricker and Wheeler were both arrested. Bricker was charged with ingesting dangerous chemicals, unlawful distribution of nitrous oxide and possession of drug paraphernalia. Wheeler was charged with being a minor in possession of alcohol.