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 highlighted headlines to hear an audio recording of the story



September 27, 2006

Man arrested after bike stop in Islamorada

Islamorada - An Islamorada man is in jail after he was stopped on his bicycle and was found to have drugs in his possession.

Deputy Patrick Crozier was on patrol just after 1 a.m. when he spotted 56 year old Dennis Green riding his bike in the middle of the old highway in Islamorada with no front or rear lights. The deputy turned on his lights and siren, but Green continued to ride, eventually turning into a driveway several hundred yards down the street and getting off of his bike.

The deputy asked for identification, which Green said he didn't have. Green refused to comply with orders to remove his hands from his pockets and he refused to step to the front of the patrol car. The pockets of his shorts were made of a fishnet type of material that made the contents easily visible and the deputy could see a number of plastic bags in the pocket with white powder inside resembling cocaine. He asked Green to empty his pockets onto the hood of the patrol car. Green began to comply, but when he put a bag of the white powder on the car, he suddenly said "oops", then snatched the bag back up and put it in his mouth.

The deputy struggled with Green, attempting to get him to spit out the bag of powder. The fell to the ground and, during the struggle, Deputy Crozier was injured. He managed to get Green handcuffed, with the assistance of Sgt. Tom Kiffney, Deputies David Minor and Kenneth Brand, and two Highway Patrol troopers, who arrived as back up. Several baggies with white powder were recovered from the ground and from Green's pockets. Two more bags, hanging from his mouth, had been extensively chewed and he'd ingested some of the powder from inside. The powder all tested positive for cocaine.

Green was taken to Mariner's Hospital for treatment. Deputy Crozier was also treated at the hospital for his injuries. Green was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center on charges of having no lights on his bike, battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest with violence, possession of cocaine and tampering with evidence.

September 26, 2006

Stock Island man caught burglarizing trailer

Stock Island - Thanks to the observations of a neighbor, a Stock Island man was caught in the act of burglarizing a trailer on Stock Island Saturday.

Shortly before 1 p.m., the witness called the Sheriff's Office to report a burglary in progress. When Deputies Walter Kirchner and Tom Walker arrived, he told them the owners of the trailer next door were out of town and that he'd seen someone inside who didn't belong there. The deputies approached and saw a broken window. They ordered the person inside to come out. There was no response for about five minutes, then someone opened the door slightly, then slammed it shut.

They ordered the suspect out again and, after about five more minutes, he finally complied. 26 year old Nicholas Kellner was placed under arrest. He was charged with burglary and criminal mischief and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Three divers rescued from waters near Marathon

Marathon - Three divers from out of town were lost when their boat drifted away Monday afternoon. Sheriff's Office marine officers found them after a short search, safe and sound.

The three men were diving off shore of Marathon, from a 22 foot Proline boat at about 4:45 p.m. The wife of one of the divers stayed on the boat, reading, while the three men were in the water. After they'd been in the water for about an hour, the woman on the boat realized the boat's anchor had broken loose and the boat had drifted away from the area where they were diving.

She called for assistance and Deputies Derek Paul and William Guerra, who were patrolling on waverunners, responded. They found two of the men, Herbert Locklear from Clearwater and Scott Steadman of Tampa, fairly quickly. A private vessel, the Lusty Lady, was on scene at about the same time so the two men climbed on board. They said the third diver, Samuel Pope from Pinellas Park, Florida, had started for shore about 30 minutes before. Pope was found clinging to a channel marker about a mile off shore. All three men were safe and all three refused medical treatment.

Damage to construction equipment

Key Largo - The Sheriff's Office is looking for information about vandalism to construction equipment in Key Largo over the weekend.

A dump truck at one construction site at the 101 mile marker was vandalized with spray paint, and seven pieces of construction equipment belonging to Monroe County Public Works were spray painted as well at the intersection of U.S. One and Calusa Street. Total damage is estimated to be approximately $10,000.00.

Anyone with information about this crime should call the Sheriff's Office or call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward if their information leads to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

Man charged with threatening officer, causing disturbance

Tavernier - A homeless man was arrested Sunday evening after he caused a loud disturbance at a shopping center in Tavernier.

Deputy Keith Albert was on patrol in the vicinity of the Tavernier Towne shopping center when he saw 58 year old Michael Tracy sitting on a bench outside Winn Dixie. The deputy was aware of a trespass warning on file for Tracy for the shopping center, so he stopped to ask him to move along. Tracy immediately began to be disorderly, accusing Albert of being a "corrupt cop from Cuba" and accusing him of dealing drugs. His language as he made these accusations was described as both violent and vulgar. A number of people trying to enter the store began walking away because of the confrontation that was taking place.

After repeated warnings to Tracy, Deputy Albert finally handcuffed him, placing him under arrest for trespassing after warning. As he was being placed into the deputy's patrol car, Tracy continued to yell obscenities and, at one point, told the officer he was going to "blow his *&%$# brain's out."

Tracy was further charged with disorderly intoxication and with making threats to an officer and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

September 22, 2006

Detectives investigate Summerland Key break ins

Summerland Key - Sheriff's detectives are investigating burglaries and burglary attempts that have taken place on Summerland Key and Cudjoe Key in the last week.

Deputies took reports Sunday morning from the owner of Sugarloaf Foods who reported the business had been broken into. Someone had pried open the back door and took cash, as well as eating brownies before leaving the building.

On Wednesday morning, the owner of the Square Grouper Bar and Grill called to report finding the side door of the business open when she arrived at work. Someone had obviously been inside, but had not taken anything. There was evidence that the suspect had also entered the business next door - Nadine's Salon and Day Spa. Nothing was taken in that burglary either, but the door was found to be open.

On Thursday morning, deputies took reports from the owners of the Sandra Clark Salon and Summerland Video, as well as a man doing maintenance on a boat behind the salon. Someone had attempted unsuccessfully to break in to both businesses and had been on the boat, but had not taken anything.

Detective Diane Mimosa is investigating these cases, which she believes may be connected. She is asking for anyone who has information about them call her immediately at the Cudjoe Substation, 745-3184. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to Crime Stoppers are eligible for a cash reward if their information leads to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

September 20, 2006

Six vehicle burglaries on a street in Islamorada

Islamorada - Six vehicles were burglarized on Ojibway Avenue in Islamorada overnight between Friday night and Saturday morning.

Deputy Yunier Galvez responded to the area to a report of a vehicle burglary Saturday morning. As he was investigating, he also came across five more victims who reported their vehicles had been entered by an unknown suspect. In all six cases, the vehicles were left unlocked. Small items were taken including cash and CDs and some checks. One vehicle had the dashboard torn open and a radio removed.

Further investigation by Detective Michael DiGiovanni revealed that some homes in the area had pry marks near the doors, as if someone tried to break into them as well. The detective is continuing to investigate these cases.

The Sheriff's Office recommends that people always lock their vehicles, even when they are parked in a driveway, carport, or on the street in front of a house. Also, remove valuables from the vehicle, or place them somewhere out of sight like in a glove compartment or the trunk of the car.

Anyone with information about these crimes should call the Sheriff's Office or call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward if their information leads to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

September 19, 2006

Sheriff's Office, Border Patrol work illegal immigration, drugs

Islamorada - The Sheriff's Office worked together with Border Patrol Saturday evening in Islamorada to tackle tips about illegal immigrants and possible drug possession.

Sgt. Tom Kiffney, his shift of patrol officers and agents from Border Patrol stopped four buses traveling through the area to check tips about possible illegal immigrants and illegal narcotics on board. During the course of the operation, five illegal immigrants were taken into custody by Border Patrol. They were taken to the Krome Detention Center. During one of the stops, a small bag of cocaine was found on one of the seats. Since it was not in anyone's direct possession, it was seized and will be destroyed.

Later in the patrol shift, a tip was received about possible drug dealing at a trailer park at the 83 mile marker. Accompanied by Border Patrol and one of their K-9s, deputies responded. Ten more illegal immigrants were detained by Border Patrol. Evidence of drug use was found, including a number of smoking pipes.

19 year old charged with sexual activity with a minor

Marathon - A 19 year old Marathon man was arrested Monday, charged with sexual activity with a 13 year old girl.

The parents of the girl called the Sheriff's Office after they became suspicious about a relationship going on between their daughter and 19 year old Orlando Coma. They confronted her about it and she admitted to having a sexual relationship with him. He also admitted to it. He told Detective Linda Mixon he knew it was wrong be he said he thought the consequences for it would be having to marry her.

Coma was arrested, charged with sexual activity with a child under 16 years of age and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Man arrested for illegal dumping of a boat

Stock Island - A Stock Island man was arrested Tuesday for illegally disposing of his boat by dumping it, and a disabled trailer, on Maloney Avenue.

The trailer was missing one wheel, and there were drag marks showing where 40 year old Fidel Ferreiro pulled it from the vicinity of his apartment onto the street. Deputies Walter Kirchner and Matt Dowling traced the boat to it's registered owner. The registered owner told them he'd sold it, and the person he'd sold it to had sold it again.

Deputy Dowling remembered having seen the boat and trailer parked at the Stilt Apartments on Maloney Avenue. The deputies asked the owner of the apartments about it. He said he'd told Ferreiro, one of his tenants, that he had to move it out of the parking area. Ferreiro reportedly did that - dragging it from the parking area onto Maloney Avenue, and abandoning it there.

Ferreiro was located at his apartment and was placed under arrest for felony Illegal Dumping. Illegal dumping is a felony if it entails the dumping of debris that weighs more than 500 lbs, or if it is dumped by a commercial entity.

Deputy Dowling would like to remind everyone that Monroe County has a Marine Projects Coordinator who will help with the disposal of vessels. It is not necessary to dump them, or abandon them. Anyone who needs to dispose of a vessel should contact the Marine Projects Coordinator, Kim McGee, at 295-3911.

September 18, 2006

Plantation Key man charged with drunk boating, cruelty to dog

Islamorada - A Plantation Key man was arrested Sunday, charged with drunk boating and cruelty to his dog.

According to witnesses, including a member of Islamorada Fire Rescue, 29 year old Brian Mesa was on his boat at the sandbar off shore of Islamorada just before 6 p.m. He is accused of picking up his dog, a pit bull, by the neck and throwing it into the water. The dog reportedly tried repeatedly to get back on the boat, but Mesa would not help him. The dog then began frantically swimming around looking for a place to get out of the water. One of the witnesses finally pulled the dog out of the water. He said the dog was so exhausted, it took almost an hour and large quantities of water to nurse him back to some semblance of health.

At that point, Mesa reportedly demanded the dog back or threatened violence. The dog was returned, and Mesa repeated his actions, again grabbing the dog in a choke hold by the neck and throwing him in the water. A group of teens in the area attempted to rescue the dog and one 15 year old boy was bitten on the hand. As the United States Coast Guard arrived on the scene, Mesa was reportedly speeding away in his boat traveling at a high rate of speed through a no wake zone.

The dog, the witnesses and Mesa were all taken to shore by the Coast Guard. They were met by Sgt. Tom Kiffney and Deputy Patrick Crozier who investigated the incident.

According to Deputy Crozier Mesa was demonstrably drunk. After failing field sobriety exercises, he was arrested and charged with boating under the influence of alcohol and with cruelty to animals. He was booked at the Monroe County Detention Center. The dog was turned over to Monroe County Animal Control.

Teens charged with stealing wave runners

Stock Island - Four wave runners were stolen from Sunset Water Sports at Cow Key Marina between Saturday night and Sunday morning. Three teens have been charged with the crime and more arrests may be pending.

Deputy Martin Malone was taking a report of the stolen waverunners Sunday morning just after 9 a.m. when a Sheriff's Office Marine Unit reported possibly seeing two of them by Oceanside Marina being driven by two teenaged boys. The boys also spotted the Sheriff's Office vessel and jumped off the waverunners which were still running. The two watercraft struck a seawall and sustained extensive damage. The boys swam away, but were seen getting out of the water near a restaurant on shore. Deputy Malone and Deputy Henry DelValle caught them as they were walking down Front Street on Stock Island.

15 year old Phillip West of Key West and 17 year old Jeremy McCauley of Stock Island were both arrested and charged with grand theft and criminal mischief. A search of the waters surrounding Stock Island turned up all four waverunners, all of which were damaged. A short while later, 16 year old Michelle Diaz of Stock Island was found on the shore of Naval Air Station at Boca Chica, near where one of the waverunners was recovered. Upon questioning, she admitted to being involved in the waverunner theft. She was also charged with grand theft and criminal mischief. More arrests are possibly pending.

Miami Beach man charged with fleeing on motorcycle

Bahia Honda - A Miami Beach man was arrested Saturday night,charged with fleeing from deputies at high speed on a motorcycle.

Deputy Brian Kibbe was parked facing northbound at the 36 mile marker just before midnight Saturday when he spotted a motorcycle speeding up behind him. He clocked it as it passed him traveling 83 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone. He turned on his lights and siren and pulled in behind, but the driver refused to stop, instead speeding up. The deputy attempted to catch up to the bike, which reached a speed of 120 miles per hour and was still accelerating. At that point, Deputy Kibbe backed off and radioed ahead to deputies in the Marathon area.

A short time later, Marathon deputies found the same motorcycle abandoned at the entrance to the Knight's Key campground. The engine was still hot, the keys were with it, and a motorcycle helmet, a black hat and a pair of shorts were beside it. As they called for a wrecker to tow the bike, two men arrived on the scene: one man claiming to be the owner of the bike, and another man who turned out to be a friend of his. The owner, 34 year old Guillermo Sepulveda, was reportedly sweating profusely and told Deputy Kibbe he was not driving the motorcycle. He said a woman was driving and he told her to slow down, but she refused. His friend told another story. He said Sepulveda called him and asked him to pick him up. Sepulveda told him he was in trouble with the police and that he had run from them on his bike.

Kibbe had gotten a good look at the motorcycle and knew only one person had been on it when he saw it. He placed Sepulveda under arrest. He was charged with fleeing and eluding police and speeding. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. His bike was seized.

Coconut Grove man charged with doctor shopping

Marathon - The sharp eyes of a pharmacist at the CVS Pharmacy in Marathon led to the arrest of a Coconut Grove man for doctor shopping.

The pharmacist was processing a prescription for 150 Oxycodone pills from a local doctor. The pills were for 49 year old Paul Demoldau of Coconut Grove. She called the doctor to confirm the prescription and, as she did, she noticed that Demoldau had also recently had a prescription filled in Miami for Oxycodone. The prescription was written by a different doctor.

The local doctor said Demoldau had not informed him of the other prescription for Oxycodone, as is required by law. Demoldau was charged with doctor shopping, a third degree felony, and he was booked at the Monroe County Detention Center.

Drug sting nets five arrests

Stock Island - A drug sting operation netted five drug purchasers on Stock Island Friday night.

The sting took place between 8 p.m. and midnight near Fifth Street and Fifth Avenue on Stock Island. An undercover operative posing as a drug dealer sold crack cocaine to unsuspecting purchasers who were then placed under arrest for soliciting the illegal substance.

Arrested in the sting was:

September 15, 2006

Sex Offender apprehended in New York City

Monroe County - A man wanted for a sexual offense committed in Monroe County was apprehended by the U.S. Marshal's Service in New York City Thursday.

30 year old Jose Alvarado of Miami is accused of fondling and biting a six year old girl on the night of June 17th. The victim was in the Keys with her family. They were fishing near the Shark Channel Bridge when the incident occurred. Witnesses told Detective Manny Cuervo they saw the girl emerge from the mangroves with Alvarado close behind her. She was crying and upset and told her parents what he had done.

After exiting the mangroves, Alvarado climbed into a vehicle, but members of the group who were with the victim dragged him from the car and beat him up. They then left him there, and they all returned to Miami where they sought medical assistance for the victim. They reported the alleged crime to the Sheriff's Office on June 19th.

After investigating the allegations, on August 8th Detective Cuervo had a warrant issued for Alvarado's arrest for battery and for lewd and lascivious molestation of a child. With the assistance of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Detective Cuervo went to Miami in an attempt to arrest Alvarado on the warrant. He was told by family members that Alvarado fled the area and might be in the area of New York City with his sister.

At that point the detective solicited the assistance of the United States Marshal's Service. Deputy U.S. Marshal Vic Kerr, out of Key West, called the New York area and got Deputy U.S. Marshal Louis Zeppetelli involved, who works with the New York - New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force. He was able to locate Alvarado and he was arrested Thursday in New York City. He will be returned to Monroe County to face charges of battery and Lewd and Lascivious Acts. Bond on the warrant is set at $100,000.00.

Deputies take report of missing diver

Marathon/Islamorada - Marathon Sheriff's deputies took a report of a missing diver. The 28 year old Marathon man disappeared while free diving in waters off of Islamorada Thursday.

According to a report by Deputy Johnny Perez, 28 year old Heath Laetari was on board a boat with three other men. They were about 25 miles north of Marathon, about 7 - 9 miles offshore of Islamorada. One of the men said Laetari was not supposed to be diving. He said he took the day off and was going to stay in the boat because he was having trouble with one of his contact lenses. He said he'd been in the water about a half an hour when he saw Laetari swimming nearby, at about 2 p.m. He said he saw him dive down a ways, swimming away from him and that's the last time he saw him.

The witness said about a half an hour later they attempted to signal Heath in the boat. They wanted him to send down a line to bring up some equipment. When he didn't respond, one person went to the surface and found the boat was empty and Laetari was not on it.

After decompressing from their dive, the three others in the group notified the Coast Guard that Laetari was missing. The search for him is still ongoing.

September 13, 2006

Insurance fraud arrest stems from Hurricane Wilma

Marathon - A Marathon man has been arrested for destroying his vehicle during Hurricane Wilma, then making a fraudulent insurance claim on it.

Detective Rick Martin has been investigating the case since it happened in October of 2005. He says 26 year old William Weimer admits driving his 2004 Ford Mustang to the Tom's Harbor Cut Bridge on October 24th during Hurricane Wilma and pushing it into the water. He said he did it so he would no longer have to make the payments on it.

Weimer called the Sheriff's Office on October 26th and reported the car stolen. He told Deputy Harold Boyden he drove to the bridge to watch the Hurricane and said water flooded it out so he left it parked there. When he returned, he claimed it was gone. He then reported the auto theft to his insurance company, AIG. AIG subsequently paid the lien holder $19,000.00 for the car.

In April of 2006, a diver near the bridge found the car submerged. Sheriff's Office divers responded to investigate. They found the vehicle with all the windows down and the rear window shattered. It was in neutral gear, and the keys were not in the ignition. All of these circumstances caused Detective Martin to have doubts about the stolen auto report.

Weimer was charged Monday afternoon with making a false police report and with insurance fraud. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center with a $10,000.00 bond.

Dead free diver identified

Key West - Detectives say they've notified next of kin for a free diver who died over the weekend.

42 year old Gary Cagle of Stock Island died of apparent salt water drowning. The preliminary autopsy results confirmed this, although there are other tests that have to be completed prior to a final autopsy result being released. Cagle died after spearing a large Goliath Grouper, commonly called a Jewfish. He was free diving in about 25 feet of water about a half mile off of Smather's Beach. Detective Mark Coleman said it looks like the fish wrapped the line attached to the spear around the victim's wrist. The fish then went into a hole in a coral rock effectively pinning the man to the bottom of the ocean. The victim was apparently unable to get free.

He was last seen by friends Saturday at noon when he left shore on his jet ski. He was reported missing Saturday night and subsequently found Sunday morning by the U.S. Coast Guard and Key West Police Divers.

September 12, 2006

Cab driver reports being robbed

Marathon - A Marathon cab driver reported being robbed in the early morning hours today.

The 56 year old victim told Deputy David Smith he was parked in the parking lot of a bar near 55th Street in Marathon at 3:45 a.m. He said he'd just finished counting his money when a man rode up to his open car window on a bicycle. The man held a metallic item to his neck, then reached in and removed his cash from his shirt pocket. The man then rode away on his bike and the victim called his cab company to report the incident.

The cab company's manager called the Sheriff's Office to report the crime. The victim told Deputy Smith the man who robbed him did not say anything to him. He said the robber was a black male wearing blue jeans and a white T-shirt. He could not give any further description.

Anyone with information about this crime should call the Sheriff's Office or call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward if their information leads to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

Miami man arrested for possessing stolen boat motor

Key Largo - A traffic stop in Key Largo Monday morning led to the recovery of a stolen boat motor and the arrest of a Miami man for possessing it.

Deputy Francisco Gaete was on patrol at the 106 mile marker when he spotted a sport utility vehicle pulling a boat on a trailer. He noticed the boat was not strapped down, so he pulled the vehicles over. During the traffic stop, he ran the serial numbers on the two motors attached to the boat. One of the motors, a 225hp Yamaha, turned out to be stolen from Punta Gorda, Florida in 2004.

The passenger in the vehicle claimed ownership of the boat and motor, although the boat was registered under another name. He said he bought both of the motors on the boat from another man a year ago for $13,000.00. He said he has no receipts for purchasing the motors.

36 year old Yoel Perez of Miami was arrested, charged with grand theft and booked into jail. The driver received citations for having no lights on the boat trailer, having no straps on the trailer, improper display of the trailer's tag and having no registration for the trailer.

September 11, 2006

Detectives investigate free diver death

Key West - A Stock Island man died over the weekend while spear fishing off of Key West.

The 42 year old man, whose name is being withheld pending notification of his family, appears to have died after spearing a large Goliath Grouper, commonly called a Jewfish. He was free diving in about 25 feet of water about a half mile off of Smather's Beach. Detective Mark Coleman said it looks like the fish wrapped the line attached to the spear around the victim's wrist. The fish then went into a hole in a coral rock effectively pinning the man to the bottom of the ocean. The victim was apparently unable to get free and most likely drowned.

He was last seen by friends Saturday at noon when he left shore on his jet ski. He was reported missing Saturday night and subsequently found Sunday morning by the U.S. Coast Guard and Key West Police Divers.

Detectives investigate death of young girl

Key Largo - A little girl is dead of unknown causes and detectives are looking into the circumstances surrounding her death.

The victim is one year old. Family members told Detective Mark Coleman they were getting ready to go out at 6:30 p.m. Friday and the mother went to the bedroom to get her youngest daughter. She found her not breathing, with vomit on her face and chest. 911 was called, and a sibling was sent to a neighbor, who is a Reserve Deputy with the Sheriff's Office. Reserve Deputy Dave Bickford responded to the house and attempted to clear her airway, then performed Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation until Paramedics arrived.

The child was pronounced dead at Mariner's Hospital. According to Detective Coleman, the child had a history of medical problems. An autopsy was done and showed no signs of trauma. More tests are necessary to determine what caused the child's death.

September 8, 2006

Marathon woman arrested for theft from an elderly person

Marathon - A Marathon woman has been charged with burglarizing an elderly woman's home and forging checks in her name for almost $2,000.00

The elderly victim, who lives on James Avenue, had to leave her home and go stay with her daughter in July due to health problems. According to Deputy Joel Slough, while she was gone, 41 year old Kim Fogg entered her residence without permission. There was evidence found in the house that during the month of July she stayed there periodically. She also used the victim's car on several occasions. She took a checkbook belonging to the victim and wrote multiple checks to herself and to others, removing almost $2,000.00 from the victim's account without permission.

Fogg was already in jail on unrelated charges when Detective Rick Martin obtained a warrant for her arrest in this case. On September 7th, he went to the Monroe County Detention Center and served the warrant, charging Fogg with burglary, trespassing, grand theft, theft from a person over 65 years of age, identity theft, eight counts of forgery and eight counts of uttering a forged instrument. Bond on the warrant is set at $10,000.00.

September 7, 2006

Detectives ask for help with vehicle burglaries

Lower Keys - Sheriff's detectives need the public's help solving a series of vehicle burglaries which have taken place near the south end of the Seven Mile Bridge, near Veteran's Park on Little Duck Key.

Detective Paul Schultz is hoping someone has information that can lead him to a suspect in the six vehicle burglary cases he is currently working on. The vehicle burglaries have taken place since July 27th. In all six cases, victims parked their vehicles near the end of the bridge to take a walk. When they returned, they found windows smashed and items left in plain view were taken from inside the vehicles, including purses, wallets, fishing equipment, jewelry and cash. The burglaries were reported on July 27th, two on July 30th, August 5th, August 19th and September 3rd.

The Sheriff's Office would like to remind everyone that the most secure place for your valuables when you park your car is in the trunk, or stashed somewhere out of plain view such as under a vehicle's seat or in the glove compartment. Many vehicle burglaries, such as the ones mentioned above, are crimes of opportunity. A suspect will "troll" a parking area looking for a vehicle which is either unlocked, or where valuables are visible.

Anyone who has information about these particular cases can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward should their information lead to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

Miami man charged with theft of lower units from boats

Key Largo - The theft of nine lower units from boat motors in March has been resolved with the arrest of a Miami man Friday.

31 year old Jose Hernandez in in the Monroe County Detention Center, charged with burglary and nine counts of grand theft. He is accused of stealing the lower units, valued at $4,000 each. The lower units were stolen from the Lighthouse Boat Center in Key Largo. All of the units were from 225 and 250 hp Mercury and Yamaha engines.

According to Detective Mike Wilkinson, who investigated the case, Hernandez entered the boat center by cutting the ties on a chain link fence that surrounds the property. Fingerprints found at the scene were submitted to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and were entered into their Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). In July, FDLE contacted the Sheriff's Office to say the fingerprints belonged to Hernandez.

After further investigation, Detective Wilkinson had a warrant issued for the arrest of Hernandez. He called Hernandez and asked him to meet him at a convenience store in Key Largo and Hernandez agreed. He was taken into custody and booked into the Monroe County Detention Center on nine counts of grand theft and one count of burglary. Bond is set at $15,000.00.

Suspect identified in 12 upper Keys burglaries

Upper Keys - Twelve burglaries have been solved by upper Keys detectives. Warrants for the arrest of a Florida City man have been issued. He will be charged with them just prior to being released from Florida State prison, where he is currently serving a three year sentence on charges of burglary, grand theft and escape.

26 year old Jimmy Howard will face 12 counts of burglary after his release, estimated to be in 2008. According to Detectives Don Dalton and Dave Carey, who worked on the burglaries, they recently received information that Howard wanted to talk to them about crimes he said he committed. They met with Howard and he drove with them through various neighborhoods in the upper Keys. He pointed out 11 residences and one business where he said he broke in between 2003 and 2005. The addresses he pointed out corresponded to burglaries reported to the Sheriff's Office. They include homes on Oleander Circle, Corrine Place, Bahia Avenue, Bass Avenue, North Airport Road, Plantation Boulevard, and other locations. The business broken in to was Cactus Jack's at the 104 mile marker of highway U.S. One.

According to investigators, when Howard committed the burglaries, he in particular was looking for safes, weapons and cash as well as high end electronic equipment such as flat screen televisions. They believe he may have had accomplices and more arrests may be pending in these cases.

September 5, 2006

Labor Day weekend wrap up
Monroe County - The highways were relatively quiet over the Labor Day weekend. There was heavy congestion reported in the upper Keys, primarily on Monday afternoon as holiday traffic exited the Keys on Highway U.S. One, but in general the weekend was uneventful.
Sheriff's dispatchers received 25 accident calls between Friday afternoon and Monday evening. Most were minor in nature, with minor injuries or no injuries at all. On September 4th at 2 p.m., an accident involving a motor vehicle and a bicycle was reported at the 4 mile marker of the highway, and at 10:30 p.m. there was an accident at the 117 mile marker, on the 18 mile stretch. Both accidents involved injuries, but dispatchers did not note the extent of the injuries. Florida Highway Patrol was the investigating agency on both cases.
Between Friday afternoon and Monday evening, Sheriff's deputies made eight arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Search warrant leads to two arrests

Stock Island - A search warrant, served at a Stock Island apartment Friday evening, resulted in the arrest of two men on drug charges.

An investigation was conducted by detectives with the Sheriff's Special Investigations Division. During the course of the investigation, they observed drug transactions in front of 6415 Second Street, Apartment four on Stock Island, In addition, several drug purchases were made by a Sheriff's Office undercover operative.

As a result of this investigation, a search warrant was obtained and was served Friday at 7 p.m. The Sheriff's Office Special Weapons and Tactics team was the first to enter, followed by detectives from the Sheriff's Office, Key West Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

A search of the premises turned up cocaine stashed in a number of places. Three and a half grams of crack cocaine was found on the floor of the master bedroom. Twenty four grams of powdered cocaine were found behind the television in the same room. Twenty five grams of powder were found underneath another television in the apartment. Cocaine residue was found on a digital scale found in the cupboard and marijuana residue was found on a grinder found in the kitchen. Cash totaling $4,480.00 was found scattered throughout the house as well.

The two men who lived in the apartment, 24 year old Alexi Olive and 25 year old Daniel Ramirez were both arrested. Olive was charged with trafficking in cocaine and sale of cocaine within 1000 feet of a church. Ramirez was charged with conspiracy to traffic in cocaine and sale of cocaine within 1000 feet of a church. Both men were booked at the Monroe County Detention Center.

Investigation into possible cat deaths

Key Largo - The Sheriff's Office is investigating the possible deaths of up to 16 cats after the fumigation of businesses at the Fishing Village at Ocean Reef.

Deputy Mike Sharp said he heard rumors of the cats being killed and, due to the seriousness of the allegations, decided to investigate. He spoke with a woman named Laura Applin, vice president of an organization called ORCAT. According to Deputy Sharp, ORCAT takes in unwanted domesticated cats, gives them needed medical care including neutering and spaying them, then places them at various locations and feeds and cares for them. Applin told the deputy she knew of the incident. She said it took place on August 8th, when the businesses were scheduled to be tented and fumigated.

She said a Miami company called Termite and Fumigation was contracted to tent several businesses. She said the supervisor of the company was contacted and informed that 16 cats lived underneath the building. He was asked to contact someone from ORCAT after the tents were erected, but before the building was fumigated. She said the person from ORCAT was supposed to remove the cats so they would remain safe.

According to Applin, the supervisor chose instead to go ahead with the fumigation without removing the cats. She said she spoke with several witnesses who described seeing the cats attempting to escape from the tents, pawing at the tent walls, "screaming and meowing to get out as they were being gassed." She said some of the witnesses pleaded with the supervisor to lift a portion of the tent up to allow the cats to escape, but he refused.

Applin said the bodies of 15 cats were recovered after the fumigation. Deputy Sharp is investigating and is continuing to interview witnesses who might have more information about the case.

Traffic stop turns up unregistered sex offender

Marathon - On Friday, deputies stopped a car for a traffic violation. The driver turned out to be an unregistered sex offender, so he was taken to jail.

Deputy Jerry Jagoda was on patrol near 84th Street just after midnight Friday when he pulled over the white Mitsubishi after observing it swerving on the highway. Deputy Johnny Perez arrived as back up, along with Deputy Jacek Szymanski. 41 year old Randolph Jackson of Big Pine Key was driving. In the passenger seat was a 17 year old girl, also from Big Pine Key. A check on Jackson's driver's license, from the state of Kansas, revealed it had been revoked because he is a habitual traffic offender. He was arrested for driving with no license. Subsequent records checks revealed he is a sex offender in Kansas, having been arrested for aggravated indecent solicitation of a child.

The 17 year old with him said she met Jackson two days before at a gas station on Big Pine Key. She was escorted home by a Florida Highway Patrol Trooper who assisted with the traffic stop.

Jackson said he'd been in Florida for about a year. He was further charged with failure to register as a sex offender and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Man arrested on drug charges after traffic stop

Islamorada - A man from Dania, Florida is under arrest after deputies found cocaine, marijuana and LSD in his car during a traffic stop.

Deputy Patrick Crozier was on patrol just after midnight on Sunday when he saw the black Porsche swerving as it drove southbound at the 84 mile marker of the highway. The driver and registered owner, 51 year old Hara Ahrens, had a suspended driver's license. Ahrens was placed under arrest for driving with his license suspended.

Between the seats of the car was a marijuana pipe. The pipe was still hot to the touch, as if someone had just finished smoking it. It appeared to have marijuana residue inside. A further search turned up marijuana in the car and in a backpack belonging to Ahrens. Several "hits" of LSD were also found in the backpack. Ahrens was taken to the Monroe County Detention Center for booking on charges of possession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and LSD. After he was removed from the patrol car, a routine search of the back seat turned up a small amount of cocaine so he was also charged with possessing that illegal substance.

Bale of marijuana found on Long Key

Long Key - A woman mowing her grass Saturday found a bale of marijuana washed up on shore.

The woman, who lives at the 66 mile marker of the highway, called the Sheriff's Office immediately after finding the illegal substance. She told Deputy Sydney Whitehouse the tightly wrapped package, which weighed approximately 25 pounds, was near the water line when she found it. The deputy found a small tear in the plastic wrapping he package and pulled a small piece out, confirming it was marijuana. The drugs were reportedly soaking wet with sea water.

The package was turned over to the Sheriff's Special Investigations Division and will be destroyed.

Traffic stops turns up stolen car

Key Largo - A traffic stop for speeding led to the arrest of a man for driving a stolen automobile.

Deputy Jason Keith spotted the black Honda Civic traveling 78 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone on State Road 905 in Key Largo Saturday afternoon. When he pulled it over, he noticed the air bag was missing from the steering wheel. The drive was identified as 18 year old Eric Garcia, of Homestead, initially identified himself with another name. He told the deputy he did not have a valid driver's license. He also said the tag on the car was from another vehicle and that his friend, "Angel", had put the tag on the car so he could drive it around.

The driver was placed under arrest. A check on the vehicle's identification number revealed it had been stolen from Orange County, Florida. He told the deputy the car was "an insurance job" and that he was helping out a friend by getting rid of the vehicle. He said the car was not supposed to be reported stolen until Tuesday.

Garcia was charged with driving without a license, possession of stolen property and resisting an officer by giving a false name. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.


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Labelled with ICRA