January, 2000 - March, 2000

For more information, contact Deputy Becky Herrin, Public Information Officer for the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. Her contact numbers are: office: (305)292-7116, digital pager: (305)334-0956, FAX: (305)292-7070 and e-mail: beckyherrin@keysso.net.


 


March 27, 2000

Update on eBay auction scam

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office is continuing its investigation of an Internet auction scam allegedly perpetrated by a Key Largo man.

32-year-old Charles Sweet is believed to have run the scam using several fictitious business names, “Dove Key Traders”, “Key Comber Traders”, “Flea Largo” and “Top-Auctions”. He used these business names to auction off items on the eBay Auction site. People would send checks or money orders to a post office box in Tavernier for the items he sold, but they say they failed to receive merchandise in return. Sweet posted computer equipment, video computer games and sports cards on the site for sale.

Currently, Sweet is out of jail after posting a $75,000 bond. He has been charged with one count of grand theft. During the course of his investigation, Detective David Carey has identified 272 fraud victims so far, and a total of $23,775.27 possibly stolen from those victims. All of the identified victims purchased items from Sweet over a ten-day period, between February 26th and March 7th. On March 7th, before this investigation began, eBay reportedly suspended Sweet’s companies from doing business on their web sites because they received numerous complaints from customers.

Detective Carey says victims are still contacting him, an average of ten complaints per day. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has set up a special web page with information about the scam. The page also gives a list of items Detective Carey needs from each victim in the case, as well as a special e-mail address victims should use when reporting their particular theft information (ebay@keysso.net). The Sheriff’s Office web site is located at www.keysso.net.

The detective is in the process of gathering evidence from those victims in the form of cancelled checks and cashed money orders. After he has the evidence in hand, he says he will be bringing more charges against Sweet. The victims are from wide ranging areas of the country, with two victims from outside the United States: one from Guam and one from Canada.

The case broke after a victim from Springfield, Illinois was directed to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office web site by an Internet on line newspaper called The Village Sun (http://www.villagesun.com). The victim, Allen Greenwood (Mr. Greenwood will grant interviews and can be contacted at (217)673-6018) sent an e-mail to the Sheriff’s Office complaining that he’d purchased 12 boxes of Ultimate Victory Baseball Cards on eBay from Dove Key Traders, sent a cashier’s check for $1,235.00 for the cards to the business at a Tavernier Post Office Box, but never received them. A phone number the victim had for the business turned out to be false.

Detective Carey went to the Tavernier Post Office and discovered the box was rented to a woman named Treasure Clayton, and had two business names registered to it, Dove Key Traders and Key Comber Traders. Clayton had given a false address when renting the box, but a check on her name in Sheriff’s Office computers revealed deputies had responded to a domestic complaint involving Clayton in February at 55 Oceana Drive in Key Largo. The domestic complaint also involved Sweet, her boyfriend.

Detective Carey received information that Sweet might be intending to flee the area, so he placed him under arrest March 14th on one count of Grand Theft. A search warrant was obtained for Sweet’s residence on Oceana Drive. Detectives served the warrant March 15th, seizing computers, business paperwork, money orders and personal checks from more possible victims.

United States Customs has been asked to assist in the investigation. They will be helping Detective Carey with the examination of computer equipment seized during the service of a search warrant at Sweet’s home.

Detective Carey has also been working with United States Postal Service in New York (Phone number: (518)449-4176), which has had a fraud investigation open on Sweet for some time. Postal Service Investigators say they have approximately 700 victims in their case with $40,000 stolen from those victims.


March 16, 2000

Sheriff's Office helps with 100-mile bike ride

For more information, contact Dr. Craig Wagener at 745-4112

Recently, Traffic Enforcement Deputies Diane and Kevin Mimosa (who, by the way, are also married) escorted a young lady, Candice Wagener, who was attempting to ride her bike from Key Largo to Key West — a distance of 100 miles. She was gong to try for twenty miles each day. This distance would be a stretch, even for an adult in good physical condition.

Candice Wagener is 15 years old and suffers from a debilitating disease called “Cornelia de Lange Syndrome”. Diane and Kevin contacted Candice’s parents, Dr. and Mrs. Craig Wagener of the Lower Keys, and set up the escort. One of them drove a Traffic Unit and the other rode a police bicycle. They did this five days in a row, from January 3-7, to raise money for the "Candice Can" charitable fund. The bike trip was a complete success.

At a monthly meeting of the Traffic Enforcement Unit, Candice's parents, Dr. Craig Wagener and his wife, Irma Wagener, presented the Mimosas with an award. The Wageners said Diane and Kevin were an inspiration to Candice and that some days Candace needed special attention to keep going and Diane and Kevin were right there with the words needed. Kevin and Diane should be congratulated for their dedication, but most of all, Candice should be proud of her accomplishments and we all should learn from the inner strength that allowed her to complete her amazing journey.


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In the photo, left to right: Dr. Craig Wagener, Candice Wagener, 
Diane Mimosa, Kevin Mimosa and Irma Wagener.


March 16, 2000

Key Largo man accused of using Internet auction sites to steal tens of thousands of dollars nationwide

 

Sheriff’s detectives are investigating a fraud scheme involving two well-known Internet auction sites and a Tavernier man who allegedly used them to steal tens of thousands of dollars from victims across the country.

At this point, 32-year-old Charles Sweet of Key Largo has only been charged with one count of grand theft. He is currently in the Monroe County Detention Center. Detective David Carey, who is investigating the case, says he has more than a hundred possible victims from states as varied as California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Nebraska and Georgia. He says it is likely that many more people will come forward with complaints before his investigation is complete.


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Charles Sweet

Sweet, who lives in Key Largo, used the business names “Dove Key Traders” and “Key Comber Traders” to place items for auction on both eBay and Yahoo auction web sites. People would bid on the items, including baseball cards, knives and computer equipment, then send Sweet either a cashier’s check or personal check, expecting their merchandise in return. The victims say their checks were cashed, but they never received the items they purchased. The total amount of money Sweet is alleged to have stolen is at least $50,000, possibly much more.

The case broke after a victim from Springfield, Illinois found the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office web site on the Internet. He send an e-mail to the Sheriff’s Office complaining that he’d purchased 12 boxes of Ultimate Victory Baseball Cards on eBay from Dove Key Traders, sent a cashier’s check for $1,235.00 for the cards to the business at a Tavernier Post Office Box, but never received them. A phone number the victim had for the business turned out to be false.

Detective Carey went to the Tavernier Post Office and discovered the box was rented to a woman named Treasure Clayton, and had two business names registered to it, Dove Key Traders and Key Comber Traders. Clayton had given a false address when renting the box, but a check on her name in Sheriff’s Office computers revealed deputies had responded to a domestic complaint involving Clayton in February at 55 Oceana Drive in Key Largo. The domestic complaint also involved Sweet, her boyfriend.

At that point, Detective Carey began getting more e-mail complaints from victims across the country: two more on Friday, eleven on Monday, and they just kept pouring in.

Detective Carey received information that Sweet might be intending to flee the area, so he placed him under arrest Tuesday (March 14th) on one count of Grand Theft. A search warrant was obtained for Sweet’s residence on Oceana Drive. Detectives served the warrant Wednesday evening, seizing computers, business paperwork, money orders and personal checks from more possible victims. Sweet’s bond on the charge is currently $75,000, with the caveat that if he tries to bond out, he has to show proof he obtained the funds legitimately.

During the course of his investigation, Detective Carey says he’s discovered that the United States Postal Service in New York has had a fraud investigation open on Sweet for some time, but lost track of him. They have been notified that he is in jail in the Keys and they will be continuing their investigation. A victim in Savannah, Georgia called the detective to report having money stolen by Sweet. He says he knows of at least 75 other people in that area who have also been defrauded. He will be contacting those victims and giving them the detective’s name and e-mail address so they can file complaints as well.

On March 7th, before this investigation began, both eBay and Yahoo auction sites reportedly suspended Sweet’s companies from doing business on their web sites because they received numerous complaints from customers.

The investigation is continuing. Anyone with information about this case should contact the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office at (305)853-3211 or send e-mail to Detective David Carey at dcarey@keysso.net <mailto:dcarey@keysso.net>.


March 13, 2000

Inmate Escapes from Work Detail

A Detention Center inmate, working as a trusty at the Key West garage on Palm Avenue Friday, escaped and has not yet been found.

53 year old Stephen Rodgers was last seen by supervisors at the garage shortly after 1 p.m. Friday. The discovered his disapperance about 15 minutes later and notified the Sheriff's Office. A search of the area turned up his orange inmate uniform hidden. It is unknown what clothing Rodgers may have changed into.


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Stephen Rodgers

Rodgers, whose last known address was on Boundary Lane on Big Coppitt Key, was in jail on charges of fleeing and eluding law enforcement officers, reckless driving, having no valid driver's license, failure to obey a written promisary note. He was arrested January 19th by deputies.

Anyone with information as to Rodgers whereabouts should contact the Sheriff's Office immediately at 292-7075. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. A tipster whose information leads to the capture of Rodgers will be eligible for a reward of up to $1000.00 in cash. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.


February 16, 2000

Employees of the Fourth Quarter Honored

Monroe County – Sheriff Rick Roth recently honored his employees of the fourth quarter for 1999. The employees were chosen for their hard work, dedication to duty and for going above and beyond the normal expectations for their positions within Sheriff’s Office. All those chosen for this recognition should be proud of their accomplishments.

Sworn Employee of the Quarter: Detective Lazaro Valdes, Bureau of Operations, Division IV, Special Operations

Lazaro has been a member of the Sheriff's Office since March 23, 1992. On December 7, 1999, Lazaro was working in the Stock Island area undercover when he heard a "burglary in-progress call". Upon arrival at the apartment complex, Lazaro was able to ascertain a general description of the subject from the victim and immediately started to canvas Old Shrimp Road. With the subject's description in hand, Lazaro recognized the individual emerging from the mangroves. After confronting the subject, the subject pulled a screwdriver and a knife and pointed at Lazaro in an aggressive manner. Lazaro immediately started issuing verbal commands in which the subject complied and was taken into custody without further incident.

In a separate matter, Lazaro was assigned to our Internal Affairs Division to work undercover on a difficult criminal investigation involving another member of this agency. After several weeks of this investigation, Lazaro was instrumental in making a criminal case against this member. Lazaro should be commended for his actions and the service oriented approach he takes towards his job.

Support Employee of the Quarter: Background Investigator Ernie Scott, Bureau of Administration, Human Resources Division

Ernie has been a member of the Sheriff's Office since January 22, 1996, and currently holds the District I Sergeant's position within our Reserve Unit. Ernie has put in hundreds of hours of community service at many of the Community Relations Children's Fairs, Crime Prevention Fairs, and other events that were sponsored throughout the year by the Community Relation's Division. He's always available and doesn't seem to know the meaning of the word "NO"! Ernie is one of the most up beat, supportive, and positive individuals working for this agency with a heart of gold and a spirit that is refreshing.

Corrections Officer of the Quarter: Detention Sergeant Michael Gent, Bureau of Corrections, Plantation Key Detention Facility

Mike has been a member of the Sheriff's Office since May 9, 1991, and currently holds the First Sergeant's position within the Bureau of Corrections. On many occasions over the past year, Mike has been called upon for assistance and guidance when dealing with unusual occurrences. It doesn't matter if it's a Holiday or 2:00 a.m. in the morning Mike is always courteous, helpful, and cheerfully provides the necessary instructions to his fellow officers. Mike also takes an active role in recruiting for the agency and has traveled throughout the state promoting the Sheriff's Office. During his spare time, Mike actively participates in the Sheriff's Office Shooting Team for the Law Enforcement Olympics and is a medallist from 1997. In 1999 Mike missed the medal by only one point in the Bull's-Eye competition. This year is his year……

Reserve Officer of the Quarter: Reserve Sergeant Charlene Sprinkle, Bureau of Operations, Reserve Section

Charlene has been a member of the Sheriff's Office since August 10, 1994. Along with being a Reserve Officer, Charlene works as a Communications Officer out of our Marathon Substation. Charlene is known to be the backbone of the Reserves in District II. She is dedicated to the program and is always there when the district needs reserves to help out. Charlene should be commended for her actions and the service oriented approach she takes towards her job.

Cadet of the Quarter: Explorer William (Joey) Haney, Bureau of Operations, Explorer Section

Joey has been a member of Post 905 for the past 2 1/2 years, and has logged in over 100 hours of community service. Joey has always been eager to learn and has taken an active part in recruiting for the post. Recently, Joey took over the leadership position on the new Junior Post and has showed outstanding leadership qualities. Joey is currently organizing a dance at his church to raise money for the upcoming American Cancer Relay for Life event held the first week in May.


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Left hand photo: Left to right, Detention Sgt. Mike Gent, Reserve Officer Charlene Sprinkle, Cadet William “Joey” Haney and Sheriff Rick Roth.  Not pictured: Sworn member Det. Lazaro Valdes and Support member Ernie Scott


February 11, 2000

Sheriff’s Office acquires Trauma Helicopter
Everyone invited to view the aircraft


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Monroe County – The public is invited to attend an open house (or, more accurately, an "open helicopter") Monday. The aircraft, recently purchased from Marion County, will be visiting all three areas of the Keys during the course of the day.

The 1966 Huey H model is fully configured for EMS/Trauma transport and was purchased in a sealed bid for $326,001.99. Marion County purchased it and put $400,000 into its configuration after it's purchase. It has less than 200 hours on it since it was rebuilt.

It is fully air conditioned for medical transports. It has two stretchers, four jump seats for personnel, built in oxygen, medical equipment racks and provisions for complete communications equipment, including aircraft to hospital communications and police radio communications. The helicopter will be maintained and flown by the Sheriff's Office. A group comprised of County Emergency Medical Services, hospital representatives and representatives from the medical community will determine how it will be manned and operated for the medical transports.

It is also equipped with an exterior hoist for search and rescue purposes and will be utilized for this purpose also.


The aircraft will be available for viewing at the following locations and times:

        In the middle Keys, at Paradise Aviation, from 9a.m. - 10:30a.m.

       In the lower Keys, at the Sheriff’s Office Headquarters building, 11a.m. – 1p.m.

       In the upper Keys, at Plantation Yacht Harbor, from 2p.m. – 4p.m. 


February 9, 2000

Sheriff honors Crime Watch Chairperson of the Year, 1999

Monroe County – Sheriff Rick Roth presented a plaque to the Sheriff’s Office Crime Watch Chairperson of the Year at a Crime Watch meeting January 31st in Key Haven.

The Chairperson of the Key Haven Crime Watch, Mary Jackson, was chosen this year’s honoree because of her dedication to the Crime Watch program over the five years she has held the post. 


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Jackson regularly holds quarterly Crime Watch meetings, and is continually working on ways to improve her area and make it safer for the residents of the lower Keys neighborhood, which is located near the five mile marker of Highway U.S. One, on the gulf side. She also puts out a biannual Crime Watch newsletter for her members with interesting and informative information about how to prevent crime.

“It is my opinion that Mary’s efforts and those of her Crime Watch members are largely responsible for the very low crime rate in the Key Haven area,” said Sheriff Rick Roth.

“Mary should be an example to all of our Crime Watch chairpersons. She puts is very dedicated, and puts in an amazing amount of time keeping her Crime Watch active and making sure she communicates regularly with both the Sheriff’s Office and her members,” said Crime Watch Coordinator Deputy Emil LaVache.

Deputy LaVache currently oversees 140 active Crime Watches countywide. A glance at crime statistics shows just how effective a Crime Watch program can be. There are far fewer residential burglaries in Crime Watch areas in Monroe County. Deputy LaVache attends most Crime Watch meetings in the county, and would be happy to assist anyone who wishes to start a Crime Watch program in his/her neighborhood. Call him toll-free at the Sheriff’s Office Community Relations Office, 1-800-273-COPS.


February 9, 2000

Sheriff donates money to Samuel’s House


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Sheriff Rick Roth recently donated $32,000.00 to Samuel’s House in Key West. Samuel’s House is a shelter for homeless women and children, which helps them to get back on their feet with training and employment opportunities. The donated money came from asset forfeitures received from Sheriff’s Office participation in state and federal drug investigations. No tax money was used for this donation.

 


February 7, 2000

Sheriff's Office participates in School to Work Program

The attached two pictures show a tour given today (Monday, February 7th) by the Sheriff's Office Human Resources Division to Key West High School students who are participating in the School-to-Work Program.

The School-to-Work program is a cooperative effort between the School District and local employers to introduce students to the working world so they can get a better idea of the opportunities available to them when they are finished with their schooling.

The Sheriff's Office currently has three students working in various capacities who are in this program, and an opening for one more. The tour today was to introduce the students to the different work areas available in the Sheriff's Office to give them a better idea of whether they would like to work for the agency either in the School-to-Work program, or later on after they finish school.

Participants in the School-to-Work program who choose the Sheriff's Office as their place of work take turns working in many areas of the agency, inlcuding the Human Resources Division, the Records Division, Training, the Criminal Investigative Unit, Communications and the Finance Division.

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In the first photo,  Detective Henry Hamilton explains some aspects of the Criminal Investigative Unit to participants in the program while the tour guide, Human Resources Specialist Cyrus Poitier, looks on. In the second photo, Detective Henry Hamilton explains to students in the program how mug shot books are used to assist victims in identifying suspects in criminal cases.

 


February 4, 2000

SMART traffic trailers purchased with Federal
Asset Forfeiture funds

Monroe County – The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has an added tool to fight speeders on the County’s roadways. Four SMART trailers have recently been purchased using Federal Asset Forfeiture funds.

The SMART trailers (Speed Monitoring Awareness Radar Trailers) are used in areas where speeding vehicles are a problem. They are parked alongside the road, and flash the speed limit, then flash the speed of on-coming vehicles, warning when the vehicle is traveling over the speed limit.

That is not all, however. The trailers also record the number of vehicles passing, the speed of those vehicles, the time of day the vehicles pass the sign, and can provide data produced from that information, such as maximum an minimum speeds, at what times of the day speeding is particularly a problem, when traffic is heaviest in a particular area, etc.

“These SMART trailers will allow us to optimize the use of our deputies time. Instead of parking a deputy in a particular spot for a long period of time to assess a traffic problem, we can use the trailer for that,” said Sheriff Rick Roth. “Then, if we find out there is a speeding problem in a particular area, we can narrow down the time speeding is taking place and assign a deputy accordingly,” he said.

The trailers will be assigned in each district, and can be easily moved from place to place. Anyone who would like to see the trailers used in a particular place can contact the Sheriff’s substation in their area, or contact their zone commander directly. In the upper Keys, the phone number is 853-3211, in the middle Keys it is 289-2430 and in the lower Keys it is 745-3184.


January 31, 2000

Crime down 12.6 percent in Monroe County in 1999

Monroe County – According to figures just released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), major crimes were down 12.6 percent in unincorporated Monroe County (excluding the city of Key West) in 1999, compared to the previous year.

“Crime in Monroe County has consistently gone down over the past 12 years, but this year is an exceptional one. Virtually every category of major crime went down. Everyone in Monroe County should be proud of our officers and our agency for the job we are doing keeping a lid on crime,” said Sheriff Rick Roth.

Major crimes, or “index offenses” as they are categorized by the FDLE, include murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault (violent assaults including battery and aggravated battery), burglary, larceny (which includes all theft and grand theft cases except auto theft) and motor vehicle theft. The only category of crime that did not go down was robbery, which was up by 9.4 percent, with 32 occurring in 1998 and 35 in 1999. Sex offenses went down by a dramatic 40.4 percent, from 57 in 1998 to 34 in 1999. The total number of overall “index offenses” went from 3,566 in 1998 to 3,116 in 1999.

Burglary and Larceny (theft) are the two most common index crimes in Monroe County. Burglary went down 5.9 percent and Larceny went down by 12.4 percent.

“I am particularly proud of our burglary and theft numbers. These are the crimes which happen the most, and which are most likely to effect the lives of our citizens here in Monroe County. Our deputies work hard at burglary and theft prevention, and their work is producing results as we can see by the statistics released by FDLE,” Sheriff Roth said.

For more details on the index crimes that have decreased in Monroe County, see the table, below: 

Index Offenses

1998

1999

Percent change

Murder

4

1

-75%

Forcible Sex Offenses

57

34

-40.4%

Robbery

32

35

9.4%

Aggravated Assault

319

282

-11.6%

Burglary

606

570

-5.9%

Larceny

2,364

2,070

-12.4%

Motor Vehicle Theft

184

124

-32.6%

Total Index Offenses

3,566

3,116

-12.6%

 To help prevent crime, and to continue this downward trend in crime numbers, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has a number of crime prevention programs that particularly target burglary, theft and other common types of property crimes. In the Night Eyes Program, deputies on duty at night stop by closed businesses and make sure they are secure. If the deputy finds something he considers a possible risk, he notifies the business owner by making a note of it on a special card he leaves at the business. If the problem needs immediate attention, such as an open window or door, the business owner is called at home and notified of the problem.

The Sheriff’s Office also has active Crime Watch and Crime Prevention programs which offer free security surveys of homes and businesses in the Keys. Citizens may call the Sheriff’s Office and request that an officer visit their property and perform a survey. The officer will then make recommendations for security improvements that will help make the property less of a crime target.

The new SMARTCOP program put into place last summer also concentrates on crime prevention by letting deputies get to know their area of patrol and the people and businesses in that area. Deputies are assigned to patrol an area, or zone, permanently. Their job is to get to know the area and the people and businesses in it.

In addition to responding to reports of crime in the area, they are asked to take the initiative in finding out about problems in their zones, and they are responsible for taking care of those problems by working with the community and with other agencies. For instance, a deputy who sees a street sign missing in his zone might call the Department of Transportation or Monroe  County Public Works to get the sign replaced. A deputy who sees a refrigerator dumped beside the road with the doors still on it would remove the doors immediately to prevent injury to children in the area, and then would report the dumped appliance to the appropriate agency to have it removed.

Anyone who is interested in learning more about crime prevention programs offered by the Sheriff’s Office should call the Sheriff’s Community Relations Office at 292-7116 or 1-800-273-COPS.


January 3, 2000

Van donated to MCSO SWAT team

Monroe County – An Ohio businessman and frequent Keys visitor donated a van recently to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Special Weapons and Tactics team (SWAT).

The SWAT team is made up of specially trained law enforcement officers, who participate in SWAT activities without any extra recompense from the Sheriff’s Office. While SWAT activities are performed on paid Sheriff’s Office time, the officers “volunteer” for the dangerous duty without extra pay because they feel Monroe County needs a team trained to respond to high profile, high risk incidents such as hostage situations, barricaded subjects and to assist in the arrest of potentially violent or dangerous people.

The Sheriff’s Office SWAT team is available to assist any local law enforcement agency, and has been used on many occasions by the Key West Police Department and other local, state and federal agencies.

Jim Chambers owns Chambers Trucking Company in the State of Ohio, and is a frequent visitor to the Florida Keys. He befriended a member of the SWAT team while in Key West, and subsequently donated the van when he discovered the team needed reliable transportation.


January 3, 2000

VINE Program recognized by National Domestic Violence Hotline

Monroe County – The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has been recognized by the National Domestic Violence Hotline for it’s outstanding service to victims of domestic violence. This special recognition has been awarded to Monroe County for providing the VINE Program (Victim Information and Notification Everyday), for it’s citizens.

“VINE allows victims of domestic violence to know the whereabouts of their attacker and to obtain, for free, important inmate information by phone, anytime day or night. To date, the National Domestic Violence Hotline has responded to over 91,000 calls, most of which required a referral to a program like VINE,” said Sheryl Cates, Executive Director for the NDVH.

Thanks to Sheriff Rick Roth’s implementation of VINE, this potentially life saving program is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Victims of domestic violence and any other type of crime may call the toll-free VINE line at 1-800-546-4959 to obtain custody information or to register for notification of release, transfer or escape of an offender. For shelter and other information, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available anytime, from anywhere at 1-800-799-SAFE.

“VINE is an important program which benefits the victims of any type of crime. Anyone in the community who wishes to find out the status of an arrested suspect in a criminal case may call the VINE Hotline,” said Sheriff Roth. “We feel strongly that by putting this program in place, we are saving lives,” he said.


January 3, 2000

Sheriff purchases programmable road signs with federal asset forfeiture funds

Monroe County – Money seized in a federal drug case was used to purchase four programmable road signs for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office recently.

The signs are similar to those used by the Department of Transportation to warn of road work on state highways. They are solar powered and capable of carrying three lines of text per “page” and six “pages” of information per message. They are also capable of recording an approaching vehicle’s speed, and automatically switching from the programmed message to one warning that the approaching vehicle is traveling over the speed limit.

The signs will be used for traffic alerts, special events and traffic safety tips. They will be available to community groups, particularly for charitable or non-profit events. Each sign cost an estimated $23,000.00 with money coming from Federal Asset Forfeiture Funds, seized during federal criminal investigations. No tax money was used for this purchase.

Anyone wishing to use a programmable sign should call their local district office, or speak directly with their zone commander. In the upper Keys, the phone number is 853-3211, in the middle Keys it is 289-2430 and in the lower Keys it is 745-3184.