Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

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

Follow us on Twitter @mcsonews and on Facebook at MCSO – Florida Keys. All of our press releases can be found on our blog at floridakeyssheriff.blogspot.com

June 29, 2017

Man arrested for robbery with a knife

A Stock Island man was arrested today, charged with threatening the clerk at a convenience store with a knife, demanding she give him money.

The clerk told deputy Wendy Negron she was working at the Stock Island Chevron convenience store Wednesday night just before midnight when a man walked in. He walked up the counter, pulled out a filet knife and demanded she give him money. The clerk refused. He demanded the money again and she refused, telling him if he was going to stab her, go ahead. At that point, the man left, riding away on a bicycle.

The clerk reported the incident to her supervisor. After reviewing the video this morning, the store manager called the Sheriff’s Office to report it. Pictures of the suspect captured from the video were taken to several locations on Stock Island. Several people identified the suspect as 49 year old Rodney Scott Santana.

Santana was located at Safe Harbor Seafood on Front Street, Stock Island by Detective Sgt. David Smith and Detective John Gabay. He was arrested, charged with robbery with a weapon and taken to jail.

June 27, 2017

Man arrested for hitting a woman in the head with a hammer

A Stock Island man is under arrest after he attacked a woman in her home, hitting her in the back of the head with a hammer.

Just before 1 a.m. Deputy Jenna Moeller responded to a trailer at Roy’s Trailer Park on Stock Island. She found the 38 year old victim bleeding from an injury on the back of her head. The victim told Deputy Moeller a man she identified as Ralph Quintana knocked on her door a short time before. She said when she opened the door he rushed inside. She said he grabbed a hammer from the top of her refrigerator and hit her in the back of the head with it. She said he then punched her several times while yelling “I’m going to kill you.” She told Deputy Moeller he dropped his phone on the floor during the attack. A cell phone was recovered at the scene.

Quintana then left the residence. The victim told Deputy Moeller he could usually be found in a little shack just inside the gate of Sea Lobster on 5th Avenue.

Deputies Moeller and Russel Hull found him - Rafael Quintana Perez - sleeping in the shack. Beside him, on a bench, was a hammer matching the description the victim gave. Blood was on Quintana’s shirt.

The hammer and shirt were taken as evidence. The victim was treated and released from Lower Keys Hospital. She positively identified Quintana as the man who attacked her. Quintana was arrested and charged with aggravated battery and he was taken to jail.

Two charged with undersized lobster out of season

Two men were caught with undersized, out of season lobster Monday night by a Sheriff’s deputy on routine patrol.

Deputy Matthew Cory was patrolling at Fiesta Key RV Park at 10:45 p.m. when he saw two men cleaning fish and a red cooler next to them on the ground. He approached and saw they were cleaning Grunts. He asked if he could check the cooler and received permission to do so. Inside the cooler were 17 undersized out of season Spiny Lobster.

28 year old Maikel Padron Diaz of Homestead and 28 year old Antonio Cabrera were both issued criminal citations for possession undersized, out of season and over the limit Spiny Lobster.

Marathon woman charged with killing dog

A 61 year old Marathon woman was arrested today, charged with choking her 12 year old Chihuahua to death for biting her on the hand.

On Saturday, the Sheriff’s Office received a call from the Florida Keys SPCA. They had information about a Marathon woman who told staff at Fishermen’s Hospital she’d just killed her dog. An officer from the SPCA went to the woman’s home on 28th Street in Marathon accompanied by Deputies  Aaron Coller, Vincent Torres and Edward Swogger.

Alice Evans told them her dog, “Big John Evans” had been becoming aggressive toward her. She said on Friday night, he bit her for the third time this year. She said she went to bed that night, woke at 5 a.m. and choked him to death with his collar. She then took the dog’s body outside and buried it in her yard. When asked why she didn’t call the animal shelter for help with the dog, she had no answer. Deputies said they saw a small wound on her hand.

The officers dug up the dog’s body and it was transported to the Marathon Veterinary hospital for a necropsy. The cause of death was determined to indeed be strangulation, a death which would have, according to reports, resulted in “the infliction of pain, suffering and injury.”

Detective Amanda Coleman was assigned to investigate the case. Today, a warrant was signed for the arrest of Evans on charges of aggravated cruelty to animals, a third degree felony. Evans was arrested at 2 p.m. and was booked into jail. Bond on the warrant is set at $25,000.

June 26, 2017

Reminder: Deputies patrolling for resource violations

Sheriff’s deputies on patrol over the weekend caught several people from the Miami area committing resource violations.

At 3:30 a.m. Sunday, Deputy Mark Martin was on foot patrol at the south end of the Long Key Bridge. He saw a group of people walking off the bridge carrying a cooler and fishing equipment. He approached them and asked if they had any fish in the cooler. Inside the cooler he found two undersized Mutton Snapper. 40 year old Geovanis Corujo of Cutler Bay said he did not know the law, did not know what kind of fish they were and did not have a measuring device with him. Corujo was issued criminal citations for the violations.

Sunday morning, Deputy Donald Stullken was on foot patrol near the Spanish Harbor boat ramp at 8 a.m. He checked with two groups of fishermen in the area. While checking the first group, he spotted a member of the second group walking away carrying a yellow plastic bag. He saw what looked like the tail and head of a fish in the bag. He followed the man, who began to crawl underneath the bridge. Deputy Stullken ordered him out from underneath the bridge. In the bag were three Mutton Snapper, all undersized. The two men fishing together said they both caught the fish. 28 year old Ruben Coto Fraga and 66 year old Jesus Hernandez Fraga of Miami were both issued criminal citations for undersized snapper.

Deputy Wilfredo Guerra was on patrol on his Waverunner offshore near Tom’s Harbor Cut Bridge Sunday just after 2 p.m. Sunday when he spotted someone diving without a dive flag. Upon closer observation, he saw the man had a spear gun. On the man’s boat, he found three spiny lobsters which had been speared. Two of the three were undersized. All were caught out of season. 43 year old Wilder Curbeira from Hialeah was issued criminal citations for having undersized, speared lobster caught out of season.

On Sunday at 8 p.m. Deputy Mark Martin was on the Long Key Bridge  conducting resource checks. He found a man fishing with two buckets, one with bait inside and the other with fish inside. 26 year old Rafael Isaza Zuluaga of Miami did not have a fishing license nor did he have a measuring device in his possession. IN the bucket he had an undersized Mutton Snapper and a Parrot Fish, both of which were deceased. He was issued criminal citations for the two illegal fish. The fish were returned to the water.

June 24, 2017

Monroe County firefighter arrested for battery

A Monroe County firefighter was arrested overnight after a fight at a bar on Ramrod Key.

Deputies responded to the Looe Key Tiki Bar at 9 p.m. to reports of a fight. When they arrived, they found the victim in the bar. He had injuries to his face and said a man had attacked him after he refused to give him a cigarette. The bartender helped to break up the fight.

The suspect, Dustin Hunt, was found in the parking lot. He claimed to have been attacked by the victim. Other witnesses at the bar corroborated the victim’s version of events.

Hunt was arrested. He was charged with battery and he was taken to jail.

Monroe County Fire Chief James Callahan was notified of the arrest.

“"I was made aware of the situation and will further investigate the circumstances," Chief Callahan said. "I am disappointed. We hold our firefighters to a higher standard and this type of behavior is not tolerated. There will be consequences."

Publix theft suspect identified, arrested

A man who tried to steal groceries from Publix on May 26th  and ran his truck into the manager of the store when the manager tried to stop him from leaving has been identified and arrested.

Deputy Vincent Torres obtained clear pictures of the suspect from store surveillance cameras and asked the public for help identifying the man. The deputy received numerous calls and emails identifying him as 55 year old William Malloy,  of Marathon.

On Thursday, Sheriff’s dispatchers received a call from a citizen who said the theft suspect featured on the Sheriff’s Facebook Page was currently driving his gray Ford Ranger truck northbound on U.S. One in Marathon. Moments later, Deputy Matthew Cory spotted the truck and could see the driver was not wearing his seatbelt. He pulled the truck over and identified the driver as Maloy.

Investigations revealed Maloy’s license had expired in 2014 and he’d never registered the truck in his name. He had a temporary tag on the truck which had been altered numerous times to reflect new dates.

Maloy was arrested. He was charged with all the traffic violations and with theft and aggravated battery for the incident at Publix.

June 23, 2017

Traffic stop leads to gun, drug charges

A traffic stop on Grassy Key overnight resulted in three arrests. Two of those arrested had handguns in their possession – one had been recently stolen - and deputies found drugs in the car as well.

Deputy Daniel Hill was on patrol when he saw a Toyota Camry parked at the Grassy Key Marina with its lights on, pointed toward the building. Due to recent marine thefts in the area, he decided to see what the vehicle was doing there. As he turned toward the vehicle, it sped away southbound on U.S. One. He stopped the vehicle a short distance away. There were four people inside. Deputies Seth Hopp and Mario Benedetti arrived on the scene to back him up.

As the deputies approached the vehicle, the occupants rolled down the windows and the deputies could clearly smell the odor or marijuana coming from inside. The occupants were all asked to exit the vehicle. They were identified as four Marathon residents: 20 year old Thomas Lancaster, 18 year old Melissa Yeatman, 23 year old Dustin Pelletier and 20 year old Marvin Hernandez.

Pelletier had a Taurus revolver tucked in his waistband. Hernandez had a Glock 42 handgun in his waistband. The Glock had been reported stolen from a Sugarloaf Key man’s vehicle on June 21st. The gun theft victim reported the gun was in his center console. He last saw it the night of the 20th. He went to dinner in Key West and then parked the car at his Sugarloaf Key home. He said he does not remember if he locked the car or not, but there was no damage to the vehicle when he discovered the gun was missing.

A search of the vehicle turned up marijuana, an e-cigarette with hash oil in it and a crow bar under the front seat. Only one person – Lancaster – had a legal driver’s license and he was one of the passengers in the car. The car was registered to Lancaster.  Yeatman told the deputies all the drugs in the car were hers.

Lancaster was released with no charges and drove away in his vehicle. Yeatman was charged with possession of marijuana, hash oil and drug paraphernalia. Pelletier was charged with carrying a concealed firearm. Hernandez was charged with driving with no license, carrying a concealed firearm, grand theft of a firearm and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Newspaper delivery person caught stealing mail

A Summerland Key woman was caught stealing mail from mailboxes on Big Torch Key early Thursday.

A man who lives on Dorn Road, Big Torch Key called the Sheriff’s Office because he said someone had been taking mail from his mailbox at the entrance to his property. He said he was planning to send a birthday card with cash in it to his daughter in Virginia, but was afraid it would be stolen.

Detectives David Cruz and Spencer Curry called the man and made a plan to catch the suspect in the act. At 12:30 a.m., the detectives responded to the man’s home. They had him put the piece of mail in the mailbox. They then installed a trail camera near the mailbox, and parked a short distance away in an unmarked Sheriff’s Office car to watch the mailbox.

Shortly after 1 a.m., a vehicle pulled up. When it pulled away, the detectives checked the mailbox and the card was gone. There was also a Key West Citizen newspaper newly delivered, hanging on the mailbox door.

The detectives stopped the vehicle, which was driven by 59 year old Jill Hish. The card was in the car, sitting on the top of a pile of newspapers. It had been ripped open.

Hish was issued a notice to appear in court on theft charges. The U.S. Postmaster’s Office will be notified of the incident in case they wish to investigate further.

June 22, 2017

Two people arrested, two separate incidents of violence, same victim

A Summerland Key man was beaten by his ex-girlfriend, then cut with a knife by his roommate all over a complicated domestic dispute between four people in the early morning hours today at a home on Summerland Key.

Deputies responded twice to a home on Airport Drive North, Summerland Key. The first call, shortly after midnight, was a woman who was beating a man “to death”.

When deputies arrived, they found the victim, 55 year old Keven Rustad. He told Deputy Austin Hopp his ex-girlfriend, 46 year old Nedda Bentley, was trying to kill him. He said they argued and she began punching him. He said he went into the bedroom to get away from her, but she broke down the door and continued to batter him, choking him at one point. He said she also grabbed a variety of metal hand tools, including a large socket wrench, and threw them at him. He said the wrench hit him on the side of the head. Rustad called for help from his roommate, Patrick Nowicki. Nowicki separated the two and called the Sheriff’s Office.

Bentley was arrested. She was charged with aggravated battery, domestic battery by strangulation and battery.

Deputies responded to the home a second time just after 3 a.m. to reports of a possible stabbing.

They found the same victim, Rustad, still on the scene, bleeding from a large cut between his forefinger and his thumb. Rustad said he was cut with a knife on the hand by his roommate, Nowicki. Investigations revealed Rustad had reportedly been having a sexual relationship with the on and off girlfriend of Nowicki, Mona Birss, who was also present at the home. When Nowicki found out, he punched Birss in the nose; Rustad intervened. Nowicki got a knife and was holding it in his hand, threatening Rustad with it. Rustad said he attempted to grab the knife away from Nowicki and was cut with the knife.

Nowicki was arrested. He was charged with domestic battery and aggravated battery and he was taken to jail.

Four arrested on drug charges

Sheriff’s detectives arrested four people on drug charges.

29 year old Travis Adamson of Big Pine Key was arrested Wednesday afternoon on Big Pine Key for sale of Oxycodone and Clonazepam. When he was arrested, Adamson was found to be in possession of more Oxycodone. There was also an active warrant for his arrest on drug charges from a previous undercover drug purchase made on June 13th on Big Pine Key.

29 year old Jerome Durham of Big Pine Key was arrested on outstanding warrants Wednesday, one of which stemmed from a drug investigation in December. On December 6th, Durham was involved in an incident on Big Pine Key. He backed his vehicle into a vehicle belonging to a Sheriff’s detective who was in the vicinity working. Durham was found to be in possession of a cigar which appeared to have been altered, and partially filled with an unknown substance. The substance was sent for testing and was revealed to be a synthetic “designer” drug. When the results of the test returned, a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was picked up on Big Pine Key and charged with possession of a controlled substance. He was also charged with three outstanding warrants for violation of probation.

A Little Torch Key man was arrested Wednesday after detectives recognized him as being wanted on several outstanding warrants. A detective spotted 31 year old Tony Partridge driving southbound on U.S. One at the 27 mile marker. Partridge stopped to get gas on Ramrod Key and was placed under arrest on warrants charging him with selling cocaine in two previous incidents in March and in April. A search of the vehicle turned up plastic bags with a white powder in them. The white powder tested positive as cocaine. Partridge was further charged with driving with his license suspended, possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia.

35 year old Ruben Hernandez was arrested Wednesday after a car he was a passenger in was pulled over after running a stop sign on Big Pine Key. A K-9 drug dog alerted to the presence of drugs in the vehicle. Hidden in Hernandez’ underwear was a prescription bottle with the label torn off. Inside the bottle were 38 Oxycodone pills. Hernandez was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

June 20, 2017

Deputy wants to identify suspect

A Marathon Sheriff’s deputy is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying a man who tried to steal a cart full of groceries from Publix in Marathon.

To see photos of the suspect, visit our blog at floridakeyssheriff.blogspot.com.

Deputy Vincent Torres says the man tried to walk out of the store with a shopping cart full of groceries on May 26th at 3:45 p.m. Store employees recognized him as someone they suspected may have stolen from the store in the past, so they were watching him on store cameras.

When the man wheeled the full cart out of the store, the store manager called the Sheriff’s Office, then approached the man and told him to return to the store. The man left the cart on the sidewalk and walked to his truck, a gray colored Ford Ranger with damage to the driver’s side headlight. The manager followed the man to the truck, which was backed into a parking space. The manager took a picture of the suspect and then stood in front of the truck. The suspect started the truck, put it in drive and began to ram into the manager, pushing him backward approximately 20 feet before leaving on U.S. One northbound.

Surveillance cameras captured a clear image of the suspect. Deputy Torres would like help in identifying him.

Anyone who recognizes the man should contact Deputy Torres at 305-289-2430 or vtorres@keysso.net.

June 19, 2017

Marathon man missing, may be suicidal

One final update: Vega was located a short time ago at the Brass Monkey Bar in Marathon. The bartender recognized him, knew we were looking for him and called the Sheriff’s Office to report he was there. We are still talking to him in an attempt to find out how the boat wound up adrift in the Everglades.

Update: The boat was found a short time ago washed up in Everglades National Park at Ninemile Bank. Vega’s phone was found on board, along with the magazine for a handgun, but not the gun itself. The Sheriff’s Office and other agencies are continuing to search for Vega, who is still missing.

Sheriff’s detectives are currently searching for a Marathon man who is missing and may be suicidal.

51 year old Juan Vega called and texted his son, Juan Vega, Jr. saying he was going to kill himself late Sunday. Deputy Daniel Hill went to Vega’s home at Key by the Sea RV Park a short time later to check on him. His roommate was home but he was not. The roommate said Vega may have taken his cousin’s boat out. He said Vega had taken the boat out before and he described the boat as a 23 foot T-Craft commercial trap boat with large lettering on the sides. It has no top and has a large trap winch on it. The boat was usually docked on 52nd Street Gulf in Marathon.

Deputies checked that location and found the boat gone. They also found Vega’s white Cadillac Escalade parked nearby. The owner of the boat said Vega had taken the boat out before, but that he didn’t know the waters well and the boat didn’t have much fuel in it.

Deputy Hill met with the U.S. Coast Guard and they went out overnight on a Coast Guard vessel to search for the boat and for Vega with no results.

Anyone with information about this case or about the location of Vega should call the Sheriff’s Office at 305-289-2351.

June 18, 2017

Teen from Pompano Beach arrested in stolen car

An 18 year old Pompano Beach man was arrested Friday after he drove a BMW stolen from West Palm Beach into the Florida Keys.

Sheriff’s dispatchers received notification Friday from BMW Assist that the stolen 2014 silver BMW had entered Monroe County just before 6 p.m. A notice to be on the lookout was issued to all Monroe County deputies about the stolen car.

At 6 p.m., Deputy Jason Farr spotted the vehicle at the 98 mile marker southbound. He saw the car turn into Domino’s Pizza parking lot at the 98mm. He pulled in behind it and turned on his lights and siren. He then saw the vehicle pull out of the parking lot and continue southbound on U.S. One. The BMW then turned off on a side road, and back out onto northbound U.S. One. When it pulled out, it collided with a Mercedes van, also traveling northbound.

At that point, Deputy Farr was able to take the driver, 18 year old Alexander Mors, into custody without incident. A second man in the vehicle with Mors said Mors picked him up earlier in the day and told him they were going to a graduation party in the Keys. He said he thought Mors had rented the vehicle. He said when Mors began attempting to elude Deputy Farr, he told him to pull over but Mors refused.

Mors was arrested. He was charged with grand theft of a motor vehicle, fleeing and eluding a law enforcement officer and driving with no valid driver’s license. He was booked into jail.

June 14, 2017

Detectives still trying to find missing man one year later

Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes detectives say they are still looking for a man who went missing in June of last year.

48 year old Paul Thomas Murray lived on board a boat in Boot Key Harbor. Detectives say he was last seen on June 16th by friends. Investigations indicate he was planning to help a man named Donny Vanaria move his sailboat from Robbie’s Marina on Stock Island to Boot Key Harbor in Marathon. The sailboat, called the “Hornet” was found grounded on some rocks near Robbie’s Marine. No one was on board. Witnesses say Vanaria left town shortly afterward. Detectives have not been able to locate Vanaria to interview him about what may have happened.

Since that time, detectives say they have not found anyone who has seen or heard from Murray. There has been no activity on his bank accounts or social media accounts. He has not been in contact with any family members, including his children.

Anyone who knows anything about Murray that might help find him, or find out what happened to him, should contact Major Crimes Detective Bob Dosh at 305-289-2410.

Detectives say man still missing after one year

A Marathon man whose daughter reported him missing in September of last year is still missing. Detectives say anyone with information should call them.

The daughter of the missing man, Albert Bosco, called the Sheriff’s Office in September. She told investigators she believed her father had been missing since June of 2016. She said she has been unable to find any family or friends who had heard from him since then. Bosco would be 72 years old this year; he lived on a boat in Boot Key Harbor.

Detectives located Bosco’s boat. There were no signs of a struggle on board and no signs of where Bosco might be. Detectives have been unable to find anyone who has seen Bosco or who knows anything about where he might be or what may have happened to him.

Anyone who has any information should contact Major Crimes Detective Bob Dosh at 305-289-2351.

Marathon man sustains injury

A Marathon man sustained a serious injury to his neck and detectives are attempting to determine what may have happened.

The incident happened June 4th and has resulted in numerous rumors which detectives have been following up on as they are reported. So far, Detective Amanda Coleman has confirmed that 55 year old Jeffrey Knapp was last seen uninjured by employees of the Hurricane Restaurant in Marathon. He was escorted by employees from the bar at approximately 9 p.m. Rumors of a fight in the establishment during which Knapp was injured are not accurate, according to employees of the restaurant.

Knapp was interviewed by Detective Bob Dosh at Kendall Regional Hospital in an attempt to determine what happened. Knapp said he does not remember anything after leaving the Hurricane Restaurant. He just remembers lying down on a grassy area and not being able to move very well.

Knapp was located at 5 a.m. just past the entrance to the Barracuda Grill in Marathon, after a passerby called the Sheriff’s Office to report someone in medical distress. At the time, Knapp told deputies he believed he’d had a stroke or a seizure. Deputies who initially responded said Knapp had no visible injuries. Knapp told Detective Dosh he does not remember being in an altercation with anyone. All of his valuables are accounted for and there is no indications a robbery took place.

Anyone who has any further factual information about what may have happened to Knapp is asked to call Detective Amanda Coleman at 305-289-2430.

June 12, 2017

Pembroke Pines man charged with spearing lobster

A 25 year old man from Pembroke Pines was caught in the act of spearing lobster by Sheriff’s Marine Deputy Wilfredo Guerra Sunday afternoon.

Deputy Guerra was on patrol on his Sheriff’s Office Waverunner at 4 p.m. in the vicinity of Tom’s Harbor Cut Bridge at the 60.5 mile marker. He spotted Ricko Maragh in the water near the mangroves with no dive flag displayed.

As the deputy approached, he saw Maragh underwater in the act of spearing a lobster. After confronting Maragh with his illegal actions, the deputy found him to be in possession of four more speared lobster, all of which were out of season and two of which were undersized. In addition, Maragh was did not have the required measuring device in his possession.

Maragh was issued a notice to appear in court for possession of speared, out of season, undersized lobster and having no measuring device.

Note: Thanks to Riva Watersports South for their yearly “Law Loan” program in which they provide Waverunners for law enforcement patrol use.

Teen charged with burglarizing neighbor’s house

A Tavernier teen was arrested today, charged with entering a neighbor’s house when she wasn’t there, stealing two checks and depositing them in his own bank account.

The victim, who lives on Arbor Lane in Tavernier, called the Sheriff’s Office on March 10th to report someone had entered her home through an unlocked door while she was away. She said the person had removed two checks and then deposited them at a Key Largo bank. The two checks had already been deposited once by the victim via a mobile device. After the bank noticed the second deposit, the bank notified her of the issue prompting her call to the Sheriff’s Office.

Further investigation revealed the account the money was deposited into belonged to 18 year old Levy Diaz Torres, who lives next door to the victim. When Torres was confronted about the deposits into his account, he admitted to taking the checks.

A warrant was obtained for his arrest and he was booked into jail today on charges of burglary, grand theft and two counts uttering a forged instrument.

June 11, 2017

Body found floating is positively identified

Updated June 16th: Detectives have located and notified the family of 52 year old Romeo Degani. They were able to make contact with his sister, Anita Degani Glinz, who lives in Switzerland. Degani is a part time resident of Key Colony Beach was born in Switzerland. Detectives are continuing to investigate the circumstances of his death.

Sheriff’s detectives say they have identified a man found floating offshore as a local Marathon area resident.

On June 4th, Deputy Todd Jones was dispatched to reports of a body floating offshore of the south end of the Seven Mile Bridge. The body was brought to shore with the assistance of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Initial examination of the body revealed a gunshot wound to the head. Detectives on the case say the wound is consistent with suicide, but they are still investigating the circumstances of the death. There was no identification found with the body and it appeared the body had been in the water more than 24 hours, so a visual identification was not possible.

The body was identified Friday by fingerprints as a 52 year old man who lives in the Marathon area. Although he has been positively identified, detectives are asking that his name not be released until they have a chance to notify his next of kin, which they are currently working on.

A car, rented by the dead man, was located parked at the south end of the Seven Mile Bridge.

Anyone who has any information about the case is asked to contact Major Crimes Detective Matthew Pitcher at 305-289-2410.

June 5, 2017

Sheriff’s bomb squad responds to suspicious package

The Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad responded to reports of a suspicious package today underneath the movie theater at Tavernier Towne Shopping Center.

Someone called the Sheriff’s Office just before 2 p.m. to report seeing the suspicious item. When deputies arrived, they found what looked like a bunch of old cell phones taped together. Not knowing exactly what the item was, they called for the Bomb Squad to respond just in case.

Out of an abundance of caution, the movie theater was evacuated. Mariner’s Hospital, located next door, was notified. The Sheriff’s Office recommended the hospital stop using the entrance to the building nearest to the theater until the situation could be resolved.

The Bomb Squad responded and determined the device was not explosive in nature and posed no danger to the public. The area was cleared and declared safe at 5:40 p.m.

Detectives will be investigating to determine the origins of the package.

Deputies first on the scene of marina fire

Sheriff’s deputies on patrol were the first to notice and respond to a fire at a Marathon marina this morning.

Deputy Seth Hopp was driving southbound near 15th Street at 2:35 a.m. when he saw billowing black smoke coming from Vaca Key Marina behind Porky’s Restaurant in Marathon. He called the fire in to Sheriff’s dispatchers and pulled into the parking lot to investigate.

He heard an explosion and began running toward the fire to make sure no one was in the area. As he ran toward the fire, he heard several more explosions which he said sounded like they might have been propane tanks.

Other deputies arrived, including Deputies Matthew Cory, Daniel Hill and Ian Douthirt. They all began checking and evacuating residences in the area south and west of the fire. At this point, Deputy Hopp said the fire had already consumed several vessels and a large portion of the trap yard on the property.

Deputies began moving boats that were closest to the fire, relocating them away from fire danger. They were able to save all the vessels that had not already been consumed by the fire.

Fire rescue was on scene fighting the fire and asked deputies to help clear an area in an effort to stop the fire from advancing. Using fork lifts, deputies were able to move the lobster traps which were not yet burned and this helped firefighters with bringing the fire under control.

“We all – deputies and firefighters – worked extremely hard to keep this fire from spreading further and to keep anyone from being injured. The teamwork shown on the scene was impressive and I commend everyone for their hard work and dedication to the job of keeping the community safe,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay.

Thanks to Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the U.S. Coast Guard and Sea Tow, all of whom responded by water and assisted in the effort to save property from the fire.

Thanks to Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority and Florida Keys Electric Coop for assisting with water and with electrical issues.

Thanks to the Florida Highway Patrol for helping with traffic issues.

Thanks also to the American Red Cross who has responded and will be helping those individuals whose residences were damaged or destroyed by the fire.

Well known Miami doctor arrested, charged in elderly abuse case

A prominent doctor from Miami was arrested today in connection with an elderly abuse case in Key Largo which has been under investigation by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit and other state and federal agencies since November.

Other agencies investigating include the Florida Department Children and Families, the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office, the Florida Department of Health’s Medical Quality Assurance Unit, the Miami Dade Police Department Medical Crimes Unit, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General.

The doctor is 66 year old Raul Arcadio Tamayo. He was arrested this morning at his home at 5555 Collins Avenue in Miami Beach, charged with two counts of neglect of an elderly or disabled adult. Bond was set at $200,000. The caregiver who worked under his supervision is 47 year old Amarylis Maristan. She is currently wanted on the same charges.

Together, they knowingly operated two unlicensed elderly living facilities in Monroe County; one at 173 Ocean Drive in Plantation Key from April 2016 until October 2016 and one at 8 Avenue B in Key Largo from October 2016 until December 2016.

Dr. Tamayo is accused of failing to provide care for the elderly patients at the facilities and for falsifying records to indicate he was providing care. He is accused of knowing the facilities were unlicensed, and of knowing the woman who supervised the facilities was not medically trained in any way. Investigators say he was being paid by Medicare for services he was not providing. The investigation is continuing into possible Medicare fraud.

Maristan is accused of knowingly operating an unlicensed facility and not providing appropriate and necessary medical treatment to the patients under her care.

Investigations revealed the two suspects cared for six elderly female patients over the age of 80, all with chronic and acute medical conditions requiring medical care and multiple prescription medications. All the patients were bed or wheelchair bound, were diagnosed with memory loss or dementia and were incontinent. The majority of them were found to have urinary tract infections and bed sores when they were seen by medical professionals subsequent to being found in the unlicensed facility.

The investigation began after Major Crimes Detective Bob Dosh responded on November 30th to a report of possible elderly abuse along with an investigator from the Florida Department of Children and Families. DCF had received a complaint from Mariner’s Hospital in Tavernier after an elderly woman was brought into the hospital in cardiac arrest, covered in urine with severe bed sores, some infected. The 85 year old victim was revived and transferred to Homestead Hospital for treatment where she died the following day. Autopsy results later showed she died of “complications of septic shock due to pneumonia”. Investigations revealed at the time of her death she was underweight, suffered from malnutrition and had been suffering from seizures. Dr. Tamayo was reportedly aware of this history of seizures and had billed the government for seizure medication which was never given to the victim.

The woman’s caregiver, Maristan, was interviewed at the time the woman was brought to the hospital. She gave permission for the investigators to enter her residence, where the victim had been cared for prior being taken to the hospital. Inside the residence, at 8 Avenue B in Key Largo, the investigators found numerous mattresses against the walls and four more elderly females. The remaining elderly women were transported to Mariner’s Hospital and then to a legitimate licensed care facility.

Maristan was asked if a doctor was caring for the elderly victim. She said the victim was seen by Doctor Tamayo, who she said would make house calls to the facility and prescribe medications as needed for the elderly people at the facility.

Investigations revealed the elderly care facility being operated by Maristan was not a licensed care facility, nor did Maristan have any form of professional medical training. Further investigation revealed the elderly victim was not being treated for her severe bed sores, nor was she being treated for the pneumonia she ultimately died from.

Investigations further revealed Dr. Tamayo falsified medical records to show the victim was being seen in person by the doctor. After the elderly patients still at the facility were removed and examined, a second victim was found with untreated Pneumonia and untreated Parkinson’s disease. The doctor admitted to investigators he was responsible for medical supervision at the two facilities; he also admitted to knowing Maristan was unlicensed and untrained.

Tamayo was taken into custody this morning at his home in Miami. Detective Dosh and other investigators say they are currently looking for Maristan.

Anyone with information about where she is should contact the Sheriff’s Office immediately at 305-853-3211. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a Crime Stoppers 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 anonymously on line at www.tipsubmit.com or via a text message to 274637 using the keyword TIP136.

June 4, 2017

Man charged with multiple drugs

A Marathon man was arrested after deputies found him in possession of numerous different kinds of drugs.

Deputy Matthew Cory responded to the parking lot of the Overseas Lounge at 1 a.m. after dispatchers received reports of someone passed out in a truck. When the deputy arrived, he located 37 year old Hayes Culbertson sitting in his truck, scratching off lottery tickets.

He approached the truck and, as Culbertson rolled down the window to talk to Deputy Cory, the deputy smelled a strong odor of fresh marijuana coming from inside. When questioned about it, Culbertson admitted to having a small amount of the illegal substance inside.

Culbertson was asked to exit the truck and he was detained.

A search of the inside of the truck turned up marijuana in several locations, including a half pound of it in a vacuum sealed bag inside a pillow case. Deputies also found hash, cocaine, hash oil, amphetamine, dextroamphetamine as well as drug paraphernalia of various sorts.

Culbertson faces multiple drug possession charges, including possession of marijuana with intent to sell and four counts possession of a controlled substance.

Traffic stop leads to carjacking charge

A traffic stop for a broken taillight resulted in the arrest of the driver for carjacking.

Deputy Cody Kerns spotted the broken taillight on a black Pontiac northbound on U.S. One at the 102 mm at 3:40 a.m. Saturday. When he pulled the car over, he recognized the driver from previous contacts as 34 year old Dennis Cooper of Key Largo. When he asked for a driver’s license, Cooper handed over a learner’s permit. A check on his name revealed a suspended license. The female passenger also had a suspended license. Cooper, who had two previous arrests for driving with a suspended license, was arrested.

Deputy Kerns looked into the car and could see a large amount of fresh blood on the driver’s door and on the center console. Neither Cooper nor the passenger were injured. He asked the passenger where the car had come from. She made a phone call, handing the phone to the deputy. On the phone was a man named Kevin who said he was with the owner of the car. He, in turn, put the car’s owner on the phone. The owner was named “Craig”. Craig said the car was his and he knew Cooper was driving it but didn’t know Cooper had a suspended license.

A short time later, Sheriff’s dispatchers received a call from the Circle K store at the 99 mile marker from a man saying his nose was broken and his car had been taken by a man named “Cooper”. Deputy Annette Simo responded and found the owner of the Pontiac, “Craig”, identified as 38 year old Craig Vanness . He had blood all over him and had an apparent broken nose. He said when he was on the phone with Deputy Cory earlier, he was surrounded by a bunch of Cooper’s friends and couldn’t talk openly for fear of being hurt.

He told Deputy Simo he and Cooper were at Hibiscus Park and he let Cooper borrow his car. After Cooper brought it back, Cooper refused to give him his keys. He said when he tried to get the keys from Cooper and tried to get into his own car, Cooper punched him in the nose and took the car without his permission. He said it was his blood inside the car.

Cooper, who was already charged with driving with his license suspended, was further charged with carjacking and aggravated battery. He was booked into jail.

June 2, 2017

Agencies work together to rescue three from overturned vessel

The Sheriff’s Office, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Coast Guard worked together Thursday evening to rescue three men from an overturned vessel.

Sheriff’s dispatchers received a call from one of the men on the vessel at 6 p.m. He reported their vessel had overturned and they were using life vests to stay afloat. He estimated their location as 20 to 30 miles offshore of Marathon on the gulf side but could not provide coordinates.

As dispatchers tried to transfer the call to the Coast Guard, the cell connection began to fail and then the line disconnected.

Marine Deputy Wilfredo Guerra met with FWC Officers at the Coast Guard station and they all began heading out on a Coast Guard vessel to attempt to locate the stranded men. Sheriff’s dispatchers were able to get the men back on the phone and this time dispatch was able to provide coordinates to responding officers.

At 6:40 p.m., Deputy Guerra reported all three men were safely on board the Coast Guard vessel. The three men were from Hialeah and told officers they had been fishing for snapper when they began taking on water and could not get their engine started. Their vessel was an 18 foot open fisherman.  Sea Tow was notified and will be recovering the vessel this morning.

Fire victim identified

The 71 year old man who died in a fire May 11th on Big Pine Key has been positively identified.

Deputies and firefighters responded to the fire at 9:08 p.m. where they found the victim dead inside his side of the duplex.

Major Crimes Detectives, who are working together with the State Fire Marshal’s Office to investigate the fire, say dental records confirmed the victim is 71 year old Barry Michael Brown, who lived at the location of the fire, 31096 Avenue B, Big Pine Key.

June 1, 2017

Man arrested after two traffic stops for speeding

A man from Houston, Texas man was taken to jail Wednesday night after being stopped for speeding twice in a very short time period.

Deputy Orlando Alvarez was at the 104 mile marker when he spotted a white Chevrolet Corvette southbound traveling at 81 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone just before 11 p.m. He pulled the car over in a nearby parking lot. The driver was identified as Steven Kubas. Kubas was argumentative during the stop, denying that he was speeding. He was written a speeding citation and told the deputy he would see him in court.

Kubas, obviously agitated, sped out of the parking lot, running a stop sign and cutting off an oncoming motorcycle.

Deputy Alvarez followed, and saw the Corvette increasing its speed. He measured the vehicle’s speed at 115 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone. The deputy radioed ahead for other deputies to watch for the vehicle. He then turned on his emergency lights in an attempt to stop it.

Kubas pulled over at the 102 mile marker. Kubas told the deputy he was speeding because he was angry about getting a ticket. While Deputy Alvarez, the driver of the motorcycle Kubas cut off stopped. He expressed his concern for how dangerous Kubas had been driving and said he had to take evasive actions on his motorcycle to avoid a crash.

Kubas was arrested and charged with reckless driving. In the car, deputies found a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. They also found a 9mm handgun. The Corvette was towed from the scene and Kubas was taken to jail.