March 3, 2015

Easter on the Animal Farm March 22nd

Mark your calendar and join the Sheriff’s Office on Sunday, March 22nd for the Annual Easter on the Animal Farm celebration!

Bring the family and join the fun at the farm; the event is free of charge and offers something for everyone. The Easter Bunny will be there and will be available for photos. A giant Easter egg hunt starts at 1 p.m.  Make sure to bring your own Easter basket. There will also be face painting, arts and crafts and, of course, visits with all the animals at the farm.
 
Mark your calendars and visit the farm for a special Easter celebration on March 22nd between 1 and 3 p.m.

Sheriff's Animal Farm open this Sunday

Looking for a quiet alternative to spring break and seasonal crowds? The Sheriff's Animal Farm will be open this Sunday March 8th, 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.

March 2, 2015

Project Alert for 7th Graders

The seventh graders of Treasure Village Montessori from Ms. Kate Hofstetter’s class have completed the 11 week “Project Alert” class.  The class, offered to all seventh graders at county schools, teaches resistance skills when it comes to pressure to smoke, drink alcohol and use drugs. Today’s class ended with a commitment essay to stay drug, tobacco, and alcohol free. Here they are with SRO Deputy Larry O’Neill, who taught the class.

Cadets learn about crime scenes

SRO Advisor Larry O’Neill set up a “crime scene” last week at Plantation Key School and cadets had the opportunity to fingerprint various objects.

Helping out our feathered friends

Members of the Sheriff’s Office helping out with building cages at the Wild Bird Center in Marathon.

Stock Island cleanup

Deputy Lazaro Valdes continues his mission to keep Stock Island clean. Here he is cleaning up a homeless encampment on the golf course fence line.

Graffiti eradication continues

Lt. David Carey painting out graffiti at the 74mm of U.S. One.

Couple charged with burglary

A man and a woman were arrested Sunday on Little Torch Key after they were found living on the enclosed porch of an unoccupied home without the permission of the owner.

A neighbor called the Sheriff’s Office to report seeing someone at the house across the street who did not belong there, He said he saw a couple washing clothes at the house and confronted them.

Deputy Josh Gordon and Sgt. Trevor Wirth responded to the home on Candice Avenue at 11:20 p.m. They found 31 year old Juvenal Alfonso and 26 year old Megan Burrell on the back enclosed porch of the unoccupied home. The screen on the porch had been cut to allow them to gain entrance to it. They had food and personal items on the porch and had plugged a lamp in to an electrical outlet.

The couple said they are homeless. They said their truck had broken down and was parked down the street at a friend’s house. They said they were not allowed to stay at their friend’s house and didn’t want to stay in the truck so they walked along the street until they found a house that appeared unoccupied and decided to stay there. They admitted to doing laundry at the house as well.


They were arrested, charged with burglary and criminal mischief and they were booked into jail.

Stock Island man arrested for burglary

A Stock Island man was arrested Sunday, charged with forcing his way in to a residence and threatening the woman who lives there.

At 4 p.m. Sunday, 39 year old Jesus Paoli-Rios went to the apartment on 5th Street. He had a previous trespass warning for the property, but he entered onto the property anyway. He forced open the door and demanded the woman who lives there – his ex-girlfriend – give him his daughter. She refused and managed to force him back outside. He forced his way back inside and made several threatening statements, indicating he would harm her. He grabbed her and continued to threaten her with harm until the victim’s mother shouted at him, saying she was calling police.


He fled the property, but Sgt. Ken Fricke and Deputy Matt Dowling were responding and saw him as he was leaving. He was detained. Paoli-Rios was charged with burglary of an occupied dwelling, battery, assault, trespassing and, after a controlled substance was found in his pocket, he was also charged with possession of a controlled substance. He was taken to jail.

February 27, 2015

Detectives look for home invasion robbery suspect


Brandon Rettich, suspect wanted for
home invasion robbery
Sheriff’s detectives are investigating a case where suspects tied up a Key Largo man in his home, pointed a gun at him and threatened to kill him. They then stole cash and guns and fled the scene. The victim was able to identify one of the men who robbed him, even though both men used hoods and masks to hide their faces.

The victim said he was sleeping on his couch at his Drury Drive apartment at 3 a.m. Thursday when the two suspects entered through an unlocked door. He said they pointed a pistol at him and one suspect tied his hands behind his back using zip ties.

The victim said they took him from the apartment to his parent’s house nearby and they all entered the home through a window. Once inside, he said the two suspects used a Taser on him and ransacked the home. He said at one point, one of the suspects told the other to “pop” him, which he took to mean “kill” him. He said he was afraid he was going to die.

The suspects found cash hidden in his parent’s house. They also found four rifles and two shotguns. They took the cash and the guns and left the house. The victim said he heard them leave in a vehicle. He said after he heard them leave, he ran to a neighbor’s house for help.

The victim was able to identify one of the suspects as a man he is acquainted with, 37 year old Brandon Rettich. An arrest warrant has been issued for Rettich for kidnapping, robbery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and battery. When the second suspect is identified, he will most likely face similar charges.


Anyone with information about this crime should contact the Sheriff’s Office. Callers may also contact 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.

Great information from the IRS about a tax related scam:

The IRS has issued a new warning about a growing number of tax scams in communities across the country.
If you get a nasty call from someone purporting to be an employee of the IRS, hang up the phone.
The Internal Revenue Service issued a new warning Friday for an ongoing scam in which an official-sounding caller claiming to be a U.S. tax official berates threatens and frightens people into believing they owe thousands in unpaid taxes. Sometimes they say a refund is coming, and ask for personal information to transfer the funds.
Even though the filing deadline is six months away, the scammers are back at it in earnest.
One of the most recent victims is a North Carolina Baptist minister who spent nine hours on the phone with a trickster who dumped him out of $16,500.
The Rev. Al Cadenhead of Charlotte got a call this week from a woman who said his tax returns had been audited and there "serious miscalculations," the pastor told the Charlotte Observer. There was a warrant out for his arrest, she told him, and the IRS was in the process of putting a lien against his house.
Cadenhead said he panicked and feared his church would be disgraced if he was thrown in jail. He drove around for hours, taking money out of a bank account and purchasing pre-paid Green Dot Money Paks, which the fake IRS agent told him was the only form of acceptable payment.
"This scam is so sophisticated and efficient and thorough, you're in the middle of it before you realize what's happening," the 67-year-old preacher said.
In the past year, some 180,000 complaints have been received by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, with 1,800 documented victims and losses estimated at $100 million.
Former North Carolina Panther Frank Garcia lost $8,000 this summer during a similar phone call. "The way they manipulate you, you're not thinking straight," Garcia told the paper. "I had filed for an extension and thought it could easily be a mix-up."

The scam is intricate and frighteningly calculated, according to the IRS. The caller ID may flash an actual IRS phone number, the caller may have the last four digits of your Social Security number, the name of your employer and your home address.
But the Internal Revenue Service does not phone or send emails about personal information, the agency said. Notifications of IRS inquiries are delivered via snail mail.
If you have been contacted by such a caller, the IRS asks you to call the Treasury Inspector for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484, or Call the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office at:
Upper Keys 853-3211, Middle Keys 305-289-2430, and Lower Keys 305-745-3184.

Sheriff announces next Citizen’s Police Academies

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office will be holding its next Citizen’s Police Academies starting in April and we are looking for people who are interested in learning more about law enforcement and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

Classes will begin April 15th and will continue through graduation the week of May 27th.  There will be three separate academies held during that time – in the Lower, Middle and Upper Keys. Attendees will be asked to commit to spending one night a week between the hours of 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. They will also be asked to participate in at least one ride-along with a deputy during the academy period. All participants will be asked to attend the first and last sessions at the Sheriff’s Office hanger at the Marathon airport. Otherwise classes will be held in the following locations:

  • In the Upper Keys, classes will meet every Tuesday at the Roth Building on Plantation Key.
  • In the Middle Keys, classes will meet every Wednesday at the Sheriff’s Office Aviation Hanger in Marathon.
  • In the Lower Keys, classes will meet every Thursday at the Sheriff’s Headquarters building on Stock Island.

“If you have always wanted to know more about law enforcement this is a terrific opportunity,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “We’ve held academies like this for the past three years and everyone who has attended them really enjoyed themselves. We don’t just stand in a classroom and lecture; you will have the opportunity to have a hands-on law enforcement experience if you attend one of these academies,” he said.

Classes will include:
  • An orientation and introduction to patrol procedures
  • A tour of one of the jail facilities
  • Introduction to weapons: simunitions and Taser
  • Traffic / Felony stops
  • Crime Scene Investigations, including a hands on mock crime scene
  • Building searches
  • Introduction to specialty units: SWAT, Bomb, Dive, Major Crimes and Special Investigations

Space is limited, so anyone who is interested should contact the captain in the area where they wish to attend.


Sheriff helps fellow law enforcers with new equipment


Sheriff Ramsay and Chief Donie Lee look 
at body camera equipment.
 Sheriff Rick Ramsay met with command staff from other local law enforcement agencies today to give out equipment purchased for those agencies by the Sheriff’s Office. The purpose of the equipment purchases: to help with the collective mission of keeping the residents of and visitors to Monroe County safe.

Sheriff Ramsay and Key Colony Beach Chief Kris 
DiGiovanni talk about equipment purchased for KCB Police.
“All of our agencies work together on a regular and frequent basis and we want to make sure we all have up to date and state of the art equipment to help us do our jobs,” said Sheriff Ramsay. “I was happy to be able to help with that by purchasing this equipment.”

The equipment included 100 body cameras for Key West Police, GPS/Chart Plotters, game cameras and Nite Optics binoculars for Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, AED Lifepaks and Arbitrator video recorders for Key Colony Beach Police and laptop computers, Lidar Lasers and Radar units for the Florida Highway Patrol.

The money for the equipment came from fees the Sheriff’s Office collects for grant administration. The Sheriff’s Office administers a number of large grants including the South Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area grant.

Burglary in Islamorada results in two arrests

A burglary in Islamorada Thursday afternoon resulted in the arrest of two people and the recovery of jewelry stolen from the home.

The victim came home to his Preston Street residence about 12:35 p.m. and found his front door locked. He said he knew something was wrong because he never locks his doors. He walked around and entered through the back door, and saw a man inside his house. When he yelled at him, the man fled from the house.

The victim said he saw the suspect – later identified as 28 year old Keith Knespler – ride a “long board” style skateboard to the nearby Dion’s convenience store. The victim followed on a bicycle. An employee in the store told him Knespler met up with a woman wearing a red shirt. Another witness said she had seen the two flee in a silver colored PT Cruiser.

A notice to be on the lookout for the vehicle was issued over police radios. Deputies Dave Campbell and Cody Kerns spotted the car northbound on the highway, but were unable to catch up to it due to traffic. They lost sight of it, but found the car a short time later parked in Harry Davis Circle. It appeared to be unoccupied, but when the deputies checked inside, the two suspects had reclined the front seats and were hiding.


Knespler and 26 year old Stacey Legate, both from Jupiter, Florida were identified by the victim and by one of the witnesses. They were arrested. The jewelry they stole – including four Rolex watches – was recovered and returned to the owner. Knespler was charged with burglary and grand theft; Legate was charged with being a principle to the crime of burglary and with grand theft. They were both booked into jail.

February 26, 2015

Looking for a job with a great employer?

Need a job with a great employer? Here is your chance, if you are qualified:
Finance Assistant – Accounts Payable
Monroe County Sheriff’s Office is looking for an eager individual to fill an accounts payable/payroll position within our Finance Division. High school diploma or its equivalent; candidate should have college education in the area of finance, accounting, or general business with some experience in automated payroll.
Must be detail oriented, organized and exhibit a high degree of accuracy. Work includes coding of invoices, obtaining required approvals, match invoices with PO’s and other required documentation. Verifies supporting details for each transactions appropriate for audit trail, data entry, processing check runs, contacting vendors, and other duties.
This job requires a thorough understanding of payroll processing practices and must be performed accurately and with attention to dealing with calculations and numbers. Ability to use microcomputer applications to complete the functions.
Applicants must fill out the MCSO online pre-application at www.keysso.net Please email resumes to cslebodnick@keysso.net EOE/AAP. The starting salary for this position is $ 34,675.00.

Move Over Law


In the photo: today, in Marathon, Sheriff’s deputies conducted an “educational campaign” on the Move-over law. They pulled people over who were in violation and reminded them about the requirement to either move over or slow down when they see an emergency vehicle beside the road with lights actively flashing.

The Move-Over law, Florida Statute 316.126, requires drivers to move over or slow down when passing a law enforcement officer or other emergency services worker who is parked alongside the road with emergency lights flashing.

"Many law enforcement officers in the United States are killed each year while conducting traffic stops because driver's fail to move over, and they hit the officers as they stand roadside," said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. "This Florida law, which has been adopted in almost every state in the country, is an important one and it is one we here in Monroe County take very seriously."


If you are driving and see a police vehicle, ambulance, fire truck, utility vehicle or tow truck with its flashing lights on beside the road, give the emergency responder room to work and make sure they remain safe as they operate. Move over or slow down. It's the law, and the penalty is steep: three points on your license and a significant fine.

Scam report

We have gotten some reports today of yet another scam involving green dot cards. This time, the person who is calling is reportedly identifying himself as an employee of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

This person first identified himself as Lt. Mike Edwards, but might use other names. He asks people to go get green dot cards, scratch off the back and give him the number so he can cash them. The reports we have so far are sketchy because the people he has called have immediately challenged him on his claims and when challenged, he hangs up immediately.


This is a common scam that takes many forms. If you ever receive a phone call from someone asking for immediate payment in the form of green dot cards, you should assume it is a scam and DO NOT comply with the instructions. There is no legitimate business that will insist on this kind of immediate payment.

February 24, 2015

Motorcyclist charged with drugs, fleeing officers

A Key Largo man was arrested early today after he fled from pursuing officers on his motorcycle and was found to be in possession of cocaine.

Sgt. Jason Madnick was southbound at the 100 mile marker at 1:30 a.m. when he saw a motorcycle pull onto the highway from Kay Drive, running a stop sign. The motorcyclist accelerated northbound and passed the sergeant at a high rate of speed.

Sgt. Madnick turned around to pull the motorcycle over. He also radioed to other deputies to watch for the motorcycle. Deputy Derick Velez was in the area and spotted the motorcycle. He got behind it in an attempt to pull it over. The motorcycle finally turned off the highway into the parking lot of the Waffle House. The driver traveled through the lot and onto the property of Centennial Bank. Sgt. Madnick and Deputy Velez pulled up to him as he was trying to restart his motorcycle. He was taken into custody.


24 year old Ilias Agelis appeared to be impaired and admitted drinking alcohol. When he arrived at the detention center, six plastic bags containing cocaine were found in his wallet. He was charged with fleeing and eluding police, possession of cocaine, introduction of contraband to a corrections facility, driving under the influence of alcohol, reckless driving, having no brake lights, no proof of insurance, no registration, no approved eyewear, running a stop sign, and improper passing.

Woman arrested for drugs

A Key Largo woman was arrested on Sugarloaf Key on drug charges after she passed out behind the wheel of a running vehicle Monday.

Sgt. Ken Fricke spotted the Pontiac Vibe on the side of the road at Lower Sugarloaf Channel at 10:30 a.m. Monday. 23 year old Kayla Gregg was behind the wheel, passed out. She was partially dressed, with a breast exposed and her skirt pulled up around her waist. He was concerned about her so he knocked on the window.

When she woke up, he asked for her identification. As she reached into her purse, he saw a plastic bag with what appeared to be marijuana in it. He asked her what the substance was in the plastic bag. At that point, she pulled a plastic bag out of her purse, but not the one with marijuana in it. The one she pulled out had a white powder inside which tested positive as cocaine. She was placed under arrest.


In her purse, Sgt. Fricke found Oxycodone, Morphine, Vyanse and Tramadol. She also had a smoking pipe. When he asked her why she had all the drugs she said it was because her back hurts from being an adult dancer. She was charged with possession of marijuana, cocaine drug paraphernalia and four counts possession of controlled substances.