Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

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

Click on the headline to hear an audio recording of the story

February 27, 2004

16 year old charged with four counts of burglarizing school

Key Largo – A 16 year old boy was arrested in the early morning hours today, caught red handed inside a portable classroom he’d broken into at Key Largo school.

After his arrest, 16 year old Nick Walwer admitted to committing three other burglaries of portable classrooms at the school in the past week. Those burglaries have been under investigation by Sheriff’s detectives and School Resource Officer William Schlegilmilch. Because of the previous break ins, Deputy Schlegilmilch was operating a surveillance of the property. In addition, he requested a special watch order be set up for the school during which deputies would periodically check the property for signs of criminal activity.

At 12:30 p.m., Deputies Ray Jodlowski and Edward Askins arrived at the school and found a moped parked outside one of the portable classrooms. A rock had been used to smash the doorknob and when they entered, they found Walwer crouched down beside a computer. They asked him what he was doing there and he said he’d broken in to use the computer. He said he wanted to access the internet to download pornography.

After further questioning, Walwer admitted to breaking in to classrooms on three previous occasions. He said he broke into one classroom by tying a rope to the doorknob to force it open. He stole a flat screen computer monitor, computer, and other computer equipment. He broke into the music room at the school, stealing a computer from there. He told the deputies his mother is a teacher at the school and he admitted to stealing his mother’s keys to her classroom and using those keys to steal a computer hard drive from that classroom. He said after stealing the hard drive, he locked the door behind him and realized he’d forgotten the keys inside. He said he had to smash a window to get back inside to get the keys.

He told the deputies that all the stolen equipment was at his house on Jewfish Avenue in Key Largo. Walwer was charged with four counts of burglary and three counts of grand theft and he was booked at the Monroe County Detention Center.

Men arrested for heroin trafficking, theft of Mermaid statue

Carved wooden mermaid stolen from
Boondock's restaurant in May of 2000.

Big Pine Key – Two Lower Keys men were arrested for trafficking in heroin Thursday morning in an operation set up by Keys law enforcement.

In a joint operation, Sheriff’s Special Investigations detectives, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and The Drug Enforcement Administration witnessed 45 year old Ivan Quincy Eaton of Big Pine Key as he took possession of 38 grams of heroin from 53 year old Joseph Pickett in a parking lot on Summerland Key. He’d previously paid Pickett for the drugs and when Eaton took possession of them he was placed under arrest, charged with trafficking in heroin. Pickett was also arrested. He was the target of a three month long investigation by Keys law enforcement agencies and was charged with three outstanding warrants, two for sale of heroin and one for trafficking in the drug.

A Black Ford Excursion was seized from Eaton for possible forfeiture, along with $1,500.00 in cash. During the course of the investigation into Pickett’s activities, detectives seized a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

In a separate case, Detective Manuel Cuervo received information that a wooden mermaid statute stolen from Ramrod Key in May of 2000 was at Eaton’s home on Cedar Lane, Big Pine Key. They obtained a warrant to search the house and found the statue at the top of a stairwell inside. It is a carved wooden statue of a mermaid valued at approximately $500.00. It was stolen from Boondock’s Restaurant.

During the course of the search, detectives also found cocaine, heroin, Xanax and other controlled substances, along with several items of drug paraphernalia.

The mermaid will be returned to it’s owner. Eaton, who was already in jail, was charged with grand theft, and with possession of cocaine, heroin and other controlled substances.

February 25, 2004

Man arrested for drugs, stolen car

Key Largo – A deputy on routine patrol spotted a car that had been reported stolen. He arrested the driver for possessing the stolen auto, and for possessing cocaine and marijuana.

Deputy Jason Madnick spotted the white Dodge Stratus southbound at the 107 mile marker at 2 p.m. Tuesday. He caught a glimpse of the first three digits of the license tag, and remembered seeing a notice to be on the lookout for a stolen white Dodge Stratus with a tag that matched those first three digits. He caught up with the car and checked the tag through Sheriff’s Office computers. The tag revealed the car to have been stolen February 6th from Key Largo, so Deputy Madnick pulled the car over, backed up by Deputy Lyle Agins and an FHP trooper.

38 year old Byron Foster was taken into custody without incident. He initially gave a false name to the deputy, but further investigation revealed the deception. A search of the car prior to it’s being towed turned up cocaine and marijuana in several areas of the car. Deputy Tim Hurd and his dog Storm were called to the scene and Storm alerted on the passenger side of the car. A more thorough search turned up more cocaine hidden in the head rest of the front seat.

Foster was charged with grand theft auto, resisting arrest, and possession of cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Further checks revealed his driver’s license is suspended and he has an outstanding warrant for violation of probation out of Miami-Dade County. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

The car will be returned to its owner.

February 23, 2004

Teens seen fleeing with electronic equipment charged with vehicle burglary, auto theft

Big Pine Key – A witness who spotted three young teens fleeing from the scene of an automobile accident Sunday morning helped deputies recover a stolen car, and electronic equipment stolen during a vehicle burglary.

At 6 a.m. Sunday, deputies responded to 18th Street on Big Pine Key. A witness called Sheriff’s dispatchers to report hearing what sounded like an automobile crash and hearing someone say “how are we going to get to Key West now?”. He said he went outside his home to check and saw a car sitting in a wooded area and three teenage boys leaving the car carrying what looked like stereo equipment.

When deputies arrived, they found the three boys carrying stereo equipment in the vicinity of 18th street. All three claimed the equipment was their own, and said they knew nothing about a car accident. None of them had a plausible explanation for how they got to Big Pine Key, although none of them are from that island. Further investigation revealed one of the boys had a key to the car, an older model Saturn, in his possession. The car turned out to be stolen from a used car lot on Big Coppitt Key. While the deputies were investigating the stolen car case, dispatchers received a call from a woman who lives on Ramrod Key. Her car had been burglarized overnight and she identified the stereo equipment carried by the three boys as coming from her car.

16 year old Dalvin Duarte of Key West, 15 year old Israel Drago of Cudjoe Key and 14 year old Robert Lopez of Rockland Key were all charged with burglary, grand theft, resisting arrest and loitering and prowling. They were all booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Man charged with threatening two others with a toy gun

Stock Island – A homeless man is in jail today, charged with threatening two other men with what turned out to be a toy pistol.

The two men called Sheriff’s dispatchers to report the threat at 9:40 a.m. Sunday. When Deputy Frank Gianino and Sgt. Jim Wirth arrived on the scene, the two men told them they’d been in an argument with the suspect over a dinghy. They said during the course of the argument, the suspect pulled out what looked like a gun, in a nylon holster and threatened to shoot them. He then fled on foot underneath the Boca Chica Bridge. The two victims could describe the suspect, but did not know his identity. They said they only know that his nickname is “Willy” and he at one time worked at a restaurant in Key West.

Deputy Gianino went to the restaurant where the suspect was supposed to have worked. The manager recognized the description and said he knew the man as William Boden. In the meantime, a notice to be on the lookout for the suspect was put out over law enforcement radios. He was spotted a short time later walking north on U.S. One by Sgt. Wirth.

When Sgt. Wirth stopped him for questioning, the man identified himself as Ronald Sughrue. He later admitted to sometimes using the alias William Boden. He also admitted to making the threats and showed the Sergeant where he threw the gun, which turned out to be a plastic toy gun which looked real.

Sughrue was arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated assault and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

February 20, 2004

Man charged with cocaine possession after traffic stop

Stock Island – A Key West man driving a moped in an unsafe manner on Stock Island Tuesday night was arrested for possessing cocaine and marijuana.

Deputy David Lariz, Jr. spotted 31 year old Christopher Spinney at 9:30 p.m. driving in an unsafe manner on the shoulder of the highway on Stock Island. He pulled Spinney over and Spinney could not produce a driver’s license, or registration documents for the moped.

Deputy Tom Walker arrived as back up and the two deputies received permission from Spinney to search his pockets. When Deputy Walker asked Spinney if he had any drugs, weapons or anything sharp in his pockets, Spinney admitted to having a needle in his pocket that he uses to inject cocaine. Subsequent to that admission, Spinney admitted to having cocaine in a cigarette packet in his shirt pocket. Cocaine was found in that location, as well as two crack rocks in a pill bottle in his front pants pocket, and some powdered cocaine wrapped in a paper towel in his coat pocket. Several items of drug paraphernalia were also found during the search, along with a small amount of marijuana.

Spinney was charged with possession of cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Stock Island man charged with drug possession

Stock Island – Deputies who spotted a man illegally operating a dirt bike on 3rd Avenue, Stock Island, later arrested him for possessing a large amount of cocaine.

Deputy Paul Schultz spotted 21 year old Ignacio Hernandez on the dirt bike at 12:30 p.m. Thursday. Hernandez pulled into Stock Island apartments with the deputy following him. Deputy Schultz saw Hernandez stash something behind the tire of a car parked at the apartments. He then approached him, counseled him for the dirt bike infraction and let him go. After Hernandez left the scene, the deputy checked behind the tire and found numerous small bags filled with white powder. He called for back up and deputy Jorge Morffi arrived and secured the scene while Deputy Schultz went looking for Hernandez.

Deputy Schultz found Hernandez a short distance away. When he told Hernandez he was under arrest, Hernandez fled running into a nearby apartment complex. He ran through a metal gate with the deputy in pursuit on foot. Hernandez opened the gate, then shoved the gate closed, striking the deputies hand with it. The deputy finally caught Hernandez and placed him under arrest, then returned to the scene of the drug offense.

Deputies recovered 35 small bags of powdered cocaine, a total of 23 grams, and 7 grams of marijuana. Hernandez was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of marijuana, along with resisting an officer without violence and battery on a law enforcement officer. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

February 12, 2004

Two arrested on drug charges in Key Largo

Key Largo – Deputies on routine patrol found three men drinking beer in the parking lot of a bar in the vicinity of Caribbean Drive in Key Largo. Two of the men turned out to have drugs in their possession and they were arrested and taken to jail.

Deputy  Edward Askins walked up to the men at 11:30 p.m. and told them they could not drink alcohol in the parking lot. He then asked if he could search their pockets for officer safety reasons, and the men agreed. One of the men, 21 year old Jaron Wood of Key Largo, had a plastic bag with a green leafy substance in one of his pockets. The substance tested positive as marijuana. The deputy then asked the other two men if they had any more drugs. 24 year old Jared Pope, also of Key Largo, said he had cocaine, and pulled a small bag out of his pocket. The bag contained a white powder that tested positive as cocaine.

Wood was charged with possession of marijuana and Pope with possession of cocaine. They were both booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Texas man arrested for drugs on Cudjoe Key

Cudjoe Key – A man sleeping outside the Sheriff’s Cudjoe Key Substation was arrested after he was found with 50 crack cocaine rocks.

An officer with Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission was on patrol at 11:15 p.m. when he found 21 year old Luis Flores of Brownsville, Texas sleeping outside the substation at the 21 mile marker of the highway. The officer questioned Flores about why he was there. During the course of the questioning, he saw Flores take something out of his pocket and throw it on the ground. When the item was recovered, it turned out to be a prescription bottle with 50 crack cocaine rocks inside. Flores said he got the cocaine on Stock Island and intended to sell it to other people.

Deputy John Allen arrived as back up and Flores was taken into custody, charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

February 9, 2004

Found bale of cocaine

Deputy James Williams (left) and Deputy Frank Gianino with a package of cociane which washed up on Big Coppitt Key February 7th.

25 kilos of cocaine, found washed up near Boca Chica Beach on Big Coppitt Key Saturday, February 7th.

Click on the thumbnail to see a larger photo

Big Coppitt Key - Deputies and detectives recovered a 50 pound package of cocaine Saturday which had washed up on a Big Coppitt Key beach.

On Saturday, at 11:46 a.m., Sheriff’s Office dispatchers received an anonymous call about a package found washed up on Boca Chica beach. The caller said he had moved the package, placing it under a tree near 352 Old Boca Chica Road.

Deputy James Williams responded and found a package weighing approximately 50 pounds, wrapped in dark green rubber and tan colored duct tape. He cut into a corner of it and tested the substance inside. The substance field tested positive as cocaine. The package appeared to have been in the water for some time due to barnacles growing on the outside of it.

Detectives from the Sheriff's Special Investigations Division responded and took the package as evidence. They will be doing a more thorough examination of the contents this week, documenting it for United States Customs.

February 6, 2004

Man arrested on warrants for murder, arson

Stock Island – Sheriff’s deputies arrested a man on Stock Island in the early morning hours today who is wanted in Miami for murder and arson.

Deputy David Lariz responded to the Tom Thumb store on Stock Island shortly after midnight and spoke with the clerk, who had called for assistance. The clerk said a man who was in the store told him he was wanted on outstanding warrants and wanted to turn himself in.

The deputy approached a group of three men. One of the men, 44 year old Ramon Gonzalez, resembled a man the deputy knew was wanted for murder out of Miami-Dade County. The deputy questioned Gonzalez, confirming his identity by comparing him to a picture on a wanted person flyer. The flyer also mentioned a number of tattoos, which the deputy also checked, including one on the inside of his bottom lip which says “Lazara”, a scorpion on the left side of his neck and a snake on the right side of his neck.

Gonzalez was arrested on the outstanding warrants, was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center and he will be returned to Miami Dade County to face the charges.

Two charged with break in at fire academy

Crawl Key – Two teens were arrested today after a deputy found them in possession of a number of items stolen from the Joe London Fire Training Facility on Crawl Key.

Deputy Chuck Kellenberger was on foot at 1 a.m., patrolling a rock quarry area near the academy known to be a spot where kids park to drink and do illegal drugs. He spotted a red car parked behind some bushes. There were empty alcohol containers around the outside of the car and four people inside.

He approached the car to question the occupants about what they were doing in the area. There were signs they might be impaired by alcohol or drugs, and they were evasive in their answers to the deputy so he called for a Border Patrol K-9 team to respond to the area.

The K-9 team checked the outside of the car and the dog alerted, indicating the possible presence of drugs inside. A subsequent search of the car did not turn up any drugs, but a search of the trunk revealed a number of items belonging to the nearby fire academy, including hoses, helmet shields and utility rope. Upon questioning, the driver, 17 year old Thomas Sheridan admitted to taking it from the academy. Another person in the car, 15 year old John Ballard, admitted to knowing that Sheridan had broken in to the academy. The other two occupants denied any knowledge of the crime.

Sheridan and Ballard were both arrested. Sheridan was charged with burglary and grand theft. Ballard was charged with being principle in the first degree to burglary and grand theft. They were both booked at the Monroe County Detention Center.

Crime Stoppers needs help solving a burglary

Key Largo – Sheriff’s detectives would like anyone with knowledge of a recent burglary on Caribbean Drive in Key Largo to call Crime Stoppers with information about the case.

Detective David Carey is investigating a break in at a home on Caribbean Drive on February 1st, just after midnight. The resident of the second floor apartment said he walked out of his bedroom to find a man standing in his living room. The suspect immediately turned and ran out of the room, jumping over the balcony railing about 10 to 12 feet to the ground. The victim later discovered his bicycle stolen from underneath the building.

The suspect is described as a white male, 16 to 19 years old, five foot 10 inches to six feet tall. He had collar length dark hair and was described as being dressed “nicely”, in blue jeans.

Anyone with information about this case is urged to call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers may remain anonymous and if a tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

February 5, 2004

Fingerprints lead to burglary arrest

(MP3 file - 52 sec)

Big Coppitt Key – Sheriff’s detectives arrested a man for a seven month old burglary after fingerprints found at the scene were identified as his.

The burglary to the Geiger Key Marina took place in June of 2003. At the time, Deputy Mark Long lifted fingerprints at the scene which were later sent to Florida Department of Law Enforcement to be checked through their database.

On February 3rd, a report came back from FDLE identifying the fingerprints as belonging to 19 year old Joseph Artz. When Detective Donald Catala told the victim of the crime who the prints belonged to, she said she knows Artz because he was living next door to the marina in a campground with his father at the time of the break in.

Detective Catala found Artz already incarcerated at the Monroe County Detention Center for violation of probation and driving with his license suspended. He was further charged with the burglary at the marina.

Key West man charged with selling heroin

(MP3 file - 45 sec)

Key West – A two month long joint investigation into heroin sales led to the arrest of a Key West man on multiple drug charges.

Sheriff’s detectives working together with Key West police detectives and investigators from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement arranged purchases of heroin from 50 year old Dennis Teel on a number of occasions between November of 2003 and January of 2004. Teel sold the drugs from his residence at 1711 Vonphister Street in Key West in amounts ranging from less than a gram to six grams of the illegal substance.

On Wednesday, he was arrested and charged with three counts sale of heroin and one count trafficking in heroin. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

February 4, 2003

Five Miami Men arrested for burglary, theft

Islamorada - Five Miami men have been arrested for breaking in to a store at an Islamorada marina. Three of them also stole bicycles from a residential area nearby in an effort to get away. The men were apprehended with the help of alert citizens who saw suspicious acitivity and called the Sheriff's Office.

A witness called the Sheriff's Office at 2:45 a.m. to report seeing five men breaking in to the store at Robbie's Marina. He said he saw them shaking and pulling on the rear door. When Deputy David Minor arrived, he spotted two of them still in the vicinity. When they saw the deputy, they ran but he pursued them on foot and caught up with them. 20 year old Alains Perez and 19 year old Augusto Rodezno of Miami were placed under arrest after they were found to be in possession of a bank bag from inside the business. They told deputies three other men had been with them at the marina. A search failed to find their accomplices. The two were charged with burglary and theft and they were taken to jail.

A short time later, at 6:45 a.m., deputies were called to a residential area near the 74 mile marker of the highway. According to reports, a woman looked out her window and saw a bike being stolen from under her neighbor's house. She called the neighbor who, in turn, looked out the window and also witnessed her bike as it was being stolen by three men. Both women then saw the men go to another neighboring house and take two more bikes. The three men then began to ride away.

The Sheriff's Office was notified and Sgt. Roy Bogue caught up with the three men on the stolen bikes near the entrance to Safety Harbor. 19 year old Andrew Buck, 20 year old Juan Perdomo and 20 year old Alejandro Ruiz, all of Miami, were arrested. They admitted to being at Robbie's Marina with Perez and Rodezno. They were charged with two counts of burglary, two counts of theft and with loitering and prowling. They were booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

A car belonging to Rodezno was found parked near Robbie's Marina. It was seized for possible forfeiture. Inside the car was found a wallet, identification and a cellular phone belonging to Buck.

February 2, 2004

Islamorada man charged with four counts attempted murder

(MP3 file - 77 sec)

Islamorada – An Islamorada man was arrested Saturday just before 4 a.m. after he pulled a gun inside an Islamorada bar and began pulling the trigger.

Fortunately for the people he was shooting at, the first four times 19 year old Sacha Bond pulled the trigger, he was firing on empty chambers. Deputies who recovered the gun found only two bullets inside. He was tackled by employees and patrons of the bar just before firing on one of the live rounds.

The incident occurred at Woody’s Bar in Islamorada. Bond was inside and reportedly failed to compensate the entertainer who was performing for him so he was asked to leave. He returned a few minutes later, pulled out a revolver, pointed it at the people inside and began to pull the trigger. After he pulled the trigger four times without discharging a bullet, two employees and a patron of the bar tackled him to the ground.

Deputies James Freed, Alvin Burns and Joseph Moran were called to the scene and when they arrived, they found Bond still being held on the ground. A search turned up a holster for the gun clipped to his belt and a knife in his pocket. He was bleeding from a cut on his forehead and he was taken to Mariner’s hospital for treatment of the minor injury. He was then charged with four counts of attempted murder, four counts of aggravated assault and he was booked into the Monroe county Detention Center. There is no bond allowed on the charges.

Stock Island man charged with robbery

(MP3 file - 60sec)

Stock Island – A Stock Island man is under arrest for robbing a convenience store in the early morning hours Saturday.

According to a clerk at the Stock Island Chevron station, 37 year old Robert Martin walked into the store just before 4 a.m. and made himself a Cappuccino. He brought it to the counter, then proceeded to put cigars and lighters on the counter as well, and asked for some cigarettes. When the clerk put all the items in a plastic bag and rang the items up, they came to just over $32.00. The clerk said Martin picked up the bag and said, “This is a robbery. If you call the cops, I’m gonna kill you and your family, I know where you live.” He then left the store and the clerk called the Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies Tom Walker and David Lariz, Jr. responded. Deputy Walker interviewed the clerk, while Deputy Lariz searched the immediate area. Deputy Lariz found a man fitting the description of the robber walking a short distance away.

The clerk identified Martin as the person who robbed the store. Martin was charged with robbery and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention center.

Stock Island man reports being robbed

(MP3 file - 47 sec)

Stock Island – A Stock Island man, walking home in the early morning hours Sunday, reported being robbed at gunpoint.

The victim said he was walking home just before 1 a.m. and was in the vicinity of Fourth Avenue near Maloney Avenue when the incident occurred. He said a man yelled to him and he stopped to see what the man wanted. The victim told Deputy David Lariz, Jr. the man approached him and pulled out a handgun, then took the victim’s jewelry from around his neck. The suspect then fled on foot, with the victim chasing him. The victim said he last saw the suspect turn onto Front Street.

The victim described the suspect as a white male, six feet tall, in his 40s. He was clean shaven and was wearing a black rain coat, rain hood and dark colored pants.

Detective Henry Hamilton is investigating the case.

Stock Island woman reports being robbed

(MP3 file - 47 sec)

Stock Island – A Stock Island woman, walking with a friend in the early morning hours Sunday, reported being hit in the head and robbed of her jewelry.

After the robbery took place, at approximately 2 a.m., the victim went to Lower Keys Hospital for treatment of her head injury. The hospital called the Sheriff’s Office to report the crime.

Deputy Jorge Morffi talked to the victim, whose head injury required ten stitches to close. She told him she and a friend were walking in the vicinity of Stock Island Apartments on Third Avenue when she was attacked. She said a man walked up, ripped her necklace from her neck then hit her in the head, knocking her to the ground. She said the suspect then took her ring and her purse, and fled the area on foot.

She described her attacker as a young white Latin male, maybe 20 years old or younger. Detective Henry Hamilton is investigating.

Marathon man charged with beating, burning a woman

(MP3 file - 74sec)

Marathon – Deputies responding to a domestic battery report found a woman beaten and burned by hot oil. Her boyfriend was arrested for the crime.

When deputies arrived on Coco Plum Road shortly after 4 p.m. Friday, they found two women who said they’d been beaten by 49 year old Manuel Ortega. The beatings reportedly occurred on a boat moored off shore.

Ortega’s girlfriend said he’d been beating her for some time, and poured hot oil on her back, her chest and her leg. Just before midnight Thursday, while the abuse was still taking place, the victim’s friend arrived at the boat. The victim told her what was happening, and, in front of the friend, Ortega held a flare gun to his girlfriend’s head and a sword to her neck threatening to kill her. The friend began screaming, so Ortega hit her in the face as well. The friend said she was so afraid, she jumped into the water and swam to shore.

Ortega then reportedly put the first victim in a dinghy and rowed her to shore, leaving her there with her friend. That is when they called the Sheriff’s Office for help.

Ortega was placed under arrest for aggravated battery, aggravated assault and battery. He was taken to the Monroe County Detention Center. His girlfriend was taken to Fisherman’s hospital for treatment of her burns.