Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

Issued by the Media Relations Office,
Public Information Officer Deputy Becky Herrin

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

April 29, 2015

Man arrested for giving false information

A 19 year old man from Summerland Key was arrested Tuesday, charged with giving false information to law enforcement during the course of a home invasion robbery investigation.

The crime took place on May 27th of last year on Grassy Key. During the robbery, shots were fired and one man was hit. A lengthy investigation took place and a number of people were arrested in connection with the crime, which turned out to be drug related.

During the investigation, 19 year old Jacob Paquette gave false information to deputies and detectives. He later admitted to the falsehoods.

On Tuesday, he was charged with making a false report to a law enforcement officer. He was booked into jail on the charges.

April 27, 2015

Man arrested for burglary of sailboat

A 30 year old Marathon man was arrested Sunday for entering an elderly man’s live-aboard sailboat while the owner was at home and refusing to leave when asked to.

The 93 year old victim told Deputy Kendall Baily he was sleeping in his boat docked at the City Marina in Marathon at 4 a.m. when he heard Brandon Funkhouser enter his sailboat. The victim told Funkhouser to leave but instead, Funkhouser sat down, went through his belongings and then went to sleep.

The victim went to a neighbor’s boat and asked the neighbor to call the Sheriff’s Office for help. When deputies arrived, Funkhouser was asleep on the couch in the sailboat, with a gift bag on his head. They were at first unable to wake him, but he finally woke up and was escorted off the vessel.

Funkhouser was charged with burglary of an occupied dwelling. He was also charged with criminal mischief because he damaged the entrance to the sailboat.

April 26, 2015

Update: Escaped Inmate apprehended

Florida City Police just took our escaped inmate – Sean Michael Stacey – into custody. He will be returned to Monroe County to face escape charges.

For details of the apprehension please contact Florida City Police.

Escaped inmate still missing; cash reward offered for information.

An inmate from the Plantation Key jail facility who escaped from custody Friday is still at large. A Crime Stoppers reward is being offered for information leading to his arrest on escape charges.

Detectives are asking for the public’s assistance in locating escapee Sean Michael Stacey who is 37 years old and is from the Florida City area. Stacey was working outside the jail facility as a maintenance trusty for Monroe County Public Works when he went missing. He was last seen in the area of High Point Road on Plantation Key at 4 p.m. Friday. His orange jail jumpsuit was recovered nearby.

Stacey is 6 feet tall, 200 pounds with blue eyes and short red hair. He has been in jail since September 2014 on charges of burglary, grand theft and criminal mischief.

There is a Crime Stoppers reward of up to $1,000 for information which helps to locate and recover Stacey. Tipsters can remain completely anonymous. 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.

Trailer fire in Marathon

Fire damaged a trailer on 105th Street in Marathon Saturday. (Attached photo taken by Deputy Nick Whiteman).

When Deputy Nick Whiteman arrived just after noon he found the trailer partially engulfed in flames. He ensured no one was inside and that surrounding structures were evacuated. Firefighters arrived and extinguished the blaze.

There were several people living on the property, outside. One in a tent next to the trailer. There were numerous extension cords both inside and outside the trailer, which appeared to be providing electricity to those outside living areas.

The Fire Marshal’s Office will be investigating the cause of the blaze.

April 24, 2015

Inmate charged with trying to escape

An inmate being held in the Plantation Key jail has been charged with trying to escape from that facility.

On April 15th, 33 year old Justin Jacobs jumped up on a table in the recreation yard at the jail and tried to unwind parts of a metal fence near the ceiling.  He jumped off the table when a corrections deputy walked into the room, but a check of the fence revealed he had managed to create an opening in the fence which was later repaired.

Jacobs, whose address is listed as “streets of Key West” was charged with escape for his efforts. He is now being housed at the Stock Island Detention Facility.

His most recent arrests include:

02/25/15 – by KWPD for two counts of burglary and one of grand theft
03/03/2015 – by KWPD for one count of grand theft

April 22, 2015

Juvenile arrested for boat burglary

A 17 year old Stock Island boy was arrested Saturday, charged with stealing rods and reels from a boat stored at Hurricane Hole Marina.

Deputies took a report Saturday morning from the victim who said his vessel had been burglarized and a number of rods and reels had been stolen. Later in the day, just before 3 p.m., Deputy Lazaro Valdes was on patrol on Stock Island and was flagged down by a citizen who reported a red Volkswagen was parked on 3rd Avenue blocking traffic. Deputy Valdes responded to see what was going on.

When he arrived on 3rd Avenue, he found the vehicle parked in the roadway with two white male juveniles inside. There were several fishing rods and reels in the back seat. One of the boys – the 17 year old suspect - said he got the rods from a friend, but he could not give Deputy Valdes his friend’s name.

The owner of the stolen rods responded to the location and identified them as his.

More of the stolen rods were found at the juvenile suspect’s residence. The suspect was placed under arrest. He was booked on charges of burglary and grand theft.

Burglary suspect apprehended on Stock Island

The suspect in a burglary in Key West was apprehended Tuesday on Stock Island, where he’d committed another home burglary as he was fleeing from law enforcement.

At 11:30 a.m., Deputy Freddy Rodriguez was assisting Key West Police as they searched for the suspect who allegedly committed a burglary in the city. The man was believed to have fled to Stock Island.

While the two agencies were searching for the suspect, identified as 22 year old Zelvion Thomas of Miami – a woman called Sheriff’s dispatchers. She said she had just returned to her Bolito Street home to find a man inside who did not belong there. She said he was wearing only a white towel. When she confronted him, he told her he’d not stolen anything. He told her he’d just showered in her bathroom.

As he fled from her residence clad in her white towel, deputies and police officers apprehended him. Thomas was taken into custody. He was charged with burglary, theft and criminal mischief for the Stock Island crime. He also faces charges from Key West Police.

April 21, 2015

Three arrested for drugs, contributing to delinquency

Three Stock Island men were arrested Monday afternoon on drug charges and for contributing to the delinquency of two 17 year old girls.

Deputy Lazaro Valdes was on patrol inside the property of the Meridian West public housing complex on Shrimp Road, Stock Island at 10 a.m. He smelled the odor of marijuana and, when he investigated, he saw three men and two women smoking suspected marijuana on the balcony of apartment 245.

He knocked on the door of the apartment and resident 18 year old Ivan Darce Jr. answered the door. Deputy Valdes asked permission to enter and search the premises and he was given permission. Inside the apartment he found Xanax, cocaine and marijuana in various locations throughout the dwelling, along with several Styrofoam cups with an alcoholic beverage inside.

The three men in the apartment were identified as Darce, 21 year old Antonia German and 18 year old Emmanuel Lordmendez. The girls were found to be juveniles - both 17 years of age.

All three men were arrested. They were all charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and with possession of marijuana with intent to sell within 1000 feet of public housing.  Darce was further charged with possession of cocaine, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. They were booked into jail. The girls were turned over to the custody of their parents.

April 19, 2015

Teens charged with burglaries

Three teenage boys were arrested after they were caught in the act of burglarizing a car on Big Coppitt Key late Friday.

The victim returned home to her residence on Avenue D at 11:15 p.m. to find the three 15 year old boys standing around her white SUV. She challenged the boys who then fled, two riding bikes and the third on foot, leaving a bike behind.

The victim called the Sheriff’s Office after realizing a lock box containing a loaded Glock pistol had been stolen from her vehicle, along with a silver Ipod.

Deputy Aaron Coller, Sgt. Evan Calhoun and an FHP trooper responded and began searching the area for possible suspects. As the officers were searching for the boys, the victim’s friend found the stolen lock box, with the gun still inside. It had been discarded on the right-of-way nearby. A fishing pole belonging to a neighbor of the victim was also found near the lockbox.

The suspects were located and identified after the mother of one boy identified the bike abandoned at the crime scene as belonging to her husband.  She said her 15 year old son had been out riding it.

The boys all admitted to being involved in the vehicle burglary, two as lookouts while the third entered the vehicle and took the lockbox and Ipod. They also admitted to stealing the fishing rod from the neighbor’s house.

All three boys were charged with two counts of burglary, grand theft of a firearm and theft. They were booked at the Monroe County Detention Center.

Family disturbance leads to burglary arrest

A family disturbance call resulted in the arrest of a 19 year old who was in possession of stolen property from an early vehicle burglary.

Deputy Andrew Hudson responded to the disturbance on Little Torch Key Friday at 4 p.m. The mother of 19 year old Jesse Bergami said he had taken her car without permission in the early morning hours. She said when he returned home he had property with him that did not belong to him, including a glass container with money inside and a child’s backpack. She said when his sister confronted him about the items, they got into an altercation.

Deputy Hudson recalled a case he investigated earlier in the day. A woman who lives on Little Torch reported someone entered her vehicle and stole a glass container with money inside. The container in Bergami’s possession was identified by that victim as belonging to her.

Bergami was found at his place of work. He was arrested and charged with burglary and theft. Deputy Hudson is still trying to locate the owner of the backpack, which may have come from another vehicle whose owner does not realize it is missing.

Marine related crimes continue throughout the Keys

Deputies and detectives continue to take reports and investigate marine related crimes throughout the Keys.

Boat burglary, reported Friday. Location: 6000 Peninsular Avenue, Stock Island. Reported Friday. Custom fishing rods taken from a vessel in the water at the Key West Harbor marina.

Boat burglary, reported Saturday. Location: 303 Sombrero Boulevard in Marathon. Garmin GPS taken from a boat docked behind a condominium.

Two boat burglaries at Hurricane Hole Marina on Stock Island, reported Saturday. Rods and reels stolen from both vessels.

Boat burglary at the 83 mile marker of the highway, Islamorada, reported Saturday. Lower unit taken from the vessel’s motor, a 150 HP Yamaha. Vessel was kept on a trailer in front of a building at this location.

The Sheriff’s Office continues to urge all boat owners to take valuable property off their vessels when they are not in use. Detectives are investigating these crimes. Anyone with information about them should contact the Sheriff’s Office.

April 17, 2015

Upper Keys - Alcohol Compliance Checks

On April 16, 2015, The Sheriff’s Special Investigations division was in the field checking to make sure businesses that sell alcohol in the Upper Keys were in compliance with the law when it comes to the sale of alcohol to minors. 

A total of sixteen businesses were checked including restaurants, convenience stores and bars.  Eleven of the businesses complied with the law; five of the businesses were not in compliance and served alcohol to a minor during the checks.  The five clerks who sold the alcohol were issued notices to appear before a Monroe County judge. 

The following are a list of the Businesses, and attendants who sold the alcohol to a minor:

The Sale Clerk violations are punishable by up to 60 days in jail, a $500.00 fine, $235.00 in court cost, $75.00 in cost of prosecution, and $40.00 in cost of investigation. The Licensee Violations are punishable by:

1st-Offense $1000 fine and 7 day suspension.
2nd-Offense $3000 fine and 30 day suspension.
3rd-Offense Revocation of license.

This operation was conducted in cooperation with the Monroe County Coalition for a Safe and Drug Free Community.

April 16, 2015

Detectives are looking for information about Stock Island fire

Sheriff’s detectives and the Fire Marshal’s Office are working together to investigate a fire that took place at a Stock Island business last Thursday.

Detective David Cruz says the investigation has turned up evidence Todd’s Garage and White’s Welding shop on Second Avenue was burglarized just prior to or at the same time the fire started.

Investigators say someone in the community may have information about this crime, or may have seen or heard something which could indicate who the suspect might be.

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.

Man airlifted after altercation

A man from Cape Canaveral, Florida was airlifted to a Miami hospital after he sustained injuries in an altercation with another man.

Detectives say the 31 year old man was outside the Waffle House in Key Largo in the early morning hours Monday when deputies responded to a call of a fight at 2 a.m. The man was reportedly unresponsive and appeared to be highly intoxicated, lying on the ground in front of the restaurant.

Witnesses gave differing information about what happened but said the man had been in an altercation with another man.

Detective Ian Barnett has been assigned to investigate the circumstances under which the man was injured. He is still at Jackson Memorial Hospital, reported to be in critical condition.

April 15, 2015

Coral Springs woman faces drug charges

A Coral Springs, Florida woman faces numerous drug chares after a traffic stop on Tuesday.

Deputy Gil Gonzalez was on patrol at the 103 mile marker at 1:45 a.m. when he spotted a dark colored sedan with a partially obscured license tag and a tag light out. He pulled it over at the 102 mile marker. There were two people inside. The female passenger, 29 year old Alexandra Martorano, said she was the owner of the vehicle.

Deputy Gonzalez could smell the odor of marijuana from the car’s windows as he spoke to the two people inside. As he asked the two to exit the vehicle, he noticed Martorano was very nervous and her hands were shaking.

Martorano produced a plastic bag with a white powder inside from inside her bra. The powder tested positive for cocaine. A search of the vehicle turned up many different types of pills, along with drug paraphernalia. Some of the pills could be identified, and included Xanax, Adderall and Benstropine Mesylate. More cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana were found as well as drug paraphernalia including ten different types of rolling papers and a digital scale. Many of the pills found in the vehicle could not be identified and will be sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for testing.

Martorano took responsibility for all of the illegal substances and illegal items. She was arrested. She was charged with possession of a harmful new legend drug without a prescription; possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, possession of cocaine, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, possession of a felony amount of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Marathon woman arrested for stealing drugs

A Marathon woman was arrested today, charged with stealing drugs from a neighbor.

The victims and the suspect live at Galway Bay Trailer Park in Marathon. The victims said on April 1st, they let 49 year old Jodi Wagner into their home to use the bathroom. While she was there, the victims caught Wagner trying to steal prescription drugs from them.

They said several days later they left the home and returned to find 100 of the pills missing. Shortly after that, they received an anonymous hand written note. In the note the person apologizes, asks for forgiveness and asks them not to send the person to jail.

Deputy Matthew O’Neill responded to take a theft report and to investigate. He spoke with Wagner’s boyfriend. He told them Wagner admitted to stealing the pills. Deputy O’Neill then spoke to Wagner who was inconsistent in her statements. She said she is often under the influence of alcohol and drugs and does not remember what she does much of the time. She admitted the note was in her handwriting, but does not know why she wrote it.

Wagner was charged with burglary and theft and she was booked into jail.

April 12, 2015

Marathon man charged with attempted burglary

A Marathon man was arrested after he damaged surveillance cameras at the Trailerama Trailer Park laundromat in Marathon, and tried to steal money from the bill changing machine inside.

45 year old Henry Perez was captured on video at 4:30 p.m. Saturday as he destroyed the cameras both inside and outside the laundromat using a hammer. When the trailer park owner noticed the cameras were not working, he notified the person who works on them to find out what happened. That person accessed the camera footage and saw what happened. The owner then called the Sheriff’s Office just after midnight Sunday.

Deputy Ben Elmore responded to take a report. He found evidence that Perez had, while in the laundromat, tried to pry open the bill changing machine, but was not successful.

Deputy Elmore and Sgt. Chuck Kellenberger looked at the video footage. It showed a man using a hammer to break the cameras. The man was clearly depicted, as was his clothing and the hat he was wearing. Sgt. Kellenberger recognized Perez from an earlier contact. A short time later, Sgt. Kellenberger found Perez on 15th Street. He was wearing the same clothing as in the video, was riding the same bike as in the video and had a hammer in his pocket.

Perez was arrested. He was charged with attempted burglary, criminal mischief, and possession of burglary tools. He was taken to jail.

Marathon man arrested for burglary, battery

A Marathon man forced his way into his ex-girlfriend’s apartment and attacked the man she is now dating. He was arrested.

The ex-girlfriend of Christian Banos Ortiz said she saw him Saturday night while she was out with her new boyfriend. She said Ortiz was visibly upset.

She told Deputy Garrett Bragg she was at home on Tingler Lane in Marathon in the early morning hours Sunday. She said her boyfriend was asleep in the bedroom. She said Ortiz knocked on the door and when she opened it, he forced his way inside. She said he hit her, then went into the bedroom and attacked her boyfriend. The boyfriend suffered a number of minor injuries from the attack.

Ortiz was found at his residence on Knight’s Key. He was arrested. He was charged with burglary with battery on the occupant and two counts of battery. He was booked into jail.

Man charged with making a false kidnapping report

A Kentucky man was arrested after he falsely reported being kidnapped.

Deputies Matt O’Neill and Kendall Bailey responded at 1:45 p.m. Saturday to meet with 26 year old Joshua Burke who said he’d just escaped from his kidnappers. He said he’d been kidnapped in Key West by two men and a woman driving a white car. He said they drove him to Marathon where he was able to escape and hide from them in a wooded area.

Burke said he was in the Keys with a friend, his friend’s mother and another man. When the deputies interviewed those people, Burke’s story began to unravel. They all said Burke had been with them in Marathon up until 11 a.m. that day. They said they were checking in to a motel in Marathon; Burke and his friend were in the car outside the motel when Burke got out of the car, walked into a wooded area and disappeared.

When confronted with the inconsistencies in his story, Burke finally admitted he’d not been kidnapped. He was charged with making a false police report and he was taken to jail.

Man arrested for fleeing, other charges

A man who said he’s been in Marathon for three or four weeks after being released from prison was arrested Saturday night on various charges including failing to register as a convicted felon.

Deputy Garrett Bragg was on patrol at 11:30 p.m. Saturday. He was checking behind Gulfside Village in Marathon when he spotted 21 year old Leith Wiese sitting behind one of the businesses.

As the deputy approached, Wiese began walking quickly away. Deputy Bragg stopped him and asked what he was doing there. Wiese said he’d been smoking marijuana and produced a pill bottle with a green leafy substance inside. He also admitted to having a knife concealed under his shirt, tucked in his waistband.

As Deputy Bragg continued speaking with Wiese, he learned Wiese had just been released from prison, where he’d done time for robbery with a weapon. A check in Sheriff’s Office computers revealed Wiese had not registered in Monroe County as a convicted felon, as he is required to do.

Deputy Bragg told Wiese he was under arrest. Wiese took off running. As Deputy Bragg chased him, Wiese tripped and fell into some bushes. He was handcuffed without further incident. He was charged with failing to register as a convicted felon, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, resisting arrest, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

April 10, 2015

Woman charged with throwing rock into residence

A 55 year old Key Largo woman was arrested after she was caught on video throwing a large rock into a residence on Largo Road.

The victim told Deputy Brian Cross he returned home the evening of March 3rd to find someone had thrown a large rock into his home, through a window. There was also damage to another window, where it looked like someone may have tried to do the same thing, and damage to a television on a covered patio.

Deputy Cross spoke with neighbors who had a surveillance camera. The video showed a woman – later identified as 55 year old Ofelia Lopez – walking up to the house, entering the covered porch and committing the crime.

A warrant was obtained for her arrest. On Thursday, she was booked into jail on charges of burglary and criminal mischief.

April 9, 2015

Fire destroys Stock Island business

Fire destroyed a Stock Island business in the early morning hours today.

A man on his way to work drove by Todd’s Garage and White’s Welding shop on 2nd Avenue just before 4 a.m. and saw the fire. He called to report it and, when Deputy Aaron Coller and Sgt. Evan Calhoun arrived they could see visible smoke and flames. Monroe County firefighters responded and extinguished the blaze.

The fire marshal’s office responded and will be investigating the cause of the fire.

April 8, 2015

Man dies after traffic stop

A man arrested for driving with his license suspended today after a traffic stop died while being transported to jail in a Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicle.

39 year old Clifford Green was northbound on U.S. One at 1:20 p.m. when he was stopped by Detective Iscandel Perez at the 98.5 mile marker for having what appeared to be illegal tint on his windows. A check of his driver’s license revealed it was suspended.

Green was taken into custody. As Deputy Thomas Hill was on the way to the jail Green appeared to be having medical issues.

Deputy Hill pulled over and immediately called for medical assistance. He rendered aid to Green until paramedics arrived a short time later. They took over care and transported Green to Mariner’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Because Green was in Sheriff’s Office custody at the time of this incident, Sheriff Rick Ramsay requested the response of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. That agency will investigate the death.

Man charged with theft of a boat

A Cape Coral man was arrested Tuesday after stealing a boat from Sunset Water Sports at the Hurricane Hole Marina on Stock Island.

Detectives David Cruz and Dave Chavka responded to the marina Tuesday morning after the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) found the boat abandoned on the west side of Key West, grounded on the flats. It was a 2002 Cape Craft 21 foot center console boat registered to the water sports business. They had not yet discovered it was missing.

Surveillance video at the marina showed a suspect ride a bike into the marina just after 6 a.m. He left the bike and walked onto the boat. The boat had been worked on the previous day and the keys were left on board. The suspect left the marina in the boat.

Employees of Sunset Water Sports went out on the water to recover the grounded vessel. As they were working on it, a witness who lives near where the boat ran aground approached them. He told them he saw the suspect through his binoculars trying to get the boat off the flats. He then saw the man swim to a nearby sailboat and climb aboard.

The two detectives got a ride with FWC out to that sailboat, which appeared to be abandoned. They found 24 year old Yasmani Chamizo Betancourt on board. He told them a friend, who he could not identify, had dropped him off on the boat.

Betancourt matched the description of the person on the video, and the person the witness saw on the stolen boat. He was arrested, charged with criminal mischief and grand theft and he was taken to jail.

Alcohol sales compliance checked

On April 7, 2015, The Special Investigations Division conducted an operation checking businesses that sell alcohol in the Middle Keys. Fourteen businesses were checked including restaurants, convenience stores and bars. Two of the businesses served alcohol to a minor during the checks. The two clerks who sold the alcohol were issued notices to appear before a Monroe County Judge.

The following are a list of the Businesses, and attendants who sold the alcohol:

The Sale Clerk violations are punishable by up to 60 days in jail, a $500.00 fine, $235.00 in court cost, $75.00 in cost of prosecution, and $40.00 in cost of investigation.

Licensee Violations are punishable by:

1st-Offense $1000 fine and 7 day suspension.
2nd-Offense $3000 fine and 30 day suspension.
3rd-Offense Revocation of license.

The remaining businesses checked, were in compliance with the law. This operation was conducted in cooperation with the Monroe County Coalition for a Safe and Drug Free Community.

April 7, 2015

Man arrested for pawn shop burglary

A Marathon man was arrested overnight for burglarizing a local pawn shop.

The suspect, 26 year old Dustin Stewart, reportedly used a hammer to break the front window of Joe’s Cash Flow Pawn Shop. He then entered and stole jewelry from a display case inside. When he broke the glass display case and reached in, he cut his arm on the glass. He left blood drops at the scene.

Stewart then reportedly called another man, who he has worked with in the past. He told the man he’d broken in to the pawn shop, and was going to take the items he’d stolen to Miami to sell the following day. He told the man the door to the shop was open if he wanted to go in and steal items himself.

The man who talked to Stewart told Deputy Ben Elmore he lives with someone who works at the pawn shop and he knows the owner so he called the Sheriff’s Office immediately to report the crime and who committed it.

Deputies Elmore and Garrett Bragg went to Stewart’s home and found him there, with a large cut on his arm. They found a bag of stolen jewelry in his room, along with bloody clothing he’d worn to commit the crime.

Stewart was first transported to Fishermen’s Hospital for treatment of his injury. He was then arrested, charged with criminal mischief, burglary and grand theft and he was taken to jail.

Scam Alert!

We have a report from a Marathon resident yesterday (Monday) who said someone called him and told him there was an arrest warrant for him. The caller ID actually identified the call as coming from one of our Sheriff's substations.

The scammer told him he was going to be arrested tomorrow. But, of course, if he purchased a money gram for $503.98 and sent it to the caller, the arrest would not take place.

The person calling pretends to be law enforcement, however obviously we would never make such a call, nor would we take a money gram to dismiss an arrest warrant.

As Detective Bobby Burkett was taking the report, the scammer called back. When Detective Burkett identified himself over the phone, the scammer hung up the phone.

Do not fall for these types of calls. Law Enforcement agencies do not operate this way. Neither do Utility companies and the IRS says definitively they will NEVER call. Lots of variations on these scams exist - it seems there are more and more lately.

If you have any questions about a call you receive, and whether or not it is a scam, call us immediately at 305-289-2351 and we will help you figure it all out.

Pittsburgh man dies while diving

A Pittsburgh man died while diving offshore of Key Largo, on the wreck of the Duane.

51 year old Andrey Kukushkin was on board a private vessel with friends. They had been diving the wreck for approximately 30 minutes when the group began to ascend. Kukushkin began having trouble as he surfaced and as other divers tried to reach him, he stopped moving, turned on his side and began to drift away.

A diver already on board the boat went after him and was able to bring him back to the boat, where they began performing CPR. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission took over and transported Kukushkin back to shore at Harry Harris Park. They were met by paramedics who transported the victim to Mariner’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death.

Two arrested in Marathon fight

A fight in a wooded area of Marathon March 31st resulted in the arrest of two men today.

The fight took place in a wooded area behind the Marathon Home Depot. A woman called the Sheriff’s Office after she heard someone yelling for help. She told Sheriff’s dispatchers there was a fight and two men were siccing dogs on a third man. Shortly after that, the 29 year old victim, a Marathon resident, called to say he needed medical attention. He was transported to the hospital for treatment of his injuries, sustained from the dog attacks, as well as from being punched, kicked and hit with bottles by his two attackers.

Investigations identified two suspects, 33 year old Anthony Wollweber and 34 year old Michael Payne. Warrants were issued for their arrest and today, detectives arrested both men, charging them with aggravated battery. They were booked into jail.

April 3, 2015

Apparent fraud scheme results in theft from business

A Key Largo convenience store was the victim of an apparent fraud scheme overnight by people posing, over the phone and in person, as corporate executives. Detectives want to warn business owners and their employees about this scheme so they can avoid becoming victims themselves.

A clerk at the Tom Thumb store at the 102 mm received a call at 12:20 a.m. today from someone claiming to be from the Tom Thumb corporate office. He said he would be sending someone to the store to pick up money “for an invoice” and also two cartons of cigarettes. The man said he would call and clear it with the store’s manager. As the clerk stayed on the phone, he heard the man talking to someone as if he were talking to the manager. Then he said he would be sending someone to the store shortly.

At 2 a.m., a woman came in the store. She said she was the daughter of the man who was supposed to pick up the money. The clerk gave her money from the store’s safe and two cartons of cigarettes and she left.

About 3:30 a.m. the clerk called the store manager and asked her if she knew about the money that had been picked up by the corporate office. She said she did not. She directed the clerk to call the Sheriff’s Office to report a theft.

When Deputy Cody Kerns arrived, he placed a call to the Tom Thumb district manager, who confirmed the transaction was not made with any corporate authority.

Detectives are investigating the case. They are concerned the people involved in this theft might try to do the same thing to other businesses.

Anyone with information about this crime should contact the Sheriff’s Office at 305-853-3211. 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.

April 1, 2015

Woman arrested for giving false information

A 22 year old Little Torch Key woman was arrested Tuesday, charged with giving false information to law enforcement during the course of a home invasion robbery investigation.

The crime took place on May 27th of last year on Grassy Key. During the robbery, shots were fired and one man was hit. A lengthy investigation took place and a number of people were arrested in connection with the crime, which turned out to be drug related.

During the investigation, 22 year old Melissa White gave false information to deputies and detectives on more than one occasion. Information from a confidential source, and from further investigation of the crime revealed her statements to be false. A warrant was issued for her arrest.

On Tuesday, she was charged with making a false report to a law enforcement officer. She was booked into jail on the charges.

Man injured; detectives investigating

A Key Largo man was taken to the hospital for a head injury Tuesday night. Detectives are investigating what may have happened to him.

Three people who live on Avenue C in Key Largo reported hearing what they thought was a gun shot at 8:40 p.m. All three saw a pickup truck, possibly red in color, speeding away from the area. When deputies arrived they found the 32 year old man on the ground with blood all over him. Although there was no sign of a gunshot wound, the man did have a head injury.

The victim was taken to Mariner’s Hospital for treatment of his injury. Detectives are investigating the case.

Man injured in fight with two others

A 29 year old man from Marathon was treated at Fishermen’s Hospital after a fight in a wooded area behind the Marathon Home Depot Tuesday evening. The investigation is still underway, but dispatchers received a report just before 11 p.m. that two men with dogs were having the dogs attack a third man. Shortly after that report, the victim called and said he needed medical attention. He was transported to Fishermen’s Hospital where he was treated for multiple lacerations, bruises and bite marks.

A third call was then received from a man – later identified as one of the suspects in the fight – who said he’d been stabbed.  His injury turned out to be minor and he refused medical attention.

The victim told Deputy Rosary Ponce he got into an argument with the two suspects because one of them made improper comments to his wife. He said they hit him with glass bottles, and then kicked him when he fell to the ground. He said the two men sicced dogs on him as well.

The suspects have been identified in the case. Investigations into the incident are continuing and arrests may be pending in the case.