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

May 31, 2017

Fort Lauderdale man arrested in road rage incident

A Fort Lauderdale man was arrested early today after he pointed a handgun at the passenger of a car in an apparent road rage incident.

The victim called Florida Highway Patrol initially at 4:40 a.m. The call was then referred to Sheriff’s Office dispatchers. The victim said she was the passenger in a car traveling southbound on the stretch with her boyfriend driving. She said the driver of a white van had been driving erratically. She said at one point, the van pulled up beside their vehicle, almost causing them to hit the median. She said the driver of the van pointed a handgun at her, with his finger on the trigger.

The white van was pulled over by an FHP Trooper at the 102 mile marker. The trooper was backed up by Deputies Cody Kerns and Annette Simo. Together they ordered the two men in the van out of the vehicle. A black Smith and Wesson 9 mm handgun was found in the back of the van. It was loaded. The passenger told the officers he had been sleeping and didn’t know anything. He also told them the gun belonged to the driver, 25 year old Kamaron Mathis.

The victims stopped and positively identified Mathis as the man who pointed the handgun at them. A holster for the gun was found on Mathis’ waistband.

Mathis was arrested. He was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and he was taken to jail.

Man arrested after using dog as threat

A North Carolina man who threatened to have his dog attack a hotel front desk employee in Marathon was arrested overnight.

The 19 year old victim told Deputy Matthew Cory the man who assaulted her was staying at the hotel in room 129. His name: 35 year old Robert Meadows. She said he walked into the lobby at 4:15 a.m. today and threw a $20 bill at her. He told her it was “because she was beautiful”. A short time later, he told her she should come to his room with him because he gave her the $20. She refused.

She said Meadows then became angry and told her he was going to get his dog – a Pit Bull – from his room and have it attack her. The victim told Deputy Corey she is terrified of dogs and was very frightened by this statement.  She said Meadows told her he was in the military and has killed people. He then left the lobby and went to his room.

He returned a short time later with his dog. When the dog jumped up on the front desk with its front paws, the victim ran into the office, locked the door and called 911. Meadows began pounding on the office door. She told him she had called police, so he left and went to his room.

Deputy Cory found the victim in the office. She was shaking and very frightened by the confrontation. The deputy found Meadows still in his hotel room. He appeared to be intoxicated and claimed not to remember what happened. Meadows was arrested and charged with assault and he was taken to jail. The Florida Keys SPCA was called to the scene and took the dog into their custody for safe keeping.

Woman airlifted after being run over by truck

A 25 year old Marathon woman was airlifted to a Miami hospital Tuesday night after she was accidentally run over by a truck.

According initial reports, the incident took place at 8:45 p.m.  on 66th Street Ocean in Marathon.  The victim’s boyfriend told deputies she was intoxicated and he was going to go get her some food. He said he drove away in his 2017 Chevrolet truck. He said he didn’t realize she was running after him.

It appears as if she tried to jump into the side of the truck into the truck’s bad and fell. The back tires of the truck then ran over her leg, which was severely fractured in the accident. Both the male and female told deputies it was an accident and no one was “at fault” for the injury.

The victim was airlifted by Trauma Star to the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami.

Marathon man caught with drugs in his car

A Marathon man was arrested on Big Pine Key Tuesday night after drugs were found in and around his car.

Deputy Austin Hopp pulled the silver 2004 Kia over at the 32 mile marker at 9 p.m. because it had no lights illuminating its license tag. He identified the driver as 33 year old Dwayne Ritchie. When Deputy Hopp walked up the car, Ritchie immediately said “sorry for the smoke”. Deputy Hopp could, indeed, smell the odor of marijuana coming from the car window. Ritchie admitted to having marijuana in the car and told the deputy he also had an open container of alcohol – a bottle of partially consumed Jameson Irish Whiskey – behind the driver’s seat.

A search of the vehicle also turned up cocaine and drug paraphernalia in various locations. A bag of cocaine was also found just outside the driver’s side door on the ground. Ritchie admitted the drugs were his.

Deputy Hopp found a total of 24 grams of cocaine, some packaged for sale in small plastic bags. He also found 10 grams of marijuana. Ritchie told the deputy he was selling drugs so he could use the money to help pay the move in costs because he was planning to rent a home.

Ritchie was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to sell, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and tampering with evidence. He was booked into jail.

May 28, 2017

California man dies while diving

A California man died while diving Friday offshore of Key Largo.

The 56 year old victim, Dimitry Altschuller, and his wife were on board a commercial dive vessel out of the Amoray Dive Center Friday. Altschuller was on his second dive of the day when the incident occurred at about 11:48 a.m.

The victim’s dive partner said they were in the water when it appeared Altschuller ran out of air. The partner shared his air as they surfaced. Once at the surface, Altschuller was still breathing, but it appeared that he began to panic. The partner yelled to the boat for help.

Altschuller was assisted on board where he was unconscious and not breathing. CPR was administered. A Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission vessel arrived on the scene and the victim was transferred to that vessel, which took him to shore at Key Largo Homeowner’s Park, at the 99 mile marker of the highway.

Paramedics met the FWC vessel, along with Deputy Dave Campbell. Altschuller was taken to Mariner’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Man arrested after traffic stop in Marathon

A Miami man was arrested Friday after a traffic stop revealed a large amount of gasoline in illegal containers inside a boat being towed behind his vehicle.

Sgt. Joel Slough stopped 42 year old Julio Cesar Almedia-Valdez as he was southbound at Coco Plum Drive and Highway U.S. One at 8 p.m. Friday. The Miami man was driving a U-Haul truck, towing a trailer with a large Bayline cabin cruiser on it. The trailer had no tail lights or working brake lights.

Sgt. Slough was backed up on the traffic stop by an agent from U.S. Border Patrol.

Almedia-Valdez gave the officers permission to search the vessel. Inside, they found numerous containers of gasoline, 107 gallons in all. Two large drums of gasoline were not DOT approved containers.

Additionally, the boat trailer was in very poor condition, with tires that appeared to be dry rotted, making them unsafe to operate on the highway.

Almedia-Valdez admitted the fuel was his. He was arrested and charged with unlawful conveyance of fuel. He also received citations for having faulty trailer lights. A more thorough search after his arrest revealed four more five gallon containers of gasoline concealed underneath a bad in the main cabin of the vessel.

Almedia-Valdez was booked into jail.

Key Largo man suffers apparent stab wound

A 34 year old Key Largo man told deputies he was stabbed sometime Saturday. He was transported in the early morning hours today to Mariner’s Hospital for treatment of a puncture wound in his lower back.

Deputy Ignacio Molina responded to the Murray Nelson Government Center shortly after midnight where he met with the victim. The victim told him he was drinking with a friend named “Tom” Saturday on board the friend’s boat, offshore. He said another man he does not know was also there.

He said Tom and this unknown male began to argue and he stepped between them to calm things down. He said he felt something hit him on the back.

He said some time later he felt pain on his side and Tom told him he had an injury and needed to go to the hospital immediately. He said Tom gave him a small paddle boat to go to shore, where he met with Deputy Molina.

The victim was unable to provide a name for his attacker, and only knows his friend by the first name “Tom”. Detectives will be investigating.

May 26, 2017

Two jail inmates charged with introduction of contraband, third man charged with providing the drugs

Two inmates at the Monroe County Detention Center have been charged with attempting to smuggle an illegal substance into the jail facility. A third man was charged for bringing the drugs to the jail.

On May 12th, an alert detention deputy found a plastic bag with suspected Spice inside of it. Spice is a synthetic drug which resembles marijuana. The bag had been dropped inside the secure fenced area surrounding the jail facility.

Detective David Fernandez was assigned to investigate. He intercepted conversations between two inmates residing in the detention center and several people outside the facility. The conversations revealed a plan to smuggle the spice into the jai -  the same spice found inside the secure area on May 12th.

After discovering the origins of the plan to smuggle drugs into the facility, Detective Fernandez obtained warrants for the arrest of 29 year old Howard Schneider of Stock Island and 25 year old Timothy Thompkins of Key West. He also obtained a warrant for the arrest of 24 year old Trevon Albury of Key West, who is accused of providing the drugs that were to be smuggled onto the grounds of the jail.

Schneider and Thompkins were both charged May 25th.There is currently a warrant out for the arrest of Albury. All three face charges of use of a two way communications device to facilitate a felony and smuggling contraband into a detention facility.

Two men charged with spearing lobster

Two men were arrested Thursday for spearing lobster illegally.

Marine Deputy Wilfredo Guerra was on patrol at Fiesta Key Campground at the 70 mile marker just after 5 p.m. when he spotted the two men in the water. He saw they both had spear guns and appeared to be spearing sea life. As he approached, he could see them dropping speared lobster. He asked them to get out of the water.

He asked the two men for identification and their fishing licenses, which they retrieved from their vehicle parked nearby. As they were getting the documents from their car, Deputy Guerra spotted a bag hidden under the rear passenger seat. He asked the two men if they had any fish or lobster in their vehicle.

One of the men pulled the bag from under the seat. It contained 15 wrung spiny lobster tails.

Both men admitted to spearing and wringing the tails.

The men were identified as 28 year old IurII Kucherenko of Hallendale Beach, Florida and 28 year old Iurchyk Oleksandr of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They were charged with possession of out of season spiny lobster, possession of over the limit spiny lobster, possession of speared spiny lobster, possession of wrung spiny lobster tails in the water, possession of undersized spiny lobster tails and spearfishing in the Upper Keys.

May 25, 2017

Stock Island man charged with gun possession

Deputies arrested a Stock Island man Wednesday afternoon for improperly exhibiting a firearm and for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Sheriff’s dispatchers received reports just before 5 p.m. of a man waving a black colored revolver around at the Tom Thumb convenience store on Stock Island. Another caller reported shots fired at  a nearby trailer park on Maloney Avenue. Deputies Jenna Moeller and Freddy Rodriguez responded. The caller said the man with the gun was a black male wearing green shorts; he was reported to be with a black female with dreadlocks and the two were traveling together on a green three wheeled scooter.

Deputy Moeller spotted them on Maloney Avenue and pulled them over. A search of them both turned up a revolver tucked in the man’s waistband. It was a loaded .22 caliber Heritage Roughrider. Three rounds had been fired.

The man with the gun was identified as 20 year old Ashley Avilmar. A check on Avilmar’s name revealed he is a convicted felon and, thus, not allowed to carry a gun.

Deputy Rodriguez went to the Tom Thumb and watched surveillance video of the incident. The video showed Avilmar waving  the gun around.

During questioning, Avilmar and the woman he was with said they had a confrontation with another couple. Avilmar said he just wanted to let the other man know he had a gun.

Avilmar was arrested, charged with improper exhibition of a firearm and being a felon in possession of a firearm and he was booked into jail.

May 24, 2017

Woman from Texas dies while snorkeling

A 58 year old woman from Austin, Texas died while snorkeling at Grecian Rocks offshore of Key Largo.

Cheri Crozier and her husband were on a snorkeling trip Tuesday afternoon on board the vessel Encounter, out of John Pennekamp State Park. He said she began having issues about 1:15 p.m., so they moved to more shallow water – about three to five feet deep. She told him she wanted to return to the boat. As they tried to return to the boat, she began to have difficulty swimming so they yelled for help. Employees on the boat threw them a rope and towed her back to the boat.

Once on board, she became unconscious and unresponsive, then stopped breathing. A doctor who was on board began to perform CPR as the boat returned to shore. Crozier was taken to Mariner’s Hospital where she was pronounced dead. There is no foul play suspected in her death.

May 23, 2017

Sergeant discovers house fire

A Sheriff’s Office sergeant, on routine patrol, discovered a house on fire on Summerland Key early today.

Sgt. Evan Calhoun was driving northbound on Summerland Key at 2:45 a.m. when he drove through what he thought at first was fog. He quickly discovered it was smoke from the odor and began looking for a fire.

He could see the smoke in the driveway of a gated property with two structures at 24050 Overseas Highway. One of the structures was on fire. He could see flames coming from the underside of the structure, which was on stilts.

He attempted to check the building for people, but could not go inside due to the heat and fire inside. The fire department responded and extinguished the fire. It does not appear at this time that anyone was inside either of the two structures on the property. The Fire Marshal will be investigating the cause of the fire.

May 21, 2017

Homestead teen charged with grand theft from employer

 An 18 year old Homestead girl was arrested, charged with stealing over $4,000 from her employer, the Winn Dixie grocery store in Tavernier.

The manager of the store met with Deputy Ben Elmore Saturday at 5 p.m. He told the deputy he had completed an internal theft investigation. The suspect, Alyssa Beeler,  was there as well.

The manager said his investigation showed Beeler worked in customer service and was issuing refungs with no customer involved, pocketing the money herself. On several occasions she also allegedly activated gift cards, putting hundreds of dollars on them and pocketing the gift cards. The manager had security camera footage showing the thefts. He also had transaction receipts for all of the transactions.

The deputy spoke with Beeler, who at first admitted to the thefts. As the questioning continued, her story changed several times.

Beeler was arrested. She was charged with stealing $4,647.06 and she was booked into jail.

May 20, 2017

Routine patrol results in drug arrest

Deputies on routine patrol on Stock Island arrested a man for possessing a number of different drugs Friday night.

Deputies Anthony Lopez and Russel Hull were doing a routine check at 6630 Maloney Avenue at 11 p.m. when they saw a Ford Explorer parked between two lots nearby with its interior lights on and two people visible inside. Deputy Lopez approached the vehicle to see what was going on.

He looked into the vehicle and saw several small clear plastic bags on the driver’s lap. When the driver realized the deputy was nearby, he swept the plastic bags into the space between the seat and the center console, as if trying to conceal them from view.

The deputies asked the occupants of the vehicle to get out of the vehicle so they could investigate further. They identified the driver as 35 year old Marcell Nance of Stock Island. There were also two women in the car, one of which had been sleeping in the back seat.

Upon questioning, Nance admitted to having drugs in the car. A search turned up 49 Oxycodone pills, four Vyvanse pills, five pieces of Alprazolam, 15 grams of crack cocaine, .8 grams of Heroin and a small amount of marijuana. Nance did not have a prescription for any of the controlled substances. Many of the illegal substances were packaged as if for sale.

Nance was arrested. He was charged with possession of cocaine and heroin with intent to sell, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, trafficking in a controlled substance and possession of marijuana.

May 19, 2017

Teen charged with sexual battery

A 17 year old senior at Coral Shores High School was arrested today, charged with sexually battering a 15 year old girl.

The victim reported the incident May 17th, after consulting with her doctor. According to the victim, the incident took place about two weeks ago. She said they went for a ride in the suspect’s vehicle. She said they stopped on a dark, dead end street, While in the vehicle, she said he put his hands down her pants and penetrated her against her will. She said she repeatedly told him not to, but he did it anyway.

In interviews with the suspect, he also said she told him “no” a number of times during the course of the assault.

The case was assigned to Major Crimes Detective Bernardo Barrios. He obtained a warrant for the arrest of the 17 year old suspect, who was picked up today and charged with sexual battery.

May 17, 2017

Warrant issued for video voyeur who put coat hook cameras in women’s bathrooms

Sheriff’s detectives have identified the suspect who put hidden cameras in women’s restrooms in the Upper Keys.

In May of last year, coat hooks with cameras hidden inside them were found mounted inside bathroom stalls at Anne’s Beach in Islamorada, at the Circle K Convenience store at the 99 mile marker. A third device was located at public restrooms at Harry Harris Park.

Videos were found in the cameras showing women and girls in various states of undress. Detectives also found what appeared to be “test” videos. In these “test” videos, they identified a man’s arm with a distinctive tattoo. When they watched surveillance video from the Circle K convenience store from just before the coat hook camera was found there, they saw a man with the same tattoo on his arm. The man walks toward the restrooms, past the men’s restroom and into the women’s restroom, where the camera was located.

The man with the tattoo was wearing a yellow shirt. On the back of the shirt was a logo for a business: “Affordable Asphalt”. Detectives went to the business and showed the man’s photo to others who work there. They identified the man as 36 year old Charles Schmidt of Homestead.

Detectives discovered Schmidt has a travel trailer. Some of the “test” videos depict a young girl in what looks like it could be a travel trailer bathroom. Further investigation led to the identity of that young girl. Her mother told detectives she is friends with Schmidt’s children, hangs out at Shmidt’s home – a  travel trailer - often and has visited the Florida Keys with Schmidt and his family in the travel trailer.

Detectives say videos recovered from the coat hook cameras show numerous women and some underage girls as well. Investigators used their accumulated evidence to file for a warrant for Schmidt. Schmidt is currently wanted for 14 counts of video voyeurism with the victim 19 years of age or older and two counts of video voyeurism with the victim under 16 years of age. Bond on the warrant is set at $450,000.

Schmidt is believed to have fled the area with his girlfriend, identified as 27 year old Shelly Arnold.

Anyone with information which could help detectives locate Schmidt should contact the Sheriff's Office at 305-289-2351. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a Crimestoppers tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crimestoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may be made anonymously online at www.tipsubmit.com or via a text message to 274637 using the keyword TIP136.

Woman arrested for breaking into, living in vacant home

A woman from Louisiana was arrested Tuesday after she broke into a vacant home and was living there.

The home is on 23rd Lane, Big Pine Key and is currently listed for sale. The real estate agent called the Sheriff’s Office Tuesday just after noon to report someone was staying in the home without the owner’s permission.

When Deputy Richard Wang arrived, he looked in the window and saw a naked woman in the living room. He knocked on the door and the woman answered, still unclothed. She claimed to be the owner of the house. When he asked her to put clothes on, she refused, saying she is allowed to be naked in her own house.

The deputy confirmed with the actual owner of the house that no one had permission to be inside his house. He then attempted to take the woman – later identified as 36 year old Feliciamae Farrington from Harvey, Louisiana – into custody. She fought with him as he tried to put handcuffs on her. He called for backup. She continued to struggle with him until backup deputies arrived, at one point grabbing for his radio as he called for help.

Farrington was charged with trespassing, battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest.

Teen charged with making false report

A 17 year old Marathon resident was arrested Tuesday for falsely reporting that he was kidnapped, beaten and robbed.

George Yeatman told detectives on May 8th that two men abducted him at gunpoint, beat him and robbed him, leaving him unconscious and injured in the area of Sombrero Road. Someone living nearby called the Sheriff’s Office after finding Yeatman in the roadway, dazed and injured. Responding deputies called paramedics and he was transported to the hospital.

During subsequent interviews with detectives, Yeatman identified one of the attackers as a 20 year old Marathon man, who was subsequently arrested for the alleged crime.

Shortly after the arrest, detectives located a Facebook video “live feed” posted at 5:30 p.m. of the day the supposed abduction took place. It showed Yeatman and another unknown man in what they found out was a prearranged “consensual” fight. The fight appears to be where Yeatman’s injuries actually came from.

Several people also came forward, vouching for the whereabouts of the man Yeatman claimed had abducted him. All charges against the man Yeatman said  abducted him were dismissed the same day he was arrested.

Yeatman is now in jail, charged with knowingly giving false information to law enforcement concerning the alleged commission of a crime.

May 16, 2017

Two suspects wanted for illegal dumping in state park

Sgt. Joel Slough would like the public’s assistance locating two suspects in an illegal dumping case.

On May 2nd just before noon, Sgt. Slough was at Curry Hammock State Park checking on a report of an illegal campsite set up on park property. He located the campsite along with its two occupants, 46 year old Tillman Erwin and 42 year old Candice Lee. They were warned they were trespassing on park property. Sgt. Slough told them they would have to gather their things and leave. The campsite was extensive with a large amount of belongings so Tillman requested time to gather their things. Sgt. Slough agreed to give them until May 5th to leave the area.

On May 6th, the sergeant returned to check the area. Most of the campsite itself had been removed. A short distance away, partially hidden, Sgt. Slough found a large pile of trash and personal items abandoned. There were items in the trash pile easily identifiable as belonging to Tillman and Lee.

Slough obtained warrants for the two suspects for Illegal dumping. He is now trying to locate them so he can serve the warrants. Anyone who knows where these two suspects are, please contact the Sheriff’s Office at 305-289-2351.

May 12, 2017

Marathon man accused of kidnapping, robbing and beating teen

A 20 year old Marathon man was arrested today, charged with kidnapping a teen on Sunday, beating and robbing him.

Deputy Orey Swilley responded to Ocotillo Lane on Sunday at 8:45 p.m. to a report of a young man claiming to have been “jumped”. When he arrived, he found the 17 year old victim with injures. The victim told him he’d been attacked as he walked on the sidewalk by the IHOP Restaurant. He said four men grabbed him, dragged him into a car and choked him into unconsciousness. He said he didn’t remember anything else until he woke up on Ocotillo Lane.

The victim was taken to Fishermen’s Hospital, where he became uncooperative and hostile with hospital employees.

Detective Amanda Coleman was assigned to investigate. During interviews with the victim, he told her he was afraid to discuss details of the attack with her because he feared the suspect would kill him. The detective finally convinced the victim to tell her the details of what happened.

The victim said he was walking near 65th Street in Marathon when 20 year old Tommy Lancaster pulled up in a car with another man the victim could not identify. He said Lancaster pointed a gun at him and told him to get in the car. He complied. Lancaster drove to a remote area where he beat and threatened the victim. The victim said he eventually became unconscious. He said he woke up on the ground at the end of Ocotillo Lane. His jewelry, wallet and cell phone had been stolen.

The detective obtained a warrant for Lancaster’s arrest. Early today, Sgt. Nick Whiteman spotted Lancaster driving a light blue Toyota near 63rd Street. He pulled the car over and arrested Lancaster on the warrant. Lancaster was booked into jail on charges of kidnapping, robbery, aggravated battery and grand theft.

May 11, 2017

One dead in structure fire on Big Pine Key

Sheriff’s Major Crimes detectives and the State Fire Marshal’s Office are working together to investigate a death in a structure  fire on Big Pine Key Thursday night.

A 71 year old man died in the fire, which burned his home located at the 31 mile marker of the highway on Avenue B, Big Pine Key. The fire was reported to Sheriff’s dispatchers at 9:11 p.m. When Deputy Austin Hopp arrived at 9:15 p.m., he attempted entry to the building, but intense fire and smoke prevented him from going inside. Monroe County Firefighters arrived minutes later and had the fire extinguished a short time later.

The State Fire Marshal is on the way to the scene to investigate; Sheriff’s Major Crimes detectives are already on scene. All agencies involved will be working together to determine the cause of the fire as well as the cause of the death.

The name of the victim will be released after notification of next of kin is complete.

Traffic stop leads to credit card fraud arrest

A routine traffic stop by a Marathon deputy resulted in the arrest of a Miami man for possessing counterfeit credit cards.

Deputy Seth Hopp was on patrol at 11:45 p.m. Wednesday when he spotted a white Mercedes with a license plate partially obstructed by a black cover around it. He pulled the car over at 55th Street in Marathon. There were five people in the car, including the driver, 26 year old Jose Castro Lorenzo of Miami.

A check on Lorenzo revealed his license was suspended for failure to pay traffic fines.

When the deputy glanced inside the car, he saw a green leafy substance scattered on the floorboards. He also smelled the odor of fresh marijuana inside the vehicle. He had all the occupants exit the vehicle so he could investigate further. A plastic bag with 10 grams of marijuana was found in the rear driver’s side floor board.

A leather bag was found in the car. Inside, Deputy Hopp found nine credit cards in various names from various banks. Also in the bag were seven checks made out to different people. A tenth credit card was in Lorenzo’s wallet, with someone else’s name on the card.

Lorenzo claimed ownership of the bag; he said a person whose name he does not know meets him in a parking lot in Maimi and gives him credit cards along with pin numbers; he then takes the cards to various ATM machines where he withdraws money. He said the same person gives him checks which he deposits. When the checks clear, he withdraws the money. He said he gives all the money from these transactions back to the person who then pays him a small fee.

Lorenzo was arrested and charged with possession of counterfeit credit cards and driving with his license suspended. He was booked into jail.  A passenger in the car, 21 year old Javier Sanrregre of Miami admitted ownership of the marijuana. He was issued a notice to appear in court and was released, along with the other passengers.

Man arrested for drug sales

A Florida City man was booked into jail on outstanding warrants for drug sales.

The warrants stem from drug sales that took place in September and October of 2016 on Stock Island. An undercover operative purchased cocaine on two occasions and methamphetamines once from 41 year old Rodney Atkinson of Homestead during the time period.

Warrants were issued for his arrest and on Wednesday he was booked into the Monroe County jail. Charged with two counts sale of cocaine, one count distribution of methamphetamines, two counts use of a two way communications device to facilitate a felony, driving with his license suspended – habitual offender and three counts of failure to appear in court.

May 10, 2017

Burglary suspect arrested

The suspect in a vehicle burglary that took place in February at the Tavernier Winn Dixie store has been arrested.

The burglary took place on February 28th at 8:40 p.m. The victim in the case was at the grocery store when her purse was stolen from her vehicle in the parking lot. Deputy Cody Jackson responded to take a report of the theft. He requested surveillance video of the parking lot during the time of the theft.

The video showed a dark colored van pull up after she left her car to go inside. Two people get out of the van and go into the store. A third person is shown on the video getting out of the van and walking to the victim’s car. The video shows him leaning into the car and removing something, then walking back to the van.

Detective Lance Hernandez was assigned to investigate. Two weeks later, he received information about that a dark van had possibly been used for more vehicle burglaries at Tavernier Towne, the shopping center where Winn Dixie is located. The vehicle in question had been stopped by deputies and the driver had been identified as 23 year old Sean Richardson of Tavernier. The van in question fit the description of the one Detective Hernandez was investigating.

Detective Hernandez made numerous attempts to talk to Richardson, going to his house and leaving his business card with requests for Richardson to call him. He finally was able to make contact with Richardson on April 26th on Pearl Avenue in Tavernier. He confronted Richardson with the information he had, including the surveillance video. Richardson admitted to taking the purse from the car.

A warrant was issued for his arrest and today he was booked into jail, charged with burglary and theft.

May 8, 2017

Woman charged with aggravated child abuse

A 43 year old Key Largo woman was arrested Friday, charged with aggravated child abuse.

The four year old female victim showed up at her Upper Keys school with injuries on both her arms. She told school officials 43 year old Melodie Starr had caused the marks to her arms “because she had been bad”. The marks were highly visible red diagonal marks and bruises up and down her right arm and on the back of the girl’s left arm. Paramedics called to the scene to check the girl’s injuries said the injuries could have been caused by someone grabbing the girl’s arms and twisiting them hard.

Deputy Cody Kerns notified the Department of Children and Families, and then  interviewed a number of people at the school as well as at the victim’s home. After completing his investigation, Deputy Kerns placed Melodie Starr under arrest for aggravated child abuse.

Big Pine man charged with stealing, pawning tools

A Big Pine Key man is in jail, charged with stealing power tools from a Big Pine business and pawning them at a local pawn shop.

Detective John Gabay was on Big Pine Key investigating another crime when the owner of a business called “Bees Honey Pots” reported a theft from his shed. He owns property on 5th Avenue, Big Pine Key. He said earlier in the year, he noticed the sliding door to the shed had been pried open and a circular saw and belt sander were missing from inside. He said he has a duplex on the property he rents out, and he suspected the son of a tenant of his stole the tools. He said the man, identified as 34 year old Michael Glennon, frequently visits the property.

Detective Gabay checked the pawn shop database and saw Glennon had recently pawned a circular saw and a belt sander at a Big Pine Key pawn shop. He confirmed this information with the pawn shop’s owner and confirmed with the victim the items were his property. Detective Gabay obtained a warrant for the arrest of Glennon, who was arrested Friday for fraud, burglary, theft and dealing in stolen property.

Little Torch woman arrested for stealing lottery tickets

A 41 year old Little Torch Key woman was arrested Friday, charged with stealing $10,000 worth of lottery tickets.

Detective John Gabay responded to the Big Pine Winn Dixie grocery store Friday and met with the Asset Protection Specialist for the Winn Dixie Corporation. He told the detective the corporation does a lotto inventory every week between February and April and they identified a $13,786 shortage at the Big Pine Key store.

The man told Detective Gabay he had reviewed surveillance video and identified the suspect as store employee Teresa Blanco. He confronted Blanco with the evidence, which showed her taking $25 scratch off tickets, paying for lower cost $2 or $5 tickets and then putting the high cost ones in her purse. Blanco admitted to the theft of $10,000 worth of lottery tickets.

She was arrested on Friday, charged with Grand Theft and booked into jail.

Georgia man dies while diving

A 52 year old man from Lawrenceville, Georgia died today while on a dive trip with his wife.

James Ringold was on the commercial dive vessel Rainbow Reef diving on the wreck Spiegel Grove. He was located at approximately 10:15 a.m. by other divers at a depth of about 50 feet with his regulator out of his mouth, not responsive. He was brought on board the vessel, where CPR was performed as he was brought to shore at the 99 mile marker of the highway. Paramedics met the vessel and transported him to Mariner’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 11:41 a.m.

The Medical Examiner will perform an autopsy in an attempt to determine the cause of his death.

May 4, 2017

Sexual Predator registers new address

A man designated as a sexual predator has changed addresses. By state law, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office is required to notify the public when such a change takes place in regards to a person designated by the courts as a sexual predator.

Terrance Howard, 53 years old, registered a previous address on Aviation Boulevard in Marathon. His new address, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, is: Coconut Cay (Aviation near #17) in Marathon, Florida.

More information about Howard can be found on the FDLE website, including his photo and details about his past charges. He is currently under the supervision of the Department of Corrections.

Three men arrested in February fraud case

Three more suspects have been arrested in connection with February fraud cases in which forged checks were cashed at several banks in the Florida Keys. A Fort Lauderdale woman was the first suspect in the case, arrested in February as she was cashing a forged check.

Detectives say a group of Miami-Dade and Broward County residents traveled throughout the Keys in early February, stopping at a number of Centennial Banks in the Lower, Middle and Upper Keys. In one case, they are accused of cashing six forged checks at the banks for a total of $41,924.23. The business name on the checks they cashed was Azure Delray Modern Intercostal, LLC. The account number and other information on the checks, however, belonged to a legitimate business, Azure Delray Modern Intracoastal, LLC. When they cashed the forged checks, they presented their own identification documents. Once the fraud was uncovered, these identifying documents were turned over to detectives.

When officials of the bank realized what was taking place, they called the Sheriff’s Office. They also put their other banks on alert to be on the lookout for similar schemes. On February 6th, 24 year old Rose Marie Normann of Fort Lauderdale attempted to cash a similar forged check, with a different business name, at the Centennial Bank at the 100.2 mile marker. The bank manager recognized the fraud and called the Sheriff’s Office. Normann was placed under arrest and booked into jail for uttering a forged instrument and criminal use of personal identification. Her bond was set at $40,000 and she bonded out of jail on February 9th. Two men with her at the time were identified and released pending further investigation. One of them was identified as 24 year old Armondo Mejide Mir of Miami.

After further investigation, warrants were issued for three more suspects. Mejide Mir, who is charged with two counts of grand theft and two counts of passing forged checks. He was arrested in Miami Dade County on April 29th and transferred to Monroe County Wednesday. His bond is set at $75,000. A second suspect, 51 year old Nelson De Leon of Homestead, was arrested on March 13th. He bonded out of jail in Miami on charges of grand theft and forgery. Bond on the warrant was $40,000. The third male suspect, 24 year old Eduardo Morejon of Miami, was arrested April 7th and is still in custody in the Miami-Dade County jail for two counts each of grand theft and forgery; his bond is set at $65,000.

May 2, 2017

Abandoned puppies spark investigation

Seven puppies abandoned in poor physical condition in Marathon are the subject of an investigation into possible animal cruelty.

According to reports by Deputy Jamie Hughes Buxton, between April 20th and the 21st, the Marathon SPCA received a total of seven puppies. Three were found in bushes by Walgreen’s Pharmacy at 109th Street; a woman turned one in, saying she found it by the Marathon Shores Post Office; the final three were found in some bushes behind the KAIR shelter, located at 3010 Overseash Highway. All of the animals were extremely dehydrated, malnourished and had bad cases of worms which had bloated their stomachs severely. They were approximately six weeks old when found and are now in a caring foster home.

Deputy Hughes Buxton obtained video from Cash Flow Jewelry and Pawn which shows a man carrying what appears to be a puppy in his arms. She would like to talk to this man in the hopes of learning where he got the puppy.

She would also like to talk with anyone else who might have information to help her find the person or persons who abandoned this small, helpless animals. If you know anything, please contact Deputy Hughes Buxton at the Marathon Sheriff’s Substation, 305-289-2430.

May 1, 2018

Two illegal dumping cases closed with arrest

Deputies caught people dumping in two separate cases  over the weekend, one in the Lower Keys and one in the Upper Keys.

On Saturday, the Sheriff’s Office received a report of a van on the bike path at the 101 mile marker. When Deputy Jean Gonzalez arrived at 7:45 a.m., he found two men replacing an engine in a van. They said they’d been working on it all night. Both the old and new engines were on the bike path, along with the van itself. A short time after the deputy arrived on the scene, he got a report that another van had been dumped on the property of a nearby business, Wheaton’s Service Center. The dumped van was missing its engine.

One of the men working on the first van, 46 year old Curt Murphy of Key Largo, admitted to dumping the other van at Wheaton’s after removing its engine. He was placed under arrest and taken to jail, charged with felony illegal dumping, over 500 pounds.

On Sunday at 4:20 p.m., Deputy Vince Pacifico responded to Boca Chica Road to a report of illegal dumping. He found a large pile of household waste, approximately 350 pounds of trash, piled on the right of way. He found a shipping label on a box in the trash which he traced to a property on Park Drive, Rockland Key. Upon questioning the residents 35 year old Deborah Keen and 46 year old John Parker, who live at that location, they admitted to dumping the trash.

The couple responded to the scene and cleaned up the trash. Deputy Pacifico explained the proper method for disposing of household waste. Both Keen and Parker were issued notices to appear in court for misdemeanor illegal dumping under 500 pounds.

Reckless drunk driver found to have three children in the car

A Hialeah man was arrested Sunday for drunk reckless driving with children in the car with him.

Sheriff’s dispatchers received a report of a reckless driver southbound in Big Pine Key at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Deputy Ken Fricke spotted the 2015 Nissan passenger car on the Niles Channel Bridge, traveling 87 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone. As Deputy Fricke turned around with his lights and siren on, the Nissan sped up and passed foru cars in the center turn lane on Summerland Key. A number of vehicles had to pull to the side of the road to avoid a collision.

Deputy Fricke caught up with the car at the south end of Summerland Key when it turned right onto a dead end access road. The driver refused to follow instructions from the deputy, who could see children in the rear seat of the car.

The driver, 39 year old Ruben Aboy of Hialeah, smelled strongly of alcohol. He refused roadside sobriety exercises and refused a breathalyzer test. A second adult was in the car, sitting in the rear seat with a small child on her lap. The child was not in a car seat, as required by law. Two other older children were also in the car.

A check on the car’s license tag revealed it was a tow truck transporter tag. Aboy reportedly owns a tow truck company and said he decided to put the tag on the vehicle to come to the Keys for vacation. A check on his driver’s license revealed a previous driving under the influence charge and a restriction on his license only allowing travel to and from work, church and school. He was charged with both of those violations, along with driving under the influence of alcohol and child neglect, for driving dangerously with children in the vehicle. He also received citations for having no proof of insurance, refusing to submit to tests, passing in a no passing zone, speeding and having no proof of insurance.