Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

Issued by the Media Relations Office
Media Relations Director Adam Linhardt

Follow us on Twitter @mcsonews and on Facebook at MCSO – Florida Keys. All of our press releases can be found on our blog at floridakeyssheriff.blogspot.com

March 31, 2018

$350,000 catamaran reported stolen

The Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in finding a 2009, 40-foot Admiral Catamaran sailboat named “Kaisosi” that was reported stolen from the bayside, Newfound Harbor area in the Lower Keys.

The owner told Deputy Alexandra Davis that he last saw his vessel — white with a black stripe down the middle, also with solar panels attached — anchored between Picnic Island and the southern point of Little Torch Key.

“Kaisosi” is written in black on the vessel, of which a picture is attached.

A Little Palm Island employee last saw the vessel about noon on Friday, March 30, 2018, traveling west toward Key West with the sails down.

Anyone who sees this vessel is asked to call Deputy Davis at 305-745-3184

Anyone with information about crime should contact the Sheriff's Office. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a Crime Stoppers tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may be made anonymously on line at www.P3tips.com/139.

March 30, 2018

Man with gun arrested in road rage incident

A 78-year-old Marathon man was arrested Thursday after he displayed a handgun and threatened to shoot a motorist who rear-ended him on Card Sound Road.

Moises Pedro Arguez was charged with aggravated assault, illegally carrying a concealed weapon and two counts of possession of a weapon and ammunition by a convicted felon.

Deputy Paul Rocha met with the victim in Key Largo who said he accidentally rear-ended a white, GMC truck. The victim said two people got out of the truck and began yelling. The driver, later identified as Arguez, was touching a handgun tucked in his waistband when he ordered the victim away from his truck. Arguez also threatened to shoot the victim. Arguez and the other person then got back in the truck and drove away. The victim gave Deputy Rocha a description of the suspect as well as the GMC truck. There were no reported injuries.

Several witnesses gave Deputy Rocha a similar account of what transpired.

Shortly thereafter, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers reported stopping the suspect GMC truck in Marathon. Deputy Corbin Hradecky responded to that location. A handgun was found in the center console of the truck. The magazine was loaded and there was a round in the chamber. Arguez admitted the gun was his. A search of his criminal history showed Arguez was sentenced to serve 20 years in federal prison on cocaine-related charges in 1988.

Arguez was taken the Monroe County Detention Center.

March 28, 2018

Man arrested for stealing $7K

A 27-year-old Marathon man was arrested Tuesday for stealing more than $7,000 from his grandmother’s bank account over the course of several months.

Zachary Joseph Sims was charged with 22 counts of grand theft, 16 counts of larceny and six counts of theft.

The 74-year-old woman told Deputy Amanda Coleman on Feb. 12 that someone had tampered with her bank account. Further investigation showed 22 transactions had been made in Sims’ name between Sept. 21 and Feb. 5 in sums up to $500. The total amount taken was $7,201.51.

An arrest warrant with a $30,000 bail was later issued. Sims was arrested Tuesday and taken to the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island.

Man arrested at gunpoint after pursuit

A 46-year-old Miami man was arrested Tuesday afternoon after leading deputies on a slow speed pursuit on Stock Island.

Juan Sosa Avila was charged with fleeing and eluding, driving with a suspended driver license, driving a vehicle with no registration, theft of a license plate and possession of ammunition by a convicted felon.

Lower Keys Deputy John Allen was on routine patrol on U.S. 1 at Mile Marker 8 when he saw a southbound Jeep with tags that had been reported stolen. He got behind the Jeep turned on 3rd Street on Stock Island, then 5th Street and then Maloney Avenue when Deputy Allen activated his lights and siren to conduct a traffic stop. The Jeep failed to stop and continued traveling around Stock Island.

The Jeep traveled about 20 to 25 mph as it continued to turn on various streets before finally turning into an apartment complex on 3rd Street where it stopped in a parking space.

Deputy Allen drew his service gun. Other deputies placed Sosa Avila in custody without incident. Fifteen rounds of handgun ammunition were found in the glovebox.

He was taken to the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island.

March 27, 2018

Man arrested in Dairy Queen robbery

One of two men who robbed the Tavernier Dairy Queen at gunpoint on the night of Aug. 23 arrested in Miami-Dade County is now in jail in Monroe County.

Raheim Whitney, 21, was charged with robbery with a firearm, kidnapping and burglary while armed.

There were four employees working at the business at 92661 Overseas Highway about 10:30 p.m. when the robbery occurred. The said two armed entered and forced them to lay on the floor. They then took one employee in to the office where they removed cash from the safe. The two suspects took all the employee’s cell phones with them when they left in an unknown direction.

They were dressed all in black and had black shirts wrapped around their faces. Each of them had a handgun which they used to threaten the victims.

Whitney was taken to the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island with a bail of $270,000.

Anyone with additional information about this crime should contact the Sheriff's Office at 305-853-3211. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a Crimestoppers tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crimestoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may be made anonymously on line at www.tipsubmit.com or via a text message to 274637 using the keyword TIP136.

March 25, 2018

Man arrested in sledgehammer handle attack

A 44-year-old Marathon man who attacked another man with a sledgehammer handle was arrested Saturday night.

Ramon Cruz-Vazquez was charged with aggravated battery causing injury.

The Sheriff’s Office was called to Trailerama trailer park on 15th Street at 7 p.m. where Deputy Orey Swilley found the victim bleeding from the forehead. The victim said he was trying to get Cruz-Vasquez to tell him who robbed him in a previous incident about two months ago. He said Cruz-Vasquez became upset  and retrieved a sledgehammer handle. Ramon Cruz-Vazquez began punching and hitting the victim with the handle.

The victim was taken to Fishermen’s Hospital and then flown to Miami with head injuries.

Deputy Corbin Hradecky found Cruz-Vazquez elsewhere on the trailer park property where he was arrested.

Man arrested for rock toss in road rage incident

A 41-year-old Cudjoe Key man was arrested Saturday night after throwing a rock at a sport utility vehicle during a road rage incident.

Daniel Liska was charged with criminal mischief and shooting into or throwing deadly missiles into dwellings, public or private buildings, occupied or not occupied, vessels, aircraft, buses, railroad cars, streetcars or other vehicles.

The incident occurred shortly after 9  p.m. on U.S. 1 near Mile Marker 20. The victims in the SUV told Deputy Timothy Oggeri they were attempting to pass a white minivan when the driver, later identified as Liska, began maneuvering the van in order to prevent them from passing. The suspect then threw a rock out of the van that struck and broke window glass on the SUV, causing minor cuts and scratches to one of the three people inside the SUV.

Witnesses in another vehicle gave a similar account of what happened.

Liska was later stopped on U.S. 1 and arrested.

March 23, 2018

Man arrested for brandishing gun

A 22-year-old Homestead man was arrested Friday morning after brandishing a gun during a road rage incident.

Tyrell Deandre Demming was charged with carrying a handgun with no concealed weapons permit and battery.

A .40-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol and a Draco AK-47 style pistol with a 30-round magazine were found in the Dodge car he was driving. The pistol was the weapon used in the incident.

The incident began at 7:45 a.m. at the Tom Thumb gas station, 97950 Overseas Highway, in Key Largo where the victim told Deputy Benjamin Elmore the suspect, later identified as Demming, hit him and displayed a handgun in his waistband during a road rage altercation. Demming was later stopped by Capt. Corey Bryan in Tavernier. The guns were found in bags inside the Dodge Demming was driving.

The weapons were secured in Capt. Bryan’s patrol car. Demming said he was merging into traffic near Mile Marker 99 when he the victim’s vehicle almost ran him off the road. He admitted to stopping at the gas station, confronting the victim and slapping him.

Video footage at the gas station captured the incident.

Demming was taken to the Monroe County Detention Center on Plantation Key.

Vehicle burglary reminder

Next week marks spring break for Miami-Dade County schools. Historically, the Sheriff’s Office sees an increase in vehicle burglaries and thefts during that time, particularly in the Upper Keys.

Patrol deputies will be extra vigilant during this time and they also remind residents to lock their vehicle doors and report suspicious activity.

Reminder: Marine related thefts are on the rise; keep your property safe

The Upper Keys have seen a recent increase in outboard boat engine thefts. Thieves are targeting all sizes and makes, but mostly Yamaha and in one case, a Mercury. Fenced-in lots have not been a deterrent in some cases as criminals are cutting their way onto private property. In each case, steering cables, fuel lines and wiring harnesses are cleanly severed.

The Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies are working hard to catch the people who are committing these crimes. We are doing all we can to keep these crimes in check. We can’t do it alone. We need your help. Like most property crimes, marine related thefts are primarily crimes of opportunity. If you provide the opportunity, a thief will take advantage of it. If you take away the opportunity or at least make theft more difficult, the thief will generally move on and victimize someone else. We would much rather a crime be prevented, whether it be theft of an entire boat, an engine, a lower unit, electronics from on board, or diving and fishing equipment.

Here are a few tips for keeping your property safe:

•             Remove the keys from the boat; if it is on a lift, turn the breaker off in the house to disable it.
•             Install motion sensor lights. Make sure areas around the boat are well lighted.
•             Install surveillance cameras and make sure they will capture the face of an intruder. Cameras are often installed too high and only capture the top of a suspect’s head or the brim of the hat he is wearing.
•             Whether on a trailer or in a canal, make sure your boat can be seen by neighbors and/or deputies patrolling the neighborhood.
•             Remove the steering wheel if the boat won’t be used for a long time.
•             Install a GPS tracking device on your boat and/or engines.
•             Install a boat alarm. Alarms are very effective at preventing equipment and boat thefts.
•             Disconnect the batteries to disable the trim/tilt function. Keep the engine down, touching the ground so the lower unit can’t be removed.
•             If the boat is on a trailer, chain the rims together or boot one of the wheels to prevent the entire boat and trailer from being stolen.
•             Keep a trailer hitch lock on at all times.
•             Install bolt locks on the engine or put extra-long engine bolts on and bend the ends.
•             Destroy the threads on one bolt so the nut can’t be removed.
•             Back the boat close to a house, wall, or other stationary object.
•             Keep valuable electronics in a secure location. It might be a hassle, but it will save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
•             Engrave your driver’s license number or make a distinctive marking on your valuable property for identification purposes.
•             Take pictures and record serial numbers if available.
•             Don’t leave fishing and diving equipment unattended outside It only takes a thief a minute  – literally – to take it.
•             If you are gone for an extended period, call your local Sheriff’s Office substation. Our deputies will  keep an eye on your property while you are away.

Important: If you see anything suspicious call the Sheriff’s Office immediately! It is our job to check out suspicious activity. Your call may be the one that helps us catch the bad guys!  Call 911 if a crime is taking place; call 305-289-2351 if you see something you think may be suspicious. Call Crime Stoppers with any crime tips: 1-800-346-TIPS or text 274637 using the keyword TIP136. Submit tips online at www.tipsubmit.com.

If you know anything at all about marine related thefts in the Florida Keys, call the Sheriff’s Office. You can also call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Tipsters can remain anonymous and, if a tip leads to an arrest in the case, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted on line at www.tipsubmit.com or via a text message to 274637 using the keyword TIP136.

March 21, 2018

Weekend traffic to be heavy

Motorists need to be aware of possible traffic congestion this weekend near Mile Marker 86 on U.S. 1 near Founders Park in Islamorada due to the 27th Annual Island Fest.

Traffic is expected to be heavy from 10 a.m. to about 6 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

Give yourself extra time to traverse that area during those times.

The Islamorada Chamber of Commerce fundraiser features live music, art shows, food, classic car displays and more.

Man arrested for skiff theft

A 61-year-old Key Largo man was arrested Tuesday afternoon for stealing a 15-foot boat from an Upper Keys dock in February.

Juan Baez was charged with grand theft.

Deputy Gil Gonzalez met with the victim on Feb. 11 who told Deputy Gonzalez his Carolina Skiff that was docked near East Second Street was missing. A friend of the victim stated he last saw the skiff being driven by a man named Juan, who Deputy Gonzalez identified as Juan Baez from his address and previous contacts with law enforcement.

Deputy Gonzalez went to Baez’s address where Baez admitted he used the skiff without permission, but that he only used it for 20 minutes and returned it. Another witness, however, said he saw Baez driving the boat on two separate occasions. The investigation continued and warrants were issued for Baez’s arrest.

He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center on Plantation Key on Tuesday with a $15,000 bail.

March 20, 2018

Reminder about stopping on bridges

The Sheriff’s Office is reminding motorists this week that stopping on bridges is a prohibited by state law, unless there is an emergency.

On Monday, Middle Keys Sgt. Joel Slough saw a motorcyclist stopped on the shoulder of the Long Key Bridge. He was operating a drone. Sgt. Slough Bridge gave the Australian tourist a warning after his drone was recovered and both moved off the bridge for safety. Sgt. Slough educated the man on local laws. The man told Sgt. Slough he had an extra day of vacation, so he rented a motorcycle, drove to Key West and wanted some drone footage of the water.

Spanish Harbor Channel Bridge construction

Traffic on the bridge on the eastern edge of Big Pine Key will be closed to one lane from 9 p.m. Tuesday, March 27, to 6 a.m. Wednesday, March 28, due to construction.

Motorists will be flagged through the bridge during that time. Motorists are urged to give themselves extra time before they leave to transit the bridge.

Man cited for illegal lobster

A 30-old West Palm Beach man was cited Saturday for possessing 13 illegal lobster and other wildlife violations.

Luke Pepe was given an notice to appear in court for possessing 13 undersized lobsters, not having a measuring device and possessing eight over-the-limit lobster.

Marine Patrol Deputy Wilfredo Guerra saw two men near the Vaca Cut Bridge in Marathon harvesting lobster. Pepe said he was the one doing the harvesting. There were 14 lobsters in a dive bag. Thirteen of those were short. Neither man had a measuring device.

The daily, legal limit for lobster in Monroe County is six. Lobster season runs from Aug. 1 to March 31. The carapace of each lobster must be greater than three inches.

March 19, 2018

Man arrested after incident at restaurant

A 51-year-old Boca Raton man was arrested Sunday night after yelling at Islamorada restaurant employees and causing a scene.

Albert Alexander Auer was charged with fraud and battery.

The incident occurred about 10: 15 p.m. at Pierre’s Restaurant & Lounge, 81600 Overseas Highway, after Auer threw a check at a manager’s face and left without paying the bill.

The general manager told Sgt. Patricia O’Keefe that Auer and his family were having dinner when paramedics were called to treat a family member who has a food allergy. The paramedics examined the family member in the parking lot with Auer present and then left given he appeared to be OK. Both then went back inside the restaurant to finish their meal. The restaurant agreed to take $105 off the price of the meal for the family’s troubles.

Auer, who had been drinking, became upset with the bill and went into the kitchen where he threw the checkbook at the manager’s face while screaming profanities. He also threatened to beat up the manager. He put a credit card down and dared the manager to pick it up, but the manager declined, fearing the matter would escalate further.

Multiple witnesses all gave similar accounts of what transpired. Auer was later found at a resort, arrested and taken to jail.

March 16, 2018

Woman arrested for DUI on Seven Mile Bridge pursuit

A 38-year-old New Jersey woman was arrested Thursday night for drunken driving after she was stopped at Mile Marker 43 while driving on flat tires.

Heather Donna Collins was charged with DUI with property damage.

Multiple deputies were involved after motorists reported seeing a white Chevrolet driving recklessly and heading southbound on the Seven Mile Bridge shortly after 11 p.m.  A law enforcement alert was sent out and Deputy Corbin Hradecky saw the suspect vehicle exit the Seven Mile Bridge in the southbound lane. The Chevrolet then made a U-turn at Mile Marker 39 and began driving back onto the bridge.

The slow-moving Chevrolet began emitting sparks at Mile Marker 43 while Hradecky and Sgt. Nicholis Whiteman followed. The vehicle stopped after it almost hit Deputy Hradecky’s patrol car and struck concrete barriers on the bridge. Both driver’s side tires were gone and the rims were exposed. The bumper was torn off its mounts. The car also had several large dents and scratches.

Deputy Hradecky noted a strong odor of alcohol and vomit on the floorboard of the driver’s side of vehicle. Collins was the only occupant. She left the car in reverse before exiting and had to be reminded to place it in park. She then nearly fell over while getting out. When told she was driving partially on rims, she objected and then commented, “Oh, wow,” when shown the evidence.  

Deputies removed the car from the bridge as well as Collins for safety. They then performed field-sobriety exercises.

Collins was taken to the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island after she failed those exercises.

March 15, 2018

Fishing captain arrested in drug raid

A Marathon commercial fishing captain was arrested during a drug search Wednesday conducted by the Sheriff’s Office as well as state and federal law enforcement partners.

Jose David Hernandez, 48, was charged with cocaine possession with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Sheriff’s Office detectives, members of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force (HIDTA), the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Border Patrol and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission conducted a search warrant raid at 1201 Spoonbill Drive where they found Hernandez. The search turned up nine separate bags of cocaine and several items of drug paraphernalia. The cocaine was individually packaged for sale and distribution. A total of 11.9 grams of cocaine was seized.

The paraphernalia included plastic bags that tested positive for cocaine residue and a digital scale, among other items.

Hernandez was taken to the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island.

March 14, 2018

Two arrested in storage unit burglary

A man and woman, both of Stock Island, were arrested Tuesday after they broke into a storage unit they had been illegally living in previously.

Erica Zoryana Brown, 21, was charged with burglary, possession of burglary tools, criminal mischief and resisting arrest.

Eduardo Martinez, 46, was charged with burglary possession of burglary tools and criminal mischief.

A manager at StorgeMart, 6401 3rd St., called the Sheriff’s Office on Monday to report both people were living in a storage unit. Neither Brown nor Martinez had rented the unit and had no legal reason to be on the property. A Key West police officer responded, because the Sheriff’s Office was experiencing heavy call volume at the time. That officer issued both trespassing warnings and escorted them off the property. The police officer made it clear they would be arrested if they returned. The officer then notified the Sheriff’s Office of the warnings.

The manager told Sheriff’s Office Deputy Ken Fricke she arrived at work on Tuesday and noticed a lock on the same storage unit had been removed. She viewed security video footage and saw Brown and Martinez had returned to the property by way of a hole they had cut in a fence. Both were seen returning with a pair of bolt cutters and a pry bar while crawling through the hole in the fence.

Brown was found at a family member’s residence on 5th Street where she was taken into custody. She resisted being handcuffed at that time. Martinez was then came out from behind a tarp in the back yard and he was arrested.

Both were taken to the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island.

Man arrested in machete incident

A 22-year-old Marathon man was arrested Wednesday after he threatened another man with a machete.

Jarrod Ke Air Stormy Mitchell was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and battery.

Middle Keys Deputy Frank Westerband was called to the 300 block of East Ocean Drive in Key Colony Beach about 8:45 a.m. where he found the victim who told him he and Mitchell were having an argument when Mitchell struck him in the mouth. Mitchell then went to the front of a garbage truck, took out a machete and walked toward the victim with it. The victim asked witnesses to call police at that time.

There were no serious injuries reported. The victim did suffer a bruised lip.

Westerband recovered the machete and placed it into evidence.

Mitchell was taken to the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island.

March 10, 2018

Man arrested in Upper Keys fight

An 18-year-old Key Largo man was arrested Friday night for seriously injuring another teenager in a fight last month in Tavernier.

Camren Lee Carter was charged with one count of aggravated battery causing bodily injury.

The 19-year-old victim, also of Key Largo, told Sheriff’s Office detectives he and Carter got into a physical fight on Feb. 8 during an argument over a girl at the CVS Pharmacy, 91419 Overseas Highway. Punches were exchanged and at one point Carter grabbed the victim around the middle of his waist similar to a bear hug, lifted him off his feet and slammed him to the pavement. The victim struck the back of his head and shoulders as he landed on the concrete parking lot. Carter also choked the victim.

The incident was witnessed by multiple other teenagers, some of whom spoke to the Sheriff’s Office.

The victim went home with symptoms that later resembled the flu, but a few days later he was taken to Mariners Hospital where he was flown to Miami with a severe head injury and brain bleed.

Detectives were not able to speak to the victim for weeks due to his injuries. It was unclear what transpired until detectives were able to speak to him. He said he wished to press charges at that time. A warrant with a with a $75,000 bail was obtained thereafter. Carter turned himself in Friday night.

Carter was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center on Plantation Key.

March 9, 2018

Man arrested for animal abuse

A 39-year-old Marathon man was arrested Thursday afternoon for leaving a dog in hot pickup truck for two days without food or water.

David Ray Varie was charged with abandonment of an animal and possession of marijuana.

Deputies Michael Maleta and Vincent Torres were called to the Publix, 5407 Overseas Highway, in Marathon, at 1 p.m. regarding a dog in the back of a covered truck. They arrived to find a black dog in the covered bed of a Dodge Ram 1500. The truck was not running and the window to the bed cover was only open about two inches. Deputy Maleta noted the truck was very hot to the touch. There was neither food nor water for the dog. The dog was let out of the truck. The dog was hot to the touch and panting heavily. It then urinated for about 20 seconds.

An animal control agent took temperature readings that showed it was between 87 and 102 degrees in the truck where the dog had been. Animal Control took possession of the dog.

Varie then approached Deputy Maleta and he told him the truck and the dog were his. Varie told Deputy Maleta the apartment where he is living about a quarter mile away does not allow dogs. Deputy Maleta told Varie it was hot inside the truck and the dog should not have been kept inside. Varie said the dog had been inside the truck for two days, but his teenage son was coming to let the dog out a couple of times a day.

Varie was arrested. A marijuana cigarette was found in his possession.

He was taken to the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island.

Sheriff’ Office seeks help in tire slashing case

Sheriff’s Office deputies are hoping someone can help identify the man seen in this video and still frame photograph vandalizing a Jeep. (To see the video go to: floridakeyssheriff.blogspot.com)

The incident occurred at 2:50 a.m. on March 2 on 20th Street on Lot 15 in Marathon. The suspect may be driving a white Ford F-350–type truck with dually rims.

Anyone with information about this crime should contact the Sheriff's Office at 305-289-2430. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a Crimestoppers tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crimestoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may be made anonymously on line at www.P3tips.com/139.

March 8, 2018

Man arrested in large drug case

A 30-year-old Florida City man was arrested Wednesday after he was found with nearly $2,000 in cash in suspected drug sales in his possession as well as a large amount of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.  

Javars Anqun Davis was booked on multiple drug possession and sales charges as well as other drug-related crimes stemming from warrants.

Middle Keys Deputy Shannon O’Connell was on patrol in Marathon at 11:22 p.m. when she saw a silver, Nissan Altima traveling south on U.S. 1 with darkly tinted windows. A traffic stop ensued and Davis was identified as the driver. He did not have a driver license, registration or insurance. Davis said the vehicle was a rental and his license was suspended. He was reticent to give his name and then finally did, adding that he had warrants.

Sgt.James Hager arrived and searched Davis. They found more than four ounces of powder cocaine, more than an ounce and half of crack cocaine, nearly an ounce of methamphetamine and more than five grams of heroin as well as assorted drug paraphernalia in Davis’ possession.

Davis was taken to the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island.

Man arrested in pipe attack

A 70-year-old man was arrested early Thursday morning after hitting another man with a pipe and breaking his ankle during a dispute over music.

Joseph McSherry of Villas, New Jersey, was charged with aggravated battery causing bodily harm.

The incident occurred at 1:37 a.m. at the Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge, 33000 Overseas Highway. The victim told Lower Keys Sgt. Evan Calhoun that a neighboring camper, identified as McSherry, came over to complain about the music being played an struck him in the chest and leg with a PVC pipe. The victim was taken to Lower Keys Medical Center on Stock Island where he was treated for a broken ankle.

McSherry was taken to the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island.

March 6, 2018

Scam involving fake deputies/warrants reported

Thieves are once again targeting Florida Keys residents by way of phone calls in which they falsely claim to be with the Sheriff’s Office. They are instructing citizens to pay them with pre-paid debit cards in order to avoid arrest.

Often the thieves claim to be a lieutenant or sergeant with the Sheriff’s Office. They falsely claim the person who answered the call has a warrant for their arrest for past-due IRS debts or for failure to show for jury duty. The callers then instruct the person to go to Publix, CVS or a similar business and buy pre-paid debit cards in order to pay whatever false debt the thieves erroneously claim is owed.

Neither the IRS nor the Sheriff’s Office conducts business in this manner.

Anyone who receives such a call should hang up and report the call to the Sheriff’s Office.

Anyone with information about these crimes should contact the Sheriff's Office. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a Crimestoppers tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crimestoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may be made anonymously on line at www.P3tips.com/139.

March 5, 2018

Drunk man arrested for fighting at beach

A 34-year-old homeless man was arrested Sunday afternoon after fighting at Sombrero Beach in Marathon and threatening to attack Sheriff’s Office deputies.

Daniel Ray Dude was charged with disorderly intoxication, resisting arrest, trespassing and threatening law enforcement officers.

Deputy Mario Benedetti responded to the beach at 1:47 p.m. where onlookers told him the suspect, later identified as Dude, was fighting another man. Witnesses said Dude was drunk and acting belligerent with other beachgoers. Benedetti told Dude he was trespassing on the beach, but Dude refused to listen, began yelling and using foul language. He also threatened to kick Deputy Benedetti and other deputies.

While waiting for a transport van to the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island, deputies moved him to a patrol car parked in the shade, provided Dude with water and turned the air conditioner up all the way. Dude fell asleep and awoke about 45 minutes later. He was much more cooperative at that time.

Dude remained at the Stock Island jail on Monday morning under no bail pending his initial court appearance.

March 4, 2018

Man arrested and woman airlifted in motorcycle crash

A 29-year-old Homestead man was arrested and his girlfriend was airlifted early Sunday morning after both fled from Sheriff’s Office deputies in the Upper Keys.

Steven Wayne Walker and Adriana Beatriz Romero, 29, also of Homestead, were each illegally passing other vehicles while riding motorcycles northbound near Mile Marker 81 about 2 a.m. when they were spotted by Deputy Bryan Branco. Deputy Branco turned on his lights and siren and attempted to make a traffic stop, but both motorcyclists fled. The chase was soon called off for safety reasons. They were then spotted by Deputy Addison LaPradd near Mile Marker 88. Deputy LaPradd attempted to stop them with lights and sirens on, but both motorcyclists again fled.

Deputy LaPradd soon found one of the motorcycles on the ground near Mile Marker 89. One of the motorcyclists, later identified as Romero, was on the ground complaining of back pain. She was airlifted to a Miami hospital. Paramedics and firefighters as well as the Florida Highway Patrol arrived soon thereafter.

The other motorcyclist, Walker, was also on scene. He told Deputy LaPradd he and his girlfriend had been in Key West until 1 a.m. looking at other motorcycles for his business. When asked why he didn’t stop, Walker said he didn’t know deputies were trying to stop them.

Walker was charged with fleeing and eluding. He was taken to the Monroe County Detention Center on Planation Key where he remained later Sunday morning under no bail.

The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.

March 3, 2018

Driver arrested in Upper Keys chase

A 29-year-old Florida City man was arrested early Saturday morning for failing to stop for a deputy after he was spotted driving the wrong way on U.S. 1.

Robert Lewis Taylor was charged with reckless driving and fleeing and eluding.

Deputy Jose Hernandez was southbound near Mile Marker 101 at 3:46 a.m. when he was notified a car was driving northbound in the southbound lane near Mile Marker 97. Deputy Hernandez soon spotted the white, Dodge Charger, activated his lights and siren and turned around to make a traffic stop. The Charger failed to stop and kept traveling north in the wrong lane. The Charger reached speeds of 80 mph during which it forced multiple cars off the road with no regard for safety.

The Charger was forced to enter the correct lane near Mile Marker 106 after nearly striking traffic signs in the middle median. It then turned into the a turn lane and stopped.

Deputy Hernandez ordered Taylor out of the Charger at gun point. Other deputies arrived to assist. Taylor, the only occupant in the Charger, was arrested. When asked why he didn’t stop at Mile Marker 101, Taylor told Deputy Hernandez he didn’t notice him.

Taylor was taken to the Monroe County Detention Center on Plantation Key.  

Man arrested and woman airlifted in motorcycle crash

A 29-year-old Homestead man was arrested and his girlfriend was airlifted early Sunday morning after both fled from Sheriff’s Office deputies in the Upper Keys.

Steven Wayne Walker and Adriana Beatriz Romero, 29, also of Homestead, were each illegally passing other vehicles while riding motorcycles northbound near Mile Marker 81 about 2 a.m. when they were spotted by Deputy Bryan Branco. Deputy Branco turned on his lights and siren and attempted to make a traffic stop, but both motorcyclists fled. The chase was soon called off for safety reasons. They were then spotted by Deputy Addison LaPradd near Mile Marker 88. Deputy LaPradd attempted to stop them with lights and sirens on, but both motorcyclists again fled.

Deputy LaPradd soon found one of the motorcycles on the ground near Mile Marker 89. One of the motorcyclists, later identified as Romero, was on the ground complaining of back pain. She was airlifted to a Miami hospital. Paramedics and firefighters as well as the Florida Highway Patrol arrived soon thereafter.

The other motorcyclist, Walker, was also on scene. He told Deputy LaPradd he and his girlfriend had been in Key West until 1 a.m. looking at other motorcycles for his business. When asked why he didn’t stop, Walker said he didn’t know deputies were trying to stop them.

Walker was charged with fleeing and eluding. He was taken to the Monroe County Detention Center on Planation Key where he remained later Sunday morning under no bail.

The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.

March 2, 2018

Man arrested after fleeing at high speeds

A 25-year-old Lehigh Acres man was arrested Thursday night after he fled from Sheriff’s Office deputies in a car at high speeds and then on foot.

Alfonso Rafael Meletiche Jr. was charged with reckless driving, fleeing and eluding, resisting arrest without violence and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia (a pipe). He was also cited for failure to obey a law enforcement officer, having no driver license, having no operable brake lights and failure to maintain a lane.

The incident began at Mile Marker 59 at 10:15 p.m. when Middle Keys Deputy Edward Swogger saw a black Kia Soul swerve out of its lane. The car made a U-turn into the northbound lanes and Deputy Swogger stopped it for having no working brake lights. The driver, Meletiche, said he left his wallet (and driver license, insurance and registration) in his hotel room at the Coconut Cay Resort & Marina. Deputy Swogger told him four times to exit the car when Meletiche said Deputy Swogger needed a search warrant to make him exit the car, which is not true.

Meletiche then sped away and made another U-turn heading southbound while reaching speeds in excess of 100 mph. Other deputies near Coco Plum Drive attempted to deploy tire spikes, but Meletiche swerved and missed them. The pursuit was called off for safety reasons, but deputies maintained a visual of the Kia as it eventually pulled into the Coconut Cay Resort & Marina and parked near a room door. Deputy Swogger and other deputies arrived to find the Kia empty, but Sgt. James Hager found Meletiche hiding along a tree line. Meletiche ran away, but was apprehended shortly thereafter.

A total of about 11 grams of marijuana was found in the car. Meletiche said he had seen videos of police on Facebook and was scared. He admitted fleeing in the car and running away on foot from deputies.

Meletiche was taken to the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island.

Marathon couple arrested on cocaine charges

A Marathon couple accused of selling cocaine was arrested Thursday.

Harold Glenn Reese, 31, was charged with cocaine sales, possession of drug paraphernalia and illegal use of two-way communications device to facilitate drug sales.

Priscilla Franco, 29, was charged with cocaine sales and illegal use of two-way communications device to facilitate drug sales.

Both are arrested as part of an investigation that started in January and included the use of undercover operatives. On Jan. 4, an operative called Reese to set up a cocaine buy. Reese gave the phone to his girlfriend, Franco, who then facilitated the transaction buy setting up the time and place. The buy occurred in a Walgreens bathroom in Marathon whereupon the operative bought $100 worth of cocaine or about a gram.

Detectives viewed video of the buy and identified Franco as the person who entered the bathroom.  

Warrants were obtained for both Reese and Franco.

They were booked into the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island.

Man arrested after fleeing at high speeds

A 25-year-old Lehigh Acres man was arrested Thursday night after he fled from Sheriff’s Office deputies in a car at high speeds and then on foot.

Alfonso Rafael Meletiche Jr. was charged with reckless driving, fleeing and eluding, resisting arrest without violence and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia (a pipe). He was also cited for failure to obey a law enforcement officer, having no driver license, having no operable brake lights and failure to maintain a lane.

The incident began at Mile Marker 59 at 10:15 p.m. when Middle Keys Deputy Edward Swogger saw a black Kia Soul swerve out of its lane. The car made a U-turn into the northbound lanes and Deputy Swogger stopped it for having no working brake lights. The driver, Meletiche, said he left his wallet (and driver license, insurance and registration) in his hotel room at the Coconut Cay Resort & Marina. Deputy Swogger told him four times to exit the car when Meletiche said Deputy Swogger needed a search warrant to make him exit the car, which is not true.

Meletiche then sped away and made another U-turn heading southbound while reaching speeds in excess of 100 mph. Other deputies near Coco Plum Drive attempted to deploy tire spikes, but Meletiche swerved and missed them. The pursuit was called off for safety reasons, but deputies maintained a visual of the Kia as it eventually pulled into the Coconut Cay Resort & Marina and parked near a room door. Deputy Swogger and other deputies arrived to find the Kia empty, but Sgt. James Hager found Meletiche hiding along a tree line. Meletiche ran away, but was apprehended shortly thereafter.

A total of about 11 grams of marijuana was found in the car. Meletiche said he had seen videos of police on Facebook and was scared. He admitted fleeing in the car and running away on foot from deputies.

Meletiche was taken to the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island.