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
January 30, 2011
Highway Interdiction in Key Largo
On Friday, Detectives from the Special Investigations Division conducted a highway interdiction operation in Key Largo.
During the operation, vehicles were pulled over for traffic or safety equipment violations. Participating in the interdiction were Sheriff’s road patrol and traffic enforcement deputies, officers from Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Metro Dade Police and one of their K-9 teams, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Mobile Enforcement Team, Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection and Monroe County HIDTA.
During the interdiction, 71 traffic stops were conducted. During those stops, 20 citations were issued, including two criminal citations. Officers also issued 24 warnings. Fourteen K-9 searches were completed resulting in five arrests on drug possession charges, one for driving with no license and one arrest for outstanding warrants. Three people were arrested by Border Patrol and 27 grams of marijuana were seized.
Subjects arrested included:
January 28, 2011
Man arrested for stabbing
Big Pine Key - A Big Pine Key man was arrested last night, charged with stabbing another man in the arm with a knife.
Witnesses who were at the scene say the victim, 56 year old Robert Younger, went to a trailer where the suspect lives on Pine Drive to talk with him. The suspect, 50 year old Daniel Wiggington, met him on the porch. The two men argued – none of the witnesses could hear what they argued about. During the course of the argument, Wiggington allegedly produced a knife and stabbed Younger in the upper arm.
Younger sat in his van as one of the witnesses called the Sheriff’s Office. When Deputies Richard Wang and Genie Hernandez arrived just after 8 p.m., they were all still on the scene. Wiggington was arrested for aggravated battery. Younger was taken to Fishermen’s Hospital where he received 45 stitches in his arm.
Couple charged with marijuana
Stock Island - Detectives from the Special Investigations division, acting on a tip, arrested two people on marijuana charges Thursday.
A tipster contacted the Sheriff’s Office and said a burgundy colored van was parked at a boat yard on Shrimp Road, Stock Island. Inside, the tipster said there was a large amount of marijuana.
At 10 a.m. Thursday, detectives found the van parked at the boat yard. They approached and could smell marijuana. They asked 44 year old Karen Spencer, who said she owned the van, if there were drugs inside. She admitted there was marijuana inside, and gave them permission to search the van.
Inside, in a red backpack, detectives found 277 grams of marijuana in seven separate containers; they also found 53 grams of Hashish. Spencer’s identification was in the backpack,, along with that of her husband 49 year old Raymond Spencer, who arrived on the scene while detectives were searching the van.
The two of them had over $3,000.00 in cash which was seized for forfeiture. Both Karen and Raymond Spencer were arrested. They were charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell; possession of Hashish and possession of drug paraphernalia. They were booked into jail.
January 24, 2011
Bridge burglar caught in the act - arrested
Seven Mile Bridge - Detectives from the Sheriff's Special Investigations Division arrested a Miami man after a surveillance detail caught him breaking into a car at the south end of the Seven Mile Bridge Saturday.
Vehicle burglaries in the parking lots at the many bridges in the Keys are a yearly problem in the Florida Keys. Keys visitors frequently park near bridges to go fishing, or just to look at the beautiful views of the water. They frequently leave purses, cameras and other valuables visible in their cars and criminals are sometimes just waiting for the opportunity to steal those valuables.
Three times in the past month, victims have reported someone broke the windows of their cars and stole various valuables from inside. Intelligence Analyst Daniel Chu took a look at the reported burglaries and was able to pinpoint the day of the week, and general time period when these crimes took place. From that, a surveillance operation was set up at the south end of the bridge Saturday and detectives were standing by in case a burglary took place.
Around noon on Saturday, they saw a black Volvo with a single male inside pull into the lot. The man - later identified as 68 year old Omar Rodriguez - got out of the car and walked around, pretending to take pictures. A short time later, another car pulled into the lot. Two people got out and walked onto the bridge. At that point, Rodriguez got back into his car and pulled into a parking spot on the passenger side of the second vehicle.
Detectives saw him get out and look into the parked car. He then broke the passenger side window on the parked car and grabbed a purse from the seat. As he was driving out of the bridge parking lot, detectives stopped him and detained him.
The purse was recovered, along with a spark plug which had been cut in half and was most likely used to break the window. Rodriguez was arrested; he was charged with burglary, criminal mischief, possession of burglary tools and theft. He was booked into jail. His 1998 Volvo was seized for possible forfeiture.
January 18, 2011
Marathon man passes out while pushing child in stroller
Marathon – A Marathon man is under arrest after passing out while pushing a small child in a stroller Monday.
Deputy Bradford Colen responded to 25th Street just after noon after Sheriff’s dispatchers received a call. Two men called to report a stroller with a small child in it, unattended. They said a man, who told them he’d been drinking too much, was laying down nearby, passed out.
Deputy Colen found 56 year old Raymond Dascott on the ground. In the stroller was a year and a half old child. Also in the stroller: two Keystone Ice beers, still cold.
The deputy woke Dascott, who continued to lay on the ground as he was speaking. Dascott said he was “resting”. He said he’d gone to the Tom Thumb with the child and was returning home to his residence on 24th Street.
The child’s grandmother was located and came to the scene to take charge of the child, who was not harmed during the incident. Dascott was arrested and charged with child neglect.
January 16, 2011
Blood trail leads to bank burglary suspect
Marathon – A trail of blood drops led deputies to the location of a bank burglary suspect Saturday morning.
When the manager of TIB Bank in Marathon arrived at work Saturday morning at 8:45 a.m., she found a window broken and the office ransacked. She called the Sheriff’s Office for help. Deputies Michael Cofield and Trevor Wirth arrived, along with Sgt. Ken Fricke. They found a large amount of blood near the window, and a trail of drops leading to a bike rack nearby. From the bike rack, they followed more blood drops to 1054 James Terrace, where they found the door of the residence open.
Inside, the found 29 year old Brian Patrick Fletcher, who had a severe laceration on his hand. He admitted to getting it while breaking in to TIB Bank. He told Deputy Cofield he rode his bike to the bank, broke in and stole about $100 in rolled coins from a storage cabinet. He said he then rode back to his house and called a cab to take him to get some crack cocaine.
Fletcher was arrested, charged with burglary, theft and criminal mischief and he was booked into jail.
Three year old pulled from pool, pronounced dead
Marathon – A three year old boy was pulled from a pool Saturday afternoon; he was pronounced dead at Fishermen’s Hospital.
Michael Brobyn was outside playing with his mother at their home on Margate Drive. She told deputies she went inside for a few minutes. Another woman at the house went outside to check on him and found him at the bottom of the swimming pool.
She pulled him from the pool, yelled for help and began cardio pulmonary resuscitation. When deputies and paramedics arrived, the boy was rushed to Fishermen’s Hospital, but was pronounced dead.
Naked man, “King of the World”, arrested
Big Coppitt Key – A completely nude man running into traffic and yelling he is king of the world was arrested by deputies early Sunday on Big Coppitt Key.
Deputy Danielle Malone responded to the parking lot of Bobalu’s Restaurant at 1:30 a.m. after dispatchers received reports of a nude man running into traffic. They found three men in the parking lot, one of them completely nude.
43 year old Richard Gervasi of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania was attacking one of the other men, and turned at ran at Deputy Malone when she arrived. He refused to stop when ordered to do so. Deputy Malone deployed her Taser but Gervasi pulled the prongs out and kept coming. She shot him with the Taser a second time; this time he fell to the ground. Deputy Joe Cortner arrived as back up. The suspect stood up, despite being ordered to stay on the ground. He began walking toward the other men again. He was Tased a third time and this time he was handcuffed.
Paramedics responded to evaluate Gervasi. While waiting for them, Gervasi kept pulling away from deputies and yelling “I’m king of the world” and “I’m made of steel”. He also admitted to the deputies that he’d taken LSD and had been drinking during the night.
He was taken to Lower Keys Hospital, for evaluation then arrested and taken to jail on charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. The two men he was attacking are his friends; the three men are on vacation together, staying at a house on Big Coppitt Key.
January 12, 2011
Vehicle burglaries reported on Cudjoe Key
Cudjoe Key – Deputies responded to reports of four vehicle burglaries on Cudjoe Key today.
Four residents called to report someone entered their vehicles overnight. Most of the vehicles entered were unlocked. In two cases, just spare change was taken. In one case, a gun was taken from a locked center console, and in another case, a GPS and a battery jumper pack was taken.
The burglaries took place on 5th Avenue West, 7th Avenue West and Hamilton Street.
“This time of year, we begin seeing more vehicle burglaries, both in neighborhoods and at bridge approaches where people park to go fishing or sightseeing,” said Sheriff Bob Peryam. “Most of the victims in these cases leave their cars unlocked. Make sure you take the time to lock your car doors. You should also put valuables somewhere out of sight, like under the seat or in the glove compartment. If you leave them visible in the car, someone may not be able to resist the temptation to break in,” he said.
January 11, 2011
Inmate charged with attempted murder of Corrections Deputy
Stock Island – An inmate in the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island was charged with attempted murder overnight after he tried to throw a Corrections Deputy over a second story railing in the jail.
Corrections Deputy Desiree Mahoney was working in Unit B-1 at 11:30 p.m. when the incident took place. She told Deputy Spenser Bryan she was conducting a head count in the unit. She approached a cell on the second tier of the unit where 33 year old Charlain St. Charles was housed. She saw a pair of latex gloves on his bunk and told him he was not allowed to have them. She said she told him to throw them over the railing and onto the downstairs floor of the unit for disposal.
Deputy Mahoney said she looked at St. Charles an could tell he was going to attack her. He lunged at her and grabbed her legs in an attempt to throw her over the railing. She grabbed the metal railing and hung on to keep from plunging to the cement floor below. St. Charles finally let go and she called for back-up officers. St. Charles returned to his cell and a short time later he was handcuffed without incident and was taken to Unit A, the disciplinary and high profile unit in the facility.
St. Charles was originally arrested in July on an outstanding warrant for Robbery. He is now facing an additional charge of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.
Fire at Ocean Pointe Condominiums
Tavernier – Firefighters extinguished a fire in a pool house / laundry room at the Ocean Pointe Condominium complex in Tavernier at 1:30 p.m. Monday.
When Deputy Derek Paul arrived on the scene, the building was engulfed in smoke and flames. An employee of the condo complex told him he’d seen smoke and, when he went inside to check on it, he’d seen a dryer and a box next to it on fire. He said he tried to put the fire out, but the smoke and heat were overwhelming, so he exited the building and notified the General manager, who called 911 for help.
Firefighters from Tavernier, Islamorada and Key Largo responded and extinguished the fire. The State Fire Marshal’s Office was notified.
January 9, 2011
Man charged with training roosters for fighting
Rockland Key – The Sheriff’s Office arrested a Key West man today, charging him with training roosters for fighting.
Deputies responded this morning to a property on Rockland Key at 9:30 a.m. after a caller to Sheriff’s Office dispatchers reported cock fighting taking place. When Deputies David Fernandez and David Lariz arrived at the corner of Beach Drive and A Street, they approached quietly and saw seven roosters with legs tied to white rope. They had their breast and leg feathers plucked and their wattles and combs cut off. These procedures are commonly done with fighting roosters.
The renter of the property, 39 year old Yamil Clavero Rodriguez, walked toward the gate and appeared to panic when he saw the officers; he yelled, in Spanish, “the cops are here, the cops are here,” and tried to lock the gate to the property. He was detained, along with several other men there with him.
Investigations revealed a total of 64 roosters, which were recovered from the property, along with detachable talons, syringes, vitamins and other rooster fighting paraphernalia. A fighting ring was also found, approximately 12 feet in diameter, consistent with rooster fighting. The inside of the ring was splattered with blood.
Rodriguez told Detective Donnie Catala he was training the roosters to fight, and was going to send them to Puerto Rico once they were trained.
The roosters were turned over to the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Rodriguez was arrested and charged with selling, possessing or using animals to fight or bait. He was booked into jail.
Drugs, fight with officers leads to arrests
Marathon – A man and a woman were arrested Saturday morning on drug charges. They fought with officers, and the woman was charged with child neglect after a small child was found in the backseat of the car.
Deputy James Jenkins responded to a boat ramp at the north end of Marathon at 8:30 a.m. to reports that an intoxicated couple was arguing over who was going to drive a vehicle. When he arrived, he found a blue Mercury SUV parked; a man and a woman were sleeping inside. The deputy smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle. Sgt. Sue Morgan responded as back up and she, also smelled marijuana.
After removing the man, later identified as 32 year old Joshua Harris of Illinois, from the car, Deputy Jenkins began searching the vehicle for contraband. He found several pills, later identified as Hydrocodone, and several smoked marijuana cigarettes in the ashtray.
As he conducted the search, the woman – identified as 21 year old Chelsea Smith of Lake Worth, Florida, began yelling at him and trying to grab something from the vehicle. She refused to comply with orders to back off, so Deputy Jenkins attempted to restrain her with handcuffs. She fought with him, kicking and pulling away. She fell to the ground and continued to struggle. She was eventually handcuffed and placed into the back of a patrol car where she continued to kick and hit her head on patrol car window.
Deputy Bradford Colen arrived and began to put Harris into a patrol car; Harris also began to struggle. A Taser was used to subdue him and he was taken into custody.
Throughout the incident a two year old child was in the back seat of the vehicle. When she was removed from the vehicle, officers observed she and her clothing smelled strongly of marijuana. She was turned over to the Department of Children and Family Services for care.
Harris was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, two counts of resisting arrest and battery on a law enforcement officer; Smith was charged with child neglect, two counts of battery on a law enforcement officer and two counts of resisting arrest. They were taken to jail.
January 8, 2011
Corrections Deputy arrested for domestic battery
Big Coppitt Key – A Corrections Deputy is under arrest today, charged with domestic battery.
Deputies responded to the Circle K convenience store on Big Coppitt Key and met with the victim. He told them his girlfriend, 24 year old Ashley Sheriff, had punched him in the face earlier in the evening. He said they’d been at a Duval Street sports bar with friends. They argued and, during the argument, he said she punched him. He did have an injury under one of his eyes he said was a result of the battery.
Deputies then responded to Sheriff’s Mars Lane residence. During an interview with her, she admitted to punching the victim. Sheriff was arrested. She was charged with domestic battery and she was booked into jail.
Sheriff works as a Corrections Officer at the Stock Island Detention Facility. The details of her employment will not be available until Sheriff’s Office administrative offices open on Monday. For the time being, Sheriff will continue her employment with the Sheriff’s Office pending the outcome of an Internal Affairs investigation.
January 8, 2011
Inmate charged with attacking Corrections Deputy
Stock Island – An inmate in the Stock Island Jail has been charged with attacking a Corrections Deputy. The Officer had to be transported to the hospital for treatment of injuries to his face and head.
On December 31st at 6:40 a.m., Deputy Peco Broussard was on duty in Unit A of the facility, the high profile and disciplinary unit. He was collecting food trays after having served breakfast to inmates in the unit. He opened the door to the cell housing 25 year old Johnnie Grand Jean of Homestead. Grand Jean is being held in the facility for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
While the officer was retrieving the tray from inside the cell, Grand Jean attacked him. Grand Jean later told Detective Manuel Cuervo he was angry over something that was said to him the day before.
When he was attacked, Broussard stumbled out of the cell and fell, hitting the metal food tray cart. As he was on the ground, Grand Jean continued to attack him, hitting him several times in the face. Corrections Deputy Robert Salter, who was also working in the unit, came to Broussard’s aid. Grand Jean was pepper sprayed, and was returned to his cell.
Broussard was transported to the hospital where he was treated for numerous injuries to his face and head. Detective Cuervo investigated the incident and obtained a warrant for Grand Jean. The warrant, for aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer and battery on a detention officer, was served on him Friday. Bond was set at $100,000.00.
January 7, 2011
Marijuana Growing Operation on Little Torch Key
Little Torch Key - Sheriff’s detectives arrested a Little Torch Key man Thursday night after finding a marijuana growing operation in a house on Diane Avenue. Approximately $130,000.00 worth of marijuana plants were seized and will be destroyed. More arrests are expected in the case.
The case began with a traffic stop Thursday by Islamorada Deputy Nelson Sanchez. Deputy Sanchez heard a notice to be on the lookout for a reckless driver southbound in Islamorada. He saw the black Camaro with purple stripes passing illegally and almost striking other vehicles. He stopped Hialeah resident Enoc Hernandez Fiallo and arrested him after finding he had a suspended drivers license. A detective from the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Division was with Deputy Sanchez during the stop. The detective saw several items in the car commonly used in the cultivation of marijuana, including special fertilizer and other nutritional substances, along with some seeds. Detectives also located $3,000 dollars that was concealed inside of the passenger side seat and a piece of paper with an address in Little Torch Key.
Detectives went to the home at the address they found, at 783 Diane Ave. on Little Torch Key. Roberto Diaz Garrido was at the residence, as were two women who were both from Hialeah. As detectives walked around the property, they saw a second structure. When they approached the structure, they could smell a strong odor of growing marijuana. They asked Garrido for consent to search and he agreed. They found the structure was completely filled with marijuana plants. Garrido had converted the house to a full-blown marijuana growing operation. 130 six-to eight foot marijuana plants were found that were ready to be harvested. Detectives also located a Ruger 9mm pistol. The grow operation was equipped with several grow lights, transformers, air purifying systems, cooling systems and an irrigation system.
To keep the cost of the power consumption down and not create any suspicions, Garrido had diverted power from the main electrical line before it got to the electrical meter. Keys Energy Services was called to disconnect the power to the residence. Keys Energy confirmed that based on the current flow of electricity, Garrido was stealing $3,132.00 worth of power every month. Garrido was charged with cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
This investigation is ongoing and more arrest and charges are pending.