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

November 18, 2017

Key Largo man charged with aggravated battery

A Key Largo man was arrested for punching another man for parking in a handicapped parking spot.

According to the victim and witnesses, 57 year old Mark Wheaton was in the parking lot of the Key Largo Winn Dixie store just after 7 p.m. Friday. He saw the victim, a 61 year old Islamorada man, park in a handicapped parking spot. The man got out of his car, leaving his wife in the car, and went into the store.

Witnesses and the victim told deputies Wheaton followed him into the store yelling at him. While in the store, the two men got into an altercation with punching the victim numerous times in the face.

The victim was transported to Mariner’s Hospital for treatment of a fractured nose and other facial injuries. Wheaton, who left the scene after the fight, was located at his Key Largo home and he was arrested. He was booked into jail on aggravated battery charges.

Man dead, woman injured in possible robbery on Stock Island

Sheriff’s Major Crimes detectives are investigating what appears to be a robbery in which one man was stabbed to death and a woman was cut on the neck with a knife.

Detectives say they are attempting to notify the victim’s next of kin and will release his name once that is done.

The incident took place  shortly after 8 p.m. Deputy Jenna Moeller was dispatched to reports of a man in the parking lot of CVS talking about people being stabbed. When she arrived, she met with the man who told her there were two people who had been stabbed at a nearby house. He led her to the house, behind the CVS store.

When Deputy Moeller arrived, she saw one male victim on a downstairs landing who appeared to be non-responsive; she heard a woman yelling for help upstairs. She went to find the woman, who was bleeding from a neck injury. She told the deputy she lived in that location and that she had been robbed by two men wearing masks. She described one suspect as a large, heavy set black male; the second is described as a shorter, thin black male.

She said the dead man was a neighbor who came to help. She said he got into an altercation with the two suspects and was stabbed multiple times.

Paramedics arrived and transported the victims to the hospital. The female victim was treated for her injury and released. The male victim was pronounced dead. There were two other men believed to have been present during the robbery who had minor injuries. They were not transported.

Major Crimes Detective Matthew Pitcher has been assigned to investigate. Anyone with information about this crime should contact the Sheriff's Office. 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 on line at www.P3tips.com/139.

November 17, 2017

Three arrested on drug charges

A reckless driver report led to the arrest of three people on drug charges Thursday.

Sheriff’s Office dispatchers received a call reporting a black Toyota southbound at the 31 mile marker. The caller said the car was passing in no passing zones and speeding recklessly. Deputy Ken Fricke spotted the car at the 30 mile marker and began to follow it. The car was consistently over the speed limit, at one point traveling 60 miles per hour in the 45 mile per hour Key Deer zone on Big Pine Key. Deputy Fricke stopped the car at the 24.5 mile marker.

When he approached the car, he could smell marijuana. He called for backup officers and then asked the driver, 22 year old Pedro Ayala of North Lauderdale, for his driver’s license. Ayala said he’d never had one. The front passenger was identified as 27 year old Luis Ayala of Key West and the back seat passenger as 24 year old Meshack Walker of Miami.

Deputy Fricke asked the driver about the odor of marijuana. Pedro Ayala then handed over a plastic bag with marijuana inside.

Lt. Gene Thompson arrived as back up. As Deputy Fricke was checking the car’s occupants through police databases, the driver jumped out of the car and attempted to flee. Deputy Fricke chased him. During the chase, Ayala turned around and began to reach for his waistband. Fearing Ayala had a gun, Deputy Fricke used his Taser and disabled Ayala, who was then taken into custody.

A search of the two passengers and the vehicle turned up unidentified homemade pills which will be sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for testing. Deputies also found 15 grams of powdered cocaine, three grams of crack cocaine and four grams of Heroin.

Pedro Ayala was charged with possession of marijuana, possession of cocaine, driving with no license and resisting arrest. Luis Ayala was charged with possession of marijuana, Heroin and cocaine and Walker was charged with possession of marijuana.

November 15, 2017

Two charged with selling marijuana

Two teens from Stock Island are in jail today, charged with selling marijuana to undercover operatives.

18 year old Peydon Richardson is accused of selling marijuana three times in April of this year. One sale took place in the Stock Island neighborhood of Key Haven; the other two took place on the campus of Florida Keys Community College where Richardson lives, in the dorms on campus. He is charged with three counts sale of marijuana, two of those charges which carries the possibility of an enhanced penalty because they took place on the grounds of a school. He also faces three counts use of use of a two way communications device to facilitate a felony.

His girlfriend, 19 year old Sydney Recchia, as charged with one count of distributing marijuana; on one occasion she physically delivered the marijuana to the operative after the sale was arranged by Richardson.

November 14, 2017

Pembroke Pines man charged with impersonating a law enforcement officer

A Pembroke Pines man was arrested Sunday on a Monroe County warrant. He faces charges of impersonating a law enforcement officer in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

35 year old Michael Munoz was arrested by Pembroke Pines Police Sunday on the Monroe County warrant. Charges against him include impersonating an officer by wearing a tactical vest with federal law enforcement patches on it; open carrying of weapons for carrying two Glock handguns, one in a holster on the tactical vest and one in a thigh rig holster; and prohibited use of certain lights for displaying blue emergency lights on his personal vehicle.

On October 9th, Sgt. Joel Slough was off duty at his Marathon home. Several city of Marathon firefighters were there with him when a blue Chevrolet Tahoe stopped in front. The Tahoe had features usually displayed on a law enforcement vehicle, including a driver’s side spot light and a police suspension package. A man later identified as Munoz was driving. He was wearing a tactical vest that could be seen through the window. Sgt. Slough saw a patch on the vest he recognized as coming from the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Another patch identified Munoz as “Police Tactical Medic”. As Sgt. Slough talked with Munoz, Munoz told him he was in the keys to assist with hurricane recovery efforts. He indicated he was assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force run by the FBI out of Miramar, Florida.

Munoz told Sgt. Slough he used to work for the city of Marathon Fire Department. He told the sergeant “Cesar” would know who he was. The man he was referring to – Fire Department Lt. Cesar Moreton - was actually in the sergeant’s house at the time, so Munoz got out of the Tahoe to go inside and say hello. When he got out of the vehicle, Sgt. Slough could see he was wearing two pistols and had numerous weapon magazines for a rifle and for the handguns.

Munoz spoke with Moreton for a time and then left. After he left, Moreton approached Sgt. Slough and told him he did not think Munoz was really law enforcement. Sgt. Slough contacted an HSI investigator and confirmed Munoz was not a current federal agent with any federal agency. A check on Facebook revealed two Facebook pages in his name; both of them indicated he is affiliated with federal law enforcement.

Further investigation revealed a number of people who said they’d seen Munoz around the Marathon area beginning September 22nd. All of those people said he was dressed as a federal law enforcement officer and was driving a vehicle equipped to look like a law enforcement vehicle.

The Sheriff’s Office notified the Department of Homeland Security. A warrant was issued for Munoz here in Monroe County. He was booked into the Broward County Jail. He paid bond on the warrant and was released; bond was set at $12,500.00.

Islamorada man charged with resisting deputies after shooting incident

An Islamorada man suspected of firing a gun at a crocodile Monday was arrested after he became violent and confrontational with Sheriff’s deputies investigating the incident.

Deputies responded to Venetian Way at 4:15 p.m. to multiple reports of gunfire in the area. A witness who lives there told deputies he saw a man with what looked to him like an assault rifle firing into the canal near his home. He said the man was in a black or dark blue older model Chevrolet Silverado truck with a crew cab, chrome rims and a tool box in the back. He said the man never got out of the truck and was shooting from inside. He said the truck turned onto Venetian way, which is a dead end street. He said he never saw the truck leave. Twelve bullet casings from a 9mm weapon were found in the area where the witness saw the shooting take place.

During a canvas of the area, a truck fitting that description was found at 186 Venetian Way, in the driveway. The hood of the truck was warm, indicating it had been recently driven.

Deputies knocked on the door. They spoke with the registered owner of the truck, 51 year old Bond Ferrer, who denied driving the truck and denied firing any weapons into the canal. When the deputies mentioned someone shooting at a crocodile, Ferrer became agitated and began to list neighbors whose animals have been killed by a crocodile.

As deputies continued to question Ferrer, he became more and more agitated. He began yelling obscenities at the officers. At one point, he went inside the house, then walked out carrying a .45 caliber handgun in his hand. He chambered a round in the gun, then dropped the magazine out of the gun. After repeated commands to drop the gun, he finally set it down on the ground.

As deputies were patting him down for further weapons, he suddenly charged at one officer, yelling profanities at him. He was handcuffed and taken into custody for his out-of-control actions, charged with resisting law enforcement officers.

As deputies talked with his wife, he continually yelled at her not to talk. Further investigation turned up another witness who was on her porch and saw the black truck and heard the gun fire.

No one deputies spoke to could positively identify Ferrer as the person driving the truck and shooting the gun. Investigations continue. Ferrer was booked into jail on the resisting charge.

November 8, 2017

Stabbing on Big Pine Key

Sheriff’s Major Crimes detectives are investigating a stabbing incident which took place on Big Pine Key overnight.

Sgt. Evan Calhoun responded to reports of a fight with a possible stabbing just after midnight on Cunningham Lane. When he arrived, he found the 34 year old victim in front of the house with what appeared to be a stab wound to his abdomen. Two more deputies arrived as backup. The 51 year old suspect was located still on scene. He was detained for further investigation.

The suspect is the live-in boyfriend of the victim’s mother, who was also present when the incident occurred. She told deputies the two men got into a fight during which the victim was stabbed with a pocket knife by the suspect.

The victim was airlifted to the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami where he is reportedly in stable condition. Major Crimes Detective Bob Dosh is assigned to investigate. No arrests have yet been made pending further interviews with witnesses and the victim. The investigation is ongoing.

November 6, 2017

Marathon man charged with aggravated assault

A Marathon man was arrested Saturday morning for threatening a woman with a wooden 2 x 4.

When Deputy Jose Hernandez arrived at 7:30 a.m. he saw 33 year old Phernando Hill holding the piece of wood, which had nails sticking out of it. He appeared to be threatening to hit the 27 year old victim with it. She was running away from Hill as if she were afraid.

Deputy Hernandez ordered Hill to drop the weapon and he complied. He told the deputy the confrontation took place because he thinks the victim broke into his apartment and stole his rent money.

The victim told the deputy she was at her stepfather’s apartment when Hill showed up and threw a chair at the apartment’s door. She said she called 911 to report Hill’s aggression. She said that is when he began to threaten her with the nail studded board.

Hill was arrested. He was charged with aggravated assault and he was booked into jail.

Man charged with stolen scooter

A Lower Keys man was arrested Saturday for stealing a scooter from a woman on 10th Avenue, Stock Island.

Deputy Vince Pacifico was on his way to talk to the victim of the scooter theft at 10:20 p.m. He had received basic information about the crime, including a description of the vehicle, a blue “Buddy” scooter.

On McDonald Avenue, Deputy Pacifico saw a scooter pass him fitting the description. He turned around to conduct a traffic stop to see if it was, indeed, the stolen vehicle.

The driver of the scooter, later identified as 21 year old Dennis Jimenez Lugonez, stopped and waited for the deputy to exit his patrol car before taking off, fleeing the area through several parking lots and finally escaping Deputy Pacifico’s pursuit. Not before Deputy Pacifico got a good look at him, however. The victim told Deputy Pacifico she also got a clear look at the suspect when he stole her scooter; she said she’d seen him numerous times around the neighborhood.

Deputy Pacifico was able to identify the suspect after talking to a number of people who know him and showing them pictures from his in-car video system. He put out a notice to be on the lookout for Lugonez and the stolen scooter. Lugonez previously lived in the area of Flagler Village with his mother, but no longer lives there and is reportedly homeless.

In the early morning hours on Saturday, Deputy Jenna Moeller recovered the stolen scooter in the vicinity of Flagler Village. She then located Lugonez at the KOTS Homeless shelter on Stock Island. He was arrested. In his backpack, Deputy Moeller located a pill bottle in someone else’s name with pills inside identified as Gabapentin. Lugonez was charged with possession of the drug without a prescription, resisting arrest and grand theft of a vehicle. He was booked into jail.

Detectives investigate ten boat burglaries in Marathon

Sheriff’s detectives are investigating burglaries to ten boats kept at Marina Mike’s South on Avenue I in Marathon.

The burglaries were reported Friday from the manager of the business who said he had noticed a number of vessels were missing electronics and he believed they had been burglarized. Eight of the vessels were rental boats belonging to Tropical Boat Rentals; they were all Carolina Skiffs of various sizes. Two others were private vessels, a 32’ Parker and a 23’ Cobia.

The manager said he thought the burglaries had taken place since Wednesday. Detectives responded and processed the location for evidence. They are still working to compile a list of specific items taken. The investigation into the case is continuing.

Anyone with information about this crime should contact the Sheriff's Office substation in Marathon at 305-289-2430. 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 on line at www.P3tips.com/139.

Fort Myers man charged with harvesting tarpon

A Fort Myers man was charged with harvesting a Tarpon without a valid tag and for violating several other state requirements for harvesting the fish.

Deputy Seth Hopp was at the south end of the Seven Mile Bridge Saturday at 1:40 p.m. when he saw 21 year old Michael Morse fishing. As he approached, Morse began to quickly pack his belongings as if to leave.

Deputy Hopp asked to see his catch. In his cooler, Deputy Hopp found an amberjack and a mangrove snapper on top. He also saw another fish under a bag of ice which turned out to be a tarpon. In order to harvest tarpon, a fisherman has to have a tarpon tag, must be “in pursuit of a world record” and the tag must be immediately attached to the lower jaw of the tarpon once it is killed.

When he confronted Morse about it, Morse told him he did have a tag. Deputy Hopp told him it was obvious from the size of the tarpon he was not “in pursuit of a world record” because the fish was relatively small. In addition the fish did not have a tag attached to it’s jaw. Further investigation revealed Morse did have a tag, but it was expired in December of 2016.

Morse received a citation for his violations. He was released and will be required to appear in court for his crime.

Chicago men charged with undersized lobster, possessing weapon

Deputy Matthew Cory was on patrol just after midnight on Sunday when he responded to a call of someone illegally taking lobster from the Fiesta Key RV Resort’s marina. When he arrived, he parked his patrol vehicle and approached the area on foot. He spotted two men at the marina. As he watched them he saw them take turns. One would hold a flashlight while the other held a spear. They would then use the spear to catch lobster which they would put into a white mesh bag on the ground.

He approached the men and confronted them. One of them was holding something he dropped into the water. The item was recovered from the water and turned out to be a handgun.  When Deputy Cory checked the white mesh bag, he found six undersized lobster. Neither man had a fishing license, a lobster stamp or a measuring device as required by law.

Both men initially gave false names to Deputy Cory, but they were later identified as 21 year old Mario Flores and 34 year old Pablo Ramos, of Chicago, Illinois. Ramos turned out to be a convicted felon and he was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and with tampering with evidence. Both men were additionally charged with being in possession of undersized lobster and with giving a false name to law enforcement. They were both booked into jail.

November 2, 2017

Man arrested for September gun incident

A man who lives on a boat offshore of Summerland Key was arrested Wednesday for pointing a gun at another man in September.

The victim approached Deputy James Petterini on September 17th at 7:13 p.m. The deputy was working a neighborhood checkpoint in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. He told the deputy a man had just pointed a handgun at his face. The incident reportedly took place during a dispute between the victim and a co-worker over money.

He said he worked at Billy Stone Crab Fisheries and was supposed to hand out paychecks to employees. He said he met in the parking lot of the business with a co-worker who had just quit  working at the business. He said the co-worker arrived at the meeting in a truck with an elderly man driving. He said he does not know the name of the driver.

He said he got into a confrontation with the co-worker over his pay. During the confrontation, the elderly driver of the truck – later identified as 69 year old Jack Warner – got out of the truck with a gun in his hand. The victim said Warner pointed the gun at him. He said at that point he got into his truck and drove away, reporting the incident to Deputy Petterini.

Detectives Wendy Negron and David Cruz met with Warner on board his boat, the Time Out II. Warner denied pointing the gun at the victim. He did own a handgun that matched the description of the gun the victim said had been pointed at him.

A warrant was issued for Warner’s arrest and on Wednesday he was charged with improper exhibition of a firearm and he was booked into jail.

Man arrested for stealing neighbor’s gas

A Little Torch Key man was arrested Wednesday for stealing gas from a neighbor’s boat in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

The victim, who lives on Heck Avenue, told Detective Wendy Negron his neighbor contacted him on September 16th to tell him he’d caught another neighbor, 53 year old Michael Umberg, siphoning gas from his boat. He said he confronted Umberg about it. Umberg told him he was friends with the victim and “not to worry about it”. He also said the victim told him it was okay to take the fuel.

The victim said he never gave Umberg permission to take his gasoline. When the victim returned home, he found two cut green hoses, a funnel with a piece of hose attached to it and a knife all near his boat. The hoses smelled of gasoline.

Umberg was arrested Wednesday and charged with theft of the fuel. He was booked into jail.

Detectives work to identify recovered property

See photos on our blog.

Sheriff’s detectives in the Lower Keys recovered a trailer full property at a wooded campsite on Big Pine Key. The trailer was found there after three men staying at the campsite were arrested for a home burglary on Shark Key October 22nd.

Inside the trailer, detectives found over 150 items they believe to be stolen. So far they have identified items stolen from the Shark Key burglary, two burglaries on Sugarloaf Key, one on West Starfish Lane and one on Cobia Court; and two burglaries on Long Beach Road, Big Pine Key. They have also identified stolen property from two cases in Jacksonville; one of the suspects is from that area.

The three suspects charged in the Shark Key case are 49 year old Robert Ray and his son, 21 year old Richard Ray both from Big Pine Key and 18 year old Noah Homer of Jacksonville. According to Homer, he’d just met the other two men and they were working together at a church on Big Pine Key clearing trees after Hurricane Irma. Charges for the other crimes are pending and detectives are working with the State Attorney’s Office to obtain warrants charging them with the additional crimes.

In the meantime, there is still more property from the trailer that detectives say they have not found the owners for. The property includes chainsaws, toolboxes, power tools, kayaks and a painting. People who are missing such items should contact the Sheriff’s Office to see if any of the recovered property is theirs. Call the detective division offices at 305-292-7060 and talk to Detective Sgt. David Smith.

Detectives recovered a distinctive set of keys at the campsite where the stolen property was recovered. They hope someone will come forward to identify them and they hope the keys might lead them to another victim in the case. A photo of the keys is attached.