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

November 30, 2015

Stock Island man faces multiple charges

A Stock Island man faces numerous charges after being stopped for speeding Saturday in the early morning hours.

Sgt. Evan Calhoun stopped a white Kia sport utility vehicle just after 4 a.m. after he spotted it speeding up behind him as he was southbound on the Boca Chica Bridge. The vehicle had no license plate, and the driver, 24 year old Phillip West, had no valid driver’s license. He also told Sgt. Calhoun and backup Deputy Wendy Negron he was on probation for robbery. A check of his name revealed he is listed as a “violent offender with special conditions”.

West was arrested. After he was handcuffed, he tried to run from the officers but they caught him. They placed him in the back seat of a patrol car and he tried to jump out the other side of the car. Once at the detention center, he was found to be in possession of marijuana, which was in a plastic bag hidden in the crack of his buttocks.

West was charged with having no valid license, operating a motor vehicle with no registration, resisting arrest, introduction of contraband to a jail facility and violation of probation. He was booked into jail.

Canadian woman charged after accident

A Canadian woman faces a list of charges after she turned her vehicle into the path of another vehicle on Sugarloaf Key just after midnight Sunday, causing a crash.

According to Traffic Enforcement Deputy Juan Martin-Reyes, 37 year old Melissa Mullen was northbound in a 2014 Dodge Challenger when she turned in front of a 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage. The crash occurred in front of the Sugarloaf Lodge at the 17 mile marker of the highway. Mullen then left the scene of the crash, walking to her hotel room at the lodge.

When deputies arrived, they found the passenger who’d been riding with Mullen still on the scene, along with the driver of the other vehicle, who was taken to Lower Keys Hospital to be treated for minor injuries.

When deputies went to her room to get her, she became extremely belligerent, yelling and cursing at them. She continued to be belligerent and loud throughout her interactions with the officers. She refused to follow any of their instructions as they investigated the crash and her involvement.

Mullen, who appeared to be under the influence of alcohol was taken into custody. The passenger in her car confirmed she’d been driving at the time of the crash. He said the two of them had been at Hog’s Breath Saloon before returning to their motel.

Mullen was charged with refusing to obey police during a crash investigation, refusal to sign a criminal citation, resisting arrest and refusing to identify herself during a crash investigation. She also received citations for failing to yield to oncoming traffic, leaving the scene of a crash, driving under the influence of alcohol and driving under the influence of alcohol involving a crash.

Woman and her boyfriend arrested for using another person’s debit card for their own gain

A Big Pine Key woman faces multiple fraud charges after she used an elderly man’s debit card to pay her own bills and make her own purchases without his permission.

The victim told Detective Diane Mimosa he found out all of his money was gone from his bank account in June of this year. He said in November of 2012, he moved to Big Pine Key with 37 year old Judy Obrien and her boyfriend, 46 year old Thomas “Tommie” Piatt. The victim said at that time he had over $44,000 in the bank. He said has difficulties writing, so he would have Judy write his rent checks and purchase food and other items at the store for him using his debit card.

A review of his finances by Detective Mimosa showed many purchases Obrien made for herself, including paying her own rent checks when she and her boyfriend moved out of his residence and into their own trailer. It also revealed purchases of airline tickets, online purchases, payment to a law firm and payment for probation restitution which the victim says were not for his benefit.

A review of Obrien’s finances shows deposits from the victim’s bank account to her bank account totaling $26,000 from October 2013 to March of 2015. She used the victim’s money to pay a lawyer, inmate services, probation fees and her own rent. Detective Mimosa’s investigation also showed her boyfriend, 51 year old Thomas Piatt, knew what was happening.

Obrien was arrested and charged with grand theft from an elderly person and 26 counts of forgery. Piatt was charged with grand theft from an elderly person. They were both booked into jail.

November 26, 2015

Man airlifted after fight; others attack responding deputies

One man was airlifted to a Miami hospital for injuries he sustained in an altercation on 15th Street in Marathon just before midnight Wednesday. Several men were arrested after they attacked deputies attempting to investigate the circumstances of his injuries.

Deputies responded to reports of a fight and found the victim, 48 year old Ignacio Echererria Aguila, lying in the middle of the road. He had severe injuries to his face, including swelling, bruising and lacerations. Paramedics responded and transported him to Fishermen’s Hospital after which he was airlifted to the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami.

As Deputies Tyler Hodges and Matthew Pitcher attempted to find out what happened to the victim, they were attacked by a number of men who were in the vicinity and may have been involved in the original altercation.

Deputies Jamie Buxton and Garrett Bragg responded to assist. When they arrived, they saw several men surrounding the deputies and yelling at them. The men refused orders to step back and calm down. The deputies began to restrain the men one by one as the men fought back, kicking and striking at the officers. The men were finally all subdued and handcuffed.

27 year old Yacel Maza Hernandez and 23 year old Asniel Ferrer Espinosa sustained minor injuries as they fought with deputies and were transported to Fishermen’s Hospital for medical clearance before being taken to jail. They continued their struggles on the way to and at the hospital, at one point knocking over a table that was attached to the wall in the waiting room of the hospital.

Those two men were arrested and charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest with violence. 24 year old  Yordany Rodriguez Marmol was charged with resisting arrest without violence. They were all booked into jail.

Detective Scott Ward responded to the scene and is currently investigating the original fight during which Echeverria Aguila was injured. His injuries are severe, but are not life threatening. Considerable evidence was recovered at the scene and more charges are expected in connection with that incident as well.

November 19, 2015

Two more charged with vehicle burglary

Two more men have been charged in connection with vehicle burglaries in the Stock Island neighborhood of Key Haven.

Several vehicles were burglarized. In one case, the suspects were caught on surveillance video burglarizing a vehicle on Birchwood Drive. While Deputy Lazaro Valdez was investigating the crimes, he found a wallet on the ground belonging to 19 year old Vladamir Estele. Detectives later visited Estele at his home on 3rd Avenue. At that point Estele admitted entering several vehicles in the area of Key Haven.

The surveillance video showed three people committing the crimes together. Further investigation revealed the other two suspects were 20 year old Steeve Steevenson and 18 year old Ashley Avilmar, both of Stock Island. This week, they were both arrested and charged with two counts of vehicle burglary and one count of grand theft.

Detectives Sheila Seago and David Cruz investigated the cases.

Sheriff’s detectives investigate Wild Bird Center break-ins

Sheriff’s detectives are currently investigating break-ins at two affiliated businesses in the Upper Keys, the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center’s Sanctuary and the Mission Wild Bird Hospital.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to both locations this morning, where they discovered suspects had forcibly entered the buildings and had taken tools, keys and office equipment.

The investigation is continuing. Anyone with information about the case should 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.

November 17, 2015

Woman arrested for business burglary

A woman was caught stealing items from a closed business by a security guard. She was arrested after the guard called the Sheriff’s Office.

A security guard for the Yacht Club Marina in Key Largo told Deputy Cody Kerns he was making his rounds at 1:30 a.m. today when he saw 40 year old Angela Mace of Key Largo taking items belonging to Sand Dollar Boat Rental. He said he asked her what she was doing and she said she was “waiting for a drunk friend”. That is when he noticed all the stolen items in the back of her truck.

When Deputy Kerns arrived, his investigation revealed items from the business that had been taken by Mace, including two coolers, a bar umbrella and a beach umbrella, three life jackets, buckets, trash cans and cleaning supplies.

The items were returned to the owners and Mace was arrested. She was charged with burglary and grand theft.

November 16, 2015

Man charged with burglary, battery

A Tavernier man was arrested Sunday night, charged with forcing his way in to a Tavernier home, breaking a number of items and hitting a woman in the face.

Deputy Thomas Amador responded to a home on Kahiki Drive in Tavernier at 8 p.m. When he arrived, a woman visiting at the residence told him 52 year old Stephen Shea forced his way inside and ransacked the kitchen of the home. Shea is reportedly the ex-boyfriend of the woman who owns the home.

The woman who was visiting told Deputy Amador Shea was angry at her for visiting his ex-girlfriend, so he hit her with his elbow and punched her in the face.

Shea knocked items off the kitchen counter, breaking them, and knocked the laundry room door off.

Several hours later, Shea was located at his home in the area of the 85 mile marker. He was arrested, charged with burglary, battery and criminal mischief. He was booked into jail.

Big Coppitt man charged with burglary, grand theft

A Big Coppitt Key man was arrested Sunday afternoon, charged with burglarizing a boat and a home on Sirius Lane, Big Coppitt Key.

Sgt. Linda Mixon was on patrol on Big Pine Key when she was dispatched to intercept a reported reckless driver northbound at the 21 mile marker. As she began looking for the vehicle, she received further information: the driver of the vehicle, a blue 2002 Jeep, may have been involved in a burglary on Big Coppitt Key.

The person who reported the burglary said he saw the Jeep’s driver, 21 year old Alexandro Colon, steal several rods and reels from his neighbor’s boat and then use a hammer to break a window on his neighbor’s house and enter the house, which was unoccupied at the time.

Sgt. Mixon stopped the Jeep at the 28 mile marker of the highway. The stolen fishing poles were in the Jeep. Colon was arrested. He said he broke into the house as “revenge” for a disagreement with the owner of the house. He was charged with burglary of a vehicle, burglary of a residence, grand theft and criminal mischief. He was booked into jail.

Fort Lauderdale man arrested for firing a gun at a bar

A Fort Lauderdale man was arrested Saturday night after he fired a gun inside of the Hog Heaven bar in Islamorada.

According to numerous witnesses inside the bar at the time, 31 year old Christopher Fernandez got into a fist fight with another man about 11 p.m. on Saturday. While fighting, Fernandez pulled out a handgun and fired it once, into the air. The man he was fighting with then fled the bar.

Security employees inside the bar took the gun away from Fernandez and held him until Deputies Nestor Argote and Josh Brady arrived.

Detective Francisco Gaete also responded to the scene to investigate. Fernandez was arrested. He was charged with shooting a deadly missile inside a public building, improper exhibition of a firearm, discharging a firearm in public, use of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.

A second man was also arrested at the scene. 31 year old Adam Stubley of Port St. Lucie, Florida was walking up to the bar when people began leaving quickly, saying a gun had been fired inside. Stubley reportedly ran back to his vehicle and retrieved his gun, then returned to the bar with it. Security employees stopped him and disarmed him before he could enter. He later told deputies he had friends inside and wanted to make sure he got them out safely. Stubley was charged with disorderly conduct.

Marathon man charged with lewd and lascivious acts

A 21 year old man from Marathon was arrested Friday, charged with having sexual relations with a 14 year old girl against her will.

The incident took place in July. It was reported to the Sheriff’s Office on August 26th. The victim told Detective Lissette Zuelch from the Major Crimes Unit she and Miguel Herrera went paddle boarding together. She said he pushed her off of her paddle board and, while they were both in the water, he had sexual relations with her against her will.

Herrera was charged Friday with sexual assault on a victim under the age of 16. He was booked into jail.

November 13, 2015

Boat mate dies while trying to help divers

A Key Largo man who works as the mate on a dive vessel died Thursday as he tried to help four divers who were drifting away from the vessel.

The dive vessel, out of the Amoray Dive Resort in Key Largo, was offshore of Key Largo at 6:45 p.m. Divers on board had been in the water for 10 – 15 minutes when the current became too strong. The captain called the divers back to the vessel. Four of them were reportedly drifting away from the boat, so boat mate 59 year old Steven Kipp donned a mask, snorkel and fins and got into the water to bring them a line to tow them back to the boat.

He gave the line to the first two divers. He was swimming to the second two, who’d drifted considerably farther from the boat when he became unresponsive. He was brought onto the boat and CPR was performed. The U.S. Coast Guard responded and brought him to shore. He was transported by paramedics to Mariner’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

November 12, 2015

Stock Island neighborhood hit with car burglaries; suspect leaves his wallet at the scene

Surveillance video available at https://youtu.be/clBbzR9FtJ8

The Key Haven neighborhood of Stock Island was hit with vehicle burglaries and, with the help of one of the suspects who left his wallet at the scene, detectives have made an arrest.

Deputy Lazaro Valdez responded to a home on Birchwood Drive Wednesday morning to a report of a vehicle burglary. The victim said someone had ransacked her unlocked vehicle and had taken money from inside.

As Deputy Valdez was checking around the area of the vehicle burglary, he found a wallet. In the wallet was identification for 19 year old Vladamir Estele. He turned the wallet over to investigating Detective Sheila Seago.

Detective Seago and Detective David Cruz went to the address on the identification, 5530 3rd Avenue, Apartment 2 where they knocked on the door. Estele came to the door. When the detectives asked him for identification, he said he had lost it. The detectives asked him if he’d been in the area of Key Haven and he admitted being there walking between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. They asked him if he’d entered any vehicles while walking in Key Haven. He admitted to entering a number of vehicles in that area and taking loose change.

In the meantime, deputies responded to several more vehicle burglary calls, taking reports from the victims. One victim, who lives Key Haven Road, told them he had surveillance video of three people burglarizing his vehicle, parked in his driveway.

Estele told detectives he’d been accompanied by two friends he only knows as “Stevie and Ashley”.  He told them he does not know their last names or where they live.

Estele was arrested and charged with one count of vehicle burglary. More charges and more arrests are pending.

Fire destroyed a storage shed in Tavernier Wednesday

A fire destroyed a storage shed on Hood Avenue in Tavernier. The shed was owned by a local artist and used as a work shop where he produces his artwork.

Sergeant Susan Keene responded to reports of a fire at 4 p.m. When she arrived, she found the shed fully engulfed in flames, which were extinguished by firefighters. The owner, 84 year old Douglas Mason, said he’s been there working until 3 p.m. He said he unplugged a fan inside and locked up. Next thing he knew, he got a call about the fire. He said a number of his artworks were inside. He said he’d been planning to sell them at the upcoming Islamorada Art Walk event.

The Fire Marshall responded and will be investigating.

November 10, 2015

Man steals boat, goes to Cuba

A man stole a boat from a Stock Island marina and went to Cuba. He was caught by Cuban border guards who took him into custody. He’ll be returned to Monroe County to face criminal charges.

On October 31st, the owner of a white 13 foot Boston Whaler with a 40 horsepower engine on it called the Sheriff’s Office to report it missing. He said he parked it in a slip at Murray Marine the night before with the keys in the ignition. When he returned the morning of the 31st, it was gone. The value of the vessel and motor is estimated to be $4,500.

Surveillance video showed a man wearing a full wet suit at the marina at 10:42 p.m. The man pulls on several ice storage cooler doors, but they are locked. He then walks off camera. A short time later, the stolen Boston Whaler is seen leaving it’s slip and heading northeast. No one can be seen on board.

On November 2nd, an investigator with the U.S. Coast Guard contacted Sheriff’s Detective Sheila Seago, who had been assigned the case to investigate. He said the Coast Guard had received a message from the Cuban Border Guard. They said 38 year old Shawn Michael Luskey had entered Havana Harbor at 5 p.m. on October 31st on a White 13 foot Boston Whaler. Photos of the vessel from Cuban authorities show the FL numbers, which match the stolen vessel, and show Luskey clothed in a full wet suit, like the one seen in the surveillance video.

Detective Seago obtained a warrant for Luskey for grand theft of a vessel with a bond set at $45,000. Cuban authorities say they will be returning him to the United States where he will face the charges.

November 6, 2015

Dash cam video released of the shooting of Deputy Josh Gordon by suspect Timothy Thomas on October 24th. Deputy Gordon was saved by his bullet proof vest. Two see the two videos, go to our YouTube channel. You can also find links to the videos on our blog at floridakeyssheriff.blogspot.com.

November 4, 2015

Mechanic injured by truck

A Mechanic working on a truck at the Ocean Reef Airport was injured after the truck rolled over his body.

58 year old Elio Sosa was taken to Homestead Hospital to be treated for his injuries. He was working on a truck belonging to a Miami company called Southern Asphalt Engineering, Inc. The truck had reportedly stopped running for an unknown reason and, as Sosa was underneath it working on it, it started suddenly and lurched forward, running over a portion of his chest and leg.

There is no information as to the extent of his injuries.

Man arrested after he is caught burglarizing vehicle

A Key West man was arrested early Wednesday after he was seen by witnesses and by a deputy inside vehicles on Stock Island that did not belong to him.

Two witnesses say they saw 27 year old Dominic Ruby walking down Cross Street, talking to himself at 2:30 a.m. They said they watched as he entered a car and rummaged around inside. They confronted him and he ran away. They called the Sheriff’s Office and said they last saw him on 11th Avenue.

When Deputy David Lariz arrived in that area, he saw Ruby inside a white Dodge truck. He ordered Ruby to exit the truck. Ruby complied, but then ran away from Deputy Lariz, jumping a fence at a residential property on 11th Avenue. Deputy Lariz chased him and saw him trip and fall, then get up and jump a second fence into a yard on 10th Avenue. Key West Police Officers and Deputy Spencer Curry responded to help look for Ruby. They found Ruby’s sandals just over the first fence he’d jumped but did not find him.

A short time later, someone called Sheriff’s dispatchers. The caller was uncooperative, just saying he’d been robbed on 12th Avenue. He kept hanging up and calling back, refusing to meet with an officer in person. He finally agreed to speak with Deputy Curry over the phone. He agreed to meet with a Key West Police Officer at the Conch Town Bar in Key West. It turned out to be Ruby. He had numerous fresh injuries on his foot and both arms from running away from officers.

Ruby told the officers his back pack had been stolen and he wanted to know if anyone had found it. The back pack – embroidered on the back with the name “Dominic” – was located inside the white truck Ruby had been burglarizing when Deputy Lariz first spotted him.

Ruby finally admitted to his involvement in the vehicle burglaries. He said he did it to get money to buy pills. He was arrested. He was charged with burglary of a vehicle, trespassing in a vehicle, resisting arrest and loitering and prowling. He was taken to jail.

November 2, 2015

Credit card fraud suspect and accomplice arrested

A credit card fraud suspect and his accomplice were both arrested in Key Largo Friday.

The Sheriff’s Office received a call shortly after 1 p.m. Friday from the victim, who lives in Key West. He said his credit card had just been fraudulently used at the Walgreen’s store at the 99.5 mile marker of the highway. Deputy Dave Campbell responded to that store and met with the manager. He reviewed video which showed the transaction taking place. The suspect, later identified as  39 year old Andrew McCarty of Coconut Creek, Florida used a fraudulent credit card with the victim’s card number to purchase a $300 gift card at the store.  Deputy Campbell broadcast a description of the suspect and the clothing he was wearing over police radios.

A short time later, the Walgreen’s store manager called to report the suspect had returned to the store. Although deputies were not able to get there in time to apprehend him, the manager was able to get a description of the vehicle he was traveling in – a white Mercedes 300 with a black glass roof. That information was added to the possible suspect information and deputies in the Upper Keys began searching for the vehicle.

Detective Bob Dosh spotted the vehicle parked at a gas pump at the Circle K store at the 102 mile marker. A man fitting McCarty’s description got out of the car and went into the store. A second man, later identified as 28 year old Andre Austin of Tamarac, Florida was the driver and remained in the car.

Detective Dosh and Deputy Frank Delgado pulled up to the Mercedes. Deputy Delgado pulled in behind the car, while Detective Dosh pulled in at an angle in front of it. When Austin saw the Detective pull in front of him, he put the car in reverse and began to back toward the deputy’s vehicle. He then put the car in drive and rammed Detective Dosh’s vehicle in an attempt to escape. He was ordered out of the vehicle and was taken into custody, charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon (his vehicle) and fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer. He was also charged with grand theft, four counts fraudulent use of a credit card and use or possession of another person’s identification without consent.

In the meantime, Deputy Campbell arrived on the scene and entered the store, where he saw McCarty at the front counter attempting to purchase more gift cards with the fraudulent credit card. He approached McCarty to take him into custody. McCarty told him he was carrying a gun, for which he had a concealed weapons permit. At that point, McCarty was handcuffed and the firearm was secured safely.

McCarty was charged with four counts of fraudulent use of a credit card, grand theft, use or possession of another person’s identification without consent and engaging in a criminal offense with a weapon.