Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

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

Click here to read press releases on other Sheriff's Office events and occurrences

May 30, 2009

Rockland man charged with firing rifle

Rockland Key - A Rockland Key man was arrested Friday evening, charged with shooting a rifle and doing extensive damage to a building.

Deputy John McGee was called to Rockland Key to reports of shots fired near Alex's Towing. A witness told him he'd heard multiple gun shots. He said he was in a concrete block building on the property when he heard loud noises from a metal building adjacent to where he was. Investigation revealed a large number of bullet holes in the walls of the metal building. Inside, extensive damage from the bullets had been done to the structure itself and to a boat stored inside.

Deputy McGee and other officers who responded to back him up interviewed a number of people where were on the property and in the area. 38 year old David Kelly admitted to firing his AK-47 rifle. He said he was shooting at a two foot high concrete wall behind the building that was damaged. He said he didn't realize he'd hit the building and done so much damage.

Kelly was arrested. He was charged with discharging a firearm in public and two counts of felony criminal mischief. He was booked into jail.

Sheriff's detectives investigate child's death

Key Largo - Sheriff's detectives are investigating the death of an eight month old child.

On May 24th, eight month old Connor McCallops was transported to Mariner's Hospital by ambulance after his mother's boyfriend reported he was having a seizure. The boyfriend, 25 year old Danny Macshane, was watching the child that day while the mother, 25 year old Danielle McCallops, was at work.

The child was subsequently airlifted to Baptist Hospital in Miami. He died on May 26th while still in that hospital.

Homicide Detective Mark Coleman has been assigned to investigate. An autopsy was done by the Dade County Medical Examiner's Office on the child's body. Preliminary autopsy results indicate the possibility of suspicious circumstances in his death.

According to initial investigations, the baby had been sick prior to the incident. His mother had taken him to the doctor for respiratory problems on May 15th, and then again on May 21st for a cough and an ear infection.

Investigations of the case are continuing.

May 29, 2009

Big Pine Key man arrested for stealing, using friend's ATM card

Big Pine Key - A Big Pine Key man was arrested after he took his friend's ATM card and used it without permission.

Deputy Manuel Cuervo responded to a Big Pine Bank on May 18th when the assistant manager called to report finding a fraudulent deposit in the night deposits. The envelope put into the deposit slot just contained a blank piece of paper and she'd discovered that just after the deposit, someone had tried to make a large cash withdrawal, which was declined.

The owner of the ATM was contacted and said he was not the one who made the fake deposit. He was shown surveillance video from the ATM machine and he identified an acquaintance of his, 34 year old Mark Szymansky, attempting to use his card.

Subsequent investigation revealed Szymansky had also used the ATM card at the Big Pine Winn Dixie eight times for a total of just over $1,000.00 worth of merchandise. The victim said he did not give Szymansky permission to use his ATM card.

A warrant was issued for Szymansky's arrest and on Thursday, he was booked into jail for two counts of fraudulently using someone else's identification, two counts of fraudulent use of a credit card and for Grand Theft.

May 27, 2009

Man dies in trailer fire

Fire at Coral Sands Trailer Park
Fire at Coral Sands Trailer Park - photo by Sgt. Derek Paul, MCSO

Rock Harbor - A Rock Harbor man died in a trailer fire overnight.

Deputy Tony Conde responded to the Coral Sands Trailer Park at the 95.2 mile marker of the highway just after midnight. When he arrived, he found one of the trailers in the park almost fully engulfed in flames. He found a woman lying on some pavement in the back of the trailer. It was evident she'd just escaped from inside.

He asked her if anyone else was inside and she said yes, that "Jack" was still inside the trailer, in the bedroom. Unfortunately, it was impossible to enter burning structure. Firefighters extinguished the blaze and, upon further investigation, it was discovered that 66 year old Jack Webb had indeed died inside.

The woman, who was later identified as Webb's long-time girlfriend, was transported to Mariner's Hospital where she is currently in intensive care. A neighbor who went with her to the hospital told Deputy Conde she and her husband were in the bedroom when he told her he smelled smoke coming from the area of the kitchen. She said she went to the kitchen to check and when she looked out the window she saw the other trailer on fire. She called 911 for assistance.

The State Fire Marshall's Office responded and is investigating the cause of the blaze. An autopsy performed on the victim does not indicate foul play in his death, although more tests are pending by the Medical Examiner's Office.

May 26, 2009

Attempted murder suspect attempts escape

Stock Island - A man in jail for attempted murder attempted to escape from the main detention facility on Stock Island Saturday.

45 year old James Dumas climbed up a maintenance shaft and gained access to a hallway which leads to visitation rooms at the facility Saturday afternoon. He was walking down the hallway when two Corrections Officers spotted him, recognizing him as an inmate of the facility. He was apprehended without incident while still inside the building.

Sheriff's Detective Diane Mimosa interviewed Dumas afterward and he was forthcoming about how he managed to get as far as he did. About a week prior to his attempted escape, during maintenance on plumbing in the unit Dumas was being held in, a door to a maintenance shaft apparently was not locked properly. Dumas discovered the error. He was able to explore the shaft, looking for a way out. He was unable to find any way out using the shaft, but did manage to find his way to a maintenance closet in the Visitation corridor.

He said he used ink pens and a highlighter to alter some of his jail clothing in the hopes of looking less like an inmate; he then waited until a visitation time to attempt his escape.

"The Corrections Officers who spotted him and recognized what was happening did an outstanding job," said Sheriff Bob Peryam. "We will definitely be looking closely at this incident and will be doing everything we can to keep anything similar from taking place," he added. "We have never had an escape from inside our main Detention Facility, and we stopped this attempt as well, but he never should have been given the opportunity to try."

Key West man attacked in his car

Stock Island - A Key West man was attacked in his car as he turned onto 8th Avenue on Stock Island Monday afternoon.

The 61 year old victim told Deputies David Fernandez and David Smith he turned onto 8th Avenue from 5th Street at 1 p.m. when the incident took place. He said two men approached his car; one opened the driver's side door and grabbed a gold necklace that was around his neck. The second man got into the back seat and pointed a gun at the victim's head. The victim said he grabbed the first suspects wrist, keeping him from taking the necklace. He said when the second man pointed the gun at him, he grabbed the gun. The suspect pulled the gun away from him, lacerating the victim's hand severely. He then hit the victim with the gun, once in the forehead and once in the nose.

The suspects ran toward 9th Avenue. The victim said he tried to follow them, but couldn't find them. The victim was taken to Lower Keys Hospital for treatment of his injuries. He described the suspects as black males in their 20s; each had a thin build, jean shorts and white tank tops.

Anyone with information about this case should contact the Sheriff's Office or contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Tipsters may remain anonymous and may receive a reward if their information leads to an arrest. Tips can be submitted on line at www.tipsubmit.com or called in to the Crime Stoppers hot line at 1-800-346-TIPS.

Woman stabbed in melee on Marvin Key

Marvin Key - An 18 year old Big Pine Key woman was stabbed several times during a large free-for-all fight on Marvin Key Monday afternoon.

According to witnesses who brought the victim from Marvin Key to the Sugarloaf Key Marina, there was a large fight on Marvin Key Monday afternoon. They describe the fight as "50 to 100 people engaged in fighting for several hours". The victim told Deputy Freddy Rodriguez during the fight, she was thrown in the water by a Hispanic male. She could not describe her attacker.

When she was able to stand up out of the water, she discovered she was bleeding. She had apparently been stabbed several times, in the right breast, left wrist and left inner thigh. According to Deputy Rodriguez, the victim was highly intoxicated and was unable to give him any more information. She was transported to Lower Keys Hospital for treatment.

The witnesses all described the fight, but said they did not see their friend stabbed. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, that agency had officers in the vicinity of Marvin Key for most of the day, but they did not witness any fight. After the stabbing was reported, officers went back to that area but found no witnesses who could give any pertinent information.

Anyone with information about this case should contact the Sheriff's Office or contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Tipsters may remain anonymous and may receive a reward if their information leads to an arrest. Tips can be submitted on line at www.tipsubmit.com or called in to the Crime Stoppers hot line at 1-800-346-TIPS.

Waverunner stolen; crashes in Boca Chica Bay

Stock Island - Witnesses called the Sheriff's Office early today to report a waverunner crashing into a sailboat; when it was recovered, the waverunner turned out to be stolen.

According to the witnesses, they were at Boyd's Campground on Stock Island and heard the personal watercraft "zipping around" offshore in Boca Chica Bay at 1:30 a.m. They said they heard a crash and then saw the waverunner idling back and forth about 100 yards off shore with no rider. They reportedly called 911 to report the incident then launched their own personal watercraft and began looking for the other operator in the water.

The search for the operator continued when the U.S. Coast Guard and Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) responded. The waverunner was recovered by deputies who contacted the registered owner. The owner said the craft was kept at his brother's house on Key Haven Terrace; he was unaware it was missing from that location.

The accident is being investigated by FWC and the theft of the watercraft is being investigated by the Sheriff's Office. The person who took the watercraft and subsequently crashed it has not been located. Investigations continue.

May 25, 2009

Man arrested for pawning stolen items

Marathon - A Marathon man was arrested for pawning jewelry stolen from a home on 112th Street in Marathon.

On May 4th, the victim noticed two pieces of her gold jewelry were missing from her home. She went to a local pawn shop and found the two pieces of jewelry had been pawned by another Marathon resident - 25 year old Manuel Artiles.

The victim called the Sheriff's Office. Deputy James Jenkins responded. After the deputy took an initial incident report, Detective Harry Boyden was assigned to investigate.

Detective Boyden confirmed the stolen items had been pawned by Artiles. A warrant was issued for his arrest.

On Sunday, Deputy Bradford Colen stopped a vehicle in Marathon which had no license plate attached. During the traffic stop, the deputy noticed the male passenger in the car was acting as if he was nervous. The man identified himself as Roberto Cepero. The deputy checked the name in his computer, pulling up a driver's license photo for Cepero. The photo was not the same man as the passenger in the car. When confronted with this information, the man admitted to being Artiles. He said he lied about his name because he knew he was wanted by police.

Artiles was placed under arrest on the warrant for two counts of fraud and two counts of dealing in stolen property. He was also charged with driving with his license revoked. He was booked into jail.

Key Largo man charged with fleeing from police

Key Largo - A Key Largo man was arrested early Sunday morning, charged with fleeing from a deputy trying to perform a traffic stop on his vehicle.

Deputy Edward Askins saw 41 year old Alexis Hernandez driving a white 1991 Mazda Sport Utility Vehicle on Largo Road near the 104.8 mile marker of the highway. Deputy Askins knew that Hernandez had a suspended license, so he turned around to do a traffic stop on the vehicle.

The vehicle turned onto the highway and Deputy Askins turned on his lights and siren. Hernandez stopped the car across the highway on Pamela Street.

Deputy Askins approached the car and ordered Hernandez out of the vehicle. There were two others in the car with him. Hernandez looked at the deputy, shook his head "no" and took off, fleeing from the stop location.

The SUV turned onto Taylor Drive. When the deputy caught up with it, the vehicle was still running; it was empty, abandoned in the middle of the road. Other deputies arrived on the scene and two of the vehicle's passengers were found nearby. They confirmed that Hernandez had been the driver.

Several hours later, Hernandez was found at his father's house on Lake Surprise Boulevard. He was arrested and charged with fleeing and eluding police, resisting arrest without violence and driving with license suspended. He was booked into jail.

Big Pine Key man arrested for discharging firearm, threatening wife

Big Pine Key - A Big Pine Key man was arrested Saturday night for threatening to kill his wife, and shooting his gun several times.

Deputy Deborah Ryan responded to reports of shots being fired on Avenue C at 9 p.m. When she arrived, she found the female victim who reported that her husband, 40 year old Michael Cristler, had threatened her.

She said she and Cristler had returned home from a party. They were in their bedroom getting ready for bed when he told her he "couldn't stand her" and that he was going to "blow a hole in her head." She said he went downstairs and she heard three or four gun shots. That's when she left the house to go to a neighbor's house and called the Sheriff's Office.

Deputy Ryan, backed up by Deputy John Riggs, approached the house. They succeeded in getting Cristler to surrender peacefully. He admitted to shooting the gun, but said he'd been shooting at iguanas.

He was placed under arrest and charged with aggravated assault with a firearm and discharging a firearm and he was taken to jail.

May 21, 2009

Stock Island man charged with dealing in stolen property

Stock Island - A Stock Island man was arrested after he attempted to pawn a ring stolen from a home in Key Haven in March.

On May 15th, 40 year old Nelson Morales tried to pawn a gold ring at Florida Keys Jewelry and Pawn Shop in Key West. The owner noticed a name he recognized etched on the side of the ring. The ring was a 2005 Key West High School Championship Baseball ring.

The owner of the pawn shop called the owner of the ring because he knew the owner had been the victim of a burglary. When he described the ring, the owner recognized it as one of the items stolen from his home in Key Haven. He then called the Sheriff's Office to report the recovery of the ring.

Morales told the pawn shop owner his wife found the ring near the Stock Island Apartments. As the pawn shop owner was making his phone calls to check on the ring, Morales left the shop, leaving behind his name and cell phone number for future contact. When Detectives contacted him and asked about the ring, he changed his story saying he had found the ring. He also admitted that he knew about the Key Haven burglary. He said he had not seen the name etched on the side of the ring.

A warrant was issued for Morales for dealing in stolen property. On Wednesday, he was arrested and booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

This is the second arrest in connection with the March burglary case. Last week, a Key West jeweler was arrested after detectives found a number of stolen pieces of jewelry in his shop. More arrests may be pending.

May 20, 2009

Marathon man charged with burglarizing cars

Marathon - An 18 year old Marathon man is in jail charged with burglarizing two cars overnight.

The victims live on Sombrero Boulevard. They were both sleeping when a noise outside - a car horn in their driveway - awakened them. The male victim looked outside and saw someone running away from his residence towards the nearby golf course. As he went outside to see what was happening, his wife called the Sheriff's Office.

Deputies arrived on the scene. Two vehicles had been entered at the home. The burglar had taken a backpack from one of them containing identification, cash and electronic equipment. The deputies began searching the area and found the backpack discarded on the golf course. Visible footsteps in the dewy grass led to a large metal tank. 18 year old Daniel Barrera was found hiding by the tank.

Barrera admitted to burglarizing the cars and admitted to entering several other cars in the neighborhood as well. He was arrested and charged with two counts of burglary and one count of theft. Because he gave deputies a false date of birth, he was also charged with giving false information to a law enforcement officer. He was booked into jail.

Man returned to the Keys to face burglary charges

Key Largo - An Ohio man was returned to the Keys Tuesday to face charges of burglarizing two upper Keys hotel rooms in March.

On March 4th at 11 p.m. the Key Largo Marriott hotel discovered someone had taken a 32" LCD TV, a small refrigerator, pillows and a goose down quilt from a vacant room at the resort. At the same time, a couple staying at the resort said a man entered their room though a balcony door as they were sleeping. He fled when they screamed at him.

Several hours later, deputies pulled a small pickup truck over at the 83 mile marker of the highway for a traffic infraction. Deputy Patrick Crozier issued the driver a warning, but noticed a television set, a small refrigerator, a quilt and pillows in the back of the truck. Since the burglary had not yet been reported, he had no way of knowing anything was amiss, but he made a note of it anyway.

Detective Greg LaRochelle was assigned to investigate. He gained access to security video from the resort and saw the suspect - later identified as 23 year old Vincent Maniglia of Ohio. Also on the video was Maniglia's pickup truck. Deputy Crozier identified Maniglia as the same man he stopped at the 83 mile marker with all the property in his truck.

A warrant was issued for Maniglia's arrest for two counts of burglary and grand theft. On May 7th, Detective LaRochelle was contacted by law enforcement in Ohio. They said they had Maniglia in custody on the Monroe County warrant. On Tuesday he was returned to the Keys from Ohio to face the charges.

May 15, 2009

Miami man caught transporting gasoline

A traffic stop in the early morning hours in Islamorada resulted in the arrest of a Miami man for transporting a large amount of gasoline illegally.

Deputy Yunier Galvez was on patrol at the 85 mile marker at 1 a.m. when he spotted a UHaul truck swerve off the roadway and almost hit a fence running alongside the highway. He pulled the truck over to check on the welfare of the driver, identified as 27 year old Yoendys Azanza of Miami.

At first, Azanza said he was going to help his wife’s sister move in Key West and said there was nothing in the back of the truck. Deputy Galvez asked to check and Azanza agreed. In the truck Deputy Galvez found 30 15 gallon containers of gasoline.

Asked again what he was doing, Azanza said he’d found the gasoline near a construction area in the Fort Myers area. He said he was taking it to the Keys to sell it for a profit.

Deputy Galvez checked with federal authorities and found that Azanza was not allowed to transport gasoline in that manner, or in that type of vehicle. Azanza was arrested and charged with transporting dangerous material without complying with federal regulations, transporting dangerous material – unlawful conveyance of fuel and driving without a valid commercial driver’s license. He was booked into jail.

Two arrested for battering Tavernier man

Tavernier – Two Tavernier man were arrested Thursday afternoon after they put another man in the hospital in a fight.

A witness, the sister of the victim, was at home on West Indies Road when the three men came looking for her brother. She told Deputy Kenneth Baker 23 year old Javier Arbolaez forced his way inside looking for the victim. She ordered him to leave but he refused.

She said her brother was next door with his girlfriend when he heard the disturbance at his house. When he walked over to check on it, Arbolaez hit him in the head with a baseball bat. He continued to attack the victim with the other men standing around watching. They all left the area before deputies arrived. One of he men, as he was leaving, picked up the neighbor’s dog and took it with him when he left.

Two of the men – Arbolaez and 19 year old Rafael Angel Medina were identified by one of the witnesses, who knew them from prior contacts. They were arrested, charged with burglary and aggravated battery and they were taken to jail. The investigation is continuing. The victim was transported to Mariner’s Hospital for treatment of his injuries.

May 15, 2009

Undercover work results in two arrests

Detectives working undercover at Holiday Isle Resort in Islamorada Tuesday afternoon arrested two on drug charges.

Detectives were walking through a parking lot at the resort when they spotted a couple in a blue Volkswagen. They were cutting up a white powder later identified as cocaine. Mandy Nicole Sumner produced a plastic bag of he drug from her bathing suit bottoms when asked if there were other drugs in the car. A Xanax pill was found in the hand of Gabriel Mario Rodriguez. More cocaine was found in the trunk, along with a small amount of marijuana in a bag belonging to Rodriguez.

Rodriguez was charged with possession of cocaine, marijuana and a controlled substance (Xanax); Sumner was charged with possession of cocaine. Both were booked into jail.

Man charged with Rockland Key burglary

A Rockland Key man was arrested Tuesday, charged with burglarizing a home on Rockland Key.

The victims called the Sheriff’s Office May 4th to report someone had entered their home on Hammock Drive through an unlocked upper story window, using a ladder they left outside. They said a jar of change was missing. They suspected the boyfriend of their tenant, Quintel Griffin, who lives next door.

One of the victims went to the Publix Grocery store in Key West and asked to see video surveillance tape of the coin machine in the store. On the tape, he saw Quintel Griffin pouring coins into the coin machine. On the tape, he also saw Griffin wearing a bracelet he recognized as his. He reported his discoveries to the Sheriff’s Office. A copy of the tape was obtained for use in the investigation.

Upon further investigation, the victim realized a large amount of jewelry, and some electronic equipment was also missing from his home.

Detective Henry Hamilton was assigned to the case. He discovered a large amount of the victim’s property had been pawned at area pawn shops by Griffin. The pawns took place between December of 2008 and the latest burglary on May 4th. Griffin and his girlfriend had moved in to the house next door in December. The victims positively identified the items at the pawn shops as theirs.

A warrant was issued for Griffin for burglary, theft and dealing in stolen property. He was booked into jail on the charges Tuesday afternoon.

Two men charged with burglarizing Key Largo restaurant

Two men were arrested in the early morning hours Wednesday, charged with burglarizing Rib Daddy’s Restaurant in Key Largo.

An off duty Sheriff’s Office employee who lives near the restaurant was returning home at 1 a.m. when he spotted two men wearing dark clothing, some kind of head covering on their heads, acting suspiciously near the back door of the building. He called to report the activity.

When officers arrived in the area, the suspicious men were gone. However, a green Ford Explorer was spotted, parked and unoccupied a short distance away. A large amount of frozen meat and seafood was found stacked outside the back door of the restaurant. The door to the restaurant had been pried open.

Detective Jason Madnick was the on call detective and was responding when he saw a vehicle coming from the direction of the restaurant. He knew the suspects had not yet been caught, so he stopped the vehicle – a green Ford Explorer – to check it just in case. Inside, he found 50 year old Jorge Ramos and 27 year old Lazaro Reyes, both of Key Largo. The detective knew the two men from previous criminal cases.

Neither man could satisfactorily explain what they were doing out at 1 a.m., where they had been or where they were going. They consented to a search of their car. In the car, the detective found a pry bar, a hammer, screw driver, pliers and other tools which could have been used to force open the restaurant’s back door. Two dark colored “do-rags” were found as well.

Reyes and Ramos were both arrested. They were charged with burglary and theft and they were booked into jail.

May 8, 2009

More businesses checked for illegal alcohol sales

Monroe County - On Wednesday, the Sheriff's Special Investigations Division checked businesses that sell alcohol between Marathon and Key Largo. A total of 20 businesses were checked, including restaurants, convenience stores and bars.

Four people received notices to appear in court for selling or serving alcohol to minors, including:

The Sale Clerk violations are up to 60 days in jail, a $500 fine, $235 in court costs, $75 in cost of prosecution, and $40 in the cost of investigation. The Licensee Violations are:

The remaining business checked, were in compliance with the law. This operation was conducted in cooperation with the Monroe County Coalition for a Safe and Drug Free Community.

Two Marathon Middle School students arrested for drugs at school

Marathon - Two 14 year old Marathon Middle School students were arrested Thursday after they were found in possession of various controlled substances at school.

A student from the school went to the nurses office and reported feeling sick; she admitted to taking three pills which she said she got from 14 year old Kyle Hogue of Marathon. A teacher found Hogue in the gymnasium and brought him and his belongings to the school office. A search of his backpack turned up four bottles of prescription medication, including 29 Prazolam pills, 69 Lorazepam pills, 76 Propoxy-N pills and 14 Alprazolam pills. He also had Excedrin Migraine medication, Robitussin cough gel caps and aspirin in his possession.

A second student, 14 year old Michael Pettit of Marathon was seen by a teacher passing something in class to another student. When she checked, she found he'd passed three Prazolam pills to the other student.

School Administrators notified School Resource Sergeant Glenn Test of the incidents and he placed the two boys under arrest for possession of controlled substances. When Hogue arrived at the jail, he was found to be in possession of marijuana so he was further charged with introduction of contraband into a corrections facility. They were both booked at the Monroe County Detention Center.

May 7, 2009

Key West jeweler charged with stolen jewelry

Key West - The owner of a Key West jewelry store has been charged with grand theft and dealing in stolen property.

On Wednesday, 54 year old Michael Kim Ngov was arrested on an outstanding warrant. According to reports by Detective Donald Catala, Ngov was caught with jewelry in his shop that had been stolen in a burglary in Key Haven in March of this year.

On March 29th, a home on Floral Avenue was broken into while the owners were away. Someone stole a safe from the home containing a large number of valuables, including a number of expensive pieces of distinctive jewelry.

The brother of the victim walked into the Blue Sophia Jewelry Store on Greene Street in Key West shortly after the burglary. He discovered a valuable diamond ring belonging to his family was in the shop. He agreed to purchase the ring from Ngov, gave the jeweler a down payment, then called Detective Catala to report finding the ring.

Detective Catala, with the assistance of other detectives in his unit, went to the jewelry store and confronted Ngov. He initially denied having any of the stolen jewelry, but eventually admitted to having the ring, a diamond and sapphire bracelet and a broach. He also admitted to melting down a gold Atocha coin necklace. All the items of jewelry were recovered, as well as a gold bar which was the result of the destruction of the necklace.

Upon questioning, Ngov told Detective Catala he bought the stolen items from someone he only knows as "Tony". The investigating into the case is continuing. A warrant was obtained for Ngov and on Wednesday he was booked into jail, charged with grand theft and dealing in stolen property. His bond is set at $75,000.00.

Key West man charged with cocaine

Key West - Sheriff's detectives were investigating another case when they arrested a Key West man for possession of cocaine Wednesday.

Detective Sgt. Alberto Ramirez was on Simonton Street in Key West when he ran across 23 year old Jose Buenaventura. The officer asked Buenaventura if he had any drugs in his possession and he said "no". Buenaventura then gave the officer permission to search his pockets.

Sgt. Ramirez located a plastic bag of cocaine in the man's right front pocket; another two were found in his hat.

Buenaventura was arrested for possessing 6.6 grams of powdered cocaine. He was booked into jail.

Marathon woman charged with marijuana

Marathon - A Marathon woman was arrested for possessing 25 grams of marijuana WEdnesday night.

Detectives were working in the vicinity of the Brass Monkey Lounge in Marathon just before 10 p.m. when they detected the strong odor of burning marijuana coming from a maroon colored van in the parking lot. A woman and two men were inside. When a detective asked the woman what they were doing, one of the two men replied, "Smoking weed...can't you smell it?"

The van belonged to the woman - 57 year old Nancy Brunsky. Detectives asked her if there was any more marijuana in the van. She replied, "No, we smoked it all." A search turned up a plastic bag of the illegal substance in a compartment in the center console. Brunsky said it was hers.

Brunsky was arrested and charged with possession of a felony amount of marijuana. She was booked into jail.

16 year old charged with possessing, attempting to sell stolen gun

Marathon - A 16 year old Marathon boy is under arrest, charged with possessing a stolen gun and telling someone he wanted to sell it.

The gun, a .22 caliber rifle, was one of six guns stolen from a Marathon home in a burglary in February. On Wednesday, deputies responded to a home on 3rd Avenue. The father of 16 year old Sean Roberts wanted to turn in the gun. He said he found it in his son's room. He said he thought the gun may be stolen and was concerned that his son was "going down the wrong path".

The boy's brother told deputies Roberts confided in him about possessing the stolen gun. He said Roberts told him he knew it was stolen and wanted to sell it. The gun was positively identified by it's owner as being one of the guns stolen from his home February 5th.

The 16 year old was located at a friends house. He was arrested and charged with dealing in stolen property and he was booked at the Monroe County Detention Center.

May 6, 2009

Four bodies identified as Cuban migrants

On August 21st and 22nd, 2008 four badly decomposed bodies were found floating in the waters offshore of the upper Keys. Over the next eight months, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Homicide Detective Terry Smith worked closely with Monroe County Medical Examiner Dr. E. Hunt Sheuerman and with the Cuban Democracy Movement in Miami to identify the four men so their families would know what happened to them.

With the help of the media, DNA tests and countless emails with friends and family members in Cuba, Detective Smith was able to identify the four found bodies as those of Cuban migrants who attempted the difficult journey from Cuba to the United States.

The four men found dead were part of a group of eight men who left Cuba on a homemade raft just as Tropical Storm Fay was bearing down on Cuba and the Florida Keys.

For details of this case, click here.

May 5, 2009

Man arrested after disturbance at Mariner's Hospital

Tavernier - A Key Largo man was arrested after he caused a violent disturbance in the Mariner's Hospital Emergency Room Monday evening.

Deputy Richard Bellon was already at the hospital on an unrelated call when he first heard the disturbance. He found 46 year old Aquilino Machado yelling profanities at the nurses. After he kicked one of the doors in the room, one of the nurses asked Deputy Bellon to remove him from the hospital.

Deputy Bellon approached Machado, who charged toward him yelling. Machado refused orders to calm down and would not go outside as instructed. When the deputy placed a hand on his shoulder to escort him out, Machado smacked the hand away. When Deputy Bellon attempted to handcuff Machado, he struggled. A face full of pepper spray only caused him to become more aggressive.

Deputy Edgar Piniero arrived as back up. After several unsuccessful attempts to take Machado into custody, with Machado still fighting violently, Pineiro's Taser was deployed. Machado then complied with all orders and was safely taken into custody.

He was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, two counts of resisting arrest with violence and disorderly conduct. He was taken to jail.

Big Pine man arrested for using his young boy in the sale of crack cocaine

Big Pine Key - A Big Pine Key man who used a 13 year old boy to facilitate the sale of crack cocaine was arrested Monday on an outstanding warrant.

Sheriff's detectives from the Special Investigations Division received information that 32 year old Franklin Santiagomontenegro was selling crack cocaine from his residence on County Road, Big Pine Key. He was also reportedly using a 12 year old boy who was living with him to assist with the drug sales, including translating the transactions, actually making some hand to hand transactions himself and occasionally making deliveries to other locations.

In April, and undercover operative was used as part of the ongoing investigation into these alleged activities. The operative went to the residence and asked the young boy who answered the door for some crack cocaine. He invited the operative inside and went to get Santiagomontenegro. The operative handed cash over to the boy, who went to another room and retrieved a plastic bag with crack inside, trading it for the cash. The operative then left the residence.

A warrant was issued for Santiagomontenegro; on Monday, Deputy Manuel Cuervo arrested him at his Big Pine residence on charges of sale of cocaine and cruelty toward a child; he was booked into jail.

Stock Island man charged with burglary

Stock Island - A Stock Island man was arrested for burglary after he was seen leaving he residence he broke into.

Detective Henry Hamilton was on Maloney Avenue assisting Key West Police with a burglary case at 10:45 a.m. Monday. He and a KWPD Detective were questioning 43 year old Amado Cardenas. Detective Hamilton was approached by a man and a woman who pointed to Cardenas and told the detective Cardenas had burglarized a trailer in Ocean Spray Trailer Park on Sunday.

The female victim told Detective Hamilton she returned home from work Sunday afternoon to find her trailer had been broken into; someone had removed the air conditioner from her window, entered and had taken cash, two watches and three bud light beers. The man who was with her told the detective he'd seen Cardenas leaving the victim's trailer Sunday drinking a bud light.

Upon questioning, Cardenas admitted to being at the trailer. He said the beer was his, and he was there looking for his stolen bicycle. Cardenas was charged with burglary and was booked into jail.

Key Largo man charged with rupturing woman's eardrum during domestic dispute

Key Largo - A Key Largo man is in jail after hitting his wife so hard on the side of the head that it ruptured her eardrum.

The fight took place between Friday night and Saturday morning. The victim did not report it until she went to the doctor Monday and found out how serious her injuries were.

She said during the fight, 48 year old Dale Henderson grabbed her, shook her and hit her on the side of the head. She left the house and stayed with a friend, going to the doctor on Monday because she couldn't hear out of the ear and was still in severe pain.

According to Deputy Sever Hustad, the victim still had visible injuries on her arm and a doctor confirmed the injury to the ear. Henderson was found at their residence on North Ocean Drive, Key Largo and was arrested. He was charged with aggravated domestic battery and he was taken to jail.

May 4, 2009

Man arms himself with sword; is tased and arrested

Stock Island - A Stock Island man who armed himself with a sword during a confrontation with deputies was Tased and taken safely into custody Sunday night.

Deputy Christopher Rhinhart and Sgt. Charlene Sprinkle-Huff responded to a residence on Shrimp Road at 11 p.m. Sunday to reports of a domestic dispute. When they arrived, they met with a witness who said her friend was inside. She said 30 year old Yoandry Noa Vega was inside with her friend and had stopped her from leaving the apartment, forcing her back inside.

The officers could hear shouting inside. When they knocked on the door, Noa Vega answered. He was visibly angry and acted aggressively toward the officers, who could hear a woman sobbing hysterically inside. When the officers entered to check on the woman, Noa Vega rushed to the back of the apartment. They followed him and found him brandishing a sword in the bedroom.

Both officers pulled out their Tasers, yelling at him to drop the sword. He refused to comply, so both officers deployed their Tasers, hitting Noa Vega center mass. He fell to the floor and, still struggling, was taken safely into custody.

Noa Vega was charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, domestic violence and resisting arrest with violence. He was booked into jail.

Key Largo man arrested for aggravated domestic battery

Key Largo - Responding to a 911 call from a young girl, deputies arrested a man for aggravated domestic battery Sunday afternoon.

When Sgt. Mike DiGiovanni arrived at the home on Buttonwood Avenue in Key Largo at 3:30 p.m., he found the 12 year old girl in the street, crying and asking for help for her mother, who was inside. The Sergeant entered the home and heard yelling. He first saw the victim walk out of the bedroom, and told her to get behind him. The suspect, 38 year old Marcial Cruz, then walked out of the room and complied with orders to sit on the ground with his hands behind his head.

Suddenly, the victim began shouting at the officer, yelling at him to leave the house. Cruz then threatened the officer and stood up, begriming to walk towards him. Backup officers arrived in time to help calm the situation. Cruz was taken into custody without incident at that point.

The two children who witnessed the fight between the two adults told Sgt. DiGiovanni Cruz hit and kicked their mother. The 11 year old boy said he saw Cruz choke her and verbally threaten to kill her. He said during the struggle, he was also hit in the head by Cruz.

The victim told the Sergeant she defended Cruz because she is afraid of him. Cruz was charged with aggravated domestic battery, child abuse and resisting arrest without violence. He was booked into jail.

Rhode Island man charged with DWLS, Reckless Driving, drug charges

Marathon - A Rhode Island man was arrested for fleeing from police and on drug charges in the early morning hours today in Marathon.

Sheriff's dispatchers received a call from the Florida Highway Patrol at 2 a.m. because a trooper tried to stop a silver sedan and it fled from him, northbound on the Seven Mile Bridge. Deputy Paul Bean spotted the car traveling at excessive speeds at the 47 mile marker of the highway. He activated his lights and siren to pull the car over.

The driver refused to stop, instead accelerating to over 120 miles per hour with Deputy Bean and two other officers following. The vehicle suddenly turned off it's lights and turned onto 75th Street on the Ocean side. The officers followed and found the car parked, with a woman in the driver's seat and a man in the rear passenger seat with the door open.

Upon questioning, both admitted to switching places in the car because the man, 21 year old Edward Hammond, had a suspended driver's license. A search of the car turned up marijuana, cocaine and drug paraphernalia inside. Hammond was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana, cocaine and drug paraphernalia; he was also charged with fleeing from police, driving with a suspended license and received a speeding citation. He was booked into jail.

More graffiti reported in Marathon

Photo album of graffiti in Marathon

Marathon - More incidents of painted graffiti have been documented in various areas of Marathon. The graffiti is similar to that documented last week in the Big Pine area and may have been painted by the same person or group of people. Painting or damaging private property without the permission of the owner is a crime and those who are painting the graffiti can and will be arrested when they are caught.

The Sheriff’s Office recommends that property owners who discover graffiti on their property call the Sheriff’s Office so the crime can be documented; the property owner should then paint over the graffiti as soon as possible. Leaving the graffiti in place is just an invitation for more damage to be done.

Anyone with information about who might be painting the graffiti should contact the Sheriff’s Office. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a caller’s 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.

May 2, 2009

Accused Murderer returned to the Keys

Jonathan LeBaron, 32, was returned to Monroe County Friday to face charges of First Degree Murder and Grand Theft. He is accused of killing 57 year old Richard Gardner.

Gardner's body was found on board his boat at King's Pointe Marina on Stock Island February 13th. LeBaron's accomplice, 40 year old Kirstin Whitmore, is already being held in the Monroe County Detention Center on charges of being an accessory after the fact to capital murder and with grand theft.

Graffiti found in several spots on Big Pine Key

Big Pine Key - The Sheriff's Office would like the public's help in finding and arresting those responsible for graffiti which is showing up in various areas of Big Pine Key recently.

Over the past few days, Deputy Danielle Malone has documented numerous incidents of graffiti painted on private property. This is considered Criminal Mischief and is a crime in the state of Florida.

Graffiti has been documented at CVS Pharmacy, the Tom Thumb Convenience Store and at Winn Dixie Plaza. It has also been found at the Bus Stop across from Napa Auto Parts.

Anyone with information about this crime can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a 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.

May 1, 2009

Photos of fire

Video of fire

Fire at Marina spreads to nearby gas pumps

Key Largo - A fire at Blackwater Sound Marina spread to the nearby Texaco gas pumps this morning.

Deputies arriving on the scene at 2:30 a.m. reported the gas pumps at the marina exploding as the fire spread from the Marina office, located adjacent to Senor Frijoles Restaurant at the 104 mile marker of the highway. There appeared to be minor damage to the restaurant roof on the fire side of the building. No injuries were reported in the fire. One southbound lane of traffic was closed for about two hours to accommodate emergency vehicles.

Firefighters had the fire knocked down and under control by shortly after 3 a.m. The County Fire Marshall's Office will be investigating the cause of the blaze.

Search warrant leads to Marijuana arrest

Key Largo - A search warrant at a Key Largo residence led to the arrest of a man for marijuana possession.

Detectives from the Sheriff's Special Investigations Division served the warrant at 6:30 p.m. at 190 1st Court West in Key Largo. Once inside, 54 year old Roberto Perez told them where to find his stash of marijuana. Detectives found a bag containing 58 grams of the illegal substance in a dresser drawer in his bedroom. They also found several smoking pipes in the home.

Perez was arrested. He was charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. He was booked into jail.