October 21, 2014

Two men charged with strong armed robbery

Two men, drinking with a third man were arrested after they attacked him, beat him and robbed him.

The three men were at a trailer on Maloney Avenue drinking together. The victim said 23 year old Robert Morejon and 28 year old William Meeks objected to the tone of voice with which the victim was talking to them. Morejon reportedly got up and began to hit the victim in the head, then choked him. Meeks joined in the beating. The two then took cash from the victim’s pockets before he said he was able to escape from the residence.

The victim said he walked down Maloney Avenue to an apartment complex where he began knocking on doors for help. Residents of the apartment complex called the Sheriff’s Office to report him as a suspicious person. Deputies Ian Cooper and Josh Gordon responded and found the victim covered in blood with cuts and bruises all over his face and head.

Morejon and Meeks were found still at the trailer where the attack took place. They were arrested, charged with strong armed robbery and battery. Meeks resisted deputy’s attempts to place him into custody so he was also charged with resisting arrest.

Miami man repeatedly arrested for lobster violations, faces high bond

Deputy Wilfredo Guerra with illegally caught tails

A Miami man was arrested Saturday, charged with having undersized wrung lobster tails. The man has been arrested multiple times over the past few years on the same type of violations.

Deputy Wilfredo Guerra was on patrol at 4 a.m. near Fiesta Key Marina on the bayside when he spotted a white Carolina skiff with one male occupant. The man appeared to be pulling traps, then wringing lobster tails and placing them into a mesh bag. As the deputy watched, the man threw two bags full of wrung tails onto the shoreline from his boat, then returned to the bay where he continued pulling traps.

At 6 a.m., Deputy Guerra watched the man repeat the process of pulling up to shore, wringing tails and throwing bags of tails onto the shore.

Deputy Guerra measures undersized lobster tails
The man – identified as 59 year old Jorge Vargas of Miami – then drove his vessel to the marina and docked it. He got into a black Ford Ranger truck and drove to the shoreline to pick up the bags of lobster. At that point, Deputy Guerra confronted him.

Vargas was caught with 267 wrung tails. Out of those, 246 were undersized. He was cited for possession of undersized lobster, possession of over the limit lobster and possession of wrung lobster tails. Vargas was booked into jail on the charges.

A records check revealed Vargas had been cited two times before during the past three years in the Florida Keys; those previous cases also involved possession of over 300 wrung tails and with possessing stone crab out of season.

While Vargas was being held in jail, a warrant was issued for him Monday for failure to appear in court for one of the previous cases from 2011. The judge set bond on the warrant at $1.4 million. 

October 17, 2014

Search warrants lead to drug arrests

A search warrant on Stock Island led to an arrest on drug charges Thursday.

Detectives from the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Unit and from Lower Keys Criminal Investigations served the warrant Thursday morning at 50 12th Avenue. 23 year old Michael McIntosh was arrested after detectives found Alprazolam pills in his bedroom for which he did not have a prescription. He was charged with possession of a controlled substance and he was booked into jail.

A second search warrant was served at 28177 Julia Avenue on Little Torch Key Thursday evening by Special Investigations detectives and the Sheriff’s Office SWAT team.

In the pocket of one resident, 23 year old Max Sanchez, detectives found 7.9 grams of heroin. They also found seven plastic bags of cocaine  and another 7.4 grams of heroin in a bedroom. All the Heroin found was in pill form – a total of 158 pills of the illegal substance were recovered. Numerous items of drug paraphernalia were also found in the house, along with a small amount of marijuana, $739 in cash and 26 rounds of 12 gauge shotgun ammunition.

A check on Sanchez revealed he is a convicted felon who had failed to register as required by state law. He was arrested. He was charged with trafficking in heroin, possession of  cocaine with intent to sell, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon and failing to register as a convicted felon. He was booked into jail.

Marathon woman falls victim to scam

A Marathon woman is out $2,000 after falling victim to a scam.

The victim told Deputy Matthew O’Neill she received a call from someone who said he was her grandson. He said he’d been in an accident and his car had been impounded. He told her he needed $2,000  to get his vehicle back. He instructed her to obtain four green dot cash cards and to call him back.

She purchased the cards and then received a second call from someone identifying themselves as a “Officer Foley” from the Arcadia Police Department. He asked her for the green dot card numbers to cash the cards. After she gave him the numbers, he told her to go get an additional $2,000 worth of cards.

At that point she became suspicious and called the Arcadia Police Department. They told her they had no “Officer Foley” working for them. She then called her grandson who told her he’d not been involved in an accident. She checked the card balances and they had been emptied of their value.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone that there are many similar scams being used by criminals. If you receive a phone call from anyone asking you to pay them using gift cards, cash cards, or demanding that you wire money somewhere you should immediately suspect a scam and call the Sheriff’s Office. If a person is claiming a relative is in trouble, is being held in lieu of money, or has been in an accident, we can help you to check into the claim. There is always time to make phone calls and verify information before you make such an expensive mistake.

October 16, 2014

Tip from Monroe County leads to chop shop bust in Hendry County

Sheriff’s detectives from Monroe County Sheriff’s Office were instrumental in providing information which led to the bust of a chop shop in Hendry County. The chop shop was found to have stolen property from at least five different Florida jurisdictions including a stolen truck and possibly a stolen vessel and trailer from Monroe County.

Detectives Francisco Gaete and Ian Barnett were assigned to investigate the stolen vehicle cases. During the course of their investigation, they received a tip the property could be found at a location on Pioneer 16th Street in Hendry County. The tip came from one of the Monroe County victims, who spotted a distinctive custom made aluminum fuel tank on Craig’s list. The fuel tank was installed in the bed of his truck, which had been stolen from his home in Key Largo between the night of October 5th and the morning of the 6th. The victim had a friend call the contact number on Craig’s list and the friend was told where the tank was being stored, at the Pioneer 16th Street location. The detectives called Hendry County Sheriff’s Office and relayed the information to them.

Investigators from Hendry County went to that location on Tuesday and contacted two men who allowed them onto the property. Investigators found tools, vehicle parts and other property. Numerous stolen ATVs, boats, trailers and automobiles were recovered during the investigation. The property had been stolen from various jurisdictions including Monroe County, Miami Dade, Broward County, Pembroke Pines and Hillsborough County.

The two men were arrested. 49 year old Mitchell Wayne Everett of Hendry County and 49 year old Ernesto Gutierrez Garcia of Hialeah were both charged in connection with the case. Charges from Monroe County and the other jurisdictions will likely follow.

For more details about this case, contact the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office.

Here are a couple of links to stories in the media about this case:

October 13, 2014

Power outage tomorrow morning Middle Keys

There will be a planned power outage Tuesday morning between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. in the Middle Keys between Vaca Cut and Conch Key. Please pass this information along to all your friends so no one will be surprised when it takes place. I'm sure there will be more information coming from Florida Keys Electric Coop. When I get any more info I will share it here on Facebook.

Woman charged with burglary

A Marathon woman was arrested for burglarizing her ex-boyfriend’s residence.

The victim called the Sheriff’s Office at 7:30 p.m. Friday after he returned home Friday to discover his gold chain gone. When he called his ex-girlfriend, 49 year old Sherry Thilmont about it, she told him she had been in his Layton residence earlier in the day. She said she took a nap in his bed and took his gold chain.

Two neighbors told Deputy Deanna Torres they saw Thilmont’s car at the residence for about an hour earlier in the day.

Thilmont was arrested by Sgt. Chuck Kellenberger at a Marathon bar. She still had the stolen chain, which was returned to the owner. She was charged with burglary and grand theft and she was booked into jail.

Scammers strike again

The Sheriff’s Office took a report of a local business owner who lost money to a scammer.

It is a scam which the Sheriff’s Office and Keys Energy Services have talked about many times in the recent past. The victim owns a business on Ramrod Key. She received a call Friday afternoon from someone claiming to be from Keys Energy Services. The caller said she hadn’t paid her electric bill and  there was a crew on the way to turn off her power. He told her the only way to keep the power on was to pay the balance of the bill with a cash card.

The victim bought a cash card for the balance he said she owed. She then called him and gave him the confirmation number from the card so he would be able to access the money. After she got off the phone with the scammer, she called Keys Energy Services to check with them. They told her she’d been the victim of a scam.

Nude man arrested in Marathon

A man dancing nude on the side of the highway in Marathon was arrested Sunday evening.

The reporting person said he saw 60 year old Marino Sanchez at the entrance to the Marathon Government Center just before 6 p.m. Sunday. Sanchez was nude, and was dancing around. When Deputies Danielle Malone and Anthony Anderson arrived, Sanchez was no longer in that location. He was found in a nearby wooded area, still unclothed.

Sanchez was arrested. He was charged with indecent exposure and he was taken to jail where he received inmate clothing compliments of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Corrections.

Search warrant leads to drug arrest

A Stock Island man was arrested Friday after a search warrant at his Roberta Street home turned up cocaine, marijuana and alprazolam.

The search warrant was served Friday at 1:30 p.m. at 15 Roberta Street. 67 year old Pedro Torres was at home at the time the warrant was served. Inside the home, officers found marijuana and cocaine in several different areas. They also found many items of drug paraphernalia. In an unlabeled pill bottle they found 38 alprazolam pills which Torres did not have a prescription for.

Torres was arrested. He was charged with possession of cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. He was also charged with trafficking in a controlled substance.

The warrant was served by Monroe County Sheriff’s Office HIDTA detectives, Homeland Security Investigations, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Key West Police Special Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

Man arrested for stealing car

A Key West man was charged with stealing a car from a Sugarloaf Key man on Thursday.

The victim called the Sheriff’s Office on Thursday to report his 2006 BMW had been stolen along with the keys to his residence on Sugarloaf Key. He told Deputy Kim Trullender 20 year old Kristaps Klipe of Key West had stayed at his house the night of the 8th. He said he knows Klipe because they work together at a Key West guest house. He said when he woke up, his car and his keys were both gone.

A notice to be on the lookout for the car was issued. At 9 a.m. Thursday, Detective Dave Chavka was notified by Key West Police that the suspect was arrested in Key West for stealing another car – also a BMW. Klipe was in KWPD custody at the Publix Supermarket and had the Sugarloaf Key victim’s keys in his pocket, minus the car key.

The stolen 2006 BMW was found in the parking lot of the Circle K convenience store on North Roosevelt Boulevard and Kennedy Drive. The key was in it and the gas tank was empty.

Klipe was booked into jail on charges relating to the Key West Police case. He was also charged with grand theft of the vehicle from Sugarloaf Key.

October 10, 2014

Detectives release identity of man found dead near sailboat

Detectives are releasing the identity of the man found dead last Friday near his boat at the Marathon City Marina. They say an autopsy indicates there was no foul play involved in his death and that the death appears to be natural.

Major Crimes Detective Manny Cuervo said he has exhausted all leads in finding the next of kin for the dead man, 64 year old Bruce Stuart. He is hoping someone has information which might help him notify Stuart’s family of his death. Detective Cuervo can be reached at 305-293-7475 or mcuervo@keysso.net.

Stuart’s friends called the Sheriff’s Office after they pulled him from the water and began performing CPR at 11:20 p.m. Friday. They told Deputy Rosary Ponce the victim had been drinking with them since the afternoon. One friend said she took him back to his boat at 10:30 p.m. and left him sitting on board. She said she and another friend went back to check on him about half an hour later and he wasn’t on the boat. That is when she saw him in the water. She pulled him onto the boat and started CPR and called for help. Stuart was pronounced dead by paramedics who responded to the scene.

October 8, 2014

Man charged with beach thefts

A homeless man who told detectives he’d just arrived on the bus from Fort Lauderdale days earlier, was arrested for stealing property from people who were on Higg’s Beach in Key West.

Deputy Vicki Fleck was working at Higg’s Beach Tuesday shortly after noon when a man reported his bag with his phone inside had been taken from the beach. He was tracking the phone using another phone, and showed Deputy Fleck where the tracking application said his phone was.

The tracking application showed the phone moving down Reynolds Street, then down Johnson Street, then onto White Street towards Indigenous Park. It showed the phone’s final destination as Rest Beach, next to the White Street Pier. Deputy Fleck called for assistance and Sheriff’s detectives responded to help her investigate.

As Deputy Fleck was tracking the phone’s path, a second and third victim came forward. They were traveling together and both reported a bags stolen. One had a Canon Camera inside; the other reported $340 in cash in very specific denominations.

Detectives Sheila Seago, Dave Chavka and Dave Cruz met Deputy Fleck at Rest Beach. As they approached the area they spotted a man – later identified as 45 year old Michael Soraghan – with a large camera around his neck. As the officers approached, Soraghan threw something to the ground. The item was recovered. It was a phone case with identification cards and credit cards inside belonging to the man whose phone had been stolen.

In Soraghan’s pocket they found the stolen phone. The camera around his neck belonged to the second victim.  Cash was found in his pocket as well – the exact amount and exact denominations reported as stolen from the third victim.

The bags were not found at Rest Beach, so the detectives backtracked the path Soraghan took from Higgs Beach to Rest Beach. The bags were found at a location on Johnson Street. All the victim’s belongings that were recovered were returned to them.

Soraghan was arrested. He was charged with three counts of grand theft and he was booked into jail.

October 7, 2014

Sheriff's Office attends safety days

 The Sheriff's Office attended safety days this past weekend at Home Depot in Marathon and Key West, and at K-Mart in Key Largo and Marathon. Here are a few pictures.....

Sheriff's Animal Farm open Sunday October 12th

The Sheriff's Animal Farm will be open this Sunday October 12th, between 1 - 3 p.m. Bring the family and come visit the animals at the farm, including horses, a cow, pigs, goats, bunnies, alligators, tropical birds, Kinkajous, Sloths, a Lemur, Kramer the Emu, a family of Patagonian Cavys, a skunk, an opossum, tortoises and turtles, snakes and many more. It is free of charge, but donations are welcomed because that is how the farm is sustained.

The farm is located just off of College Road, on Stock Island, at the Sheriff’s Office Headquarters complex. Groups may schedule special tours at the farm by calling Farmer Jeanne Selander at 305-293-7300. Visits to the farm are free, and donations are welcome.

Two arrested, one wanted for conspiracy to commit insurance fraud

Detective Francisco Gaete investigated the case along with Detective Laura Migala with the State of Florida Division of Insurance Fraud.  They say two men and a woman conspired together to sell a vehicle – a grey colored 2013 Infinity G35 -  for between $2,500 and $3,500 in cash to someone who would “make it disappear”. The car is valued at $36,000. They then planned to report it stolen to collect on insurance.

The two men were acquainted with each other, but met again while in the Plantation Key jail. One of them – 40 year old Amaury Medero of Miami – was arrested in December of 2013 after he was caught stealing customer information from a computer at an auto parts store in Key Largo. The other man – 48 year old Ricardo Jimenez of Cape Coral, Florida – was arrested in May for stealing a boat, motor and trailer from Islamorada and then attempting to flee from deputies.

According to Detective Gaete, while in jail Medero made contact with an outside source and arranged for the sale of the vehicle for Jimenez. The girlfriend of Jimenez, 33 year old Carolina Madruga of Cape Coral, Florida was the owner of the vehicle and was also involved in discussions related to the  fraud case. She was not in jail and had control of the vehicle.

Jimenez gave Madruga contact information for the outside source and she arranged for the sale of the car to take place. On July 22nd, Medero was released from jail. He picked up the car from Madruga. As of this date, the car is still missing and the location of Medero is unknown.

On August 28th, Madruga reported the vehicle stolen to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. The following day she filed an insurance claim on the car with 21st Century Centennial Insurance Company.

Warrants were issued for all three suspects. Jimenez, who was still in jail when the warrants were issued, was charged Monday with conspiracy to commit insurance fraud; Madruga was arrested on the same charges today (Tuesday) as she left the Plantation Key Jail after visiting Jimenez. Medero is still wanted on the outstanding warrant. He is also wanted on an outstanding warrant out of Lee County for failure to appear in court.

Anyone who knows where Medero is, or where the missing vehicle is should contact Detective Francisco Gaete at 305-853-3211. Callers may also 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 number is 1-800-346-TIPS and tips may also be submitted on line at www.tipsubmit.com.

Man charged with business burglary

A Marathon man is in jail, charged with stealing an entire prime rib roast from his former employer, Tarpon Creek Bar and Grill in Marathon.

The crime was reported September 12th. Deputy Rosary Ponce responded to the restaurant and spoke with the manager. The manager said another employee told her a prime rib roast had disappeared from where it was stored, in a walk in cooler. A surveillance video of the outside of the cooler showed 54 year old Frederick Jones taking the roast. She recognized him as an employee who used to work for the business.

A warrant was issued for Jones arrest on charges if burglary and theft. Today Sgt. Chuck Kellenberger found Jones at the Marathon Post Office and placed him under arrest. He was booked into jail.

Remembering Deputy Frank Adams, killed in the line of duty

 Today is the anniversary of the death of Deputy Frank Adams,  killed in the line of duty 113 years ago on October 7th, 1901.  Deputy Frank Adams was the first of seven Sheriff’s deputies killed in the line of duty in Monroe County.

Deputy Adams was shot and killed while making an arrest. Two drunken men started fighting near Jackson Square in Key West. They separated and one of the men began to use profane language as he walked up Thomas Street. Deputy Adams, who was sitting near the corner of Southard and Thomas Streets, arrested the man and attempted to take him to jail, but the man resisted and Deputy Adams called out for assistance.

Two men named Fleming and Gabriel took hold of the man to assist Adams. The suspect’s brother pushed some bystanders aside and said that he would not allow them to take his brother to jail. Deputy Adams released the first man he had arrested and grabbed the brother. They began to struggle, and a pistol shot rang out. When the first shot rang out all the bystanders with the exception of one, a mate on the steamer Laurel, ran away; the two men holding the arrested man let him go and fled also.

Adams was shot in the arm, and fell to the ground, with the man who shot him falling on top of him. Adams was shot several more times. One bullet hit him in the left chest, penetrating his heart and another wounded him in the face. After shooting Adams, the shooter got up and ran down Southard Street toward what was then the Government Reservation.

A large crowd soon gathered around the body of Deputy Adams and the mate from the Laurel - the only one to stay at the scene. The mate told the crowd how the murder had happened. Deputy Adam’s body was taken home.

The following day the shooter, Robert J. Frank, was caught and identified by the mate from the Laurel as the person who shot and killed Adams. He was arrested for murdering the deputy. At the preliminary hearing Robert Frank admitted to the shooting and said that he was sorry for it. He said, however, that he would have shot anyone who tried to arrest him.