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

September 30, 2017

Man arrested for stabbing another man on Stock Island

A 77 year old Stock Island man went to jail Friday for stabbing another man at a trailer on 5th Avenue, Stock Island.

When Lt. Donnie Catala and Deputies John Allen and Wendy Negron arrived at 3:30 p.m. the suspect and victim were still on the scene. The 66 year old male victim was bleeding from cuts to his hand and chest. The suspect, Manuel Garcia, was sitting at a table at the front of the residence with the 10 inch filet knife he used to stab the victim sitting on the table beside him.

A witness also at the trailer said he’d been sleeping in the back of the trailer and woke to the sounds of the two other men arguing. He said the two had been arguing on and off all week. He said he walked out to check on them and found the victim bleeding. That is when he called the Sheriff’s Office.

The victim told Deputy Negron the witness invited him over to the residence. He said when he got there, Garcia told him to leave. He said Garcia continued arguing with him and telling him to leave. He said it was during this argument that Garcia grabbed a knife. He said he held up his hands to defend himself and was cut on the hand; he said after he was cut on the hand, Garcia cut him on the chest.

The victim was treated and released from the hospital. Garcia was arrested, charged with aggravated battery and was taken to jail.

September 29, 2017

Man threatens kids with air rifle

Sheriff’s deputies arrested a 58 year old Tavernier man Thursday evening after he threatened neighborhood kids with an air rifle.

According to a number of witnesses, including the 11 and 14 year old victims, the kids were walking down West Indies Road in Tavernier at 7:15 p.m. when the incident took place. The suspect, James Joyce, says the kids were going through property he had put out on the street as trash; the kids say they were just walking on the street.

Joyce reportedly saw the kids in front of his house on the street and yelled at them to get away from his property; when they did not immediately leave, he went inside, retrieved what looked to the kids and neighbors like a black rifle, and began waving it around. The witnesses say he was yelling, “Go ahead, call the cops, this is my street and I will protect it.” The kids ran home and told their parents. The parents went outside and also saw Joyce with the gun and heard him yell, “keep your kids inside, go ahead and call the cops, I run this street not the cops.”

When Deputies Christopher Kilmurray, Jason Far, Eric Viergutz and Sgt. Scott Ward arrived, they approached the suspects house, finding he and his wife sitting at the bottom of a stairway. The wife cooperated with orders to put her hands up and walk toward the deputies slowly. Joyce did not cooperate, but he was taken into custody without incident. The black air rifle was found inside the house beside the front door.

Joyce was arrested, charged with aggravated assault and resisting a law enforcement officer. He was booked into jail.

September 27, 2017

Miami man caught attempting to take cardboard bundles

A Miami man was caught by a deputy Tuesday evening as he was attempting to take bundles of recyclable cardboard from behind a Key Largo business.

Deputy Ignacio Molina was on patrol just before 8 p.m. when he checked the area behind Walgreen’s Pharmacy at the 99.5 mile marker of the highway. He saw a cargo trailer hooked up to a van, parked in the middle of the road, with no lights and no license tag on the trailer. The trailer was piled with unsecured pieces of metal the driver had apparently picked up from neighborhoods in the area. The deputy then saw Leonel Ortiz-Geprge picking up a bundle of cardboard from behind the store and getting ready to put it on the trailer.

Deputy Molina asked the man if he had permission to take the cardboard, which was the property of Walgreen’s. He said he didn’t know he had to have permission.

Geprge could not show any proof of registration for the trailer, so the trailer was towed. Geprge received citations for towing an unregistered vehicle upon a public roadway, having unsafe, unsecured cargo in the trailer and for having no rear lights on the trailer.

September 26, 2017

Parking dispute leads to gun confrontation

A parking dispute on Stock Island Monday led to the arrest of a man for threats with a handgun.

The victim called the Sheriff’s Office just before 6 p.m. He told Sheriff’s dispatchers he had been in a dispute with a neighbor and the neighbor had threatened him with a gun.

When deputies arrived, the victim told them he was parked on Suncrest Road on the right of way when his neighbor, 48 year old Todd Palenchar approached him. Palenchar confronted him about parking in front of his residence. During the confrontation, the victim said Palenchar pointed a handgun at him. He described the gun as silver with a black handle and a laser device mounted on it.

Deputies asked Palenchar about the gun. Palenchar claimed he had a gun in his waistband during the confrontation but did not point it at the victim. He said he simply lifted his shirt and showed it to the victim.

A number of guns were found in Palenchar’s residence, including a Sar Arms handgun with a laser sight mounted on it that fit the victim’s description of the gun that had been pointed at him. A pipe with marijuana residue was also found.

Palenchar was arrested. He was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Gun dispute at Marathon convenience store

One man pointed a handgun at another man in a dispute over how long it was taking for him to move his truck from gas pumps at a Marathon convenience store.

The incident took place at 8 p.m. at the Circle K convenience store at 11100 Overseas Highway in Marathon. The victim told responding deputies he was waiting at the gas pumps for couple in a black truck to move. He said they were taking a long time, so he honked his horn. He said the couple jumped out of the truck and began to yell at him. During the confrontation, he said the male suspect, later identified as 36 year old Jose Olivera, Jr of Marathon., pointed a dark colored revolver at him. He said the couple then got back into the truck and fled from the store.

Sgt. James Hager heard a notice to be on the lookout for the truck over his police radio and spotted the truck – a black extended cab Toyota – on Aviation Boulevard near Coconut Cay Resort. The truck failed to stop at a stop sign, turning from Aviation onto U.S. One. Sgt. Hager pulled the truck over and ordered the couple out of the vehicle.

In plain view on the vehicle, Sgt. Hager saw a silver semi-automatic handgun. The victim positively identified the couple as the ones who threatened him. He was insistent, though, that the gun was a revolver.

Deputy Hager walked back along the path the truck had taken when it fled from the Circle K store. He foiund a black Ruger .38 caliber revolver on the ground at the corner of Aviation Boulevard and U.S. One.

Olivera denied pointing a gun at the victim, but said he threw the revolver out of his truck “because he was scared”. Olivera was visibly impaired and smelled of alcohol at the time of his arrest.

Olivera was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, improper exhibition of a firearm, use of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol and tampering with evidence. He was booked into jail.

Man arrested for burglarizing storeroom, stealing items and cash

On Monday, the Sheriff’s Office responded to the Kingsail Motel in Marathon just after 1 p.m. to investigate the burglary of a storeroom at the motel.

The victim told Deputy Corbin Hradecky he stored some items in a laundry room storage area at the Kingsail motel in Marathon on September 10th. The victim works as a landscaper at the motel. The items included a green duffle bag and suitcase with clothes inside, shoes, an alarm clock and a binder with his passport, wallet and cash. He said on September 25th, the manager of the motel told him the storage room had been broken into. He checked his belongings and found the wallet, cash, the duffle bag with clothes inside and other items were missing.

The manager told the victim a woman staying in one of the motel rooms had given her a green duffle bag with some of the missing clothes in it. The woman told the manager she suspected two of her former employees had stolen it and other items from the storeroom.

Deputy Hradecky spoke with the woman who had returned the duffle bag. She said two former employees had told her they picked the lock on the storeroom and had stolen items from inside. She said after they told her that, she fired them.

One of those former employees, 28 year old Chaise Dore of Louisiana, was located at another hotel in Marathon. Dore denied burglarizing the storeroom. Deputy Hradecky asked Dore for permission to search his vehicle. Dore agreed to allow the search. Inside, the deputy found several items stolen from the motel storage room, including a distinct copper lighter with a Russian insignia on it inside of a decorative wooden box. The victim gave a specific description of the lighter and box, identifying it as his.

Dore was arrested. He was charged with burglary and grand theft and he was booked into jail.

September 22, 2017

Man shot by coworker in Key Largo

Two Alabama men were in an altercation Thursday night. One man shot the other twice. The victim was airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center where he is reported to be in stable condition.

According to the suspect and his co-workers, the 48 year old victim, Michael Sproul, and the 53 year old suspect, Jerome Gant got into a confrontation earlier in the day during which Sproul pulled a knife and threatened Gant. He also reportedly hit Gant in the face.

After they finished working, Sproul reportedly followed Gant to the trailer they were all staying in at 825 Largo Road and threatened Gant again. At that point, Gant armed himself with a handgun belonging to another man.

Just before 7:30 p.m. Sproul confronted Gant again, this time armed with what looked like a rifle and turned out to be a pellet gun. He pointed it at Gant and, after ordering Sproul to drop the rifle, Gant shot him twice with the handgun.

Major Crimes Detective Bob Dosh responded to the scene. After interviewing the suspect and witnesses, all of whom told the same stories, the suspect was not arrested. Detective Dosh will be continuing his investigation into the case.

September 20, 2017

Miami man, stopped during curfew, arrested on multiple charges

A Miami man, driving through the area of Duck Key after the 10 p.m. curfew, was arrested on multiple charges Tuesday night.

Deputy Ian Douthirt was on patrol at the 61 mile marker just before 11 p.m. when he stopped a gray Toyota for being out past curfew. He identified the driver as 36 year old James Winters of Miami. Winters told the deputy he had gotten a job on Cudjoe Key and was driving back to Miami. He was unable to provide any information, however, about who he was working for or specifically where he was working on Cudjoe Key.

Sgt. James Hager and Deputy Mario Benedetti arrived as back up on the traffic stop. A check through computers revealed he has a suspended driver’s license and is designated a habitual traffic offender. Inside his vehicle, the officers found Xanax which Winters could not show he had a prescription for, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. In a backpack they found a 9mm handgun, fully loaded. Winters is a convicted felon, so it is illegal for him to possess a firearm. He also has outstanding warrants in Miami-Dade county for grand theft auto and is on probation for grand theft auto.

Winters was taken to jail. He is charged with driving with license suspended, violation of the curfew, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia as well as being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

Drunk man, trespassing, is arrested

A drunk man who was caught trespassing on Bud and Mary’s Marina property after curfew was arrested after he lied to officers and could not explain why he was wandering around in the area.

A security guard at the marina called the Sheriff’s Office just before 1 a.m. after he encountered 46 year old Gregory Pope of Tavernier stumbling around the property. Pope was belligerent to the guard and subsequently belligerent to responding deputies.

Sheriff’s deputies on scene attempted to find out what he was doing there and where he lived. Pope was uncooperative and replied with obscene comments. When deputies asked where he lived, e gave two different streets, but could not provide street numbers. When deputies asked him to leave the property, he refused obscenely and became aggressive towards the officers.

When they could not ascertain where he was staying or what he was doing there, and when the property owner said no one was authorized to be on the property, Pope was arrested. He was charged with trespassing and violating curfew and he was taken to jail.

Man arrested for burglary at Ocean Reef

Sheriff’s deputies and Ocean Reef Public Safety Officers arrested a Miami man Tuesday evening for burglarizing a house at the Key Largo resort neighborhood.

Deputy Kyle Page was contacted by a public safety officer just before 6 p.m. who said a suspicious person riding a bike had just fled from him when he asked him who he was and what he was doing there. He said the man was riding a bike and, when he asked him for his name and asked if he was a resident, the man told him to mind his own business and he fled on the bike toward the front gate.

A short time later, a citizen called Sheriff’s dispatchers to say a man fitting the bike rider’s description was attempting to flag down vehicles just south of the Ocean Reef gate. An Ocean Reef officer responded to that location The man was riding his bike on County Road 905 and refused to stop when ordered to do so. As the officer followed, the man dropped his bike and jumped into the water, swimming away.

At that point, Deputy Page received information there had been a burglary reported at Ocean Reef at a home on Exuma Drive. Someone entered the home and took a money clip with cash in it. During the investigation of the burglary, deputies learned there was a day worker at the resort that had gone missing from his job site. He fit the description of the person who was fleeing from officers. He was identified as 22 year old Michael Brandt.

Deputy Page responded to the location where the suspect had jumped into the water. When he got there he spotted him, and told him he wanted to speak with him. The man – later identified as Brandt – ran and jumped back in the water, again swimming away.

As deputies were searching for him, an FWC officer on his way to assist found Brandt standing on the roadway. He was taken into custody. He admitted entering a house and taking a nap in the air conditioning. He also admitted taking money that was in the house. He said when he woke up he heard people in the house, so he fled.

Brandt was arrested. He was charged with burglary, grand theft, criminal mischief and resisting arrest. He was booked into jail.

September 18, 2017

Teen charged with loitering, trespass and possessing burglary tools

A 14 year old Tavernier boy was arrested for loitering on neighbor’s property after curfew hours, trespassing on private property and possessing burglary tools.

The victim and the suspect live on Fontaine Drive in Tavernier. The victim told Deputy Bryan Branco his grandmother saw two young males walking through their property with flashlights at about 3 a.m. this morning. She told him and he ran downstairs to confront them. One of the males escaped; he caught the other one and when deputies arrived, the victim was detaining the suspect on the ground.

Further investigation revealed a neighbor of the victim who said he’d been sleeping when his dog started barking. He said when he got up to check, he saw a young male walking out of his house. The suspect he saw was wearing a hooded shirt. The suspect was also wearing a hooded shirt, but the neighbor said he could not be certain it was the same person he saw in in his house.

The suspect told Deputy Branco he was walking through the property to look at Tarpon in the canal. He was arrested. He was charged with loitering and prowling, possession of burglary tools – a flashlight – and trespassing in an occupied structure without consent of the owner.

September 16, 2017

Sheriff’s Office will not tolerate crime during recovery

Sheriff Rick Ramsay wants to remind everyone that during the recovery from Hurricane Irma the Sheriff’s Office will not tolerate those who take advantage of circumstances to commit crimes; nor will he tolerate breaches of curfew or other rules set to keep the community safe.

On September 12th (Tuesday) Sgt. James Hager was on patrol in Marathon at 10:20 p.m. when he spotted 47 year old Thomas Dowdell of Marathon riding a bicycle on the sidewalk with no lights. He was pulling an air conditioner behind him. The air conditioner had the business name “Global Disaster Recovery” on it. Dowdell also had an “EPIRB” unit with him, an Emergency Position Indicator Radio Beacon.

At first, Dowdell refused to tell the deputies who he was. When they finally identified him, they realized Dowdell had already been warned once for a curfew violation, so he was well aware of curfew rules.

Dowdell was arrested and taken to jail. Detectives will be investigating the origins of the potentially stolen items in his possession. If the items can be traced to their owners, and if they are stolen, warrants will be issued for Dowdell’s future arrest.

On September 14th (Thursday) Detective Rosary Ponce and Deputy Corbin Hradecky responded to the Outpost on Grassy Key to a possible burglary. The owner said he arrived at work that morning to find someone had broken a front window overnight. Bottles of wine and cigarettes were missing. A fingerprint was taken at the scene and the deputies followed footprints leading to a neighboring property.

The caretaker of that property, 26 year old David Vokes, was located. He told the deputies he had been intoxicated, drinking wine the night before. After further questioning, Vokes admitted to breaking the window and taking the wine and cigarettes. Vokes was arrested and booked into jail on charges of burglary, theft and criminal mischief.

September 9, 2017

Man dies in crash during storm

A Marathon man died in a crash this afternoon in Marathon.

The man, whose name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin, was found in his truck by some first responders who were patrolling during lulls in the storm. His truck was wrapped around a tree near 98th Street and U.S. One. He was dead inside.

They reported finding the crash scene to the Sheriff’s Office. Although Sheriff Rick Ramsay has pulled regular patrols because he does not want to endanger his employees, he evaluated the conditions outside and decided he would lead a team himself to recover the body.

“I just felt we needed to try. We did not want to leave this man’s body out there and I saw a lull in the storm that would allow us to go out there and get it safely,” said Sheriff Ramsay.

The Sheriff’s Office was able to find a tow truck which quickly removed the truck and body for safe keeping. The Florida Highway Patrol will investigate the case when it is safe to do so. It is unknown at this time if the crash was weather related or not.

September 4, 2017

Man arrested for stealing drugs from emergency room

A 38 year old Big Pine man was arrested Sunday for stealing medication from the emergency room at Fishermen’s Hospital in Marathon.

Deputy Vincent Torres responded to the hospital just before 3 p.m. because a nurse noticed someone had broken the security seals on a crash cart in the emergency room and had stolen a large amount of medication from the cart. She told Deputy Torres she suspected it was a previous patient, Christopher Frazier.

She said he was in the emergency room earlier. When he was discharged, she said she picked up his personal property bag and looked inside before giving it to him. She said in addition to his personal property, she saw a large amount of various medications in the bag which had not been prescribed for Frazier. When she asked him if the property bag was his he denied it was and hurried out of the hospital, leaving the bag there.

Security seals had been broken on the cart, which was beside the bed Frazier had occupied when he was in the hospital. An inventory of the cart revealed the medications in the bag did come from inside the cart. Other medication was missing and not found in the property bag.

A notice to be on the lookout for Frazier was put out to other deputies.

At 5:30 p.m. Sgt. Evan Calhoun was on patrol on Big Pine Key when he got a call about a trespasser on Avenue B, Big Pine Key. When he responded, he found Frazier in the area. He began to talk with Frazier as he investigated the trespassing call. During the initial encounter, he saw Frazier walk over to a recycling bin on the side of the road and discard something. Sgt. Calhoun performed a consensual pat down search of Frazier after seeing a bulge in one of his pockets that could have been a weapon. Instead he found a syringe of Lidocaine in one pocket and a vial of Epinephrine in another pocket.

At that point, Deputy Alexandra Davis radioed Sgt. Calhoun to let him know that Frazier was wanted for the earlier incident at Fishermen’s Hospital. Sgt. Calhoun then went to the recycling bin and found five more vials of various medications. All of the medications turned out to be from the crash cart at Fishermen’s Hospital.

Frazier was arrested. He was charged with grand theft and tampering with evidence. He was booked into jail.

Miami man charged with reckless driving

A Miami man was arrested for reckless driving and having no valid driver’s license Sunday afternoon.

Deputy Nelson Sanchez was on patrol at the 89 mile marker at 4:20 p.m. when he spotted a black Mercedes speeding southbound. He could see a male driving the car and a female in the passenger seat.

As Deputy Sanchez attempted to catch up to the speeding vehicle to stop it, he saw it driving recklessly, passing a number of cars in the right turn lane at the 88.5 mile marker; he then saw it passing cars using the center turn lane at the 87 mile marker, still traveling at a high rate of speed.

Deputy Sanchez finally caught up with the Mercedes at the 86.5 mile marker and pulled it over. As he was stopping the vehicle, he saw the driver jump into the back seat and the female passenger get into the driver’s seat.

Deputy Sanchez made contact with the male driver in the back seat, identified as 21 year old Victor Yanez of Miami. As he spoke with Yanez through the open car window, he could smell the odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle. Yanez admitted he did not have a driver’s license. The female passenger said she only got into the driver’s seat because she was trying to help Yanez out. She admitted she should not have done so.

Because Deputy Sanchez is a marine deputy and drives a patrol truck, Yanez was transported to jail in a patrol car belonging to another officer. Once Yanez was in jail, the officer searched his back seat as part of his routine procedure after transporting a prisoner. In the back seat he found a plastic bag with marijuana inside. The bag had not been in the seat prior to his transporting Yanez.

Yanez was charged with reckless driving, driving with a suspended driver’s license, resisting arrest, tampering with evidence and possession of marijuana.