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
April 26, 2011
Woman defrauds her own mother
Stock Island – A Stock Island woman used her mother’s name and social security number to set up seven credit accounts, spending over $10,000.00 in her mother’s name.
The victim discovered the crimes after reviewing her credit report. She called the Sheriff’s Office to report her daughter – 34 year old Miriam Garmas – had committed the crimes.
Detective Juan Llera was assigned to investigate. He found that Garmas had, among other things, paid $4,200.00 for breast augmentation on a credit line in her mother’s name. She also had credit lines set up with Victoria’s Secret, Old Navy, Dell, Wal-Mart, Credit One Bank and Chase Bank.
In order to hide the crimes from her mother, Garmas had all of the correspondence from the accounts sent to her own residence on 3rd Avenue, Stock Island.
Garmas was arrested Monday for seven counts of fraud. She was booked into jail.
April 25, 2011
Burglary surveillance results in two arrests
Islamorada – Two Miami men were arrested Sunday afternoon after detectives saw them attempt to enter three vehicles parked in the parking lot of an Islamorada resort.
Upper Keys Sheriff’s Detectives were working in the area of Holiday Isle Resort, in an attempt to catch suspects burglarizing vehicles. The Upper Keys area, from Key Largo to Islamorada, has been plagued with vehicle burglaries recently, with 35 such crimes occurring in the area in April alone.
As Detective Francisco Gaete watched the parking area of Holiday Isle, he saw two men; one attempting to open the doors of a vehicle and the other who appeared to be acting as “lookout” for him.
The alarm system of a vehicle went off, and the two men walked away toward the beach; a short time later, they returned to the parking area and were seen by Detective Gaete and Detective Ralph Williams attempting to open two more vehicles in the same manner.
Detectives moved in and arrested the two men as they were getting in to a 2002 Jaguar belonging to one of them. 28 year old Joaquin Suarez and 33 year old Carlos Castillo were both arrested. Suarez was charged with three counts of attempted burglary of a vehicle and Castillo with three counts of being an accessory to the crimes.
They were booked into jail.
April 24, 2011
Detectives arrest vehicle burglar; more arrests expected
Key Largo – Detectives investigating a spike of vehicle burglaries in the area from key Largo to Islamorada have arrested one man and expect more arrests and more charges.
Detective Sgt. David Carey says out of the 35 burglaries which have taken place this month in that area, he and his investigators believe 19 of them were committed by 39 year old Fernando Ovalle of Homestead. They are working with the Monroe County State Attorney’s Office to identify other suspects and to bring further charges against Ovalle.
A break in the case came after a vehicle burglary on April 2nd at the Fish House Restaurant in Key Largo in which the suspects were caught on surveillance video. The tape showed a silver colored Jeep pulling in the parking lot with two men inside. One man – Ovalle - is seen breaking a window in another vehicle, reaching inside and removing a black case with a laptop computer and several other items inside, including an IPhone. Also seen on the tape: the man breaking the window had extensive tattoos on his arm.
The victim in the case had an application on her IPhone which tracks the phone. She assisted detectives in tracking the phone to a trailer in a Homestead Trailer Park. It showed the phone to be in a back bedroom of the trailer. Detectives went to the trailer and knocked on the door. The woman who answered said the bedroom at the back belonged to her son, Fernando Ovalle. She said he wasn’t home, and she would not tell detectives where he was. They discovered, through investigations, that Ovalle drives a silver colored jeep. Pictures on Ovalle’s MySpace page show extensive tattoos on his arm matching those on the surveillance tape.
On Thursday, Sheriff’s detectives, with the assistance of Homestead Police, Miami-Dade Police and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement went to the trailer where Ovalle is living in Homestead and served an arrest warrant on him. A search of the residence turned up a number of items which have been identified as coming from vehicle burglaries in Monroe County. He was taken into custody and booked into the Miami-Dade County jail. Monroe County investigations are continuing and more charges are expected. Detectives are also attempting to identify Ovalle’s accomplices in the crimes he has committed here. Cases are being investigated by Detectives Frank Gaete, Barney Sajdak and Ralph Williams.
Anyone with information about Ovalle, or any information about people committing vehicle burglaries in the Keys, should contact the Sheriff’s Office immediately. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida keys. If a tip 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 may be made on line at www.tipsubmit.com.
Stock Island man charged with business burglary
Stock Island – A 33 year old homeless Stock island man has been charged with burglarizing a Stock Island fish house.
33 year old Matthew Tidwell was arrested Saturday, charged with burglarizing Fishbusters Seafood. An employee called the Sheriff’s Office April 18th to report the break in. She said she came to work that morning to find the front window broken and a large amount of seafood missing.
Video surveillance footage showed the crime taking place. Deputies David Cruz and David Lariz viewed the video footage and identified the suspect from previous law enforcement encounters as Tidwell. Tidwell is shown breaking the window and taking two bags of mussels, ten pounds of Dolphin fillets and 20 pounds of Grouper fillets.
In addition to the deputies recognizing Tidwell, the video also shows a distinctive tattoo of a sun with a face on it on his left arm. Previous jail booking photos of Tidwell showed he has that tattoo on his arm.
A warrant was issued for his arrest for burglary. On Saturday, he was arrested by Deputy Danielle Malone. He was booked into jail for burglary, grand theft and criminal mischief.
April 22, 2011
Michigan man dies while snorkeling
Key Largo – A 69 year old Salnie, Michigan man died after snorkeling offshore of Key Largo Thursday afternoon.
According to the captain of the vessel Coral Princess VI, out of Atlantis Dive Center, Ronald Harrison was having trouble as he was swimming back to the boat. The first mate jumped in to help, followed by the captain a few minutes later. They got Harrison up on the back platform and began performing CPR and called for help.
Tow Boat US responded and assisted by transporting Harrison to shore. They met Deputy Joshua Brady and paramedics at Garden Cove Marina at the 106 mile marker of U.S. One. Paramedics pronounced Harrison dead at 6:30 p.m.
His body was turned over to the Medical Examiner for an autopsy to determine the cause of his death.
Search warrant results in arrests
Stock Island – A search warrant served on Maloney Avenue, Stock Island Wednesday resulted in two arrests.
Detectives from the Special Investigations Division, assisted by the Sheriff’s Special Weapons and Tactics team, served the warrant at 6630 Maloney Avenue, apartment 7C at 6:40 a.m. When they arrived, they found two men outside working on a car and a third man inside on a couch. The search turned up marijuana, crack cocaine and powdered cocaine in several different areas of the residence, including near the couch and outside on a chair.
One of the men outside, 36 year old Shevin Oliver, claimed ownership of the drugs found outside. He was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine and marijuana. The man on the couch, 22 year old Marcus Jacques, was charged with possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia. He was also charged with possession of a weapon after a .22 caliber Derringer was found in a drawer inside, next to some paperwork with his name on it.
Oliver also had an outstanding warrant for sale of cocaine and Jacques had an outstanding drug related warrant as well.
Both men were booked into jail.
April 19, 2011
Detectives looking for suspect in lower unit thefts
Islamorada – Detectives say they have obtained a warrant in connection with the attempted theft of six lower units from high end boat motors in Islamorada last week.
Detective Ralph Williams, the investigator on the case, says 24 year old Daniel Tabares was one of the men who parked a car at Library Park in Islamorada on the night of April 12th and removed the six lower units from three boats at Caribee Boat Sales and Marina. Deputy Patrick Crozier stopped at the park to do a check on the area and found the lower units on the ground. He saw two suspects fleeing the area.
Next to two of the lower units, he found a CVS receipt for a Twix chocolate bar, a bottle of spring water, a container of coconut water and some work gloves. The work gloves were found near the lower units; the other items on the receipt were found in a blue BMW sedan parked in the parking lot of the park. Also found in the car: an IRS form with the name Daniel Tabares. A driver’s license photo was obtained for Tabares.
Surveillance video was obtained from CVS Pharmacy. The same person from the IRS Form – Tabares - was seen on the video purchasing the items on the receipt. He was seen passing several of the items he purchased to a second man who remains unidentified.
Based on all this information, Detective Williams obtained a warrant for the arrest of Tabares for burglary and grand theft. Tabares is believed to be a resident of the Miami or Homestead areas. Anyone with information about Tabares, or where he might be, should contact the Sheriff’s Office at 305-853-3211. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a tip leads to an arrest in the case, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted on line at www.tipsubmit.com.
Detectives are still investigating the case.
Several scam cases reported to the Sheriff’s Office
Detectives in the Lower Keys are investigating a number of scams in which some of the victims were bilked of thousands of dollars each.
A Stock Island man lost more than $3,000.00 after responding to a on line job posting on Craigslist. He said he was hired as a driver for someone who was going to visit Key West. He received first payment before the “visitor” arrived: a cashier’s check for $3,850.00. He was instructed to cash the check and keep $500.00 for himself. The rest he was told to send in a Money Gram to a “travel agent” to cover the “visitor’s” travel expenses. After sending the money, the original cashier’s check bounced and he was told by his bank it was a fraud.
A couple on Little Torch Key have their boat for sale on Craigslist. They received an email from someone who wanted to purchase the boat. The purchaser said he would pay for the vessel using his PayPal account. He told them he had a shipper in London ready to pick up the boat, but he said he needed to pay the shipper $950.00 and didn’t have a credit card to pay them with. He asked the couple to pay the shipping company for him. He asked them to send the money through Western Union and he would reimburse them. They said they received several emails ostensibly from PayPal confirming all the information. After sending the money, they began to feel uncertain about it and called PayPal. PayPal said they had no record of an account set up by the man they had been dealing with.
A Bay Point woman received a phone call from someone identifying themselves as her grandson. He told her he needed money because he was in an accident in Mexico and needed to pay for repairs. He told her to send the money to Spain, because the rental car company owning the wrecked car was based in that country. She sent $3,500.00 by Western Union. Later, she called her grandson and he told her he was in Los Angeles, California and had not called her for any money.
A Summerland Key woman began receiving phone calls from friends and acquaintances who said they had gotten a strange email from her. The email said she was in Madrid, Spain and needed $3,000.00 to help a critically ill cousin. The email said she’d left the country on short notice and did not have enough money. By all accounts, the email was well written and even contained accurate information about her business. She said all the information was, however, false and, fortunately, everyone contacted her first before sending money.
Detectives say the bottom line in cases like these: if you have the slightest suspicion that things aren’t right, don’t send money. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be extremely careful when it comes to dealing with strangers, especially when it comes to sending cash anywhere, or accepting checks from anyone you don’t know. Ask lots of questions, and when it doubt, call your bank for help, or call local law enforcement. You can’t be too careful, and the Sheriff’s Office would rather help you up front, before you lose money, than after the fact.
April 15, 2011
Detectives investigate attempted lower unit thefts
Islamorada – Deputies interrupted the theft of six high end lower units from boat motors at Caribee Boat Sales and Marina Tuesday night.
Deputy Patrick Crozier was doing a late-night check at the Library Beach Park in Islamorada at 11:30 p.m. When he walked into the park, he saw two Yamaha lower units laying on the ground by the restrooms. When he looked around, he saw two young looking men running toward the bay. He called for back up officers, who arrived and set up around the area in an attempt to locate the fleeing suspects.
Four more lower units were found near the fence that separates the park from Caribee Boat Sales and Marina. Near them, Deputy Crozier found a number of items, including a CVS bag and a receipt from CVS Pharmacy with a time and date stamp showing purchases had been made that same day at 8:17 p.m. On the receipt: a Twix candy bar, Coconut water, a bottle of spring water and a pair of work gloves. A pair of work gloves were also found near the stolen lower units.
Further investigation led to the discovery of a dark blue BMW parked in the parking lot of Library Beach Park. In the center console: Coconut water, bottled water and a wrapper from a Twix candy bar.
Three boats on the other side of the fence, at Caribee Boat Sales, were missing two lower units each – the same ones found in the park.
Detective Ralph Williams has been assigned to investigate and arrests are expected in the case.
Key Haven man charged with three more burglaries
Key Haven – An 18 year old Key Haven resident has been charged with three more burglaries as detectives continue to trace stolen property found in his bedroom during a search warrant last week.
18 year old Ryan Tomita has been charged with entering two unlocked vehicles on 7th Avenue West, Cudjoe Key in February. He took a digital camera from one and a GPS from the other. Both the items were found in his bedroom during the search warrant. He has also been charged with breaking into a home on Barbuda Lane on Ramrod Key sometime between March 13th and April 4th. He pried open a sliding glass door, taking a flat screen television, a metal detector and an underwater camera all of which were later located in his bedroom. During the break-in, he smashed a closet door, and ransacked the contents of the closet.
Tomita, who already faces multiple burglary counts, is additionally charged with two counts each of vehicle burglary and theft, and residential burglary, criminal mischief and grand theft. Detective Diane Mimosa, who is heading up the investigation into Tomita’s crimes, says more charges are expected.
April 14, 2011
Marathon woman dies in fire
Marathon – A Marathon woman died in a house fire overnight.
When deputies and firefighters arrived at 1203 Westward Ho Lane shortly after midnight, flames were coming from all of the windows of the home. Resident Ernesto Pratt, 46, was outside, but told them his wife, 50 year old Nancy Pratt, was still inside the home. At that point, however, there was no safe way to enter the fully engulfed building.
Pratt told Deputy Thomas Hill the smoke detectors woke him. He got up to check why they were going off and found the back porch on fire.
He said he called 911 on his cell phone; he said at one point, the glass leading out to the porch exploded from the heat and his back was burned. He said he tried to get his wife out of the residence, but finally had to flee the home himself as the fire spread.
Pratt was treated for the burns on his back at Fishermen’s Hospital. The State Fire Marshal responded to the scene and will be investigating the cause of the deadly blaze.
April 9, 2011
Alert citizens lead to burglary arrest on Big Pine Key
Big Pine Key – Deputies arrested a homeless man Friday for burglary after he was seen exiting a home on Avenue C, Big Pine Key by a woman who works next door.
The woman told deputies she saw 49 year old Waldermar Yanez coming out of the house on Avenue C at 11:30 a.m. carrying a pillow case with items inside of it. She said she yelled at him and he began running, so she followed him in her car. Several more witnesses in the area joined in the chase; one of them knew the suspect, and called Deputy Dave Chavka to tell him what was happening.
Deputy Chavka called for backup, and then headed for the area of 24th Street, where he knew Yanez had a camp in a wooded area. When he arrived, two more witnesses pointed toward the woods, saying Yanez had just gone that way.
Deputy Chavka found Yanez’ bicycle, then found him a short distance away breathing hard as if he’d been running. He was identified by the original witness as the man she saw leaving the house on Avenue C.
The homeowner was notified and responded from marathon. A window was found broken, and a glass jug of quarters was at the bottom of the stairs. Inside, an Xbox 360 had been taken along with a brown pillowcase and someone had obviously gone through the house, opening closets and looking around.
Yanez was charged with burglary, grand theft and criminal mischief and he was taken to jail.
18 year old faces two more burglary counts
Key Haven – As detectives continue the process of going through property taken from an 18 year old burglary suspects room, they have charged him with two more vehicle burglaries.
On Friday, 18 year old Ryan Tomita was charged with vehicle burglaries on Stock Island and on Cudjoe Key. According to Detective Diane Mimosa, on March 22nd Tomita burglarized a Sport Utility vehicle on Golf Club Drive, taking a digital camera; on March 30th, he entered a vehicle on Pattison Drive, Cudjoe Key and took a Garmin GPS. Both the camera and GPS were among a large amount of property recovered from Tomita’s room when detectives executed a search warrant on his home earlier in the week.
More charges are expected.
April 8, 2011
18 year old charged with Islamorada burglary
Islamorada – An 18 year old Tavernier man is under arrest, charged with burglarizing an Islamorada home while a family of four was sleeping inside.
During the early morning hours of April 6th, 18 year old Myles Harding allegedly entered the home on Navajo Street while the victims slept. He stole a computer, other electronics, a large amount of jewelry and some cash. A 17 year old girl sleeping in her bedroom woke when he walked by her room; she told Detective Sgt. Dave Carey she thought it was her brother, so she went back to sleep.
In the morning, the mother woke to find the home’s door wide open. At first, she said she thought someone else in the family had gone outside; a short time later, the family realized they had been burglarized and called the Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Caridad Bellon and Detective Francisco Gaete responded to investigate.
On Thursday, the mother received information from a friend that Harding had gone to a Miami pawn shop and pawned some of her jewelry. Harding is an acquaintance of the family and she knew he’d recently moved back into town and was living with his grandparents in Tavernier. She called the Sheriff’s Office to report the information.
Det. Sgt. Carey interviewed Harding on Thursday. During the interview, Harding admitted committing the crime. Some of the stolen jewelry was recovered from his car. A small amount of marijuana was also found in the glove compartment along with a pipe used to smoke it.
Harding was arrested. He was charged with burglary of an occupied residence, grand theft, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. He was booked into jail.
April 7, 2011
Hialeah man charged with Long Key burglary
Long Key – A Hialeah man is under arrest, charged with burglarizing a home on Long Key.
The burglary took place in Outdoor Resorts between August 27th and September 10th of 2010. Deputy Vaughn O’Keefe responded to the home when the owner discovered the break in.
The owner said he found the front door unlocked. When he entered, he found a large amount of property missing, including several television sets, DVD players, a computer, dive equipment, tools and many other items.
Fingerprints were taken at the scene. The fingerprints were later identified as belonging to 20 year old Giovanni Fabregat of Hialeah, Florida. Fabregat’s family had rented the property several years previously; they also own a property in the resort, and were visiting it during the time the break in took place.
A warrant was issued for his arrest for burglary and criminal mischief. On Wednesday, he was booked into jail on those charges.
April 6, 2011
18 year old charged with burglaries
Key Haven – Detectives arrested an 18 year old after a search of his parent’s Key Haven home turned up a large amount of property believed to have been stolen in multiple vehicle and residential burglaries in the lower Keys.
Ryan Tomita became a suspect after two vehicles were burglarized on Cudjoe Key between the night of March 16th and the morning of the 17th. Two Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents – a husband and wife – discovered their two Department of Homeland Security vehicles had been burglarized. Taken from one: a badge, gun belt, handcuffs, expandable baton, pepper spray, bullet proof vest and a wallet. Taken from the other: a digital camera.
Detective Diane Mimosa, the lead investigator on the case, discovered a credit card from the wallet was used on line in the early morning hours of the 17th. The person using the card used a fictitious email address. A subpoena to PayPal for information about that transaction led to Comcast; a subpoena to Comcast led to an address on Azalea Drive in Key Haven where Tomita lives with his parents. Checking Tomita’s Facebook page, Detective Mimosa found a comment posted by him in the early morning hours of March 17th: “If you ask me Ima tell you crime pays.” When confronted with this evidence, Tomita admitted he would drive his car to various locations; he said he would get out of the car and walk up and down streets, burglarizing unlocked vehicles, including the DHS vehicles on Cudjoe Key. He said he also used a screw driver and a crow bar to break into homes where he took flat screen television sets.
On April 5th, a search warrant was served at the Azalea Drive home where Tomita lives. In Tomita’s room, detectives found a large stash of what they believe to be stolen property, including all the law enforcement equipment stolen from the ICE agents on Cudjoe Key. More guns, a large number of global position satellite receivers, cameras, jewelry and flat screen televisions were recovered and detectives will be working over the next few days to try and identify where the property came from. One of the handguns – a Taurus .44 Magnum handgun – was stolen from a vehicle parked on Whistling Duck Lane on Stock Island between 3/17 – 3/18. Tomita admitted to committing that crime as well.
During the search, detectives also found two knit ski caps with holes cut for the eyes; they found marijuana plants, seeds and dried marijuana as well.
Tomita is charged with three counts of vehicle burglary, theft, theft of law enforcement equipment from an emergency vehicle, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. More charges are expected as the investigation continues.
April 3, 2011
Marathon man arrested for threatening girlfriend and her child
Marathon – A Marathon man is in jail, charged with threatening his girlfriend, her infant son and kicking the child’s stroller while he was sitting in it.
Deputies responded to an apartment at 13755 Overseas Highway Friday at 8:30 p.m. When Sgt. Joel Slough and Deputy Christian Galls arrived, they could see a woman holding a child and a man inside the apartment. He could hear the man, identified as 30 year old Joseph Arnone, yelling at the victim and throwing things in the apartment.
The officers intervened in the confrontation. They could see bruising and cuts on the victim’s face. She told them Arnone had slammed a door in her face and had slapped her. She said he also threatened to kill her and to kill her infant son in front of her if she called police. He told her he was a gang member and, if she reported the abuse he would have his fellow gang members “hunt her down and kill her”.
She said he told her if he was going back to prison “he was going to make sure it was worth it”. He reportedly said he would kill her “slowly and quietly”. She said at one point, her son was in a stroller and Arnone kicked the stroller.
Arnone was arrested. He was charged with failing to register in Monroe County as a convicted felon, assault, aggravated battery, cruelty toward a child, and tampering with evidence. He was booked into jail.
Woman arrested for marijuana, child cruelty
Marathon – A woman was arrested Friday evening after deputies found marijuana in her van. Her child was turned over to the Department of Children and Families.
Deputy David Minor and Key Colony Beach Officer Kris Digiovanni responded to the end of Coco Plum Road at 7:15 p.m. where they found 29 year old Johanna Cisneros and her four year old son, who was running around with no clothes on, with sand on his face and body. Cisneros had a black eye which she said was from her husband hitting her.
When the officers began questioning Cisneros, she told a number of different stories about who she was, where she was from, who she was with and what she was doing in the Keys. The van she and her son were traveling with was dirty, with trash littering the inside and ants and roaches crawling around the interior. A check on the van’s registration came back to a man in Palm Beach County she said was her husband.
She told the officers there was a gun in the car and gave them permission to retrieve it from the area of the center console. Instead of finding a gun in that location, however, Deputy Minor found a plastic bag with 93 grams of marijuana inside. Cisneros was placed under arrest.
She was taken to jail, charged with possession of marijuana and cruelty to a child. The child was turned over to DCF.