Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

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

March 30, 2001

Woman attached on Tavernier bike path

Tavernier – A Tavernier woman reported being attacked as she rode her bike on the bike path near the 92 mile marker Wednesday night.

The woman told Detective Dillon Corr she was riding her bike southbound at about 6:45 p.m. when a man jumped out of the bushes, attacking her. He pushed her off her bike, but she fought him off, hitting him several times. He finally fled back into a wooded area next to the path.

The victim described her attacker as a white male with a strong, foul odor and a dirty appearance. He was wearing dark colored pants and a light colored short sleeve shirt. During the attack, he reportedly did not speak, just uttered unintelligible sounds.

Anyone with information should contact the Sheriff’s Office at 853-3211.


March 29, 2001

Detectives seize numerous drugs from Rockland Key man

Rockland Key – A Rockland Key man is in jail today after he was found to be in possession of cocaine, Ecstacy, Oxycodone, Heroin, Xanax and what are believed to be hallucinogenic mushrooms.

23 year old Michael Cepero was wanted on two outstanding warrants for sale of cocaine. Detectives from the Special Investigations Division of the Sheriff’s Office set up a surveillance of his home Wednesday evening and he was stopped a short distance away in his 1998 Ford F150 pickup truck by Sgt. Vaughn Sommers, who arrested him on those outstanding warrants. A search of his pockets turned up five ounces of powdered cocaine in five separate packages. A search of his truck turned up a small amount of heroin, 34 Ecstasy pills, six Xanax pills, two Oxycodone pills, and two packages of suspected hallucinogenic mushrooms.

When detectives asked Cepero what he was going to do with the drugs, he said he was going to sell the cocaine to make money, but the other drugs were for he and his friends to use themselves.

Detectives placed him under arrest for possession of cocaine with intent to sell, and possession of the other illegal substances and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. Almost $500 in cash was found in his truck and the cash and the truck were seized for possible forfeiture.

Assisting in the arrest of Cepero were deputies from Sector One Road Patrol, and detectives from the Special Investigations Division of the Sheriff’s Office.


March 28, 2001

Grenade found in garbage container

Islamorada – The Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad was called out Tuesday at 7 p.m. because a private citizen reported finding a grenade sitting on top of garbage in a garbage can.

The grenade was found at Wayside Park, located on the bayside of the 80 mile marker of Highway U.S. One in Islamorada. The man who called Sheriff’s dispatchers to report finding the device said he recognized what it was because of his military background.

Sgt. Tim Hurd, other deputies and fire rescue units responded and secured the scene, at one point stopping traffic on the highway. They called for the Bomb Squad, and got squad member Sgt. Pete Johnston on the phone. When they described the device to him, he recognized it as an explosive grenade which also emits smoke. The device could reportedly have been dangerous to anyone within an approximate 25 foot area around it. Because the highway was a safe distance from the device’s location, traffic was allowed to resume north and southbound.

Both Sgt. Johnston and Sgt. Bobby Randolph from the Bomb Squad responded. The grenade was identified as an explosive device dating from 1954. It was reportedly corroded and leaking some of it’s contents as Sgt. Randolph secured it in a bomb blanket and transported it to a safe location. It will be rendered safe by Sgt. Randolph.

According to Sgt. Johnston, the device was definitely unstable because of it’s age, and could have done damage to anyone coming close to it or touching it. In addition, he said it is unknown what types of hazardous materials grenades that old might have contained.

Anyone who has old explosives such as this should not try to dispose of them. Instead, call the Sheriff’s Office so the Sheriff’s Bomb Squad can assist in disposing of the devices safely and properly.

Burglary suspect also charged with drug possession

Marathon – A Marathon man was arrested and charged with attempting to gain entry to a building belonging to a Marathon taxi company. He was also found to be in possession of cocaine.

Deputy Todd Blyth was dispatched to a possible burglary on 15th Street in Marathon at 1:30 a.m. today (Wednesday). When he arrived, he found 42 year old Martin Budlong trying to pry open a window. Further investigation revealed evidence that he’d used a large screwdriver to in his attempts to pry open one of the building’s doors and the window, which was bent away from the frame. He told the deputy the owner gave him the wrong key, and would not mind the fact he was trying to break in. He gave the deputy a phone number to call the supposed owner, but no one at that phone number had any connection to the taxi company which owned the building.

A search of Budlong turned up a number of small plastic bags with a white powder inside. Budlong was arrested and charged with attempted burglary, possession of cocaine, possession of burglary tools and criminal mischief and he was transported to the Monroe County Detention Center.

When Deputy Blyth took Budlong out of the car, he searched the back seat of his patrol car and found a pipe like those used to smoke crack cocaine. Once inside the Detention Center, a more complete search of Budlong was done by Correction’s officers which turned up more cocaine. Budlong was further charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and introduction of contraband to a jail facility.

March 22, 2001

Missing Islamorada man found

Islamorada – An Islamorada man who was reported missing March 9th has been located.

According to Detective Larry O’Neill, 47 year old Steve Allen Wiersema called his father Friday to tell him he is all right. His father then contacted the Sheriff’s Office with the information.

The missing person case on Wiersema has been closed

March 15, 2001

Student arrested for knife threats

Summerland Key – A 16 year old boy has been arrested and charged with threatening another boy with a knife at a school bus stop.

16 year old Matthew Wicks of Summerland Key allegedly pulled out a knife Tuesday at a school bus stop at John Street and U.S. One on Summerland Key. According to the victim, who is 14 years old, and a witness who was standing next to him, Wicks held it within inches of the victim’s throat and threatened to kill him with it.

The victim reported it to School Resource Officer, Sgt. John Barber who is assigned to the Sugarloaf School. After investigating the report, Sgt. Barber arrested Wicks Wednesday, charging him with aggravated assault.

Wicks was turned over to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Possible threat at Coral Shores High School

Islamorada – The Sheriff’s Office and school authorities are taking seriously a potential threat discovered scrawled on a table at Coral Shores High School Tuesday.

The assistant principal of the school approached School Resource Officer Louis Robison at 11 a.m. Tuesday to report  a message had been found, written on a plastic table outside the school lunch room. In a report completed by Deputy Robison about the incident, the message is quoted as saying, “Fuck you ass hate you going to (blank space) so will your friends 03-16-01 1245hrs”.

Although there is no specific threat made in the message itself, Sheriff’s Office and school authorities determined that because a specific date and time is included in the message, there may be cause for concern. Because of that, the Sheriff’s Office and school authorities have determined there is a need for heightened security on school grounds Friday. They will be working together to provide that heightened security to assure the safety of students attending school that day.

There is also an ongoing investigation into who may have left the message.

March 13, 2001

Islamorada man reported missing

Islamorada – An Islamorada man has been reported missing. Detectives are looking for information about his possible location.

Friends, co-workers and employers of 47 year old Steve Allen Wiersema are worried about him and would like to know where he is. According to friends, he was last seen Wednesday, March 7th, when he left his job at the Cheeca Lodge. He said he wasn’t feeling well and left riding his blue bicycle in the direction of his home on Parker Drive in Islamorada. He didn’t show up for work the following day at his second job at the Squid Row Restaurant, and didn’t call to say he wasn’t coming in.

Friends say it is not like him to miss work. And they say they are worried that something might have happened to him. He is a white male, five foot nine inches tall, 210 pounds with blue eyes and light brown shoulder length hair that he sometimes wears in a ponytail.

Anyone with information about Wiersema should contact the Sheriff’s Office at 305-853-3211.


March 12, 2001

Man charged with burglary/assault

Ramrod Key – A traffic accident led to a man being arrested for burglary and assault Saturday in the early morning hours.

The victim, 57 year old Charles Thornton, and the defendant, 46 year old Terry Kettig, reportedly got into an accident in the parking lot of a Ramrod Key bar. Thornton went home to his Ramrod Key residence after the crash. A short time later, Kettig showed up at the residence. He walked in without permission, holding a piece of rebar in his hand. He confronted Thornton, who was sitting on his couch. He demanded money from Thornton as payment for damage done to his van during the crash.

A witness walked in and saw the confrontation. The Sheriff’s Office was called to the scene. Kettig was arrested and charged with burglary with assault on the occupant and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Marathon man arrested for robbery

Marathon – A Marathon man was arrested Saturday night and charged with beating up another man in an attempt to rob him.

The victim told deputies he was in the area of 39th Street in Marathon just before 11 p.m. when 32 year old Robert Moss beat him up, knocking him to the ground. Moss then demanded money and drugs, and searched all his pockets. When he didn’t find anything, he fled the area.

After a search of the area, deputies found Moss hiding in some bushes next to a house. He was placed under arrest after a short struggle and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center on charges of robbery and aggravated battery. The victim was taken to Fisherman’s Hospital where he was treated for severe facial injuries.

Carjacking in Marathon

Marathon – A New York man reported that two men stole his vehicle from him in the parking lot of a Marathon video store at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

The victim said he was just getting into his green 1996 Mercury Sable outside Blockbuster Video when a man approached him, grabbed his hands and attempted to force him out of the car. When he refused to get out, a second man told him if he didn’t get out of the car, they would break both of his arms. At that point, he exited the car, the two suspects got in and drove away.

The suspects are described as two Hispanic males wearing dark green hats, pants and shirts similar to some type of uniform. Both were clean shaven with short, dark hair. One was  approximately five foot four inches tall, 150 pounds and may have been 35 to 40 years old. The second one was about the same age, and approximately five foot eight inches tall and 180 pounds.

Detectives are investigating.


March 9, 2001

Man charged with molesting young girl

Islamorada – Sheriff’s detectives charged an Islamorada man with molesting a young girl Thursday.

The girl, who is under 12 years old, told someone at her school that she was being fondled by an adult man. The school reported the information to the Sheriff’s Office and Detective Mark Coleman with the Crimes Against Women and Children’s Unit was assigned to the case.

After further investigation, Detective Coleman arrested 29 year old Jean Leguiset, charging him with lewd and lascivious molestation. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.


March 8, 2001

Man charged with prescription fraud

Monroe County – A Sunshine Key man was arrested Wednesday and charged with seven counts of prescription fraud.

According to Detective John McGee, 46 year old Michael Gordon obtained duplicate prescriptions from multiple doctors between November of 2000 and February of 2001. None of the doctors knew Gordon was being treated by others, or that he had obtained medicine from other doctors.

Gordon obtained prescriptions from eight different doctors over the four month period. He took the prescriptions to seven different pharmacies from Key West to Marathon to be filled. All of the prescriptions were for the narcotic painkillers Oxycontin and Hydrocodone with Apap (also known as Tylenol with Codeine). Over the four month period, he obtained a total of 755 pills from those prescriptions.

The Sheriff’s Office was notified of the case after pharmacists from Publix in Key West and from Dennis Pharmacy in Key West had a conversation about Gordon because he wrote bad checks to both of them. They discovered he had filled duplicate prescriptions at each of their facilities, and they called to report it.

Gordon was arrested at a Key West pharmacy as he attempted to fill another prescription Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. His bond is set at $5,500.00.


March 7, 2001

Student fight turns into battery on deputy, school official

Key Largo – A Sheriff’s Office School Resource Officer was treated at the hospital for injuries he suffered Friday when he tried to break up a fight between students and was himself attacked.

Deputy Louis Robison suffered from neck injuries after he was attacked by Coral Shores High School students Friday just before noon. Deputy Robison responded to a fight outside the school lunch room. When he arrived, two school employees were trying to break up the fight. Robison attempted to restrain one student, 15 year old Joseph O’Rourke. The deputy had the student on the ground and was attempting to handcuff when another student jumped on the deputy and hit him on the back of the neck. O’Rourke got up and tackled Deputy Robison, grabbing him in an attempt to knock him down. Deputy Robison hit O’Rourke twice in the hand with his baton in an attempt to make him let go. At that point another student, 15 year old Craig Caldwell, jumped on the deputy’s back.

At that point, school employees who were also on the scene restrained Caldwell and O’Rourke until the deputy could call for back-up officers to respond. During the course of the struggle, another student, 15 year old John Capote, shoved one of the school employees in an attempt to reach the scene of the fight.

O’Rourke was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence; Caldwell was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and Capote was charged with battery on a school employee.

Deputy Robison was treated at Mariner’s Hospital for a neck injury.

More arrests and more charges may be pending.

Big Pine man robbed by acquaintances

Big Pine Key – A Big Pine Key man was robbed by two men he invited to his house to drink rum.

The victim told Deputy Tom Peteck he invited the two men to his trailer at the Seahorse Campground to drink rum. He knows them from a local bar, and has had them over to his house on a previous occasion. He said they ran out of rum and one of them offered to go to the liquor store for more. The victim took his wallet out of a cabinet and opened it. When the two men saw the cash inside, they grabbed the wallet. The victim struggled with them and they pushed him out the front door and down the front steps of his trailer. They then fled with the cash.

The victim could not give deputies the suspects names. He only knows one by the nickname “Georgie”. Detectives will be investigating the case.


March 1, 2001

Man charged with cruelty to animals

Tavernier – A man, irritated by his neighbor’s cats is accused of poisoning two of them and was arrested for animal cruelty Wednesday by a Sheriff’s Office sergeant.

Sgt. Tom Brazil arrested 57 year old Bradford Biddle Wednesday afternoon on an outstanding warrant for animal cruelty. Biddle is accused of putting out bowls of cat food laced with anti-freeze. Anti-freeze is a deadly poison to cats and other animals.

On February 14th, Sheriff’s Office dispatchers received a call from a man who lives on Cidy Road in Tavernier. The man said his cats were sick and he believed they’d been poisoned by his downstairs neighbor. He told Sgt. Tom Brazil he’d found two open cans of cat food under a table on the back porch of his neighbor’s residence. He believed the food had been mixed with anti-freeze.

Sgt. Brazil talked to Biddle, who admitted to the poisoning. He said he did it to “get rid of the cats.” He said he is angry because the cats make noise at night and defecate in his yard. He said he also uses the same mixture to get rid of rats.

One of the cats later died as a result of the poisoning. The other cat is recovering after treatment by a veterinarian. Tests on the dead cat revealed anti-freeze poisoning as the cause of death.

Biddle was booked into the Monroe County jail. Bond on the warrant was set at $1,500.00. Animal cruelty is a third degree felony carrying a possible penalty of up to five years in prison and up to a $5,000.00 fine.

Man charged with fire bombing Big Coppitt home

Big Coppitt Key – A Key West man was arrested Wednesday and charged with fire bombing another man’s home.

Detective Henry Hamilton arrested 37 year old Barry Gregg of Key West Wednesday on an outstanding warrant for arson and possession of a fire bomb. Gregg is accused of throwing beer bottles filled with gasoline at a home on Big Coppitt Key. The house sustained fire damage to the front wall, front porch and the roof.

The incident occurred in the early morning hours Sunday. The victim called to report that Gregg had firebombed his house over a dispute about drugs. He told deputies Gregg had threatened to burn his house earlier in the day, then had returned with the bottles of gasoline and had made good on his threat.

During the course of the investigation, it was discovered Gregg was wanted on two outstanding warrants for worthless checks so he was arrested Sunday and booked into jail. He bonded out a short time later, but was picked up again Wednesday and booked on the arson/firebomb charges.

The investigation was handled jointly by the Sheriff’s Office and the State Fire Marshall’s Office.

Deputies investigate animal cruelty on Stock Island

Stock Island – Sheriff’s deputies responded to the area of the Golf Course Wednesday afternoon to investigate reports of animal cruelty.

According to reports by Deputy John Gabay, he and Deputy Jack Bernhard spoke with a woman at the American Legion Hall who said she found a cat with a nail in it’s head. Another woman at the Golf Club next door said she’d found a cat with a nail in it’s head as well, and a rooster with two darts in it.

All three animals are being treated for their injuries, but are still alive. There was tape wrapped around the heads of all three nails, which may have been shot from a nail gun or some other projectile device.

Animal cruelty is a third degree felony and holds a possible penalty of up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.00. Anyone with information about this case should call the Sheriff’s Office or Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a monetary reward if the tip leads to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.