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

November 30, 2007

Missing man found dead

Key Largo – A Key Largo man, last seen Saturday and reported missing Thursday, was found today floating in the waters off shore of Key Largo.

The employer of 48 year old Rafael Hernandez called the Coast Guard Wednesday. The Coast Guard notified the Sheriff’s Office Thursday after conducting extensive searches for him. He was reportedly last seen by friends near midnight Saturday in his boat, a 16 foot open fisherman with a 75 HP outboard engine, after he dropped a friend off near her residence in Key Largo. She said she thinks he was enroute back to where he’d launched the boat, at Sexton Cove Homeowner’s boat ramp. His vehicle and trailer were found still parked at the boat ramp.

On Friday, at 5:30 p.m., a boater found a body floating in Blackwater Sound, offshore of Key Largo. Clothing, jewelry and other identifying features indicate the body is Hernandez. There were no obvious signs of foul play, but his body had apparently been in the water for several days. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death. His boat has still not been located.

November 29, 2007

Key Largo man charged with DUI, Child Neglect

Key Largo - A Key Largo man was arrested just after midnight today (Thursday), charged with driving drunk and leaving a six year old boy all alone at his home.

Deputy Richard Bellon was on patrol near Caribbean Drive in Key Largo when he saw a Ford F350 pickup truck driving erratically. He pulled it over and discovered the driver, 29 year old Carl Wunderlich, was obviously impaired. Wunderlich failed field sobriety exercises and was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. An open container of some type of alcoholic beverage was found in the truck.

On the way to jail, Wunderlich began yelling about leaving a six year old child alone at his home. He told the deputy he "had to help him", but said he didn't remember his own address. Deputy Ryan Cowart responded to assist and began searching for the residence. Wunderlich gave him several different locations he thought might be his home. Deputy Cowart finally found the location and found the young boy asleep, by himself, on the couch.

The boy's mother was contacted and he was handed over to her custody. Wunderlich was additionally charged with child neglect and resisting arrest for failing to sign a citation. He was booked into jail.

Marathon man arrested for pulling a knife on a deputy

Marathon - A Marathon man is in jail charged with pulling a knife on a deputy and with domestic battery.

According to Deputy Brian Luth, he was off duty at a friend's apartment just before midnight Wednesday when they heard a disturbance next door. A short time later, a woman knocked on the door and asked them to call 911 because her boyfriend was beating her. They called the Sheriff's Office and Deputy Luth, who was wearing a t-shirt with a sheriff's star on it and a badge on his belt, went outside the apartment to check on the situation. At that point, 27 year old Brad Atkins, pulled a razor knife out and threatened Deputy Luth with it. His friends witnessed the knife threats.

When Deputy Sydney Whitehouse arrived, he saw Luth at the top of some stairs telling Atkins to "get back". He saw Atkins advancing toward Deputy Luth, yelling. At that point, Deputy Whitehouse took over the situation and Deputy Luth retreated.

Deputy Whitehouse said Atkins began walking aggressively toward him as well and he told him repeatedly to "back off". Finally, Deputy Whitehouse had to deploy his Taser, knocking Atkins to the ground. With the assistance of Sgt. Sam Cassel and Deputy Jaques Rozek, Atkins was handcuffed and taken into custody. He was charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, domestic battery and battery on a law enforcement officer.

His girlfriend later told Deputy Whitehouse that Atkins had become upset after drinking alcohol. She said he threw items around the apartment, held her down on the couch, choked her and scratched her face.

Marathon man charged with burglarizing boat

Marathon - A Marathon man is under arrest, charged with burglarizing a neighboring boat in Boot Key Harbor.

On November 25th, Deputy Wilfredo Guerra received information that a burglary to a boat in Boot Key Harbor was committed by 43 year old Richard Mitchell, who lived on another nearby boat. The owner of the burglarized boat had been arrested in early November. AFter his incarceration, Mitchell reported went to his boat and took a shotgun, a VHS radio, a GPS and jewelry.

After investigating the allegations and interviewing the victim, who was still in jail, a warrant was issued for Mitchell's arrest. He was picked up on Wednesday afternoon and charged with burglary and grand theft.

Man charged in 2006 stabbing

Marathon - A Miramar man was booked into jail Tuesday, charged with stabbing another man in November of 2006.

On November 19th, 2006, 36 year old Ihosvany Martinez Colomina stabbed another man with a knife, cutting his arm and puncturing his stomach. The two men were contract workers at Sombrero Resort and Lighthouse Marina. They were both in a room at the resort when they began arguing over money. The suspect left, then returned with a knife and stabbed the victim.

The victim was airlifted to a Miami Hospital for treatment of his injuries. A warrant was issued for the suspect for Aggravated Battery. Bond on the warrant is set at $50,000.00.

Man caught burglarizng Stock Island business

Stock Island - A homeless Stock Island man was arrested in the early morning hours Wednesday, charged with burglary.

59 year old Gerard Niedung was trying to pry open a door at the Hilltop Laundry on MacDonald Avenue on Stock Island at 2:30 a.m. when Deputy John Underwood drove by an saw him. Niedung had two of the door's hinge pins removed and had a number of burglary tools with him. He told the deputy he was trying to get inside to fix the bathroom.

Niedung was arrested, charged with burglary and possession of burglary tools and he was booked into jail.

November 27, 2007

Two more charged with Waffle House Robbery

Key Largo - Two more people have been charged with participating in a robbery at the Waffle House in Key Largo in September.

On Monday, 18 year old Latonya Thomas and 20 year old Joel Pratt, both of Key Largo, turned themselves in to Detective Greg LaRochelle. They were both booked into jail on charges of robbery with a weapon. In September, Detective LaRochelle arrested 20 year old Fernando Garcia of Key Largo on the same charges.

The three are accused of robbing the Waffle House on September 4th, at 5 a.m. The victims, employees of the restaurant, told detectives that 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.

During the course of his investigation, the detective 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. The man identified Garcia as the one who came in looking for a battery for his stun gun.

On September 11th, Garcia was arrested by Florida City Police for the armed robbery of a convenience store. He and his accomplices 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.

Subsequent questioning of Garcia revealed Pratt and Thomas's participation in the Waffle House Robbery. When confronted with the information, Pratt and Thomas admitted their involvement. Pratt and Garcia were the two armed men who committed the robbery and Thomas helped in the planning and waited outside the restaurant in her car to help them get away.

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

November 26, 2007

Another suspect arrested in upper Keys business burglaries

Upper Keys - Another suspect has been arrested in connection with one of the upper Keys business burglaries which took place earlier this month.

32 year old Hector Hernandez was with 19 year old Sammy Santamaria in his truck when it was pulled over November 6th in the early morning hours, shortly after burglaries were discovered by deputies at Senor Frijoles, Cactus Jacks, Sundowners and an office serving all three restaurants. In the truck, detectives found evidence of the burglaries, including pry tools, masks, gloves and bank bags belonging to Sundowners. A shoe impression found at the scene of the burglaries matched shoes Hernandez was wearing.

A warrant was issued for Hernandez arrest, charging him with one count each of burglary and grand theft. On November 20th, he was arrested on the warrant in Miami by Miami-Dade Police. He will be returned to Monroe County to face the charges. Detective Michael DiGiovanni is still investigating all the upper Keys burglary cases. More arrests and more charges are expected.

Warrant issued for TIB Bank Robber

Kenneth Franciose, 53, wanted for bank robbery

Tavernier - A warrant has been issued for a suspect believed to have committed a robbery at TIB Bank in Tavernier in August.

53 year old Kenneth Franciose is wanted for Robbery with a Weapon. Franciose has an address in Key West, and on his driver's license, gives an address in Port Charlotte, Florida. He is accused of robbing TIB Bank at the 92 mile marker of the highway on August 21st, just before noon. According to witnesses, and to the teller he robbed, Franciose entered the bank and stood in line as if he was a customer. When he approached the teller, he gave her a note telling her he had a bomb, and asking for money. He had some type of device in his hand which had electrical tape on it and had wires protruding from it. After she handed over cash, he left the bank on foot.

Detective Michael DiGiovanni was assigned to investigate the case. He received a tip from a citizen who had seen surveillance photos of the robber. The tipster told him the photos resembled Franciose. A witness who was in line at the bank right behind Franciose on the day of the burglary picked a photo of him out of a photo line up.

A warrant was issued for his arrest. Bond on the warrant is set at $150,000. Anyone with information about this case should contact the Sheriff’s Office or call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and may receive a reward if their information leads to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

November 25, 2007

Car in the water leaves one man dead

Sheriff's deputies responded to an accident scene involving a single vehicle - a 1998 GMC SUV - at 10:45 p.m. Saturday at the 86.7 mile marker of the highway. A car had gone into the water. A woman managed to make it out of the car, but a man was trapped inside and died at the scene. The Florida Highway Patrol is the investigating agency. Call them for more information.

Other accidents:

11/24 at 7:10 p.m. at the 82 mile marker involving two cars and two injured people taken to Mariner's Hospital. FHP investigated.

Structure fire at Dolphin Research Center

Grassy Key - A structure on the property of the Dolphin Research Center caught fire and burned overnight.

Deputy Colen Bradford was dispatched to the fire at the 58 mile marker of the highway at 2:20 a.m., along with Marathon firefighters and the Fire Marshalls Office. A large storage building was engulfed in flames. A nearby house had to be evacuated due to smoke.

No one was injured in the fire. The investigation of the fire's origins was turned over to the Fire Marshall's Office.

November 19, 2007

Marathon man arrested for trafficking in cocaine

A Marathon man was arrested Monday afternoon in Marathon, charged with trafficking in cocaine.

Detectives from the Sheriff's Special Investigations Division received information 32 year old Juan Long was dealing in cocaine from a local hotel. They arranged to rent the room next to him. They observed a number of people coming and going from the room. At that point,  an undercover operative made contact, asking to purchase cocaine.

Long brought out some of the drug and drew a long line of it out, telling the operative to try some. At that point, Long was arrested. A search of this hotel room turned up 50 crack rocks in the bathroom, and an ounce of powdered cocaine concealed in a bathroom receptacle and smaller amounts in other locations for a total of 38 grams of cocaine.

Long was charged with sale of cocaine and trafficking in the illegal substance. He was booked into jail.

Man arrested on aggravated battery warrant

A Key West man wanted for aggravated battery was booked at the Plantation Key jail Friday.

44 year old Ernesto Rodriguez is accused of stabbing a man in the back in August. The victim told Detective Henry Hamilton he was working at a vehicle repair shop when he and Rodriguez got into an argument. He said Rodriguez pulled a knife and stabbed him in the back with it.

The victim's injuries were minor and he was treated at a doctor's office before he reported the incident. A witness corroborated his story and a warrant was issued for Rodriguez for Aggravated Battery. Bond on the warrant is set at $100,000.00.

Key Largo man reports being robbed

Key Largo - A Key Largo man reported being robbed late Friday night.

The victim told Deputy Edgar Pinero he was riding his bicycle behind a convenience store at the 105 mile marker of the highway when a group of men attacked him. He said they knocked him off of his bike, kicked him and went through his pockets stealing his cash.

He reported the robbery the following day. His injuries were minor. Detectives are investigating.

November 18, 2007

Conch Key man dies in fire

A 64 year old Conch Key man died in a house fire in the early morning hours today.

64 year old James Erickson called the Sheriff's Office 911 emergency lines at 3:20 a.m. He told Sheriff's dispatchers he was sitting in his chair, the chair had caught fire, and he couldn't get up from the chair. Deputy Joel Slough responded from the 59 mile marker of the highway, where he was on patrol. As he approached the house, he could see visible flames. As he was getting his pry bar out of his vehicle in preparation for entry to the house, there was an explosion. At that point, the house was fully engulfed in flames and the deputy could no longer safely consider entering.

Deputy Slough began evacuating neighbors as Conch Key firefighters arrived and began fighting the fire. Layton and Marathon firefighters arrived a short time later. After the fire was extinguished, Erickson's body was found inside.

Erickson reportedly needed frequent assistance to get out of his chair and to maneuver around his home. He was also known to smoke cigarettes and was on oxygen to help him breathe.

Sheriff's detectives have investigated and say there is no sign of foul play involved in his death. There was heavy damage to one of the homes next door and to a vehicle belonging to Erickson and to a vehicle belongint to a neighbor.

November 16, 2007

Deputies and detectives continue working lower Keys burglaries

Sheriff's deputies and detectives are currently investigating 11 burglaries which have taken place this week between Big Coppitt Key and Ramrod Key.

Investigators believe most of not all of these break ins have been committed by the same suspect or suspects. The circumstances of the crimes are all similar. In most cases, victims leave during the day and leave a window or door unlocked. Suspects then enter through the door or window and, in some cases, ransack the house taking electronics, jewelry, cash and other miscellaneous items. In a few cases, after finding no unlocked door or window, the suspects have forced entry through a door or window.

The Sheriff's Office needs the public's help to solve these cases. People who are home during the day should be vigilant and keep a close eye out in their neighborhoods for anyone who doesn't belong there. Call the Sheriff's Office immediately if you see anything out of the ordinary, or anyone loitering in an area where they should not be. Don't hesitate to call - a deputy will respond immediately to check out the report and make sure the neighborhood is safe. For those residents who are not home during the day, make sure you lock all your doors and windows. If you have an alarm system, use it. If you do come home and find evidence of a break in, go outside immediately, don't touch anything and call the Sheriff's Office.

Anyone who has information about any of these cases should contact the lower Keys Sector One substation at 305-745-3184. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If the information helps lead to an arrest, the caller will be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000.00. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

November 14, 2007

Note: According to the Medical Examiner’s Office, an autopsy of James Pressler showed he died of natural causes.

Lower Keys plagued by residential burglaries

Sheriff’s deputies and detectives are investigating seven residential burglaries which took place Monday and Tuesday afternoons on Big Coppitt Key, Bay Point and Sugarloaf Key.

In most of the break ins, suspects entered the homes through unlocked doors during daytime hours. Victims reported returning home to find homes ransacked and various items missing, including jewelry, video game systems and other electronics, cash, and computers. At one home, a rifle was stolen; at another home an airsoft rifle and a paintball gun were missing. One woman reported her musical instrument – an oboe – was taken.

The burglarized homes were located on Cactus Drive and Avenue B, Big Coppitt Key; Boulder Drive, Palm Drive and Bay Drive on Bay Point; and Bonita Lane, Alamanda Drive on Sugarloaf Key.

Anyone with information about these crimes should call the Sheriff’s Office or call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a tip leads to an arrest, the tipster would be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000.00. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

The Sheriff’s Office recommends that people always lock their doors and windows when they leave home. It is a relatively simple thing to do and it is an easy way to prevent a crime from happening.

November 12, 2007

Inmate dies at hospital

Stock Island - Inmate James Pressler died at Lower Keys Hospital Sunday night after complaining of chest pains.

Inmate James Pressler, 64 years of age, was being held at the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island pending extradition to New York for murdering a child there 30 years ago. Pressler complained of chest pain just after 9 p.m. and was taken to the hospital by ambulance where he was pronouced dead.

Two teens charged with auto burglaries

Three Key Largo teens have been arrested, charged with burglarizing four cars between Saturday night and Sunday morning.

The victims all called the Sheriff's Office Sunday morning to report their cars being burglarized. Three of the cars were on LaPaloma Road and the other was on Madrid Road. Various items were stolen, including a GPS, a cellular phone, an Ipod, two face plates for stereos, a carton of cigarettes and cash. Deputies investigating the crimes received information that 14 year old Austin Tribble might be involved. Tribble had been reported missing by his mother several days earlier. The deputies put out word to other juveniles in the Key Largo area to keep an eye out for him and report his location to the Sheriff's Office if they saw him.

A short time later, Sheriff's dispatchers received a phone call giving Tribble's location at Key Largo Community Park. When deputies arrived there, Tribble fled on foot, but they made contact with another teen who was able to give them information. The 15 year old  told them he said he was with Tribble the night before and they had ridden around in a car belonging to 17 year old Cesar Gjerde. He said they were all together when Tribble burglarized the cars. He led deputies to the stolen cell phone, which had been discarded in a parking lot at Harry Davis Circle; he also led them to Gjerde's car, parked in front of 703 Sharon Place. In the car were a number of the items reported stolen from the burglarized vehicles.

Gjerde was found inside the residence where his car was parked. Tribble was located a short time later at Key Largo Community Park. Both teens were charged with four counts of burglary and three counts of theft. Tribble was also charged with resisting arrest. They were booked at the Monroe County Detention Center, then turned over to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Man dies in the water off shore of Stock Island

A Stock Island man is dead after falling into the water off shore of Stock Island Sunday after noon.

Deputy Henry Amole responded to the Stock Island Lobster Company at 4 p.m. to reports of a possible drowning. When he arrived, the victim, 53 year old Pedro Sanchez, was lying on the dock, not breathing. Witnesses said he was traveling away from the docks in a small skiff when he fell into the water. He was struggling, so one witness jumped in the water to help him. The witness grabbed Sanchez and waved down a passing boat. The boat took both men to shore, but attempts at CPR were unsuccessful at reviving the victim.

An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death.

November 11, 2007

Accident note: There was an accident at 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the 72 mile marker on the Channel 2 bridge. Motorcycle versus pickup truck.The driver of the motorcycle is believed to have fallen into the water. Trauma Star responded to search as did a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter along with some vessels. As of midnight the motorcycle driver was not found. The scene was turned over to the Florida Highway Patrol and to the Coast Guard, so call those agencies for further updates. The road was closed from approximately 9:45 p.m until midnight. No other injuries reported in the accident.

Big Pine woman charged with aggravated assault

Big Pine Key - A Big Pine Key woman was arrested Saturday, charged with shooting a gun at a man.

The victim told Deputy David Cruz that 61 year old Ann Vaunt fired a gun at him just after noon in front of her residence on Driftwood Lane on  Big Pine Key. Another man who was present when the altercation took place told the same story. The victim said he was in the shower and Vlaun took cash from the pocket of his shorts. He said he asked for the money back and she told him to leave. He said he was walking down the stairs to the yard when she shot at him. The witness was in the yard working on his truck when he saw her shoot at the victim.

Vlaun was still at the residence when Deputy Cruz arrived. She surrendered peacefully. The gun - a .38 caliber revolver - was found on the kitchen table. It was loaded and one cartridge had been discharged. Vlaun claimed she had fired the gun, but said she only did it to scare him and to get him to leave. She said she did not fire at him, but fired into a pond in front of the house.

Vlaun was arrested, charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and improper exhibition of a firearm and she was booked into jail.

Rockland man flees from deputies in stolen vehicle

Rockland Key - A Rockland Key man was arrested in the early morning hours today, charged with fleeing from deputies while driving a stolen car.

Deputies were called to a home on Rockland Drive just before 4 a.m. to reports of a disturbance. When Deputy Evan Calhoun arrived, he was told the man who'd caused the disturbance - 37 year old Jose Mederos - had just left driving a sport utility vehicle. Deputy Calhoun was familiar with Mederos and knew he had a suspended driver's license. Deputy Calhoun and Deputy Walter Kirchner decided to wait near the entrance to Rockland Drive to see if Mederos returned.

Just minutes later, an SUV approached them. Deputy Calhoun shone a light on the driver, identifying him as Mederos. When the deputy turned don his lights and siren to pull him over, he fled. The deputies followed the car as it made a number of turns, running stop signs at several intersections. Mederos finally lost control of the vehicle and crashed through a fence near the intersection of Beach Drive and Rockland Drive.

Mederos climbed out the passenger door and began crawling away through mangroves. Deputy Kirchner and Deputy Kevin McCracken crawled under the fence after him. They were able to reach him, but he struggled with him. Deputy Calhoun deployed his Taser and Mederos was finally taken into custody.

The vehicle he was driving turned out to be stolen from Miami on November 10th. Mederos was charged with vehicle theft, fleeing and eluding police, resisting arrest, criminal mischief and with driving with his license suspended. He was booked into jail.

November 9, 2007

Marathon business fire investigated

Marathon - A fire in the early morning hours at a small convenience store in Marathon is being investigated by the Sheriff's Office and the Fire Marshalls Office.

According to investigators, La Nina Market and Deli on 15th Street caught fire just before 4 a.m. After the blaze was put out, investigations revealed the store appeared to have been burglarized.

Investigations are continuing. Anyone with information about this case should contact the Sheriff’s Office or call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and may receive a reward if their information leads to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

November 6, 2007

Key Largo teen charged with arson burglaries and business burglaries

Upper Keys - A 19 year old Key Largo teen has been arrested and charged with 19 burglaries, including three arsons which took place in the upper Keys in October.

Sammy Santamaria was stopped driving a 2002 Dodge RAM pickup truck in the vicinity of the 104 mile marker at 4:30 a.m. just after Deputy Patricia Garcia discovered break ins at Senor Frijoles, Cactus Jacks, Sundowners and an office in the vicinity of the three businesses. The pickup was observed by undercover detectives acting suspiciously, swerving as it drove, then performing a u-turn, and continued to swerve as it drove. The truck was pulled over by Deputy Ian Barnett.

In the truck, detectives from the Sheriff's Special Investigations Division found a number of items stolen from those businesses, including packs of cigarettes taken from a cigarette machine at Cactus Jacks and a bank bag taken from the office. Also in the truck were burglary tools, two way radios, masks and dark colored clothing.

Santamaria and a 32 year old man who was a passenger in the truck were taken to the Plantation Key Substation for questioning. Detectives say Santamaria admitted to committing the crimes - not just the four discovered this morning, but 11 other business burglaries between Friday and today. He also admitted to the three arson cases on October 18th in Plantation Key and Key Largo, along with one other burglary that same night on Plantation Key where suspects sprayed a fire extinguisher throughout the house.

In all, Santamaria will be charged with those three arson/burglary cases and the residential burglary; the burglaries at Senor Frijoles, Sundowners, Cactus Jacks and the office adjoining those businesses; burglary to the Payfair Market at the 91 mm on October 29th; burglaries at Old Tavernier Restaurant and Hallidays Treasure Gallery over the weekend, as well as the weekend break-ins at Pro Tech E2 where copper wiring was stolen from a storage facility; Mossbrooks Enterprises where two diesel generators and a boat transmission were stolen;, La Cuccina Restaurant, Sunshine Supermarket, Rib Daddy's Restaurant, Marlin Restaurant and attempted break ins at Metro / PCS Wireless and Realty Options at the 102.9 mile marker.

The 32 year old passenger with him in the truck was not charged at this time, and was released. More arrests are expected in these cases.

November 4, 2007

Seven business burglaries reported in the upper Keys

Key Largo / Islamorada – Sheriff’s detectives are investigating seven business burglaries in the upper Keys, reported between Friday and today.

Four of the break ins were reported Friday morning. Deputies responded to Mossbrooks Enterprises at the 105.4 mile marker of the highway, Old Tavernier Italian Restaurant and Halliday’s Treasure Gallery at the 90.1 mile marker, and La Cuccina Restaurant at the 105 mile marker Friday morning after employees and/or owners discovered they had been burglarized. Suspects entered three of the four through rear doors that were pried open. Halliday’s Treasure Gallery was entered from Old Tavernier Italian Restaurant, which is next door to it. All the businesses had been ransacked and a number of items were taken, along with cash. A large amount of jewelry was reported missing from Halliday’s Treasure Gallery.

On Sunday, break ins were reported at Rib Daddy’s Restaurant at the 102.5 mile marker, the Marlin Restaurant at the 102.7 mile marker and Talk More Wireless at the 99.3 mile marker. Both restaurants were broken into through rear doors; they were ransacked and cash was taken. No details were available about the third burglary because the offense report was not finished at the time of this report.

It is unknown if the burglaries are connected, although there are similarities with some of the crimes. Anyone with information about these cases should contact the Sheriff’s Office or call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and may receive a reward if their information leads to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

November 1, 2007

Corrections Officer arrested for attempting to obtain a controlled substance fraudulently

Key West - A Sheriff's Internal Affairs inspector arrested a Corrections Officer today charging him with attempting to obtain a controlled substance by fraud.

According to Inspector Janine Gedmin, On October 29th the Sheriff's Office received a call from a pharmacist at Publix who was suspicious of 44 year old Michael Jacobson, a Corrections Officer for the Sheriff's Office. He said Jacobson had come in to his pharmacy with a prescription for Percocet. He said the prescription was wet and a corner was torn off. He said he was suspicious so he took the prescription and called several pharmacies, including Dennis Pharmacy. The pharmacist at Dennis Pharmacy said Jacobson had tried to fill it there, but it was too soon. She said she made a notation on the corner of the prescription indicating it was too soon to fill the prescription. That was the corner missing from the prescription Jacobson tried to fill at Publix.

After Inspector Gedmin received the initial report, she began investigating by calling various pharmacies. During the course of her investigation, she learned that between January and October of this year, Jacobson had obtained multiple prescriptions from eight different doctors for at least four different controlled substances, including Carisoprodol, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone (Percocet) and Acetaminophen with Codeine.

Today (Thursday) a warrant was obtained for his arrest. Jacobson was interviewed by an investigator with the State Attorney's Office. He was then arrested and charged with attempting to obtain a controlled substance by fraud, a third degree felony. He has been terminated following a pre-termination hearing before Colonel Rick Ramsay.

Jacobson was hired by the Sheriff's Office in April of 2006, then attended a Corrections Academy, becoming Corrections certified in October of 2006. He worked as a Corrections Officer at the Stock Island Detention Center.


 Labelled with ICRA