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


October 31, 2007

Stabbing leads to arrest

Boca Chica Naval Air Station - An argument between two construction workers on Naval Air Station Boca Chica resulted in one man being stabbed and the other going to jail for stabbing him.

According to witnesses, 36 year old Arthur Walker of Big Coppitt Key and 43 year old Andrew Thomas argued just before 10 a.m. During the argument, Walker pulled out a knife and stabbed Thomas in the side. When Deputies Henry Amole and Kim Trullender arrived, they found the suspect and the victim still on the scene.

Walker reportedly admitted to stabbing Thomas and he was arrested. He was charged with aggravated battery and he was booked into jail. Thomas was transported to Lower Keys Hospital for treatment of his injury.

October 29, 2007

Traffic Enforcement Unit busy over the weekend

Sheriff’s Traffic Enforcement deputies concentrated their patrol efforts in the Lower Keys Friday and Saturday.

Traffic Enforcement Sgt. Kevin Mimosa says traffic flowed smoothly both days, even in areas that have, in the past been congested, including the light on Big Pine Key and in the Saddlebunches Keys. During the two day period, Traffic Enforcement deputies issued 178 citations, 9 notices to appear in court and arrested seven people for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Sgt. Mimosa would like to remind people that his unit will also be out in force on Halloween night making sure people are driving safely and staying sober behind the wheel.

Other injury accidents in the Keys this weekend

Monroe County - Besides the fatality accident at the 7 mile marker of the highway on Sunday, there were four other accidents involving injuries in the Keys over the weekend. The Florida Highway Patrol investigated all but one of them, with the Sheriff's Office lending assistance with traffic control and initial response.

Traffic stop leads to three arrests

Ramrod Key - A deputy on patrol spotted a car speeding southbound at 3:45 a.m. Sunday. After stopping the car, he wound up arresting all three people inside on various charges.

Deputy Greg Korzen spotted the green Chrysler convertible traveling 79 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone, southbound at the 27 mile marker of Highway U.S. One. When he pulled the car over at the south end of the Niles Channel Bridge, he saw the male driver switch places with the female front seat passenger. He confronted the original driver, who identified himself as 29 year old John Green of North Miami Beach. Green persistently denied ever driving the car. A check of his name revealed he has no valid driver's license anywhere in the country.

The woman he switched seats with, 25 year old Analisa Rodriguez of Miami, told Deputy Korzen they were headed to Key West for Fantasy Fest. As he spoke with Rodriguez, the deputy noticed a strong smell of alcohol. He could see, in plain view, a bottle of Bacardi Limon and a bottle of Hennessy Cognac on the vehicle's rear seat. She exited the car and had trouble standing, swaying and leaning on the car for support.

The rear passenger identified himself as 27 year old Charlie Holley of Homestead. Next to Holley's feet were two plastic bags imprinted with the picture of a marijuana leaf. In the bags was - you guessed it - marijuana. A third bag with the same markings was found on the front passenger seat. That bag was empty.

All three were arrested and taken to jail. Green was charged with driving without a license and resisting a law enforcement officer without violence; Holley was charged with possession of marijuana; Rodriguez was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. Green was also issued citations for speeding.

Speeding leads to reckless driving arrest

Key Largo - The driver of a car speeding northbound was arrested early today after she tried to flee from law enforcement officers.

Sgt. Lyle Agins was southbound at the 103 mile marker of the Highway at 2:45 a.m. when he spotted a green Jeep northbound. He measured the Jeep's speed at 84 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone. He turned on his lights and siren and attempted to stop the vehicle, which refused to stop. He saw the jeep take a sudden right hand turn into the Largo Sound Village subdivision. He radioed to Deputy Richard Bellon, who was responding as a back up officer and told him to stay on the highway and keep an eye out in case the vehicle tried to leave the subdivision.

A minute later, Deputy Bellon reported that he had the vehicle stopped at the 104.2 mile marker of the highway. He said he'd spotted the vehicle exit the subdivision with it's headlights out and travel northbound in the southbound lanes directly toward his patrol car before finally pulling over to the side of the road.

The driver was identified as 35 year old Bonnie Chinners of Miami. She appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or some other controlled substance. She was arrested and charged with fleeing and eluding police, reckless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. She was also issued citations for speeding and driving the wrong way on a one way street.

October 28, 2007

Deputies, FHP on scene on fatality accident

An accident at the 7 mile marker of Highway U.S. One took the life of a man today.

A car collided with a moped just before noon. Both vehicles were northbound when the accident took place. The driver of the moped died following the collision. The car caught fire. Everyone inside the car managed to get out prior to the flames engulfing the vehicle. The northbound lanes were closed until 12:45 p.m., when one lane opened. The Florida Highway Patrol is the investigating agency. They are expected to continue to keep one lane of northbound traffic closed until at least 3:30 to assist with their investigation.

Fire at Marathon High School

Marathon – Fire units responded to Marathon High School today to reports of black smoke coming from a corner of a building at the south end of the school.

Someone working on the property called Sheriff’s dispatchers at 12:25 p.m. to report seeing black smoke coming from a corner of the building. Firefighters from Monroe County and Marathon responded, initially just seeing smoke. They found flames in a back room, possibly the old gymnasium. The fire was reportedly under control by 1 p.m. The Fire Marshals Office is investigating.

Deputy stops vehicle suspected in hit and run

Marathon – A Sheriff’s deputy stopped a reported reckless driver who turned out to be suspected in a possible hit and run accident.

Traffic Enforcement Deputy Luis Blasco was at the 42 mile marker southbound when he heard a notice to be on the lookout for a white pickup truck reported to be driving recklessly. The truck, reported to be missing a side mirror, passed him northbound so he turned around to follow it. He observed the truck swerving in traffic and following another vehicle too closely. He pulled it over on Knight’s Key, at the north end of Marathon.

As he was talking with the driver, who smelled moderately of alcohol, Deputy Blasco was informed via radio the truck was possibly involved in a hit and run accident. The driver, 19 year old Trevor Swanson of Port St. Lucie, Florida failed field sobriety exercises and his blood alcohol level was measured at a .19 at the Marathon Detention Center. He was booked into jail, charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

For details of the hit and run accident, contact the Florida Highway Patrol.

October 26, 2007

Search warrant results in two arrests

Stock Island - Detectives with the Sheriff's Special Investigations Division arrested two people after executing a search warrant on Stock Island early Thursday.

The search warrant was served at 5:30 a.m. at 6500 Maloney Avenue, Lot 104. Inside, detectives found a bag with 94 grams of marijuana in it sitting in a recliner in the living room. Two smaller bags of the substance were found in the kitchen and bedroom; a half gram of powdered cocaine was found on the bathroom vanity.

28 year old Frank Jones was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and cocaine; a search of his pockets turned up two more grams of powdered cocaine and $362 in cash, which was seized. A 17 year old boy who was also present was arrested and charged with possessing a misdemeanor amount of marijuana.

October 25, 2007

Flat tire leads to drug arrest

Key Largo - A man with a flat tire was arrested after marijuana was found near his spare tire in his trunk.

Officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission stopped to assist a motorist with a flat tire at the 109 mile marker of the highway at 3:45 p.m. Wednesday. As one officer went to the man's trunk, he found a plastic grocery bag near the tire and smelled a strong odor of marijuana. In the bag were four plastic zip lock bags of marijuana. The driver, 52 year old Alan Klein of Fort Lauderdale, admitted it was his.

Sgt. David Carey responded to assist. He placed Klein under arrest for possessing marijuana with intent to sell. The marijuana weighed a total of 93 grams. Klein was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Traffic Enforcement to concentrate on DUIs Saturday

Lower Keys – Sheriff’s Office Traffic Enforcement deputies will be primarily assigned to the lower Keys Saturday evening, patrolling Fantasy Fest traffic for impaired drivers.

Traffic Enforcement deputies will be out in force between Key West and Big Pine Key watching for impaired drivers as Fantasy Fest crowds travel south to Key West for the big parade Saturday evening. Later, as the crowds head back northbound, deputies will also be there watching out for dangerous drivers. 

With the assistance of Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Highway Patrol, one area of concentrated effort will be on Big Pine Key where they will watch closely for DUI drivers, speeders and for any other traffic infractions.

Sheriff’s deputies will also be working on Duval Street during Fantasy Fest activities. To assist with the large numbers of arrests which are a routine by-product of the festivities, Sheriff’s Corrections Officers will have a special outpost set up just off of Duval Street to handle some booking procedures prior to the arrestees being transported to the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island.

“This is fair warning,” said Colonel Rick Ramsay. “We are going to be out there. We want everyone to have a good time, but we want them to do it safely. If you drink, don’t drive. If you do, we’ll be there to take you to jail. Call a cab instead, or designate a sober driver to drive you home. Make this a safe and care free Fantasy Fest.”

October 24, 2007

Observant deputy saves man's life

Marathon - A deputy on patrol on the Seven Mile Bridge this morning saved a man who was attempting to commit suicide.

Deputy Sydney Whitehouse was driving past the north end of the Seven Mile Bridge at 4 a.m. this morning when he spotted an older model white van backed into a parking space in the parking lot. As he continued to scrutinize the van, he noticed a black hose running from the undercarriage of the van to the back doors. He stopped to check the situation out and found the van running and, visible through the windows, a man was lying face down on the floorboards of the van.

Deputy Whitehouse knocked on the windows of the van, but the man was unresponsive. When the deputy opened one of the side doors of the van, he smelled an extremely strong odor of exhaust. The deputy was able to rouse the man, but he was barely responsive and appeared unable to move much beyond lifting his head slightly. Deputy Whitehouse called for an ambulance.

By the time paramedics arrived, the man was still barely coherent was was able to sit up with difficulty. He was transported to Fishermen's Hospital, then transferred to Mariner's Hospital for treatment.

The 56 year old man, who is a Marathon resident, was also reportedly Baker's Acted, which means he can be committed for psychological treatment because of his apparent intent to harm himself. Florida law does not allow the identify of a Baker's Act patient to be disclosed.

October 23, 2007

DUI Checkpoint in Islamorada nets 3 drunk drivers

On 20 October 2007 a DUI checkpoint was conducted in Islamorada at the 90 mile marker of Highway U.S. One with the following results;         

DUI Arrests = 3
DUI Exercises Conducted = 5
Narcotic Arrests = 4 (3 felony 1 misdemeanor 1 vehicle seized)
No driver's license/ driving with license suspended/ driving with licence revoked = 6
Traffic Citations Issued = 18
Written Traffic Warnings Issued = 10
Total Vehicle Count Through Checkpoint = 367

Captain Don Fanelli, Sector Commander for Islamorada, was happy with the results.

"We got three dangerous drunk drivers off of the highway who may have killed themselves or someone else. We also managed to arrest four people who were ingesting dangerous narcotics, behavior that is at least as deadly as drinking and driving if not more so," Fanelli said. "Six people who were driving with no legal license were also caught. All in all, I'd say it was an extremely productive and effective night," he said.

Arrests of note at the Checkpoint:

Two people were arrested after they played musical drivers while parked at the checkpoint. A gray 2002 Pontiac Sedan was pulled into the checkpoint and was parked and running. There were three people inside. While nearby officers watched, the male driver switched seats with the front seat passenger; the new driver (who used to be the passenger) then switched seats with the rear passenger - another woman. Deputy Jason Keith then approached and had all three get out of the car. The original driver identified himself as 23 year old Efrain Melon of Miami using a Florida ID card. A check on his name revealed his license had been suspended 27 times since 2004. He admitted to being the one to drive the car into the checkpoint. His girlfriend - the one he originally changed seats with - was identified as 21 year old Angela Montano of Miami. A check on her license revealed it had been revoked. Field sobriety exercises revealed she was under the influence of alcohol. Because she was, at one point, in actual physical control of the vehicle (sitting behind the wheel, keys in the ignition with the car running) she was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a revoked license.

Officers working the checkpoint spotted the driver of a Black Yukon SUV they had pulled into the checkpoint whose driver was possibly impaired. When the checked the vehicle, they found a plastic cup with an alcoholic beverage inside and a plastic bag with white powder inside sitting in plain view in the center console of the vehicle. The driver, 39 year old Alberto Roger of Miami failed a field sobriety exercise and was charged with DUI. His passenger, 40 year old Zulema Batista of Miami admitted the cocaine was hers so she was charged with possession of cocaine.

24 year old Nelson Fuentes of Islamorada was arrested after he was pulled into the checkpoint, caught driving with no drivers license and with cocaine in his back pocket. Fuentes was driving a black Nissan Altima. He handed over a Honduran driver's license for identification. A check on his name revealed he had no Florida license, and had never had a license issued to him anywhere in the United States. A check of his pockets revealed a gram of powdered cocaine in his back pocket. He was booked on charges of driving with no license and possession of cocaine.


October 22, 2007

Accident with injuries in Tavernier

Deputies were at the scene of a single vehicle accident with injuries Saturday night.  At 10:07 p.m. a convertible went off the highway at the 92.4 mile marker and into mangroves. Rescuers had difficulty finding the wreckage because the car had reportedly traveled an estimated 30 yards from the highway into the wooded area. The injured person was finally extricated from the vehicle and was transported to Mariner’s Hospital and then was flown to Miami in the Sheriff’s Trauma Star helicopter. Florida Highway Patrol is investigating.


22 Cuban migrants landed at the Spanish Harbor Bridge at 2:30 a.m. Saturday. They were in good condition and were turned over to Border Patrol.

Road closure due to rain

Portions of MacDonald Avenue on Stock Island were closed Saturday night due to flooding from heavy rains. Some cars reportedly became stuck trying to navigate through deep water on the roadway. The road was finally closed for several hours.

Seafood stolen from Islamorada fish house

Islamorada - The manager of the retail portion of the Islamorada Fish Company called the Sheriff’s Office Saturday morning to report the break in.

He told Deputy Ralph Williams that between Friday night and Saturday morning, someone broke a window, entered the business and stole 900 pounds of whole lobster and 77 pounds of stone crab; the seafood was valued at almost $20,000.00.

Detectives will be investigating. Anyone with information about this case should call the Sheriff’s Office or Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward if their information leads to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers Hot Line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

October 19, 2007

Detectives arrest two for drugs

Tavernier – Detectives with the Special Investigations Division arrested two Marathon men after they were caught returning to the county from Homestead with cocaine.

Detectives received a tip that 29 year old Jerry Anderson and 27 year old Michael Aquino would be traveling to Homestead to pick up cocaine Thursday afternoon and would be returning to the Keys with it in a white colored Nissan Altima. The car was spotted by the Florida Highway Patrol southbound on the 18 mile stretch at 5:40 p.m. The vehicle was stopped for speeding by FHP  at the 93 mile marker of the highway.

Detectives arrived on the scene and the troopers told them they could smell marijuana in the vehicle. Aquino, who was driving, consented to a search of the car. As the passenger, Anderson, was exiting the car, two bags full of a green leafy substance fell out of his pants. A third bag containing a white powder was found in his pants pocket. The substances tested positive as marijuana and cocaine.

A search of Aquino turned up a bag of cocaine in his pocket as well. A total of 19 grams of cocaine were seized, along with 8.6 grams of marijuana. Both men were arrested. Aquino was charged with possession of cocaine a Anderson with possessing both cocaine and marijuana. They were booked into jail.

October 18, 2007

More details available about upper Keys fires

Upper Keys - More information is now available about the three early morning fires in the upper Keys today.

The first fire, at 87201 Old Highway in Islamorada, was reported to Sheriff's dispatchers at 1:46 a.m. Deputies responded and found heavy smoke across the highway and the upper portion of the two story wood frame house engulfed in flames. The outer pane of a double paned glass door had been broken, but the inner pane was intact. The damage to the house was extensive and it is unknown if anything was taken from inside.

The second fire, at 154 Plantation Boulevard, was originally reported as an alarm call at 4:06 a.m. When deputies arrived, they found flames visible. There was evidence the home had been broken into. Suspects had reportedly pried open a ground level door to get in. A caretaker responded and was able to confirm that an unknown number of flat screen televisions were taken from inside.

Deputies in the vicinity of the 100 mile marker detected the odor of smoke and discovered a fire at 542 Ocean Cay Drive in Key Largo at 6:01 a.m. There was evidence of tampering to the electrical meter and the house alarm system. The front door had been forced open and a rear sliding glass door was found open as well.

The State Fire Marshal's Office responded with several detectives who will be investigating these cases. The County Fire Marshal's Office responded as well. Sheriff's detectives will also be working on the investigation. Islamorada, Tavernier and Key Largo Firefighters responded and fought the fires.

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.

Firefighters, deputies on scene of another fire

Key Largo – Firefighters from Key Largo and Sheriff’s deputies are on the scene of a third fire at the 99.8 mile marker on Ocean Cay Drive in Key Largo.

A deputy on patrol smelled smoke in the vicinity. The fire was located, along with signs the home at 542 Ocean Cay Drive had been broken into. The fire was extinguished by 6:45 a.m. but the State Fire Marshall’s Office and Sheriff’s detectives will be investigating it’s causes.

All three fires in the upper Keys were at homes which were unoccupied at the time. There have been no injuries.

Firefighters, deputies busy overnight

Plantation Key – Firefighters and deputies in Islamorada were kept busy over night, running from one house fire to another. The State Fire Marshall’s Office also responded to both fire scenes and will be investigating the possibility of arson.

The first fire was called in at 1:46 a.m. by a passer-by who said he thought a house was on fire at 87201 Old Highway, near the 87.2 mile marker of Highway U.S. One. Islamorada and Key Largo firefighters and Islamorada Sheriff’s deputies  responded to the fully engulfed structure. No one was home at the time the fire started.

The second fire came in to Sheriff’s dispatchers as an alarm call at 4:06 a.m. Responding units found an empty home at 154 Plantation Boulevard, near the 87.9 mile marker of the highway, on fire. Deputies reported seeing signs of possible vandalism or burglary at the scene.

Islamorada man charged with kidnapping ex-girlfriend

Key Largo – An Islamorada man is under arrest, charged with kidnapping his 17 year old ex-girlfriend.

According to reports by Deputy Sever Hustad, 22 year old James Arnold grabbed the victim on October 10th as she rode in a car with her current boyfriend on East Drive in Key Largo at 3 p.m. He forced her into his own car and she said he hit her a number of times in the face, one time causing her to hit her head. He then reportedly drove her to his residence at the 88.9 mile marker and took her inside. He gave her ice for the bump on her head and told her he would not let her go until the swelling on her head went down. The victim said her mother showed up and knocked. When he answered, he reportedly told the victim’s mother she wasn’t there. At one point, the victim said she tried to leave, but he grabbed her by the throat and choked her. After a couple of hours, he drove her to the Chevron Station in Tavernier and dropped her off. She called her boyfriend to pick her up.

On October 12th, the victim went to the nurse’s office at Coral Shores High School where she reported her injuries were the result of an attack by Arnold. School Resource Deputy Larry O’Neill was notified and responded. She was taken to Mariner’s Hospital for treatment of her injury and that is when the incident began to be investigated by Sheriff’s Office.

A warrant was obtained for Arnold’s arrest and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center Wednesday on charges of false imprisonment and battery. Bond was set at $25,000.00.

October 15, 2007

Key Largo man, stopped for speeding, is arrested for drunk driving and resisting arrest

Key Largo - A Key Largo man, stopped for speeding and swerving in his lane Sunday night was arrested for drunk driving and resisting arrest.

Sgt. Lyle Agins was on patrol at the 105 mile marker of the highway at 10:20 p.m. when he saw a pickup truck towing a boat on a trailer. The vehicle was traveling 58 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone and was swerving out of it's lane periodically. Sgt. Agins pulled it over and asked the driver, 40 year old Russell Alexander, for his license and registration.

Alexander handed over his registration, but said his license was in his boat. As he exited his car and walked to his boat, Sgt. Agins asked if he'd been drinking. He said he had. Deputy Ryan Cowart arrived as back up and performed field sobriety exercises on Alexander, which he failed. A search of his truck revealed numerous empty and full cans of beer. Alexander was arrested, handcuffed and placed in the back seat of a patrol car.

As the two officers were talking outside the vehicle, they noticed Alexander had maneuvered his handcuffs from his back to his front. He was removed from the car so the officers could handcuff him in back again. He began to struggle. The officers tried numerous techniques to subdue him, but he continued to resist. Deputy Cowart finally had to use his Taser to control him and he was placed in a special restraint called a "Hobble" which is used to control a person's arms and legs so they cannot hurt themselves or others. A further search of his truck revealed an axe handle hidden under his seat

Alexander was transported to the Plantation Key Jail. As he was getting out at the jail, Alexander threatened Cowart, telling him he would track him down and hurt him when he was released from jail. A check on Alexander revealed numerous arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Alexander was charged, again, with DUI, battery on a law enforcement officer, attempted escape, resisting arrest with violence, carrying a concealed weapon and making threats against a law enforcement officer. He was booked into jail.

October 14, 2007

Marathon man charged with trying to cash fraudulent traveler’s checks

Marathon - Deputy Melissa Powers responded to Orion Bank in Marathon just after noon. When she arrived, the assistant manager told her 53 year old Wendell Collier had tried to cash 10 fraudulent American Express Traveler’s Checks for a total of $5,000.00. The teller he approached with the checks thought they looked suspicious so she brought it to the attention of the assistant manager who told her to call American Express.

When the teller called American Express they confirmed the checks were fraudulent and told her to confiscate them and call the police, which she did.

Collier told Deputy Powers and Detective Bobby Burkett he received the checks from a company called Marvic Textiles, based in London. He admitted to knowing they were fraudulent, and turned ten more checks over to them which he had at home.

Detective Rick Martin obtained a warrant for Collier’s arrest. He was booked into jail on Friday for fraud. Bond is set at $5,000.00.

In another case, a woman entered TIB Bank in Tavernier Thursday and wanted to open a bank account with a $500.00 American Express Traveler’s Check. The teller could reportedly tell it was fraudulent and asked the woman where she got it. The woman told the teller she and her husband had received it from someone interested in renting a property from them.

She reportedly told the teller she had another five of them at home from the same person. She said she had no idea they were fake. The next day she brought the rest of the checks into the bank and turned them in to the teller. The teller then called the Sheriff’s Office to report the incident.

October 12, 2007

Crime Stoppers to pay two tipsters for information

Two Crime Stoppers tipsters who gave law enforcement information which led to arrests will be receiving a monetary reward from the Crime Stoppers Board of Directors.

Anyone with information about a 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.

Summerland Key business owner charged with fraud - again

Summerland Key - A Summerland Key business owner has been charged with another count of fraud for taking money from someone, then failing to perform the work he was paid for.

40 year old Jeffrey Schaumleffel, who owns Caribbean Shutters on Summerland Key, was paid a down payment $3,825 to install hurricane shutters at a home on Cudjoe Key. He failed to complete any of the work he was paid for and the victim called the Sheriff's Office to report it. On October 4th, Detective Paul Schultz obtained a warrant for his arrest. Schaumleffel, who was already in jail on previous charges, was charged with theft on October 11th. More cases against him are currently under investigation and more charges are expected in the future.

October 11, 2007

Man arrested for pulling a knife on city bus

Big Coppitt Key - Deputies responded to the 11 mile marker on Big Coppitt Key to reports of a man waving around a large knife on a city bus Wednesday evening.

When they arrived, the bus driver and passengers were off the bus. The suspect, 48 year old  Allen Brown of Fort Lauderdale, was still on board the bus. He had a large knife in a sheath at his waist. The deputies boarded the bus and ordered him to lie on the floor of the bus and to keep his hands away from the knife. He refused to comply. One of the deputies was finally able to grab Brown’s arm, then grab the knife from his belt, throwing it to the back of the bus. Brown was then taken into custody without further incident.

According to witnesses, Brown was making racial remarks to several passengers, calling them names. At one point he took out his knife, said “I am a cowboy and I will cut your %$#@%&* head off.” He also used the knife to stab and cut the seats and other portions of the bus.

Brown was charged with resisting arrest, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, improper exhibition of a dangerous weapon and criminal mischief and he was booked into jail.

Man’s body found on Big Pine Key

Big Pine Key – A man’s body was found in a wooded area on Big Pine Key Wednesday morning.

The dead man is believed to be a homeless person who was living in the wooded area where he was found, near the 31 mile marker of U.S. One. The body was found in what looked like a camp, with clothing hanging from the trees and beer cans littering the area.

The body was found by a man checking the power lines on the property at about 9:30 a.m. He told Sgt. Andy Ensminger he smelled a strong odor, found the camp and then found the body. He called the Sheriff’s Office for assistance.

Sheriff’s Homicide Detectives Mark Coleman and Geni Hernandez were assigned to investigate. They found a social security card and cash in the vicinity, but due to the condition of the body they could not make a positifve identification. There were no obvious signs of foul play. The Medical Examiner’s Office responded and will be performing an autopsy. Further investigation will be necessary to determine who the dead man is and comparison of dental records may be necessary.

October 7, 2007

Key West man steals truck, leads law enforcement on chase

Key West – A Key West man stole a truck from a Flagler Avenue home in Key West Saturday. After being spotted in Marathon, he fled from law enforcement officers and threatened to kill himself with two knives before being taken into custody.

41 year old Robert Baldwin is reportedly accused of armed robbery and grand theft auto by Key West Police, who issued a notice to be on the lookout for him, driving a stolen 2006 GMC Sierra truck, gray in color, which he took from a Flagler Avenue resident Saturday afternoon.

Deputy Melissa Powers spotted the truck northbound at 33rd street and tried to pull it over. After making an obscene gesture at the deputy, Baldwin sped away at a high rate of speed refusing to stop. Deputy Amanda Coleman joined in the pursuit. As they all reached the vicinity of Coco Plum Road, Baldwin almost hit two more deputies, swerved off the road, back on again and almost hit oncoming cars. Since Baldwin was traveling at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, and was endangering other drivers with his behavior, the deputies broke off the pursuit in the hopes he would slow down and drive less dangerously. They notified law enforcement north of their position to watch for him as he headed northbound.

Officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spotted him at the 59 mile marker, still traveling too fast to catch up to. A Florida Highway Patrol trooper spotted the vehicle at the 61 mile marker, pursuing it with lights and siren to the 67 mile marker. Baldwin was reportedly passing vehicles on the right and in no passing zones, almost hitting oncoming traffic head on. Finally, Baldwin swerved back into the northbound lane and lost control, spinning off the road and onto the grass, then coming to a stop at the 67.5 mile marker.

FWC Officers, Sheriff’s Sgt. Dennis Cain and Traffic Enforcement Officer Luis Blasco arrived as backup as Baldwin got out of the truck with two knives held at his throat. Baldwin said he was going to make the officers shoot him. He began walking on the bicycle path northbound and Deputy Blasco, who is a trained negotiator, followed him talking to him. Baldwin told the deputy he’d broken into a house and had stolen the truck. He said he was on probation and did not want to go back to jail. After almost a quarter mile of walking and talking, Deputy Blasco convinced Baldwin to drop the knives and give himself up.

Baldwin was taken into custody. Deputy Blasco called Key West Police Officer Larry Caruso and was told Baldwin was wanted in that jurisdiction for armed burglary and grand theft auto; He was further charged with fleeing and eluding police, driving with his license suspended and violation of probation.

He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. The stolen truck was returned to its owner.

October 6, 2007

Boat’s captain dies free diving on the Duane

Key Largo – A Tavernier man died Friday while free diving on the wreck “Duane” off shore of Key Largo.

37 year old Michael Smith was the captain on board a dive vessel on a dive trip to the Duane Friday. The vessel was from the Quiescence Dive Center in Key Largo. A group of divers told Deputy Vaughn O’Keefe they were on their second planned dive of the day and were ascending when they saw Smith descending down one of the boat’s mooring lines. He was reportedly free diving, wearing mask, snorkel and fins.

The group returned to the vessel, but when 10 – 15 minutes passed and they didn’t see Smith, they began to worry. They searched the surface for him and, not seeing him, two of them reentered the water to search. Smith’s body was found on the starboard side of the wreck, face down in the sand in about 120 feet of water.

They had to return to the boat because they were running out of air. They switched to new tanks then returned to retrieve his body. They then called the Coast Guard to report the incident.

They began to motor in and met with the Coast Guard on the way to Pennekamp State Park. The Coast Guard escorted them to the park, where they arrived at 6:30 p.m. Smith was pronounced dead on arrival by paramedics.

October 4, 2007

Suspect identified in Waffle House robbery; warrant obtained

Key Largo – Detectives obtained a warrant for a Key Largo man for the armed robbery of the Waffle House in Key Largo September 4th.

On September 4th, at 5 a.m., two men entered the waffle house wearing black long pants, a dark blue hooded sweatshirt with bandanas over their faces and dark sunglasses. One employee was in the front of the restaurant. They forced her at knife point to the back, where a second employee was. One suspect held a two foot long knife and a stun gun; the other had an axe. They threatened the employees, telling them not to look at them. They bashed open the safe, taking the money inside, then left out the back door.

Detective Greg LaRochelle was assigned to investigate. He received a call from a nearby convenience store. An employee of the store told him that prior to the robbery, a man had come into his store with a stun gun, and bought a battery for it. He provided the detective with a surveillance video of the time when the man was in the store. After further investigation, Detective LaRochelle brought the man a photo lineup. One of the photos was of a potential suspect in the armed robbery: 20 year old Fernando Rosario Garcia of Key Largo. The man identified Garcia as the one who came in looking for a battery for his stun gun.

On September 11th, Garcia and two others were arrested by Florida City Police for the armed robbery of a convenience store. The three wore clothing similar to that worn by the suspects in the Waffle House robbery, and carried weapons with a similar description, including a stun gun and a two foot long knife. Detective LaRochelle took pictures of the clothing and weapons and showed the pictures to the victims of the Waffle House robbery. They positively identified the clothing and the weapons.

Detective LaRochelle interviewed Garcia while he was in the Miami-Dade Detention Center. Garcia told him, “I don’t have to write anything down. You already know everything I did.”

A warrant was obtained for Garcia for Robbery with a weapon and possession of a stun gun while committing a felony. After facing his charges in Miami-Dade County, he will be returned to Monroe County to face the charges. More arrests are expected in the case.

Detective LaRochelle was assisted by other detectives and by road patrol officers with this investigation.

Tavernier man charged with molesting two girls

Tavernier – A Tavernier man is in jail today charged with sexually battering and molesting two young girls.

The two victims, age 6 and 8, told their grandmother and their mother that 45 year old Genaro Ferro “touched their private parts”. The girls said it happened between June and September when their mother would occasionally leave them with him.

Their mother called the Sheriff’s Office to report their story. Detective Linda Mixon was assigned to the case and, after an investigation into the circumstances and after interviewing the two young victims, she obtained a warrant for Ferro’s arrest.

On Wednesday, Ferro was charged with two counts of sexual battery on a child and two counts of lewd and lascivious molestation of a child and he was booked into jail.

Four arrested for drugs

Key Colony Beach – Four people were arrested for possessing a large amount of cocaine after a traffic stop in Key Colony Beach Wednesday night.

Sheriff’s detectives from the Special Operations Division received information a black Acura Sport Utility Vehicle would be traveling from Miami to the middle Keys with drugs in the vehicle. The vehicle was spotted southbound and Deputy Derek Paul stopped it after seeing a faulty tag light on the vehicle.

As he was questioning the driver, backup K-9 Deputy Ken Fricke saw a back seat passenger acting suspiciously. Further investigation of his actions revealed that 31 year old Demetrius Johnson of Opa Locka was attempting to crush and dispose of five grams of crack cocaine and four grams of Heroin. They were found on the floorboards at his feet, wrapped in pieces of tin foil. The driver, 33 year old Ralph Curry, of Homestead had a suspended license and a plastic bag of cocaine was found in his shoe. In the center console, a search turned up 95 grams of powdered cocaine. The car’s owner, 31 year old Anna Saldana of Opa Locka, was found to have marijuana in her purse and she admitted to knowing about the cocaine in the car. Another rear passenger, 29 year old Maribel Saldana, had a pill bottle with several unknown types of pills inside. She also admitted to knowing about the cocaine.

Ralph Curry was charged with trafficking in cocaine, possession of cocaine and driving with his license suspended. All three of the other car’s passengers were charged with conspiracy to traffic in cocaine; Johnson was also charged with possession of cocaine and heroin and tampering with evidence; Maribel Saldana was also charged with possession of pills without a prescription and Anna Saldana was charged with possessing marijuana and with allowing someone without a license to drive.

Deputy Fricke and his K-9 Tracer assisted in locating all the drugs. The 2002 Acura SUV was seized along with $686 in cash. All four were booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

October 3, 2007

Two arrested for possessing large amount of marijuana

Cudjoe Key - Two men were arrested for possessing almost five pounds of marijuana after a traffic stop on Cudjoe Key for an expired license tag.

Deputy David Brummer was southbound behind a 1994 gray Nissan at 9:45 p.m. when he ran the tag and found it had expired in December of 2006. He pulled the car over. The driver, 50 year old Freddie Garcia of Homestead, could not produce registration or proper proof or insurance for the car and said he was just driving his friend's car to Key West. He was arrested for having an expired tag.

Deputy Michael Claudy arrived as backup and, after he detected the odor of marijuana in the car, he detained the passenger for further investigation. A search of the car turned up a blue cooler in the back seat with 4.7 pounds of marijuana inside. A closer check of the license tag revealed the sticker on the tag had been altered. Garcia and 30 year old Marlon Anderson of Miami were both charged with possession of a felony amount of marijuana with intent to sell. The driver was also charged with driving with an expired tag and driving with an altered tag and they were both booked into jail.

Calvin Venuto, charged with having
sexual relations with children

October 1, 2007

Key West man charged with raping children here and in Osceola County; investigations continue

Key West - A Key West man is in custody in Osceola County charged with raping two children. He also faces 30 counts of sexual battery on a young girl in Monroe County.

62 year old Calvin Venuto allegedly had sexual relations with an eight year old girl multiple times in Osceola County. He also had sexual relations with a 10 year old boy in that same county. In Monroe County, he is accused of having sexual relations at least 30 times in a little over a month's time with the same eight year old girl during the past summer. When she returned home to Osceola County, she told her father what happened. He reported it to the Osceola County Sheriff's Office. An investigator with that agency contacted the Monroe County Sheriff's Crimes Against Women and Children's Unit. At that point, an joint investigation into the accusations was begun.

Venuto, in the meantime, left the Florida Keys and traveled to Texas and then to North Carolina. When he heard a warrant had been issued for his arrest in Osceola County, he surrendered to authorities in North Carolina and was returned to Florida to face the charges. He allegedly admitted to having sexual relations with the children, and indicated he'd committed similar crimes in the past as well, with children as young as four years of age.

Investigations by detectives are continuing. Once he faces charges in Osceola County, he will be returned to Monroe County to face the charges here. Detectives say anyone with information about Venuto's past behavior should contact them immediately at the Sheriff's Crimes Against Women and Children's Unit, 305-289-2410. 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 further felony charges. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

Detective looking for help solving August bank robbery

Tavernier – Detective Mike DiGiovanni is asking for the public’s assistance solving a bank robbery which took place in August in Tavernier.

On August 21, 2007 at 11:25 a.m., a bank robbery was reported at TIB Bank of the Keys at the 92 mile marker of highway U.S. One. According to witnesses, a man walked into the bank and said he had a bomb. He was carrying some kind of device which had tape on it and wires protruding. He demanded money from the teller. After she handed over the money, he left the bank on foot, taking his “device” with him.

The suspect is described as a white male, 40 to 50 years old, approximately 5’8” tall, 170 pounds with short salt and pepper hair. The teller said he had a “large nose”. He was wearing shorts and a green hat. No other clothing description is available at this time.

Anyone with information about this crime should call Detective DiGiovanni at 305-853-3211 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.


 Labelled with ICRA