Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

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

December 31, 2002

Boat Crash update

Update on the boat crash involving Fish and Wildlife Officer Jason Reiff (note: this is the correct spelling of his name - it was inadvertently misspelled in the FWC release):

The victim's name: Jose Herrera, 59 years old from Hialeah.

Herrara is a sponger. He had a larger boat moored near the crash scene, but was going to or from that boat in a 12 foot sponging skiff at the time of the accident. He was in the Keys by himself. His wife, in Hialeah, has been notified about his death.

The autopsy's results, although preliminary, show signs of trauma and drowning consistent with a crash such as this. Final autopsy reports are pending, however.

The skiff the victim was riding in drifted away from the scene and has not yet been recovered. Law Enforcement agencies in the Keys are working together searching for it. Anyone who runs across a 12 foot sponging skiff, which was last seen floating upside down, should call the Sheriff's Office.


The following release is from the Fish and Wildlife Commission:

Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2002


MARATHON—A law enforcement patrol craft with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) collided with a 12-foot skiff at approximately 7:30 p.m., Monday, Dec. 30.

FWC Major Mike Long, Marathon said the occupant of the fishing skiff died and was apparently the only person aboard. Identification of the victim is being withheld until notification of family. The patrol craft operator, Officer Jason Rieff, 25, was uninjured. He is a two-year agency veteran.

The ongoing investigation is being overseen by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

After the collision, Officer Rieff entered the water and towed the victim to the beach, but was unable to revive him, the FWC reported. Long said an intensive search of the crash area last night by FWC, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office craft, and vessels and aircraft of the U. S. Coast Guard, failed to locate any other victims or survivors who may have been aboard the skiff.

Neither vessel sank, Long said. The U. S. Coast Guard assisted in securing the accident scene.

December 31, 2002

Correction to yesterday's release about motorized scooters

I copied the following changes to Florida Statutes from The DHSMV web site, giving the details of what is and is not legal about motorized scooters:

"Ch. Law 2002-20 HB 261 – Traffic Effective 7/1/2002

316.003(21) A motor vehicle is any self-propelled vehicle not operated upon rails or guideway, but not including any bicycle, motorized scooter, electric personal assistive mobility device, or moped.

316.003(82) A motorized scooter is a vehicle not having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider, designed to travel on not more than three wheels, and not capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed greater than 30 mile per hour on level ground."

In essence, this says that a motorized scooter is legal to ride on the roadways for any age person, as long as it has no more than three wheels and as long as it does not have a seat on it.

We apologize for giving out incorrect information.

December 30, 2002

Man arrested for stabbing on Big Pine Key

Big Pine Key – Two men got into a fight at a residence on Avenue F Sunday night. One wound up in the hospital with a stab wound in his abdomen. The other is in jail for aggravated battery.

Deputies were dispatched to the home of 45 year old Michael Savage at 8:30 p.m. where they found the victim, 32 year old John Doyle, bleeding from a stab wound in his stomach. Doyle told deputies he’d been attacked by three unknown juveniles during a home invasion robbery. Deputies began searching the area for the alleged suspects, but none were located. They returned to the residence to continue their investigation, and discovered the real suspect, Savage, in the back bedroom of the home.

After speaking with Savage and several other witnesses, they were able to unravel the circumstances behind the incident. Savage said Doyle had come to his house earlier in the evening after having a dispute with his girlfriend. Doyle’s girlfriend then showed up and another argument began between them. Savage said he asked both Doyle and the girlfriend to leave and they did, but Doyle returned about 15 minutes later. At that point, Savage and Doyle reportedly began to argue, then began to push and shove each other. Savage said Doyle pushed him down and began to choke him. That’s when Savage said he took out his knife and opened it up. He says after he opened the knife, Doyle fell on the blade, which was driven into his stomach.

Doyle was airlifted to the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami by the Sheriff’s TraumaStar helicopter. As of Sunday night he was in stable condition. Detectives have not been able to interview Doyle to find out his version of events.

Savage was arrested and charged with aggravated battery. He’s currently in the Monroe County Detention Center.

Animal body parts cause a stir in Port Antigua, Islamorada

Islamorada – People staying in an Islamorada neighborhood who were looking for seashells on the beach found more than they bargained for Sunday.

Several Miami residents, staying in the Port Antigua Subdivision, told Deputy James Freed they were looking for seashells on the beach when they found cinderblocks with what looked like a hand, foot and vertebrae attached by a white plastic zip tie. They went back to the residence where they are staying to get five of their friends. They brought them back to the beach to see what they had found. After looking at the body parts, they went to a nearby residence to call the Sheriff’s Office.

When deputies arrived, they used crime scene tape to secure the area, then called for detectives and the medical examiner’s office. According to detectives, the body parts were determined to belong to animal, probably a pig.

Reminder: Go-peds are not legal to operate on roadways

Monroe County – The Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone that operating motorized scooters, sometimes called Go-peds, is illegal on the roadways of the State of Florida. Many kids have received the vehicles for Christmas, and everyone needs to review what is and is not allowed regarding them. Go-peds are considered to be motorized vehicles. They are not, however, considered to be legally equipped to operate on the roadways of the State of Florida. Because of these two facts, there are actually three separate laws which apply to the operation of them.

A person must be 16 and must possess a legal driver’s license to operate any motor vehicle on a roadway in the State of Florida. Additionally, because the motorized scooter-type vehicles are not considered to be “street-legal”, they are not legal for anyone to operate on a roadway in the State. Parents must also be aware of what their kids are doing: a parent may be cited for allowing their child to illegally operate such a vehicle on the roadway. And, remember, it is always illegal to operate any motor vehicle on a sidewalk, on the shoulder of the roadway or on a bicycle path. The Sheriff’s Office wants to let everyone know that these vehicles are against the law on the roadways of the State of Florida. Deputies will be stopping people on Go-peds and other motorized scooter-type vehicles, warning them, and may issue citations for the illegal operation of the vehicles.


December 27, 2002

Two more lower units stolen from motors

Tavernier – A Tavernier man reported two lower units from his Yamaha boat motors stolen.

The victim called Thursday afternoon to report the theft, but said the crime could have taken place anytime since Monday. The stolen lower units were from two Yamaha 200 horsepower outboard engines on his boat.

Five more lower units were stolen from three boats in the same general vicinity. They were reported missing, stolen sometime between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Detectives believe in these cases thieves approached the boats from the water.

14 other engines and/or lower units have been taken from boats in the upper Keys since June of this year. In most cases, the engines are being taken from marinas and boat yards, but the recent spate of thefts are from residential neighborhoods.

Detectives and deputies have diligently been investigating the boat motor thefts in the upper Keys and will continue to do so, but so far have not made any arrests relating to these cases. They speculate that suspects are transporting the motors and lower units to Miami, then shipping them out of the United States. The sheer numbers of boat motors available to thieves in the Keys, coupled with the difficulty owners have securing them, make the crime a tough one to solve. Detectives recommend making sure boats are parked or docked in well lighted areas. Alarm systems can also be helpful. There are many boat alarms available commercially. Most cost anywhere from $200.00 on up, but can detect when the boat moves, when wires are cut or when someone breaks into your boat.

“We really need help with this investigation,” said Detective Sgt. Corey Bryan. “We need people to keep their eyes open for suspicious activity, both in residential neighborhoods and around marinas and boat yards. We need them to watch for trucks carrying boat motors or lower units, particularly at night. We need them to watch for suspicious activity on the water as well, particularly in residential canals and around marinas,” he said.

Anyone who has information about any boat motor or lower unit thefts should call the Sheriff’s Office immediately. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a substantial reward of up to $1,000.00. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.


December 26, 2002

Lower units stolen from Tavernier boats

Tavernier – Five lower units from boat motors were stolen from three separate boats in a Tavernier neighborhood sometime between Tuesday and Wednesday.

The units were taken from three boats at two homes on Dubonnet Road in Tavernier. A neighbor called to report the thefts Wednesday. Detectives believe these lower units were taken by someone who approached the boats from the water.

This brings the total number of motors or lower units stolen in the upper Keys since June to at least 21. All the motors and lower units in question have been high-end Yamaha or Mercury engines, usually 200 – 250 horse power. Most of the stolen engines and lower units have been taken from Marinas and boat yards. Some have been taken from private homes.

Detectives and deputies have diligently been investigating boat motor thefts in the upper Keys and will continue to do so, but so far have not made any arrests relating to these cases. They speculate that suspects are transporting the motors and lower units to Miami, then shipping them out of the United States. The sheer numbers of boat motors available to thieves in the Keys, coupled with the difficulty owners have securing them, make the crime a tough one to solve. Detectives recommend making sure boats are parked or docked in well lighted areas. Alarm systems can also be helpful. There are many boat alarms available commercially. Most cost anywhere from $200.00 on up, but can detect when the boat moves, when wires are cut or when someone breaks into your boat.

“We really need help with this investigation,” said Detective Sgt. Corey Bryan. “We need people to keep their eyes open for suspicious activity, both in residential neighborhoods and around marinas and boat yards. We need them to watch for trucks carrying boat motors or lower units, particularly at night. We need them to watch for suspicious activity on the water as well, particularly in residential canals and around marinas,” he said.

Anyone who has information about any boat motor or lower unit thefts should call the Sheriff’s Office immediately. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a substantial reward of up to $1,000.00. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.


December 24, 2002

DUI Checkpoint Results

On December 21, 2002, a DUI Checkpoint was conducted by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office in Islamorada at MM 88 from 10 pm to 3 am. Sgt. Tom Kiffney was the Supervisor in Charge. The results are as follows:

DUI Arrests:                                                                                    3

Narcotics Arrests                                                                            2

Other Arrests, including misdemeanors and criminal traffic           8

Citations issued:                                                                             57

Written Warning Citations                                                              38


December 23, 2002

Teen charged with having gun, making threats

Stock Island – A 17 year old Stock Island teen was charged with threatening a woman with a handgun, and possessing marijuana.

Deputies were called to 6650 Maloney Avenue Saturday at 8 p.m. to a neighborhood dispute. When they arrived, they found a 17 year old boy and a woman in an argument. When they pulled up, they saw the boy, Manuel Rangel, put something on the ground. Closer inspection revealed it to be a silver colored BB-gun which looked like a real handgun.

The deputies spoke with the victim, a neighbor of Rangel. She said she and Rangel had exchanged words, and that Rangel told her to “stay out of his way or he would put a cap in her ass.” He then lifted up his shirt and showed him the gun, which he had tucked in the waistband of his pants.

Rangel was arrested. A search of his pockets turned up a plastic bag of marijuana. Rangel was charged with aggravated assault with a firearm and possession of marijuana. He was turned over to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Islamorada man arrested for burglaries, using a stolen credit card

Islamorada – An Islamorada man was arrested Sunday for breaking into several apartments last week. He also used a credit card stolen from the apartment to charge merchandise at a local business.

Deputies and detectives were able to identify the suspect using a surveillance tape from the business where 27 year old Michael Strobridge used the stolen credit card. When they confronted Strobridge at his residence, he admitted to using the card, admitted to stealing it from an apartment across the street, and admitted to two other break-ins during which he stole various small items. He also admitted to cashing a stolen check at an area bank.

Strobridge was arrested and charged with fraudulent use of a credit card, three counts of burglary and three counts of grand theft. More charges are pending on cashing of the check.

December 20, 2002 – second edition

Missing man found

Key Largo – Detective Larry O’Neill has located a man reported missing last month.

54 year old Michael Lee Davis was located after the detective talked to several acquaintances of his. One of them was able to give Davis’ location in Edgewater, Florida where he is currently visiting a friend.

When Detective O’Neill contacted Davis to confirm that he is all right, Davis said he didn’t tell anyone he was leaving the Keys because he didn’t think anyone cared where he was.

Warning: Man is writing bad checks

Monroe County – The Sheriff’s office would like to warn Keys businesses that a man has been writing bad checks over the past couple of days.

According to Detective Rick Martin, the man, who is using at least two different names, has a book of checks taken from a gas station in Cocoa Beach, Florida. He has written at least four checks at four different businesses totaling $2,500.00. He has tried to write checks in several others and has been turned down.

He goes by the names Ronald Stinson and Jeff Howard. He has pieces of identification with those names on them, including a Washington State driver’s license and an expired credit card with the Stinson name and another identification card with the Howard name. The checks are written on the Bank of America, and are numbered between 1240 and 1279. He has written or attempted to write checks in both Marathon and Key West.

The suspect is described as a white male in his early 40s, six feet two or three inches tall, 230-240 pounds with reddish-blond hair. He has been described as having a “pot-belly”, and has a tattoo of the Miami Dolphins logo on one of his upper arms. He may be driving a dark colored jeep with a soft top or no top on it.

Anyone with information about this man should contact the Sheriff’s Office immediately at 289-2430. Callers who wish to remain anonymous should contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a caller’s information leads to an arrest, he or she would be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.00. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

December 20, 2002

Missouri man dies while diving

Upper Keys – A Missouri man died Thursday while diving near French Reef, on the ocean side of the upper Keys.

54 year old Thomas Peirson Prater was on a dive trip with his son on board the dive vessel “Cheeca View”, operated by Horizon Divers. According to witnesses, they were diving in about 45 feet of water at 10:30 a.m. and had been in the water approximately 45 minutes. The two men surfaced and gave the boat’s crew the “O.K.” signal. A mate from the boat jumped in the water to help them get back to the boat. When they were about 20 feet away, the mate noticed that Prater was in trouble. When they got him on board, he was not breathing, so they began CPR, called for help, and started in to shore.

By the time they reached dock at Key Largo Harbor at 10:51 a.m., rescue personnel had arrived. They examined the victim, and pronounced him dead at the scene.

Prater’s dive equipment was taken into evidence for routine examination. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death.

Casino boat burglarized; ATM machine stolen

Key Largo – The Sun Cruz Casino boat was burglarized and the ATM machine was taken, along with the cash it contained.

The burglary took place between midnight and 12:30 p.m. Thursday. According to reports by Deputy Jose Carballo, someone entered the boat and took the ATM machine on board. The suspect(s) also pried open the door to the bank cage, tried to open the boat’s safe, and took all the video surveillance tapes from the boat’s security office.

Detectives are investigating.


December 19, 2002 – 2nd edition

Bank branch manager arrested for stealing from customer’s accounts

Key Largo – The branch manager of Community Bank in Tavernier was arrested Wednesday evening, charged with stealing money from customer’s accounts and transferring it to her own.

23 year old Rosalie Hall of Homestead has been charged with grand theft. She is accused of transferring money from several customer’s bank accounts, through bank accounts belonging to members of her family and into a personal account held by her.

Detective Mike Wilkinson was called to the main office of Community Bank in Homestead Wednesday. When he arrived, he met with a vice-president of the bank who told him that Hall had confessed to taking the money from the customer’s accounts. Hall was there also, and she agreed to meet with Detective Wilkinson at his office in Plantation Key to talk to him about her actions.

She admitted to stealing at least $16,500.00 from three separate accounts. She said she picked the accounts because she knew the customers in question never checked the details of their accounts. She was caught after she made a mistake on one of the transfer slips, bringing the transfer to the attention of a bookkeeper at the bank, who then began examining all the transfers made by Hall.

The investigation is ongoing and more charges may be pending. She was initially charged with grand theft and was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. Bond was set at $1,500.00.


December 19, 2002

Student charged with shooting BB gun at school bus

Big Pine Key – An eleven year old Big Pine Key boy was arrested Wednesday for shooting a BB gun at a school bus.

Eleven year old Luis Rodriguez was standing on the side of the road near the intersection of Avenue B and Sunset Drive with another boy just before 5 p.m. Tuesday. According to the bus driver, as he passed the two boys he saw one of them hiding something behind his back, then he heard something hit the side of the bus. A student riding on the bus told Deputy Tom Peteck, Jr. that he saw one of the boys point a BB gun at the bus and pull the trigger, shooting the side of the bus.

The boy was identified as Rodriguez by the driver and by students on the bus. He was located the following day by Deputy Peteck. He was charged with discharging a weapon at school property. He is currently being held by the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Man arrested again for credit card skimming

Marathon – A Marathon man was arrested for the second time in a month and was charged with “skimming” credit cards.

35 year old Raul Antonio Delcid was arrested by Detective Lionel Vargas Wednesday and charged with use of a scanning device or recorder to defraud. He was previously arrested in November on the same charges.

According to Detective Henry Hamilton, the investigation began after a fraud investigator from Citibank called Monroe County to report noticing a pattern of credit card fraud cases occurring in Monroe County. In particular, the cases pointed to the Tom Thumb store on Big Pine Key.

Detective Hamilton began to investigate, and discovered during his investigation that Delcid was the one allegedly responsible for the credit card fraud cases. With the cooperation of the store manager, Detective Hamilton was able to pull a video surveillance tape from July of this year showing Delcid using a scanning device to scan customer’s credit cards apart from the usual scanning device used by the store for purchases. The device he used records the magnetic strip on the cards, enabling the card’s numbers to be used later.

When Delcid was confronted with the video tape, he confessed to “skimming” the credit cards. He said he would copy a large number of cards into the box, then sell the box to someone he only knew as “Carlos” in Miami. He was paid $15.00 per credit card number, making $800.00 on one occasion from cards “skimmed” at the Tom Thumb on Big Pine, and another $800.00 from cards he “skimmed” while working at the Dion’s Quik Mart on Summerland Key.

The card numbers he sold were subsequently used to defraud credit card companies out of thousands of dollars. Delcid was booked at that time into the Monroe County Detention Center on a felony count of credit card fraud. He bonded out of jail on those charges a short time later. He’s now been arrested a second time on the same charges. Bond has been set this time at $50,000.00. More charges are pending.

According to Detectives, investigations such as this one are complex, but because there is a clear paper trail from the person who does the actual skimming, people such as Delcid are relatively easy to pinpoint. He is still working with credit card companies on similar cases in the lower Keys, and with detectives from other areas of the county on similar cases throughout the county. The Sheriff’s Office hopes to make more arrests such as this one in the future. The “skimming” of credit cards is taking place across the country and costs credit card companies millions of dollars every year.

Key Largo man charged with burglarizing business

Key Largo – A Key Largo man was charged Wednesday morning with breaking in to Pizza Hut in Key Largo and stealing their cash register.

Deputies Don Dalton and Jose Carballo were dispatched to reports of a business burglary at Pizza Hut in Key Largo just after 9 a.m., the glass front door to the business broken, and sandy footprints were found inside the business. A computer was broken, and two cash registers were missing. Deputies followed a trail of coins and shoe prints outside into the parking lot, then to a wooded area nearby. 37 year old Brian Thein was found in the wooded area standing over pieces of the missing cash registers. His shoes matched the shoe prints found in the store and parking lot.

Thein was arrested and charged with burglary, criminal mischief and grand theft and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.


December 17, 2002

Drug Op results in Ecstasy trafficking arrest

Stock Island – Key West Police and Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Units worked together Monday evening to arrest a Key West man for sale of a large amount of Ecstasy.

Key West Police detectives developed information that 36 year old Stephen Grant was dealing in the drug Ecstasy. Working with Sheriff’s Office detectives, they set up a deal to purchase the drug in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant on Stock Island.

At 6 p.m., Grant met with an undercover operative and sold him 62 Ecstasy pills – 12.9 grams of the drug. Grant was arrested and charged with trafficking in Ecstasy and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Keys man charged with exploitation of an elderly person

Big Pine Key – A Big Pine Key man was arrested Monday and charged with exploitation of an elderly person.

According to Detective John McGee, 55 year old Anthony Gligora was a guest in the victim’s home when the abuse and exploitation began. According to the victim, who is 84 years old, he began asking her for money. When she refused to give it to him, he became verbally abusive and violent. Over a period of six months, the victim says she gave Gligora approximately $5,000.00 in cash and checks because she was afraid of him.

The victim finally asked Gligora to leave her house on December 8th. He refused, so the Sheriff’s Office was called and he was removed from the home. He returned an hour later and he was arrested for trespass after warning.

He was released from jail Monday morning. Detective McGee, who had been investigating the case, arrested him again at 4:25 p.m. on Big Pine Key, charging him with exploitation of an elderly person. Gligora was booked back into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Sgt. Daryl Hull assisted in the investigation and arrest.


December 16, 2002

Detective charged with drunk driving

Marathon – Sheriff’s deputies arrested a Sheriff’s Office detective Saturday in the early morning hours for drunk driving.

A deputy on patrol at the 59.5 mile marker spotted a truck northbound. The truck was exceeding the speed limit and driving erratically. After following the truck for a period of time, and observing it swerving off the road several times, the deputy pulled the truck over. The driver of the truck was Mark Terrill, a detective with the Sheriff’s Office.

Terrill was given field sobriety tests, which he was unable to perform adequately. He failed a subsequent breathalyzer test and was placed under arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Key Largo man charged with attempted murder

Key Largo – A Key Largo man was charged with attempting to kill his ex-wife Friday afternoon.

The victim told Deputy Sever Hustad she came home from work Friday at 4:45 p.m. When she walked in the door of her trailer, her ex-husband, 51 year old James Calvin Coin, was hiding in the bedroom. He walked out carrying a gun. She said he pointed it at her head and told her he was “going to end it today”. He also pointed it at his own head, as if he was going to shoot himself. They struggled, and at one point, he discharged the gun into the ceiling. He also hit the victim in the mouth with the gun, and grabbed her around the throat at least two times.

The victim said she was yelling for help and he finally left the trailer. That is when she called 911 to report the incident. After the attack, she also discovered an expensive gold necklace missing from the trailer, valued at $600.00.

A short time later, Sheriff’s Office dispatchers received a call from Coin, saying he wanted to turn himself in. He was found at a home on Bostwick Drive and was taken into custody without incident. He was charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery, violation of a protective order, burglary and grand theft. His bond is set at $250,000.00.


December 13, 2002

Man missing, possibly endangered

Monroe County – Sheriff’s detectives say they need help locating a man missing since Thanksgiving.

54 year old Michael Lee Davis was last seen by his boss the day before the Thanksgiving holiday. Davis has reportedly worked for Hoefert and Sons in Key Largo for the past 25 years and has a near perfect attendance record during that time, according to his employer.

Davis resides on Plantation Key and his 1995 white Ford truck is still at his residence.  As far as detectives have been able to tell, Davis did not tell anyone that he was leaving town and his boss and friends are worried about him.

Davis is five foot ten inches tall, 160 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. His nickname is “Redeye”. Anyone with information which might help locate Davis should contact the Sheriff’s Office at (305)292-7075.


December 11, 2002

Arrest made for Marathon HS Bomb Threat

Marathon – Sheriff’s detectives arrested a 14 year old Marathon student today (Wednesday), charging her with making a bomb threat at the Marathon High School Monday.

14 year old Gina Nichols-Nicholas told Detective Lionel Vargas she was home from school Monday and got bored. She said she wanted her friend to come over to visit her, so she decided to call in the bomb threat. She said she called the school, disguising her voice as a boy’s, and said “You have a bomb at your school”. The threat resulted in a detailed search of the school by law enforcement officers and firefighters, and an early dismissal of students. No explosive device or other suspicious package was found.

The following day when she arrived at school, she heard that school authorities and detectives could trace where the phone call came from, so she went to the School Administrator’s office and admitted that she was the one who made the call. The school’s principal then called the Sheriff’s Office and Detective Vargas responded.

Detective Vargas questioned the girl, and she repeated her admissions. A warrant was obtained for her arrest today (Wednesday). She was charged with making a false report of a bomb, a second degree felony. She was turned over to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Homestead men charged with drugs trafficking

Key Largo – Two Homestead men were taken into custody for trafficking in crack cocaine today.

Detectives from the Sheriff’s Office, working with the Drug Enforcement Administration, have been investigating the activities of 33 year old Michael Stuckey for the past eight months, calling the Homestead man “one of the major suppliers of crack cocaine in the upper Keys.”

Recently, they made two purchases of crack cocaine from him, purchasing a total of approximately 80 grams of the drug during the two transactions.

Today (Wednesday) they arranged to make a third purchase from him, meeting him in the parking lot of a grocery store at the 105 mile marker of Highway U.S. One at 1 p.m. They bought 57 grams of crack cocaine, then performed a traffic stop on his vehicle as he left the area. He was placed under arrest and charged with three counts of cocaine trafficking.

A passenger in the car, 28 year old Dexter Floyd of Homestead was also arrested. He was charged with conspiracy to traffic in cocaine. Both men were booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.


December 9, 2002

57 year old Nebraska man dies while on dive trip

Key Largo – A 57 year old Nebraska man died while diving off shore of Key Largo Saturday.

According to witnesses, 57 year old Byron Gene Schultz was on board the “Cheeca View” dive boat, operated by Horizon Divers when the incident occurred Saturday morning just before 11 a.m. They said he surfaced after diving in 25-30 feet of water. He swam to the dive boat, removed his dive equipment and began to climb in the boat. As he was climbing up the ladder, he suddenly fell backwards into the water.

He was pulled from the water immediately, but was not breathing so people on board the boat began cardiopulmonary resuscitation immediately. A boat belonging to the Fish and Wildlife Commission was in the vicinity. Schultz was transferred to that vessel and was transported to shore. He was found to be dead on arrival.

His wife, who was staying at an upper Keys hotel, was notified of her husband’s death. Detectives took his dive gear into custody for routine examination. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of his death.

Hit and run driver arrested for stolen car, drugs

Islamorada – A North Carolina man was arrested Sunday night for grand theft auto and marijuana possession after he hit a fence in Islamorada then left the scene of the accident.

20 year old Martin Hardy fled the scene of the accident at the 90.4 mile marker at 7:30 p.m. A citizen who witnessed the accident called the Sheriff’s Office to report it. Another citizen apparently followed him as he fled southbound.

A short time later, a deputy in Marathon was flagged down by the woman who’d followed the fleeing vehicle. She said the truck was in the drive thru of McDonald’s Restaurant. Deputies stopped the truck as it left the drive thru. The tag on the truck came back as stolen from North Carolina.

Hardy was placed under arrest for grand theft auto. A soda can was found in the truck which had been used to smoke marijuana. An open can of Budweiser beer was also found in the truck. He was further charged with possession of marijuana and having an open container of alcohol in the truck.

On the way to the Monroe County Detention Center, Deputy Ernie Paton asked Hardy if he had any further drugs or weapons in his possession and he said no. Once at the jail a Corrections Officer searched him prior to booking, and found a small amount of marijuana in his pocket. He was further charged with introduction of contraband to a Detention Facility.

The Florida Highway Patrol investigated the hit and run accident.

Christmas decorations damaged

Tavernier – Vandals ripped the head off one of Santa’s reindeer and ruined other Christmas decorations at a Tavernier home over the weekend.

The owner of the decorations lives on Navajo Street in Tavernier. He said he woke up Saturday morning to find the damage to his decorations. He called the Sheriff’s Office to report it. He said the damage took place sometime between Friday night at 11 p.m. and Saturday morning at 5:30 a.m.

The Sheriff’s Office is investigating.


December 6, 2002

Bahia Honda Bridge murder victim identified

Bahia Honda – Sheriff’s detectives say they finally have confirmed the identity of the murder victim found dead on the Bahia Honda Bridge the morning of Monday, November 25th.

Within a short time of finding the body, they had tentatively identified the victim as 28 year old James Anthony Alexander of Key West. It took time, however, to confirm that tentative identification. Detectives finally got photos and fingerprints for comparison from prison officials in Missouri. Alexander did prison time there for armed robbery prior to coming to Key West about ten months ago. His mother, who lives in Illinois, has been notified and has also identified the body as her son’s. Alexander was known on the street as “Nico”, or sometimes as “Tony”.

Detectives from the Sheriff’s Office Homicide division have been following up leads in the case since the body was discovered, shortly before 6 a.m. on the northbound side of the bridge, at the north end on the bridge’s shoulder. They say they believe a light colored car, some type of sedan, may be involved.

Alexander had been shot three times. He was wearing a yellow jersey-type shirt with the number “05” on it, and long black pants. He had two earrings in his left ear and two tattoos on his body, although detectives declined to be more specific about them. He was spotted by a passing motorist who flagged down a deputy who was working a traffic stop at the other end of the bridge.

Detectives say they are particularly interested in talking to anyone who might have seen any kind of suspicious activity on or near the bridge between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. the day of the murder. They also would like to speak to anyone who knew Alexander and who might know what happened to him.

Anyone with information about this case should contact the Sheriff’s Office immediately. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000.00 reward to anyone whose information leads to an arrest in this case. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

December 4, 2002

Judge orders Sheriff’s Office to seize and sell Cuban airplane

 Miami Circuit Court Judge Allen Postman today ordered the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office to seize a Cuban airplane and to sell it.  The plane will be sold through auction following advertisement of a Sheriff’s sale that is scheduled next month.  The judge’s ruling follows a legal action filed by Ana Margarita Martinez, who earlier won a 27-million dollar judgement against the Republic of Cuba.  The plane will be sold to partially satisfy that judgement.  The plane has been at Key West International Airport since it was commandeered by Cuban migrants and flown across the straits last month. The Cuban plane will be sold at a Sheriff’s auction scheduled for January 13, 2003, at 11 a.m. at Key West International Airport.

 Suspicious package at Marathon Post Office

 The Sheriff’s bomb squad destroyed a suspicious package found in front of the Marathon post office this morning.  Postal officials reported that a suspicious-looking cardboard box with a note attached to was left just outside the front door.  The box, with neither a return address nor a forwarding address, was wrapped in clear plastic tape. The paper note on top of the package stated: “open here.” 

Sgt. Bobby Randolph, who heads the Sheriff’s bomb squad, decided to neutralize the suspicious box without moving it.  Deputies cleared the area around the post office and stopped traffic on U.S. One for about five minutes while he used a small explosive device to safely destroy the package.  Sgt. Randolph said the box turned out to be empty.  Deputies opened up the highway and allowed employees and customers to return to the post office.

 Traffic stop leads to drug arrest

 A Key West man was arrested on drug charges near the five-mile marker on U.S. Highway One Tuesday night after he consented to a search following a traffic stop.  Sheriff’s Deputies ticketed 22-year old Rudolph A. Manuel for following too close.  The Deputies asked Manuel if they could search his car. Manuel consented.  Under the driver’s seat, Deputies found a plastic bag filled with a green leafy substance, which tested positive for marijuana.  The marijuana, weighing 91 grams, was seized as evidence. Manuel was arrested for possession of marijuana over 20 grams and taken to the county detention center.

 Fugitive arrested after bicycle traffic violation

 Sheriff’s Deputies Tuesday night arrested 29-year old Willard Thompson after a background check showed him wanted in Delaware on firearm charges.  Deputies stopped Thompson on Seventh Avenue on Stock Island after spotting him pedaling a bicycle without a light shortly before ten p.m.  Deputies issued a warning for the violation, but took Thompson into custody after the check revealed he was a wanted fugitive.  Thompson was taken to jail. Delaware authorities indicated that they would extradite Thompson on the charges of commission of a felony while in possession of a firearm. 

 Robbery in Marathon

 Sheriff’s detectives are investigating a robbery in Marathon Monday night.  The victim, a 58-year old woman, was grabbed from behind, thrown to the ground and had her purse taken.  The victim said she had just pulled into her driveway on Ocean Terrace and was locking her car when the incident occurred.  The victim said she saw two men running away.  She suffered slight abrasions on her right elbow and right knee, but was not seriously hurt.  The victim’s purse contained about forty dollars cash, a cell phone, credit cards and a check book.  The victim could not provide a detailed description of the robbers. She could only say that one suspect was wearing a black and white striped shirt. Anyone with information should call Sheriff’s detectives at 289-2430.  Anonymous calls can be made to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-346-8477.  Crime Stoppers will pay cash for information leading to an arrest in this case. 

December 2, 2002

Key Largo man charged with fondling two girls

Key Largo – A Key Largo man was charged Saturday with fondling two teenage girls against their will.

One of the girls called the Sheriff’s Office to report the incident, which took place shortly after midnight Saturday at a house near the 100 mile marker of the highway. When deputies arrived, they found 45 year old Paul Merritt Taylor attempting to leave the scene in a car. He appeared to be intoxicated.

The two girls, aged 14 and 17, told the deputies Taylor had fondled them both. The 14 year old said he grabbed her breasts and buttocks. The 17 year old said he touched her breasts, and threatened her verbally.

Taylor was arrested, charged with lewd and lascivious acts on someone under 16 years of age, battery and assault. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Key Largo man charged with fondling young girl

Key Largo – A Key Largo man was arrested Sunday in the early morning hours for fondling a young girl as she slept in her bedroom.

44 year old Basil Michael “Mike” Warden was invited to stay at the girl’s home after he came over to watch football with her father. According to the father, Warden had too much to drink and asked to stay over night.

Just before 5 a.m., the 12 year old girl woke to find Warden fondling her as she slept in her bedroom. She yelled at him, then woke her father and told him what happened. Her father called the Sheriff’s Office.

When deputies arrived, Warden had left the home. He was found at his residence nearby and was placed under arrest. Warden was charged with lewd and lascivious acts on a child and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Sheriff's Office to watch out for Drunk Drivers;
Sobriety Checkpoint Scheduled

Islamorada – The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office will be working hard this holiday season to combat drunk driving. To that end, deputies will be keeping a vigilant watch for people who drink and drive, and those people will be arrested and taken to jail.

December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month (3D) and the Sheriff’s Office will be joining law enforcement agencies across America to try and keep our citizens safe from drunk and unsafe drivers. For more information about 3D month, including facts and figures about drunk driving, visit the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration’s web site at

The Sheriff’s Office Islamorada Sector would like to announce they will have specialized units out looking for drunk drivers, particularly in the late night and early morning hours. In addition, they will be scheduling a Sobriety Checkpoint Saturday, December 21st from 10 p.m. until 3 a.m. in Islamorada. Drivers will be stopped, cars will be checked for possible safety violations and, if the drivers are intoxicated, they will be taken to jail.

During the holidays, please designate a sober driver if you plan to celebrate with friends, either at the many restaurants and bars in the Keys, or at a holiday party. Another safe option is to take a cab home if you plan to consume any alcoholic beverages.

The Sheriff’s Office would like to see everyone in the Keys have a safe and happy holiday season.