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


May 30, 2007

Bar altercation turns violent

Marathon - A woman attacked a man in a bar then used a bat to break the windshield of his car and to threaten his girlfriend.

The victim told Deputy John Perez he was in the Dog House Bar in Marathon with his two dogs when his neighbor, 36 year old Christina Wherley, told him to get the dogs out of the bar. He had permission from the bartender to have them inside, however, so he ignored her. She attacked him, throwing a drink and an ashtray at him, then trying to hit him.The bartender forced Wherley to leave the bar.

A short time later, he was walking home with his dogs when he saw Wherley hitting his girlfriend's car with a baseball bat. She also hit his fence, damaging it and, when his girlfriend came outside to see what was happening, Wherley swung the bat at her. The victim was able to take the bat away from her and he called the Sheriff's Office.

When deputies arrived, they placed Wherley under arrest, charging her with battery, criminal mischief and, after marijuana was found in her front pocket, possession of that illegal substance. She was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

May 29, 2007

Husband and wife arrested for boat thefts

Stock Island - A husband and wife were caught red handed in possession of two stolen boats early Monday.

Deputy David Smith first ran across 39 year old Rigoberto Morales and 26 year old Amy Godfrey at 5 a.m. Monday as they were trying to pull a boat out of the water at the end of 5th Street on Stock Island. They had backed a trailer into the water and loaded a 25 foot Wellcraft boat onto it. They were trying to pull it out of the water with a red 1996 Dodge pickup truck when the deputy happened upon them. Deputy Smith asked if they'd caught any fish and Morales said he'd just given his wife a ride in the boat. As the deputy watched, Morales was unable to pull the boat and trailer out of the water with the truck because they were too heavy, so he put it back in the water. The deputy documented the contact, including a detailed description of the boat and trailer, and continued with his patrol duties.

A half an hour later, Deputy Smith was approached by Stock Island resident John Murray who reported his trailer stolen. He said he was in his vehicle, parked at a traffic light on Stock Island when he saw a red truck drive by him with his trailer in tow. He followed it for a short distance, wrote down the truck's license tag number, then stopped to call the Sheriff's Office to report the theft. He said he last saw it heading into the city on Flagler Avenue. Deputy Smith notified Key West Police to be on the lookout for the trailer. It was found a short time later parked at the boat ramp on 11th Street and Riviera Drive in the city. It was hooked up to a red Dodge pickup truck which was unoccupied.

Deputy Smith responded to that location. As he arrived, he recognized the truck from his earlier contact on Stock Island. At that point, he looked up the Riviera Canal and saw a small boat pulling a bigger boat. In the small boat was Morales and Godfrey. Morales said he was pulling the big boat for a friend.

Deputy Smith ran the registration on the big boat - the same 25 foot Wellcraft he saw earlier on Stock Island - and called the registered owner. The owner said he did not know Morales or Godfrey, and never gave anyone permission to take his boat from behind his home on the Sigsbee Naval Base. Morales and Godfrey were arrested and charged with grand theft of the boat and grand theft of the trailer. A check on the dinghy they were using to pull the larger boat revealed it was also stolen from a dock on Stock Island. They were charged with a third count of grand theft for that crime. Marijuana cigarettes laced with cocaine were found in Morales' pocket when he was arrested so he was further charged with possession of marijuana and cocaine. They were both booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Memorial Day Weekend wrap up

Vessel Stops: Total - 70

Accidents of note:

May 25, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend

The Sheriff’s Office will be stepping up law enforcement activity on the roadways and waterways this Memorial Day weekend in an effort to help make it a safe one for residents and visitors.

Extra deputies and traffic enforcement units will be assigned to Card Sound Road and the 18-mile stretch on Friday afternoon when visitors start coming into the Keys for the weekend and on Monday afternoon when visitors leave for home.  Construction on both the stretch and Card Sound Road will cause delays so motorists are urged to exercise patience.

The Sheriff’s Office is also assigning extra boat patrols in the Upper Keys to enhance water safety in that area.  All available deputies and reserve officers will be out in force throughout the Keys this holiday weekend.

Gun toting bar patron disarmed

An off duty Broward County police officer disarmed a patron at a bar on Windley Key early today (Friday).  Deputies were called to the bar shortly before 3 a.m. where they found the suspect, identified as 22-year old Florin Sirbu, a Romanian Citizen, pinned to the ground by the off duty deputy and security personnel at the bar.  The witnesses told Sheriff’s deputies that Sirbu was escorted out of the bar after he threw a cup of ice at a friend of the off duty officer.  Sirbu reportedly went to his car, retrieved a 45-caliber pistol from the truck and then tried to re-enter the bar.  He was confronted by security personnel and the off duty deputy.  The witnesses said Sirbu pointed the gun at one of them, but was quickly knocked to the ground and disarmed.  Sheriff’s deputies arrested Sirbu and booked him at the Plantation Key jail  on charges of aggravated assault and carrying a concealed handgun

Aggravated battery arrest

Investigation of an aggravated battery case led to the arrest Thursday of 16-year old Carlos A. Perez who is accused of causing severe injuries to a 19-year old male in an altercation the night of May 23 at a Key Largo residence.  The incident occurred at a party hosted by the victim.  Witnesses stated that Perez and two other young men showed up and attacked the victim.  Perez had wrapped a metal chain around his fist and hit the victim multiple times in the head.  The victim was taken to the hospital for lacerations and abrasions that required stitches.  Sheriff’s detectives say the case is still under investigation and that more arrests are pending.

May 21, 2007

Law Enforcement activity at Holiday Expo

Law enforcement activity was up slightly at this year’s Holiday Expo held at the Holiday Isle Resort in Islamorada from May 13 through May 16.  The Sheriff’s Office, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and the Coast Guard all patrolled the resort and adjacent waters including the “Sand Bar,” located just off shore. 
Overall, there were 71 calls for Sheriff’s law enforcement services in and around the Holiday Isle Resort, which is an increase of nine from 2006. There were 49 intakes at the Plantation Key Detention Center, including arrests by all law enforcement agencies as well as Marchman’s Acts for intoxication, which is an increase of seven from the 2006 event.

Overall statistics:
·     7 boating under the influence arrests
·     30 Marchman Act detentions of intoxicated individuals.
·     3 narcotics arrests
·     1 trespassing arrest
·     4 miscellaneous charges
·     2 battery charges
·     1 aggravated battery arrest
·     1 retail theft charge
·     4 notices to appear for misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

The Sheriff’s marine units made 102 vessel stops and issued 13 boating citations and 16 written warnings during the Holiday Expo.  Marine units also conducted 61 vessel safety inspections, handled 23 assist other agency calls, assisted 5 distressed swimmers, ordered two overloaded passenger boats back to the dock and made one boating under the influence arrest.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission deployed four vessels and eight officers for two days, resulting in the following:

·     391 vessel inspections
·     37 boating citations
·     5 boating under the influence arrests
·     5 resource violation citations
·     478 boating safety written warnings.
·     6 resource violation written warnings
·     23 calls for service
·     2 minor boating accidents.

The Coast Guard provided two vessels and crews as well as additional personnel to help man Sheriff’s vessels.  Also, the Islamorada Fire Rescue Department reported 13 medical related contacts and three transports form the Holiday Isle area during the event.

May 14, 2008

Underage drinking party

Sheriff’s deputies Saturday night were dispatched to a residence on Boulder Drive at Bay Point on complaints about underage drinkers causing a disturbance.  Deputies estimated that about 100 juveniles were at the three-story house and that there was no adult supervision.  A check of the house revealed numerous open liquor and beer bottles and a beer keg. Plastic cups were strewn about the house. Deputies interviewed a 17-year old male who stated that he lived at the house and that his parents were not home.  The youth admitted that he had called friends to come over for a party.  He admitted drinking beer but claimed he was not intoxicated and that the individuals who came to the party brought all of the alcohol into the house.  Deputies charged the youth with underage possession of liquor and issued him a notice to appear in court.  During investigation of the incident, Deputies arrested 20-year old Charles Burns, of Sugarloaf Key, on charges of driving while intoxicated.  Deputies observed him driving recklessly in the area and pulled him over.  Burns admitted being at the house party earlier.  Burns failed a roadside sobriety test and was taken to jail.

Two arrests and drug seizure

A search of a sports utility vehicle following an arrest Friday afternoon at Key Largo led to the seizure of cocaine, marijuana, suspected LSD and narcotics paraphernalia, including glass and metal pipes and a digital scale.  The incident started when deputies responded to a report of two suspicious persons who had parked in front of a house on Plantation Drive.   The driver of the vehicle, 47-year old Mark D. Henderson of Tavernier, initially provided false identification to the deputies.  A records check showed Henderson had a suspended driver’s license.  Deputies arrested Henderson on that charge and for resisting arrest by obstruction through disguise.  The subsequent search of his SUV turned up narcotics in a backpack.  The other suspect, 46-year old Robert N. Little of Tavernier, admitted that the backpack was his.  Henderson was jailed on charges of possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of drug paraphernalia.

May 18, 2007

Homestead couple charged with dealing cocaine in Key Largo

Key Largo - Detectives with the Sheriff's Special Investigations Division wrapped up a three month investigation, arresting a Homestead couple Thursday evening after arranging for an undercover operative to buy two ounces of cocaine from them.

The operative met with 45 year old Alberto and 42 year old Patricia Marrero at a resort at the 107 mile marker of the highway. They handed over two ounces of powdered cocaine and were given $1,600,00 in return. A short time later, the Marrero's were taken into custody. Marrero was charged with two counts trafficking in cocaine and Patricia Marrero was charged with one count sale of cocaine. They were both booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

U.S. Marshals Service, Sheriff's Office arrests Rhode Island Sex Offender

Big Pine Key - The U.S. Marshals Service and the Sheriff's Office apprehended a fugitive from Rhode Island Wednesday who is also a sex offender from that state.

On Wednesday, the U. S Marshals received a request from the Attorney General of the State of Rhode Island to locate and arrest a fugitive, 55 year old Richard Dumont, who might be in Monroe County and was wanted on outstanding warrants from that State. Dumont was wanted for two counts of violation of probation. His original crimes were reportedly committed in Woonsocket, Rhode Island and included possession of a controlled substance and molesting an 8 year old girl. He is a registered sex offender in that state.

Deputy Dave Johnson met with U. S Marshals on Big Pine Key, where Dumont was reportedly living. Dumont was found in a small camper trailer in back of a home on Avenue J, Big Pine Key. Dumont was arrested without incident and was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island.


May 14, 2007

Two Miami men caught stealing GPS units

Islamorada - Two Miami men were caught in the act of stealing GPS units from boats at the Islamorada Boat Center.

Deputy Patrick Crozier was on patrol just before 3 a.m. today when he stopped to check the Boat Center, performing a routine Watch Order on the property. As he got out of his patrol car, he spotted two men inside the fence surrounding the business.As he radioed for assistance, the two men began running away.

Three more deputies arrived within minutes and set up a perimeter around the business. 33 year old Reginald Hannah was caught climbing the fence at the back of the property and was arrested. He identified his accomplice as 36 year old Anthony Small. Several hours later, Small was apprehended by Detective Jason Madnick in front of Whale Harbor Restaurant in Islamorada.

The business owner responded to the scene. He confirmed the men had been trying to steal electronic equipment from boats in the boat yard. He found one GPS unit removed from a boat, another partially detached, and a VHS radio removed from another boat. All the equipment was damaged. A search of the area turned up a bag with a GPS unit inside which had been taken from one of the boats.

Hannah and Small were both charged with three counts of burglary, criminal mischief and theft. They were booked into jail.

Fort Lauderdale man arrested for robbery

Layton - An argument over a fishing pole landed a Fort Lauderdale man in jail for robbery Saturday evening.

The victim told Deputy Robin Tanner he was fishing on the Channel Five Bridge at 6:30 p.m. when Timothy Long approached him. Long accused him of stealing his fishing pole, then grabbed the victim's pole an tried to take it from him. A struggle ensued with the two fighting over the pole, pulling it back and forth. During the struggle, the victim said Long reached for a knife he had clipped to his pants. The victim let go of the pole at that point, because he was afraid he would be stabbed.

When Deputy Tanner arrived, she interviewed witnesses who supported the victim's statement. The fishing pole was found in a truck belonging to Long. It was returned to the victim. Long was charged with robbery and was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Single vehicle accident results in trauma flight

Little Torch Key - A single vehicle accident Saturday afternoon on Little Torch Key resulted in one person being airlifted to Miami.

The highway was closed at the 28 mile marker for about 30 minutes to allow the Sheriff's Trauma Star helicopter to land and pick up a single patient from the accident. The Florida Highway Patrol is the investigating agency.

May 11, 2007

Identity Theft arrest

A Keys identity theft victim helped Sheriff’s detective track down and arrest a suspect. The incident started in early April when the Big Pine Key resident noticed 22 unauthorized credit card charges, totaling over 49-hundred dollars. After notifying the credit card company, the victim called a hotel in Houston, Texas where one of the unauthorized charges was made for a future reservation. The hotel identified a Howard Henry as the person who used the card number to reserve three rooms from May 3 through May 8th. The hotel also provided a phone number provided by the person making the reservation. The victim, pretending to be a hotel representative, called the suspect to confirm the reservation. The suspect confirmed that he was Howard Henry and had made the reservation for three king sized, non smoking rooms. The victim then contacted the Sheriff’s Office. Detective Paul Shultz took over the investigation. However, the name “Howard Henry” turned out to be an alias. The suspect’s real identify was ferreted out through subpoenas of phone companies. Detective Shultz was then able to confirm the identity of the suspect as 34-year old John H. Howard, of Ft. Lauderdale. Howard also had a criminal history of identity theft and fraudulent use of credit cards. Detective Shultz notified Houston authorities that Howard was scheduled to check in at the hotel. Houston authorities were waiting for Howard and arrested him at the hotel on May 5. A fake credit card embossed with the credit card number of the victim was confiscated as evidence. Detective Shultz said that in addition to the Houston hotel fraud, Howard charged airline tickets, another stay at a hotel in Jacksonville and numerous cell phone calls to the victim’s credit card. Howard is charged with fraud by impersonating another person without consent and fraudulent use of credit cards, both third degree felonies. Howard faces extradition to face the charges in Monroe County.

Keys Contractor arrested on fraud charges

Sheriff’s detectives arrested a Big Pine Key contractor after investigation of fraud complaints. Four Keys residents, three from the Key Largo area and one from Marathon, told detectives that Steven R. Staley cashed their deposit checks but failed to obtain permits or start the construction work. The 40-year-old Staley, of Big Pine Key, is owner of Southern Exteriors. Detectives say Staley signed written contracts with the victims for jobs involving shutters, repairs and roofing and siding work. Staley deposited over thirty thousand dollars from the victims as down payments between August and December of last year. Detectives arrested Staley Thursday on a warrant charging him with multiple counts of fraud and larceny.

Boater arrested for reckless operation and ramming two vessels

Sheriff’s deputies Thursday arrested 49-year old Thomas H. Krause on a warrant charging him with reckless operation of a boat, aggravated assault and criminal mischief. The arrest followed investigation of complaints by two boaters that Krause rammed their vessels and tried to run them over with his 16-foot Boston Whaler as they swam in the water off Key West. The investigation started last Sunday (May 6) when Sheriff’s Deputy Tom Peteck and Florida Wildlife Office Steve Dion were patrolling the seaplane basin area just off Key West. The victims had flagged down the officers, telling them Krause had rammed their vessels several times, cut the mooring lines to their dinghies and then tried to run them over with his boat when they jumped into the water. One victim stated that he dove underwater just as Krause’s boat passed overhead with the propellers buzzing inches from his head. Both victims were not injured. The two officers on Sunday were able to locate Krause aboard his boat a short time later. The officers arrested Krause initially for boating under the influence and commenced investigation of the other charges that led to the warrant arrest Thursday. Krause’s bond is set at fifty five thousand dollars.

May 10, 2007

Still on scene of brush fire

Firefighters, Forestry officials and the Sheriff's Office are among the agencies still on the scene of a brush fire on Big Pine Key. The main blaze was extinguished last night, but there have been a number of flare ups during the night and this morning which have been quickly put out. To see photos of the fire from Wednesday evening, visit the Sheriff's Office web site at the link below. Photos were taken by Monroe County Sheriff's Sgt. Dennis Cain.Please give him photo credit if you use these in any publication, or on television. 

The photos posted on the site are scaled to 50%. For the larger versions, please send me a request with the specific photos you would like and I will email them to you ASAP.

May 9, 2007

Fugitive arrested

A wanted fugitive, carrying illegal drugs, showed up at the Sheriff’s Office Tuesday to sign civil papers regarding forfeiture of a vehicle. 28-year old Michael T. Blackshire, of Miami, was immediately arrested by Sheriff's detectives after a routine background check revealed that he was wanted for a violation of probation that carried a 75-thousand dollar bond. Following his arrest, a routine search of Blackshire turned up a small amount of cocaine hidden in his ball cap. Detectives booked Blackshire into the jail on charges of possession of a controlled substance and violation of probation.

Deputies and fire department still on scene of Big Pine fire

Big Pine Key - Sheriff's deputies and fire departments from Sugarloaf, Big Pine Key and Marathon are on the scene of a fire which started near the intersection of 23rd Street and Wilder Road on Big Pine Key.

The blaze started just before 4 p.m. with an abandoned vehicle somehow caught fire in the area. Embers and ash fire caught surrounding brush on fire and it began to spread. The area is residential and deputies arriving on the scene began to evacuate homes. They estimate about two to three dozen homes in the area were evacuated. The Big Pine Key Motel was also evacuated initially, but people have now been allowed back to their rooms at the motel. There is currently heavy smoke in the area and fire crews continue to fight the blaze, attempting to keep it away from homes. According to Sheriff's Captain Chad Scibilia, who first spotted the fire and called in the emergency, the burned area goes from Watson Boulevard to Cunningham Lane and from Highway U.S. One to 24th Street.

The fire is still actively burning, but has been contained to that area. Some evacuated residents are now being allowed to go home.

"I anticipate many of us will be here throughout the night with this fire," he said. "Once it is out, we'll need to make sure it does not rekindle."

Updates to this information will be posted on the Sheriff's Office web site, on the WebCAD page as they become available .

The Fire Marshall's Office will be investigating the cause of the fire. Also on the scene are officers from Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Forestry Service and Monroe County Paramedics.

May 7, 2007

Drug arrest on Stock Island

Stock Island - A Stock Island man was arrested early Sunday for possessing crack cocaine.

Deputies working in the area of Fifth Avenue saw what appeared to be drug transactions taking place at 2 a.m. They saw a car pull up to a man, who was standing next to some lobster traps. They saw him reach into the lobster traps and take something out. Minutes later, the car pulled away. The deputies walked up to the man, identified as 55 year old Orlando GArcia Urbay. The searched the lobster traps beside him, finding a container with 11.8 grams of crack cocaine inside.

Urbay was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to sell. He was found to have over $600 in cash - small denominations - in his pockets. The cash was seized for possible forfeiture.

May 1, 2007

Detectives need help with Convenience Store robbery

Plantation Key - Detectives say they need the public's assistance to solve a robbery at a Plantation Key Convenience store in April.

On April 7th at about 11:30 p.m., the clerk at the Marlin Food Store at the 88 mile marker of the highway said she was counting the money from the register prior to putting it in the safe when a man walked in with a knife in his hand and demanded she hand over the money. After she gave it to him, he left running toward the highway. She described the robber as a dark skinned white male. He was about five foot eight inches tall with a medium build. He was last seen wearing a red bandana or a red hat with white design on his head. The suspect has no facial hair, was not wearing glasses and had no discernable accent.

Detective Greg LaRochelle is investigating. Anyone with information about this crime should call the Sheriff's Office or call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. CrimeStoppers is offering a $500 cash reward for information which leads to an arrest in this case. 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"