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

Information about divers who died on the Spiegel Grove wreck March 16th


March 30, 2007

Stock Island man charged with stealing property, pawning it and driving a stolen car

Stock Island - A Stock Island man was arrested Thursday on outstanding warrants for fraud and dealing in stolen property. At the time of his arrest, he was also driving a car reported stolen in the city of Key West.

Investigations began on March 27th after two Rockland Key men reported their home was broken into and several items were stolen, including two televisions, a DVD player, a Sony Playstation and several games to go with it. One of the victims said he went to work at 8 a.m. He said at 3 p.m. he went to a Key West pawn shop and an acquaintance of his, 43 year old Brian Brenneman, was also there. The victim said Brenneman was pawning a television set and the victim commented on it because he said it looked just like his. He said Brenneman was acting kind of funny, but he didn't think anything of it until he got home and found out his television had been stolen along with the other items.

He called two friends of his and asked them to go by Brenneman's house on Stock Island and confront him. They did, and found a car parked in front of Brenneman's trailer with a television and a DVD player in it. The television and DVD player were identical to those taken from the Rockland Key home, so they took them from the car and returned them to their owner. The victim then called the Sheriff's Office to report the burglary.

Detective Donald Catala was assigned to investigate. He confirmed that Brenneman had pawned stolen items at the pawn shop. He also found he'd pawned the Playstation and the video games at another Key West pawn shop. During the course of that investigation, the Detective received information Brenneman had pawned a number of power tools as well. Detective Catala called Deal Builders, where Brenneman had worked prior to being fired on March 22nd. They said a number of power tools had been stolen from a job site at Bay Point, including an impact driver, laser level, hammer drill, nail gun and sander. Investigations revealed all those items had been pawned by Brenneman at two separate pawn shops in Key West.

At that point, warrants were issued for Brenneman for three counts of fraud for giving false ownership information and two counts of dealing in stolen property.

On Thursday, Deputy Tom Walker was on patrol at 3:25 p.m. on Second Street when he saw a man, later identified as Brenneman, get out of a gray Toyota Camry. When Brenneman spotted the deputy he began to act very nervously, so the deputy stopped to investigate. When Deputy Walker ran Brenneman's name, he discovered the outstanding warrants. When he ran the license number of the car, he discovered it had been reported stolen from Key West. Brenneman was arrested, charged with the outstanding warrants and with grand theft auto. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Detective Catala says the investigation is continuing and he anticipates bringing further charges against Brenneman.

Two charged with alcohol at Higgs Beach

Key West - Sheriff's deputies charged two men Thursday with having alcoholic beverages at Higgs Beach.

Deputy Matt Dowling responded to the beach at 11 a.m. after Monroe County Public Works reported people drinking alcohol in the area. When he got there, he saw a man drinking from a cup. He picked it up and smelled it, and it smelled of alcohol. While he was speaking with 35 year old Ryan Stamets, Deputy Tom Walker arrived at the beach. He spotted 41 year old Michael Ryan a ways down the beach. Ryan had an open bottle of Budweiser sticking out of his backpack. Deputy Walker asked Ryan to walk over toward Deputy Dowling. As Ryan was walking, the open beer began to foam, with the foam running down the outside of the backpack.

Stamets was cooperative with Deputy Dowling's investigation, and agreed to dump out the cup of alcohol he'd been drinking. He was issued a notice to appear in court for possession of an open container of alcohol and possession of alcohol on the county beach. Ryan was not cooperative with Deputy Walker's investigation, denying that he was in possession of the beer despite the fact that he had foam running down the outside of his backpack. Ryan was arrested and taken to jail for possession of an open container and possession of alcohol on the county beach. Once at the jail, a search of his pockets turned up a pipe like those commonly used to smoke illegal narcotics. He was further charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and smuggling contraband into the jail.

March 29, 2007

Tavernier man charged with grand theft and fraud

Monroe County - A Tavernier man is accused of failing to install a dock and three boat lifts after accepting monetary deposits for the work.

43 year old Donald Wade Bruce told people his businesses were called Keys Cat 5, and Hurricane Boat Lifts. Sheriff's Detectives have investigated four cases where Bruce signed contracts with people, took their money, then failed to do the work he was supposed to do.

A Grassy Key man paid Bruce $10,000 in May of 2006 as a deposit for which Bruce was supposed to install a dock on his property. He called Bruce several times to find out when the work would begin. Bruce put him off a number of times, and finally told him in November of 2006 that the work would start the following week. When no work began, the victim called Nationwide Distributing, the manufacturer of a product called "Easy Dock". They said Bruce no longer distributed their product. At that point, the victim called the Sheriff's Office.

A man from Boca Raton who was building a home in Marathon wanted a boat lift at his new home. He spoke to a neighbor who was also having one installed, and was referred to Bruce. Bruce agreed to install the boat lift and accepted a deposit of $4,292.71 in August of 2006. Suddenly, the neighbor began having trouble getting Bruce to finish his boat lift, and the victim was not able to reach Bruce at all. in October of 2006, he finally called the Sheriff's Office to report the fraud.

A Key Largo man called a company called IMM Boat lifts in Fort Myers because he wanted a boat lift installed at his home. They said they did not sell boat lifts directly, but a few days later Bruce called him about the boat lift. They met in September and the victim paid him a deposit of $4,750.00. The work never started, and the victim could not reach Bruce. In January of this year, he called the Sheriff's Office to report the fraud.

A Key Largo man called Hurricane Boat Lifts in March of 2006 to have a boat lift installed at his residence. Bruce gave him a price for the job and the man said he'd think about it. A couple of weeks later, Bruce returned to tell the victim he had a boat lift from a previous customer which he would sell to him at a lower price. He told the victim he needed the total amount of $7,698.65 up front for it and the victim agreed, writing him a check. Bruce said he'd install it within two weeks. He never performed the work. The victim reported the crime in January of 2007.

Detectives David Carey, Kenneth Baker and Rick Martin were investigators on these cases. They called building departments in each area and discovered that Bruce never applied for permits on any of the jobs and, in fact, does not have a business license issued in his name. Bruce was arrested on March 28th and charged with four counts of grand theft and two counts of fraud for falsely identifying himself as a contractor. He was also charged with outstanding warrants for two counts of worthless checks, violation of probation and failure to appear in court. More charges are pending. He is currently in the Monroe County Detention Center.


March 27, 2007

Marine Unit rescues kayakers

Key Largo - The Sheriff's Office Marine Unit rescued a group of Kayakers who where in trouble Saturday off of Key Largo.

Deputy Lee Cowart said he was on patrol in the vicinity of Dusenburg Creek on the bayside of Key Largo Saturday afternoon. He said he'd been dodging fast moving storms all day and another one was approaching when he came across four kayaks with a total of six people - two single person and two double person kayaks in all. The storm had brought on high winds and a water spout was visible in the distance when he found them. Two had fallen out of their craft and were in the water. The other four were still in their kayaks, but they were clinging to mangroves because the current was against them and winds were so strong they threatened to sweep them away.

With the help of another vessel with a good Samaritan on board, Deputy Cowart managed to get all six on board. He also managed to tie the kayaks to the boat and they all made to shore at Blackwater Sound safely. All six were shaken by the experience and grateful he'd happened upon them.

"I don't know what would have happened if I hadn't found them," he said. "They were having a tough time of it. I'm just glad we were able to help."

Cowart says he didn't get their names, but they ranged in age from 20 to 60 and were from Miami, New York and Washington D.C. He said they weren't traveling together, but had apparently hooked up on the water while kayaking. He also didn't get the name of the good Samaritan, "but he was really great. He pitched right in and helped me rescue these folks," Cowart said.

Sheriff's Crimes Against Persons Unit checks Sexual Offenders

Over a ten day period, the Sheriff's Office Crimes Against Persons Unit conducted a Sexual Offender Registration sweep throughout the Florida Keys, excluding the city of Key West.

Detectives had a list of 40 offenders to check in the county. The list included all registered offenders who are not on probation, parole, under Department of Corrections supervision. Out of those 40, three had failed to update their registration information and were not living at the addresses they listed. Warrants will be issued for those three people. One person on the list - 41 year old Randolph Jackson - had an existing warrant for failure to register and the Big Pine Key address on file for him did not exist. The other three that couldn't be found were 34 year old Kevin Farrell, 48 year old Waldemar Pacheco and 48 year old Donald Mell. Warrants will be issued for those three for failure to register as a sexual offender.

The Sheriff's Office Crimes Against Persons Unit conducts periodic checks on Sexual Offenders to make sure they are maintaining a correct registration address. Anyone can visit the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's web site and view a list of sexual offenders and predators in Monroe County, or in any other county in the State of Florida. The list can be sorted by name, by address, and by zip code. The web site address is For those who do not have internet access, the same information is available by calling 1(888)357-7332 or by e-mail at

March 26, 2007

Dive death off of Key Largo

Key Largo - A Fort Myers man died while scuba diving off of Key Largo Sunday.

50 year old Mark Matthiessen of Fort Myers was on a dive trip on board the Sea Dweller III. He was diving in 30 feet of water at French Reef. Shortly after 10 a.m., he surfaced behind another dive boat, the Tropical Voyager. The captain of that boat asked if Matthiessen was all right. He indicated he needed help. As Matthiessen was being assisted aboard, he collapsed and stopped breathing. Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation was begun immediately and, after loading all their divers on board, the Tropical Voyager started back to shore, continuing with CPR. They were met at the dock by paramedics who pronounced him dead.

The victim's dive buddy said he never indicated he was having any problems during the dive. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death.

Two men from Key Largo charged with stealing car, fleeing from police

Key Largo - Two young Key Largo men have been arrested after one of them stole a car, an X-Box and fled when deputies tried to stop him.

The victim called the Sheriff's Office early on Saturday to report her car missing. She said 18 year old Justin Lavalley, who is staying at her house on Bahia Honda Road, took her car overnight without permission. Deputies Charles Bon and Gustavo Helago were the responding officers. The victim further explained that Lavalley had taken her son's X-box as well. She said her neighbor told her he saw Lavalley with his nephew, 20 year old Christopher Hernandez. He said he saw them take the car, and he said Lavalley offered to sell him an X-box for $60.00.

While the deputies were there, the victim called Lavalley. He told her he was on his way back with her car. The deputies drove a short distance away to Largo Road wait for him. When the 1999 Plymouth Breeze passed the deputies, they turned on their lights and siren to pull it over. Instead of stopdiving, the car accelerated turning onto Bahia Honda Road. While speeding down Bahia Honda Road, the car almost hit a garbage truck and had to go up onto the sidewalk to avoid an accident. The driver finally stopped in front of a home on Bahia Honda Road. The two inside got out and started walking away. They were ordered by deputies to stop and they complied.

Lavalley was charged with grand theft auto, theft, driving without a license and fleeing and eluding law enforcement officers. A witness said he saw Hernandez throw a cigarette pack onto the car's floorboards. Inside the cigarette pack was drug paraphernalia, so Hernandez was also arrested and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Both were booked at the Monroe County Detention Center.

March 22, 2007

Man uses false passport to cash stolen traveler's checks

Big Pine Key - A man has been taken into custody, charged with using a fake passport to cash stolen traveler's checks at a local bank.

In May of 2006, a teller at TIB Bank on Summerland Key became suspicious when a man with a Venezuelan passport cashed four American Express traveler's checks. She wasn't sure why she was suspicious, but she got a description of his car and a tag number anyway. Her suspicions proved to be accurate: the traveler's checks turned out to be stolen in 2004 in Argentina.

The case was assigned to Detective Paul Shultz. The bank researched it's records and talked to employees and found that the same man had cashed some of the same stolen traveler's checks in February. The identification he produced in February was a Spanish passport with the same name as the Venezuelan one. Detective Shultz contacted the office of Homeland Security in Key West. A check on the two passports showed both of them to be false.

On March 21st the same man walked into the same bank and attempted to cash two more traveler's checks. He had a passport in his hand, but when the teller told him she would have to verify the checks with American Express, he left the bank. The teller got a complete description of the car he got into, including a tag number. The vehicle was pulled over on Big Pine Key. The passenger was identified by his Florida Driver's License as 47 year old Jesus Agreda of Miami. He was identified by Detective Shultz as the same man whose picture was on the two fake passports and the teller as the man who cashed the stolen traveler's checks.

Agreda was charged with theft and four counts of fraud. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. More charges are pending against him.

March 19, 2007

Fire burns Tavernier mini-storage; two arrested for disobeying law enforcement

Tavernier - A Tavernier mini-storage and U-Haul business burned Sunday night, causing the immediate neighborhood to be evacuated.

Firefighters from Conch Key, Islamorada, Tavernier and Key Largo responded to the fire, on Hood Avenue in Tavernier. The fire was first reported just before 8 p.m. by callers who described black smoke and flames coming from the roof of the building. When firefighters and law enforcement officers arrived, they cordoned off the area, evacuating three homes and six apartments which were too close to be safe from the flames. There were also a number of small explosions reported, possibly from items stored in the mini-storage units.

The fire was extinguished and people were allowed back into their homes by 10 p.m. The fire marshal's office will be investigating the cause.

During the course of the fire, deputies set up a perimeter to keep people away from the area. Two men tried to enter the perimeter against direct orders from deputies. They were arrested after repeated warnings.

Deputy Robert Dosh said at 8:40 p.m., 22 year old Allen Licona walked by him. He was ordered to stop, but kept walking. When Deputy Dosh stepped in front of him to stop him, Licona squared off, clenching his fists as if he was going to fight with the deputy. When the deputy stepped closer, Licona pushed him, then tried to walk toward the fire scene again. He was taken into custody. Sgt. Lyle Agins, also on the scene, told Deputy Dosh Licona had tried to gain entrance to the fire scene two other times and been warned to stay away.

At 8:55 p.m., Deputy Patricia Garcia was working the perimeter of the fire when 43 year old William Guy walked around numerous emergency vehicles and through crime scene tape attempting to get into one of the buildings. He said he was trying to retrieve his office computer. When Deputy Garcia put her hand up to stop him, he became aggressive and tried to brush past her. When she again tried to stop him, he threw up clenched fists as if he was going to hit her. Deputy Ryan Cowart came up behind him and grabbed him, but Guy began to struggle with him, grabbing for his Taser on his duty belt. Deputy Cowart then pushed him away and drew his Taser, threatening to fire it at Guy. He ordered Guy to the ground, but he refused to comply. After repeated warnings, he finally got onto the ground, was handcuffed and taken into custody.

Licona was charged with assault on a law enforcement officer and resisting an officer without violence; Guy was charged with two counts assault on a law enforcement officer and resisting an officer with violence. They were both booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Rockland Key man arrested for cock fighting

Rockland Key - An anonymous phone call led to the arrest of a Rockland Key man Friday night on charges of cock fighting and animal cruelty.

One hundred sixty eight birds were found on property located at 571 Beach Drive on Rockland Key, which belongs to the suspect 67 year old Lorenzo Miralles. The SPCA removed 80 of the birds immediately where were the most seriously injured or those who were prepped for fighting. The rest will be removed today.

When deputies arrived at 5:30 p.m., they found a large crowd on the property. Many of them fled immediately when the officers arrived, but they were able to stop and identify 23 people. All but two of them were from the lower Keys. The other two were from Cape Coral, Florida and Hialeah, Florida. Miralles came forward and admitted to being the property owner. He agreed to a search of his property and denied being involved in cock fighting.

A search of the property revealed an octagonal arena, where the fights most likely took place. They also found a large amount of medical equipment, including suture kits, antibiotics, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide and betadine solution. Approximately 60 spurs were found of numerous sizes along with spur covers which appeared to be stained with blood. A book that appeared to be a betting ledger was also found.

A number of the birds had been prepped for fighting. They had been shaved on the back, the underside and many had the combs on their heads cut off. One was bleeding from the remains of a comb which appeared to have just been removed or had been injured in some other way. A number of the chickens were injured; some had open wounds, some had missing eyes and some had scabbing and scars.

Miralles was arrested and charged with violation of the animal fighting act (Florida Statute 328.122) and with animal cruelty. Both charges are third degree felony charges. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

March 15, 2007

Man arrested for January bus burglary

Stock Island - A Stock Island man was arrested Tuesday for burglarizing a bus on Stock Island in January.

On January 15th, a Key West city bus broke down on 5th Street on Stock Island. While the bus sat waiting to be towed, it was burglarized. A surveillance camera on the bus caught a picture of the man who committed the crime. Detective Henry Hamilton was assigned the case. Since the suspect was unknown, a copy of the surveillance picture was circulated among law enforcement officers in the county and was posted on the Monroe County Sheriff's Office web site.

Visitors to the web site registered numerous crime stoppers tips identifying the picture as 37 year old Harold Martin of Stock Island. Detective Hamilton began looking for Martin in an attempt to positively identify him as the suspect. On March 13th, Martin was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center on an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court. He bonded himself out of jail immediately on the FTA charges. At that time, Detective Hamilton spoke with him, and compared his appearance with the surveillance photo. Martin himself agreed that the surveillance photos looked like him, but denied breaking in to the bus.

Based on Detective Hamilton's observations, and on the many Crime Stoppers tips received, a warrant was issued for him for burglary and criminal mischief. Martin turned himself in Wednesday afternoon and he was booked into jail on those charges.

March 12, 2007

Man arrested for punching people trying to save him

Key Largo - A man yelling for help from the waters off shore of an upper Keys boat ramp was arrested after he punched his rescuer, then took a swing at two paramedics.

Good samaritan Ernesto DeMolina of Miami was fishing in a canal at the 94.8 mile marker of highway U.S. One at 8 p.m. Sunday when he saw a van sinking in the water and a man in the water near it, yelling that he couldn't swim and needed help. DeMolina jumped in to help him. He began towing the man to shore and told him to relax. Instead of relaxing, the man, later identified as 22 year old Carlos Leon-Paredes, punched DeMolina in the face, twice. DeMolina managed to get to shore successfully despite the man's combativeness, pulling Leon-Paredes up onto a nearby boat ramp.

Paramedics arrived. Danny Power and Novak Milan saw Leon-Paredes lying face down on the boat ramp and attempted to check his vital signs. The man hit Milan in the face and swung at Power. Deputy Darnell Durham arrived just as the man was swinging at Power. He placed Leon-Paredes under arrest and transported him to jail, charging him with felony battery for punching the paramedic, battery for punching DeMolina and assault for swinging at Power.

Two charged with burglarizing Stock Island restaurant

Stock Island - Two men were arrested charged with burglarizing the Rusty Anchor Restaurant just before midnight Sunday.

A neighbor, who is related to the restaurant's owner, saw two men breaking in to the building through a bathroom window shortly before midnight. He called the owner, and called the Sheriff's Office. The owner arrived on the scene before any law enforcement officers. She saw a man running from a dead end alley that runs beside the restaurant. She tackled him in the parking lot, detaining him until police arrived. Another family member held the second suspect on the ground. Fish and Wildlife Officer Steve Dion arrived on the scene after hearing the call on police radios. He was followed minutes later by Deputy Marc Maison.

After further investigations, the officers arrested 34 year old John Martin and 37 year old Moses Torres, both of Stock Island. They were charged with criminal mischief and burglary. Torres was also charged with possession of burglary tools because a screwdriver was found tucked in his waistband. Both were found to be in possession of credit cards taken from the restaurant. A stereo had been removed from it's location in the restaurant and part of it was inside, on the bathroom floor, with part located outside the bathroom window. A bottle of Crown Royal liquor was also found on the ground outside.

Four GPS units taken from Marathon Marina

Marathon - Four high end GPS systems were taken from a Marathon marina between Thursday night and Friday morning.

The owner of Turn Key Marine called the Sheriff's Office Friday morning to report seven boats stored at his business had been entered, with items taken from five of them. In all, four high end GPS systems valued at approximately $25,000 were taken, along with a stereo.

Detectives are investigating. 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.

March 9, 2007

Islamorada man arrested after firing his gun

Islamorada - An Islamorada man who fired a handgun several times both inside and outside his residence was arrested shortly after 1 a.m. today (Friday).

Deputies were called to a home on Sunset Drive in Islamorada to reports of a disturbance. When they arrived, the woman who reported the incident said that 53 year old Tommy Hughes had fired one shot inside and several outside and had just fled the scene in a black Lexus convertible. The vehicle he fled in was found backed into a driveway a short distance away. Deputies saw a light on in the upstairs and, as they were watching, it went out. They walked around the back of the house and found a sliding glass door ajar. As they were watching the door, a figure dressed in black slipped out and began walking toward the water in the back of the house.

The deputies yelled for him to stop and he dove into the water. After repeated orders to exit the water and show them his hands, the figure, later identified as Hughes, gave himself up peacefully. After he was taken into custody, he told the officers he wanted to die and asked them to kill him. Investigations revealed the owners of the house Hughes had entered were not home at the time, do not know him and did not give him permission to be in their home.

Hughes was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center, charged with discharging a firearm in public and burglary.

Miami man charged with cutting girlfriend's neck with a knife

Marathon - A Marathon woman was taken to the hospital Thursday in the early morning hours after her boyfriend allegedly cut her neck with a knife, threatening to kill her.

Deputies Robin Tanner and David Smith responded to an apartment at 240 Sombrero Road at 1:15 a.m. and found the victim extremely upset. She had blood on her chin and on her shirt, and had scratch marks and bruises on her body. She said her boyfriend, 27 year old Abraham Lincoln Rodriguez-Alvarez of Miami had just threatened to kill her with a knife. She said he'd been drinking and had become abusive, yelling at her and hitting her. She said he grabbed a knife and cut her hair off with it, and at some point in the altercation, had cut her on the neck. She said at one point he gave her a knife and told her to defend herself, because he was going to kill her.

The victim was finally able to flee from the apartment. She ran to a neighboring apartment and called the Sheriff's Office for help. Deputies Tanner and Smith checked her apartment and found that the boyfriend had fled. The woman's two small children, who were sleediving in another room, were unharmed.

A warrant for the suspect's arrest was obtained later the same day and on Thursday afternoon, the victim called the Sheriff's Office to report he'd returned to her apartment and was sleediving inside. Deputy Tanner and Detective Amanda Coleman responded and placed him under arrest. Rodriguez-Alvarez was charged with aggravated domestic battery and he was booked into jail.

Teen charged with shooting a man with two BB guns

Tavernier - A 14 year old Tavernier boy was arrested Thursday evening after he shot a man in the forehead and back with two BB guns.

Deputies Ian Barnett and Robert Dosh were dispatched to Caribbean Avenue at 8 p.m. to reports of a fight. When they arrived, they found 48 year old Edward Hoffman sitting in his driveway. He said he'd just been in a fight with a neighbor, 46 year old James Etchells. Hoffman said during the fight, he called for help from his son, 14 year old Andrew Hoffman, telling him to call 911 and to get their airsoft pellet gun. He said he told the boy to shoot Etchells with the gun.

At that point, according to everyone involved, Andrew Hoffman got two pellet guns from inside the house and shot Etchells with both of them at the same time, hitting him in the forehead and back. Etchells fled the scene because he said he became afraid after hearing the Hoffman say something about a gun. He was later treated at the hospital for his injuries.

Andrew Hoffman was charged with aggravated battery and was booked at the Monroe County Detention Center before being released to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

March 8, 2007

Naples man dies while diving

Marathon - A Naples man died while diving off shore of Marathon Wednesday.

55 year old Bradley Lewis was on board the pe vessel Reef Hopper out of Captain Hooks Marina in Marathon with his Jeremy and another man who was from Ontario, Canada. They had just gone into the water at Samantha's Reef at 1:15 p.m. when the incident occurred. According to the boat's Captain, the three went into the water together, but just minutes later the son, Jeremy, surfaced. Right after he surfaced, his father surfaced about 100 feet behind the boat. He said it was apparent the man was having trouble, so he told the son to climb on board and they would go get him. In the meantime, he yelled to the father to drop his weight belt, inflate his buoyancy compensator and put his regulator in his mouth.

He got the boat started and turned it around to go help Lewis, but both he and the son lost sight of him. The Captain motored to the area where he last saw the man, called another dive boat for assistance, and dove in. He found him near the bottom; his regulator was reportedly out of his mouth and his weight belt was stuck on his right ankle. He brought the man to the surface and immediately began rescue breathing. The other dive boat arrived and helped get Lewis on board the boat where Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation was performed until the Coast Guard arrived. They took Lewis on board their vessel and continued CPR until they reached shore. Lewis was pronounced dead at Fishermen's Hospital. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death.

Search warrant leads to five arrests

Key Largo - A search warrant served at an Key Largo Resort led to the arrest of five people Wednesday night.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday, the Sheriff's Special Investigations pision served a search warrant at Gilbert's Resort at the 107.9 mile marker of highway U.S. One, room number 103. The Special Weapons and Tactics Squad made the initial entry into the room. The five people inside attempted to flee out the back door, but more SWAT officers were waiting for them and took them into custody.

In the room, a search revealed 18 grams of crack cocaine, seven grams of powdered cocaine, nine Xanax pills, three marijuana cigarettes laced with cocaine and drug paraphernalia. They also found $1,744.00 in cash, which was seized for possible forfeiture.

37 year old Patricia Hamilton and 41 year old Renee Pawlikowski of Key Largo were both arrested. Detectives also arrested 21 year old Leon Lester, 34 year old Arthur Snow and 34 year old Tracey Pittman, all of Florida City. All five were charged with possession of cocaine. Snow and Lester were also charged with possession of marijuana; Pittman was also charged with possession of a controlled substance; Pawlikowski and Hamilton were also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.


March 2, 2007

Detective asks for help identifying suspect

Ramrod Key - Sheriff's Detective Paul Shultz would like the public's help identifying a suspect in a Ramrod Key restaurant burglary.

On the night of February 27th, Boondock's Restaurant and bar was burglarized. Employees of the business discovered the break in at 5 a.m. when they came to work that morning. The suspect was captured on a video surveillance tape as he stole a cell phone, seven cartons of cigarettes and a bottle of Crown Royal liquor.

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.


Questions or Comments?
Contact Deputy Becky Herrin, Public Information Officer and Web Author or Sheriff Rick Ramsayvia e-mail
For other phone and e-mail contact information, see the "Contact Information"