Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

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

Aug. 31, 2001

Bank Fraud Arrest

 A countywide bank security alert system helped Monroe County Sheriff’s detectives arrest a bank fraud suspect.  30-year old Ralph Burch Jr.(last known address Panama City, Fl.) was apprehended Wednesday at the Marathon branch of the Keys Federal Credit Union as he tried to cash a bogus check.  The credit union staff recognized Burch’s name from a faxed and e-mailed alert put out by the Sheriff’s Office to all local banks.  The alert was issued by Detective Mike Wilkinson after the security officer of TIB bank of the Keys reported that a customer named Burch had deposited numerous bogus checks at several TIB branches and had withdrawn over nine thousand dollars in cash.  The checks were forgeries, using legitimate business names and financial institution account numbers from the Panama City Florida area. 

Detective Wilkinson ran a criminal records check on Burch that showed he was wanted on bank fraud charges in Bay County Florida.  Incredibly, while meeting with TIB officials last Tuesday, Detective Wilkinson was informed that Burch was - at  that moment - in Key West at a branch of TIB bank, trying to cash yet another check.  The tellers said Burch hurriedly left the bank after being told to wait while they checked with supervisors. 

Detective Wilkinson immediately put out a county wide law enforcement alert for Burch, using a description of his last known registered car.  Detective Wilkinson also contacted Sheriff’s Public Information Officer, Deputy Becky Herrin, who faxed and e-mailed an alert to security officers at all banks in the Keys.  The Sheriff’s Office has  pre-programmed fax and e-mail lists for bank security officers.

On Wednesday, Burch showed up at the Marathon branch of the Keys Federal Credit Union.  He tried to deposit and cash another bogus check.  While conducting the transaction, bank officials called the Sheriff’s Office.  Deputies arrested Burch and impounded his car.  Burch was initially taken into custody for the outstanding arrest warrants from Bay County Florida.  Detective Wilkinson today (Friday) obtained new arrest warrants charging Burch with ten counts of uttering forged instruments and seven counts of grand theft.  Burch is currently incarcerated at the Monroe County Detention Center.

 Reward Offered

 A reward of over ten thousand dollars is being offered for information leading to the arrest of the person who attacked Sugarloaf resident Si Stern Sunday, July 8, 2001 outside of his home on old Papy Road.

On that date, at approximately 2:30 a.m., a masked, armed man attached Stern in an apparent effort to rob him.  The victim was injured, but managed with the help of his dogs and a friend, to fight the man off.

Anyone with information about this crime should contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys.  Callers may remain anonymous and if the information leads to an arrest, the caller will be eligible for a cash reward.  A private donor is offering ten thousand dollars cash for information leading to an arrest and Crime Stoppers will pay up to one thousand additional dollars.


August 27, 2001

Teens charged with burglarizing bar, stealing beer

Big Coppitt Key – Two teenage boys have been arrested and charged with breaking in to a restaurant and stealing a cooler full of beer.

The maintenance person at the Geiger Key Marina Restaurant called the Sheriff’s Office to report the crime. He told dispatchers he’d gotten up at 4 a.m. Saturday to use the bathroom and spotted the two boys carrying a cooler across the restaurant parking lot. He recognized the cooler as having come from inside the restaurant. He was able to give dispatchers a description of the boy’s small red car. The description was relayed to deputies on patrol.

When Deputy Mark Long arrived, he saw evidence of the break in. The boys had reportedly forced open a window shutter and entered, leaving muddy footprints all over the bar and restaurant.

Deputy Manuel Cuervo was southbound toward Big Coppitt Key watching for the red car when it passed him traveling northbound at the 16-mile marker. He noticed a white cooler in the back of the 1991 Honda Civic, and he pulled the car over for further investigation. The cooler, in the back of the car, was full of beer, and there were bottles of beer on the back floorboard as well. The boys were questioned, and admitted to stealing the cooler from the restaurant.

18-year-old Anthony Nieves and 17 year old Lee Mattingly were both arrested and charged with burglary and possession of alcohol by a minor. They were booked at the Monroe County Detention Center. The beer and cooler were returned to the owner.


August 24, 2001

Truck Driver robbed at gun point

Fiesta Key – A semi-tractor trailer driver, resting at the side of the highway at the 70-mile marker Friday morning, was robbed at gunpoint. The suspects, from Louisville, Kentucky were caught a short time later by Sheriff’s deputies.

The driver, who lives in Miami and drives a truck for ABT Trucking, called the Sheriff’s Office at 7 a.m. to report the robbery. He said two men in a gray Toyota Celica pulled up to his truck. The passenger got out armed with a shotgun, pointed it at him and demanded his money. The driver handed over his cash and the man got back into the car, which then left the area southbound.

Deputies in the area of Duck Key spotted the car as it turned around and began to head north. They pulled it over and took the two men inside into custody. In the car, they found two loaded shotguns. When dispatchers began investigating the two men’s identities, and the car’s tag number, they found out the car had been stolen in Kentucky on August 22nd. They also found a notice from Kentucky to be on the lookout for the car and the two men inside. The BOLO said the men were believed to be armed with shotguns, and to be dangerous. The information on the BOLO said the men intended to drive from Kentucky to Florida on a “robbery and killing spree and would kill any police officer they come in contact with.”

21-year-old Jason Hildebrand, the driver of the car, and 22-year-old Andrew Brimer, his passenger, were both charged with armed robbery, aggravated assault with a firearm, grand theft auto, theft, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a small amount of marijuana, found in the car.

Involved in the traffic stop and apprehension were Deputies Will Guerra, James Field, Joe Slough and Jake Brady.

Burglary suspect apprehended by K-9

Stock Island – A burglary suspect was interrupted as he attempted to break in to a Stock Island restaurant. He was apprehended a short time later by Sheriff’s deputies and a Key West Police K-9 unit.

Deputy Cynthia Garcia was in the vicinity of the Hickory House Restaurant at 11:30 p.m. Thursday when an employee of the business approached her patrol vehicle. He told her a burglary was in progress at the rear of the restaurant, located on Maloney Avenue, Stock Island. He said the suspect had a pickaxe and was attempting to break in the back of the building. He said when he confronted the suspect, the suspect ran at him with the pickaxe, so he ran to find help.

Deputy Garcia radioed for assistance and Deputy Patrick Scribner arrived a short time later, along with other officers in the area. The suspect, later identified as 24-year-old Lazaro Alonzo of Stock Island, was spotted running through a nearby trailer park, but when the officers ordered him to stop, he failed to do so.

Several K-9 units from the Sheriff’s Office and Key West Police happened to be involved in a training exercise at the time of the call, and they responded along with a number of Key West Police Officers who responded as back up. A perimeter was set up around the area where the suspect was last seen, and the K-9 teams began searching for him.

Alonzo was found hiding under a trailer by Key West Police Officer Joshua Laino and his dog Rocky. When he was found by the dog, Alonzo grabbed a large rock and began hitting Rocky on the side of the head. Rocky bit Alonzo in the leg and arm during the attack.

Alonzo was taken into custody and charged with burglary, resisting arrest without violence, battery on a police dog and aggravated assault. He was transported to the hospital for treatment of his injuries before being booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. The K-9, Rocky, appeared to be dazed from being hit and will be taken to a veterinarian to be checked for injuries.

Man arrested for sexual battery on a child

Marathon – A man who committed sexual battery on a young child in Marathon was apprehended Thursday in North Carolina and will be returned to Monroe County to face charges.

43-year-old Robert Alan Brophy was arrested by authorities in Dunn, North Carolina on an outstanding warrant from Monroe County for sexual battery and lewd and lascivious acts on a child. Bond on the warrant is set at $250,000.00.

According to reports by Detective Krissy Games, Brophy was in the Marathon area in July. At that time, he sexually abused a five-year-old child. The child later reported it to a family member, who called the Sheriff’s Office.

Brophy fled to North Carolina before he could be arrested, so Detective Games elicited the help of Investigator R.L. Jenkins, with the City of Dunn, along with a social services worker from that area. They assisted in the investigation and apprehension of Brophy on the charges.

Retail theft turns violent

Stock Island – A man who stole a Budweiser Beer and a can of soup was charged with Robbery Thursday after he battered two store clerks.

According to reports by Deputy Butch Albury, 49-year-old Steven Kachovec entered the Dion’s Quik Mart on Stock Island at 12:40 p.m. He took the beer and soup, and tried to leave the store without paying. When he was confronted by the two store clerks, he shoved them both out of the way and fled. He was found a short distance away trying to open the soup can.

Kachovec was arrested for strong-arm robbery and two counts of battery and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center where he will receive three meals a day, but will have to forgo the beer with his meals.

August 21, 2001

Four Miami teens charged with stealing mopeds from Key West

Cudjoe Key – Sheriff’s Deputies on routine patrol caught four Miami teens with a U-Haul truck filled with stolen mopeds in the back. All four were arrested and booked into jail.

Deputy Manuel Cuervo received a notice to be on the lookout for a U-Haul truck driving erratically on highway U.S. One on Cudjoe Key. He spotted the truck shortly after 11:30 p.m. parked alongside the highway at the 24.5 mile marker. When he stopped to check the truck out, he discovered a load of mopeds in the back.

As the deputy was checking the truck for possible occupants, he noticed two teens walking back to the truck on the highway, carrying a jug of some type of liquid. When the teens saw the deputy, they quickly turned and began walking in the other direction. Deputy Cuervo approached them and asked them if the U-Haul truck was theirs. They said it was, and told him they’d run out of gas and had walked to a nearby gas station to get some. They said there was another person at Dion’s Quik Mart on Summerland Key.

Sgt. Vaughn Sommers arrived as back up and went to the Summerland Key convenience store to investigate. He found two more teens at the store who admitted to being with the U-Haul truck. A check on all the mopeds in the back of the truck revealed they’d all been stolen from the city of Key West.

All four teens were arrested and charged with Grant theft. 16 year old Sonless Martin, 16 year old Gerald Francius, 19 year old Stanley Rouzard and 18 year old Fred Joseph, all of Miami, were booked at the Monroe County Detention Center.

August 20, 2001

School related traffic laws enforced

Monroe County – The Sheriff's Office concentrated efforts last week on enforcing school related traffic laws.

Deputies worked special patrols related to schools, including speeding patrols in school zones throughout the county, and patrolling for improper passing of school buses in the Marathon area. Road Patrol deputies and traffic enforcement officers in these special patrols. These are the number of tickets tallied as of this morning: 

·       124 tickets for school zone related violations, mostly involving speeding

·       20 tickets for improper passing of school buses (in the Marathon area)

·       17 warnings

·       3 miscellaneous arrests

 We will be continuing our efforts to enforce school related laws. Keep in mind that fines for violations in school zones are double the normal fines, for instance:

     ·       Traveling 6 to 9 miles over the speed limit in a school zone will cost you $68.00

·       Traveling 10-14 miles over the speed limit in a school zone will cost you $218.00

·       Traveling 15 to 19 miles over the speed limit in a school zone will cost you $268.00

In addition, improper passing of a school bus on the left hand side will cost you $118.00 and improper passing of a school bus on the right hand side will result in a mandatory court appearance.


August 17, 2001

Detectives arrest Marathon man for vehicle burglaries

Marathon – Sheriff’s detectives arrested a Marathon man for committing at least two vehicle burglaries. More charges are pending against him.

Between August 8th and the 16th, there were 16 vehicle burglaries reported in the Marathon area. In most of the cases, forced entry was made to the vehicle, and valuable items were taken from inside including cell phones, tools and dive equipment. Detectives received information identifying a possible suspect.

On Thursday evening, detectives spotted 36 year old Gonzalo Davila of Marathon breaking in to a car in the parking lot of the Publix grocery store in Marathon. He was then observed trying the door handle of a car at Gary’s Pub a short distance away, and broke into a car parked behind Wendy’s restaurant.

Davila was placed under arrest and charged with two counts of vehicle burglary and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. AT the time of the arrest, there were several stolen items in his possession, including a stolen cellular phone, and he had a screwdriver as well, which detectives believe he used when breaking in to the cars. He is also under investigation in connection with the earlier burglaries and more charges may be pending.

August 16, 2001

Search Warrant leads to arrests

Sugarloaf Key – Detectives from the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Division arrested two people for possession of marijuana after a search warrant was served at their home on Sugarloaf Key.

The warrant was served Monday evening on a home located at 19570 Mayan Street. Over 1100 grams of marijuana were found in various locations around the house, including in the living room, and in two freezers. Various items of paraphernalia were also found, along with $1,041 cash that was seized.

49-year-old Lawrence Burns was charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. His wife, 37-year-old Denise Burns, was arrested, and given a notice to appear in court for possession of a marijuana cigarette, which she was smoking in the living room when detectives entered the residence.


August 11, 2001

Detectives look for missing Key West man

Key West – Sheriff’s detectives are asking anyone with information about a missing Key West man to call them.

56 year old Henry Hesterberg of1312 8th Street in Key West rented a boat Thursday from U.S. One Marina on Stock Island. Employees there say he had what looked like brand new fishing gear with him when he took it out around 8 a.m. He at first said he’d be picking up other people to go with him, then changed his story and said he’d be going alone. The boat, a 25 foot Boston Whaler, had a full tank of 70 gallons of gas when he left the Marina, ostensibly to go fishing.

When he didn’t return the boat at the agreed upon time of 3 p.m., the Sheriff’s Office was notified of a possible boat theft. The boat was found, however, Friday afternoon, approximately 10 miles southwest of Key West near the Western Dryrocks by a commercial dive boat. The crew on the dive boat called for assistance, and officers from the Fish and Wildlife Commission responded.

The boat was adrift, and out of gas, but otherwise in good condition. Hesterberg’s money, identification, watch and fishing gear were found on board, but there was no sign of him. There was a barracuda in one of the ice chests, and some bait that employees at the Marina say he did not have with him when he left. The boat was towed back to shore for further examination and will be returned to the owner.

There was no alcohol found on the boat, although Hesterberg was known to drink beer. He was a frequent visitor to Friday’s Restaurant and Bar, where he reportedly had a few beers almost every night.

Friends and family say the entire incident was out of character. They say he never mentioned renting a boat, although he liked to fish and went out on boats with friends frequently. He was reportedly unemployed and was having some financial difficulty. Detectives say they are unsure how he got to the Marina Thursday. His car was found parked at his house.

Anyone who has any information about Hesterberg should contact the Sheriff’s Office immediately.

Stock Island man charged with pointing a gun at another man

Stock Island – Deputies arrested a Stock Island man Friday night for pointing a gun at another man and threatening to shoot him.

The victim and witnesses to the incident told Deputy Matt Dowling they were at the Safe Harbor Marina when the incident occurred. They were acquaintances with the suspect, 24 year old Michael Wilkerson. Wilkerson allegedly made a remark about his ex-girlfriend stealing his marijuana. At that point, an argument began between he and the victim. The victim lives on board a boat at the Marina with his wife. She and another woman witnessed the incident.

During the course of the argument, Wilkerson reached behind his back and pulled out a semi-automatic handgun. He pointed it at the victim’s head and told him to “back off or I’ll put a cap in your head.” At that point, the victim walked away, and Wilkerson left the area.

When Deputy Dowling and Sgt. Ronnie Roberts arrived on the scene, the victim pointed out Wilkerson, who was still in the area. When he saw the officers, Wilkerson fled, jumped into a pickup truck and left the area. He was stopped as he was driving southbound on U.S. One at the 4 mile marker.

The gun was not recovered, although Wilkerson admitted to having it, and to pointing it at the victim. He refused to say where he put the gun, except to say, “it’s in a safe place.” He was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and carrying a concealed firearm. He was further charged with possession of drug paraphernalia after several marijuana pipes were found in his truck. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.


August 10, 2001

16 year old charged with burglary, theft of guns

Key Largo – A Key Largo teen has been arrested in connection with a burglary and the theft of a number of guns from the burglarized residence.

16 year old John Capote is accused of stealing the guns from a home on Lower Matecumbe Road in Key Largo. According to reports by Deputy Todd Wyatt, entrance to the home was made sometime between Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, through a back sliding glass door. The burglary was discovered by a neighbor who was feeding the family’s dogs while they were away for the week.

The inside of the home was ransacked. A picture of the family was torn in a number of pieces, and a gun cabinet was tipped over and vandalized. All the guns in the cabinet were missing, including a number of handguns and rifles.

Deputy Wyatt interviewed Capote, who reportedly lives down the street and is the ex-boyfriend of a girl who lives in the burglarized home. Capote denied any involvement with the crime. After the interview, the deputy obtained permission to search Capote’s bedroom from his mother. The search of the bedroom turned up one of the stolen handguns. Two more of the stolen guns were eventually found hidden around Capote’s house. At least four rifles stolen during the burglary have still not been recovered.

Capote was arrested and charged with armed burglary and grand theft. Detectives say more arrests are pending in the case. Anyone with information about the crime, or about the stolen guns, should contact Detective David Carey at the Plantation Key Sheriff’s Substation, 853-3211.


August 9, 2001

Taxi Driver held against his will

Islamorada – A taxi driver who picked up a fare early Wednesday had his radio taken away so he couldn’t communicate, and he was forced to drive the man around until he passed out.

The driver told Deputy Adam Rabinowitz he picked up 49 year old George Langston of Tavernier at the Carribean Club in Key Largo just after 4 a.m. Wednesday. Langston said he wanted to go to Arbor Lane in Tavernier, where he lives. He sat in the front seat of the cab and, as they were driving southbound, he lit up a cigar. The driver told him he couldn’t smoke. Langston told the driver he would smoke anyway, so the driver pulled over and told him to get out.

At that point, Langston grabbed the driver’s radio from him and threatened to beat him with it. He told the driver to continue driving and said if he tried to pull over again, he would grab the steering wheel and steer the car into the ditch in an effort to kill both of them.

In fear for his life, the driver kept driving the cab until Langston passed out on the seat beside him. He then pulled into an Islamorada hotel and called for help.

Deputy Rabinowitz arrived and took Langston into custody. Langston told the deputy it was his birthday and he’d been out partying. He said he was “just being a bad ass.”

Langston was arrested and charged with false imprisonment, theft, robbery and aggravated assault and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.


August 7, 2001

Search warrant leads to drug arrest

Marathon – A Marathon man was arrested after detectives found a large amount of marijuana in his home Monday evening.

Detectives from the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Division served a search warrant at 481 109th Street Oceanside in Marathon at 5:30 p.m. The search turned up 905 grams of marijuana hidden inside a speaker, found in a closet in the house.

36 year old James Gibson was arrested and charged with possession of a felony amount of marijuana with intent to distribute it. He was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia after a scale, a pipe, a bong and rolling papers were found in the house.

Gibson was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. Assisting in the search was a U.S. Border Patrol K-9 team.


August 6, 2001

17 year old dead in apparent dive accident

Key West – A 17 year old from Jacksonville died while diving off of Key West this weekend. His body was recovered Monday, just 1000 yards away from the area he was last seen alive.

According to reports by Detective Henry Hamilton, 17 year old David Miller was on board a boat Saturday afternoon with two friends in the area of the Northwest Channel, about two miles west of Key West. He and one of the other boys, 17 year old Colt Lewin, went into the water at 3:45 p.m. for a planned 30 minute drift dive while the third boy drove the boat, following their bubbles. Lewin surfaced after 30 minutes and was picked up by the boat. When they looked for Miller’s bubbles, they couldn’t find them, and he subsequently failed to surface.. After a short search of the area, the boys flagged down a passing boat, and the United States Coast Guard was notified and began searching for the boy at 4:45 p.m.

Miller’s dive gear was recovered approximately a mile south of the area where the  boys were diving. Miller’s body was found by a passing boater Monday afternoon approximately 1000 yards southeast of the area where they were diving. The Coast Guard was notified and picked the body up, bringing it to the Key West Coast Guard Station. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death.

Divers from the Key West Police Department, officers from the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the United States Coast Guard assisted with the investigation.


August 3, 2001

Two search warrants in Marathon

Marathon – Search warrants were served in Marathon on Thursday and today (Friday), with a total of four people being arrested for possessing marijuana.

Thursday morning, detectives from the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Division served a search warrant at 9104 Aviation Boulevard at 5:30 a.m. The warrant was issued after an investigation revealed marijuana was being sold from the residence.

Inside, detectives found more than 51 grams of the illegal drug. 23-year-old Kevin Yeider was arrested for possession of a misdemeanor amount of marijuana after a small amount of the drug was found belonging to him. Another man staying in the house, 22-year-old Alfred Cristini, was arrested for possessing a felony amount of marijuana with intent to sell it after 51 grams of the drug were found in a suitcase in his bedroom. The marijuana was packaged in small zip lock bags, ready to be sold.

Friday morning, detectives from the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Division served a search warrant at 999 41st Street, Apartment #12. The search warrant was obtained after an investigation revealed drugs were being sold from the residence.

38-year-old Dorothy Howard was arrested after detectives found 129 grams of marijuana were found in her bedroom, and stuffed down the front of her pants. Some of the drug was packaged in small zip lock bags, ready for sale. Howard was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell.

Her daughter, 20-year-old Katina Tubbs, was also arrested after a small amount of marijuana was found in her purse. She was charged with possession of less than 20 grams, a misdemeanor.

Assisting in Friday’s search warrant was Sheriff’s Office road patrol, the Sheriff’s Special Weapons and Tactics team (SWAT) and a United States Border Patrol K-9 team.

Suspicious Package found to contain packing material

Marathon – A suspicious package, reported to the Sheriff’s Office Friday morning in front of the Marathon Post Office, turned out to contain only packing material.

A member of the Sheriff’s Bomb Squad was called out Friday at 6:15 a.m. to examine a package left in a shopping cart in front of the Post Office in Marathon. It is Sheriff’s Office policy to treat all suspicious packages as if they could be dangerous until it can be determined what is inside.

Sgt. Bobby Randolph determined that the box contained only Styrofoam packing material, and was not a potential hazard to the community. He speculated that someone might have opened a package they picked up at the Post Office, removed the contents, then left the box outside.