Issued by the Media Relations Office,
Public Information Officer Deputy Becky Herrin
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February 29, 2016
Day care worker charged with child abuse
A Key Largo woman who works as a day care teacher at St. Justin Church in Key Largo was arrested today for child abuse.
51 year old Virginia Amaya is accused of injuring a 4 year old girl’s lip during the course of disciplining her for misbehavior on the playground. The incident took place on February 24th. It was reported to the Sheriff’s Office by the school’s administrator.
According to reports by Major Crimes Detective Vince Weiner, several children were misbehaving on the playground. Amaya reportedly was scolding the children when she pushed the 4 year old’s head down, hitting her lip on a table.
Amaya was arrested today and charged with child abuse. She was booked into jail.
February 27, 2016
Inmate dies after having apparent seizure
An inmate at the Stock Island jail who had an apparent seizure in his cell just after midnight was pronounced dead at Lower Keys Hospital.
28 year old Michael Gunderson of Sugarloaf Key was arrested February 23rd after being stopped on the Boca Chica four lane for driving erratically. He was found to have no driver’s license and was in possession of heroin, cocaine and marijuana, all of which he was charged for possession.
The Corrections deputy on duty was doing a regularly scheduled check of cells at approximately 11:30 p.m. when he saw Gunderson laying on the floor of his cell with a blanket on top of him. Gunderson had no roommate and was alone in the cell. The deputy opened the cell door to tell Gunderson to get back onto his bunk. At that point, the deputy saw Gunderson’s hands were clenched. Further observation revealed he appeared to be having a seizure.
Nurses on duty at the jail responded to the housing unit and the fire department was also notified and responded. Gunderson was transported to Lower Keys Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Major Crimes Detective Manuel Cuervo responded to investigate. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement was also notified and will be investigating. Detective Cuervo said there were no obvious signs of foul play.
February 26, 2016
Skeletal remains found on Summerland Key identified as missing man
Skeletal remains found on Summerland Key in December have been identified as a missing man from Norway.
Major Crimes Detective Manny Cuervo says dental records were instrumental in making the positive identification. He says the body of the man found on Summerland Key is that if 56 year old Guiseppe Codiglia. Codiglia was reported missing by his son, Mats Codiglia Weberg in June of 2015.
Weberg said his father traveled to the United States in February of 2015 and spent time visiting a friend in New Jersey. Weberg said his father would check in with his family a couple of times a week, but stopped calling in late May. While in the States, Codiglia was reportedly traveling in a motor home registered to his friend in New Jersey. The motor home was towed from Summerland Boat Rental by Anchor Towing on May 28th and the owner was notified about the tow. He told Weberg where it was and the son came to the Keys looking for his father. When he was unsuccessful in locating him, the son reported the missing man to the Sheriff’s Office.
The motor home appeared undisturbed inside, and contained personal items belonging to Codiglia including clothing, a laptop computer, cell phone, and a gun case with paperwork for a .38 caliber Charter Arms revolver. There was no sign of a struggle or indications of foul play inside. Codiglia’s wallet, keys, passport and a second cell phone were not inside, however, leading to the possibility that he had simply walked away from the motor home and disappeared.
Flyers were issued with his information, and he was listed as missing with both the Florida and National Crime Information Centers (FCIC/NCIC). Detective Cuervo also called the Norwegian Embassy and notified them to be on the lookout for Codiglia should he return to his home country. Several tips were received from people who thought they spotted Codiglia, but none of them turned out to be true sightings.
On December 28th, human skeletal remains were found in a mangrove area on Summerland Key. A gun was found with the remains, matching the make, model and serial number of the paperwork found in the motor home in which Codiglia was traveling. Detective Cuervo contacted Norwegian authorities for assistance in obtaining dental records for comparison to confirm the remains were Codiglia’s. In late January, the dental records were provided to Interpol in Washington and forwarded to Detective Cuervo. He gave the records to the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office for comparison. On February 18th, that office confirmed the remains were those of Guiseppe Codiglia. His family was then notified of that identification.
At this time, detectives say it appears Codiglia may have committed suicide. At the time of his disappearance, family members indicate he was having significant financial difficulties in Norway stemming from a bankruptcy, he’d recently lost his business and owed considerable funds to the government.
Couple charged with fake $100 bills
A sharp cashier at a Key Largo business helped the Sheriff’s Office catch a couple passing fake $100 bills Thursday.
At 3 p.m., Detective Barney Sajdak heard over his police radio a notice to be on the lookout for a vehicle occupied by a couple involved in attempting to pass a fake $100 bill at Mother Ocean Consignment at the 99 mile marker of the highway. The clerk called the Sheriff’s Office after a woman gave her a $100 bill to pay for a purchase; the cashier recognized it was fake, gave it back to the woman, and then called to report it. The vehicle – a black Ford Ranger truck – left headed southbound on the highway with a man and a woman inside.
Det. Sajdak spotted a similar vehicle parked in front of a hardware store at the 92 mile marker. He pulled in and contacted the driver, 70 year old Francisco Montes-Quinones of Hialeah Gardens, Florida. The detective asked the man where his wife was, but the man refused to answer. He then asked the man if he had any money and if so, could he see it. Quinones opened his wallet, revealing a number of bills, including several that were a different color and had a different feel to them. In addition, in checking the serial numbers, the detective noticed all the serial numbers were identical. More of the fake currency was later found above the sun visor of the truck, in an envelope.
Quinones was detained; his wife, 52 year old Mariela Carvajal-Perez, then exited the Island Décor store nearby. She was carrying a shopping bag. At that point, Deputy Matt Koval had arrived on scene to assist, so Det. Sajdak went into the store to talk with the owner. She confirmed Perez had just purchased an item using a $100 bill and had received $78.50 in change. She produced the $100 bill which was identical to the others found in Quinones’ wallet.
Both Quinones and Perez were arrested. Quinones was charged with possession of more than ten counterfeit United States bank notes – he had 19 fake bills in his possession. Perez was charged with uttering forged bills for her use of the fake money in the store. Both were booked into jail.
More charges may be pending. Investigations are continuing into their connection with other reports of fake $100 bills passed at Upper Keys businesses in recent weeks.
February 22, 2016
Armed man confronts deputies
Sheriff’s deputies took a Marathon man into custody peacefully Friday after he pulled a gun on them as they tried to serve an active warrant.
Deputies Danielle Malone, William Daniels and Key Colony Beach Officer John Smith went to a home on 4th Avenue Ocean in Marathon just before 10 p.m. Friday. They were there to serve an arrest warrant on 43 year old David Williams.
Deputy Malone knocked on the door and Williams opened the door. When he saw she was a deputy, he tried to slam the door shut. Deputy Malone was able to grab the door and open it. Williams, who was just inside the door, began stepping backwards and raised a gun toward Deputy Malone.
Deputy Malone was able to take cover outside the door and yelled “gun” to let the other officers know Williams was armed. She then yelled for William to drop the gun and come out with his hands in the air.
At that point, Williams complied with orders and surrendered peacefully. The loaded firearm was located inside, on the couch. Williams later apologized for pointing the gun at the officers.
Williams was with the warrant; he was further charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
February 19, 2016
Man arrested for stealing truck
A homeless Key West man was charged Thursday with stealing a truck from where it was parked at the 39 mile marker of the highway.
The owner of the 2009 Dodge Ram 3500 truck told Deputy Todd Jones he parked it at the Ohio Bahia Honda Channel Bridge to take his morning walk. He put the keys in the gas cap compartment. As he was walking on the bike/walking path, he saw his truck pass him heading south on U.S. One. When he got back to his residence on Sunshine Key, he called to report the theft.
As Deputy Jones was taking the theft report, Sheriff’s Office dispatchers informed him that Key West Police had the stolen truck and a suspect in custody on numerous charges from an incident in the city of Key West. Deputy Jones responded to the Stock Island Detention Center where he additionally charged the suspect, 40 year old Chad Watson, with grand theft of a vehicle.
February 18, 2016
Man dies snorkeling offshore of Key Largo
A Cincinnati, Ohio man died while snorkeling offshore of Key Largo Wednesday.
65 year old Michael Schmidt and his wife were on board the 42 foot catamaran Reef Roamer, on a snorkeling trip. They were both in the water at about 2:45 p.m. when Schmidt began having trouble. Both the crew on the vessel and other snorkelers in the water heard Schmidt’s wife call for assistance. The vessel’s mate jumped in the water and swam to him, then towed him back to the boat performing rescue breathing on the way. Once on board the vessel, CPR was performed until the Coast Guard arrived on scene, after which they took over attempts to save Schmidt’s life.
The boat, escorted by the Coast Guard arrived at the Port Largo Homeowner’s Park at 3:20 p.m. At that point, paramedics from Key Largo fire rescue transported him to Mariner’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Store clerks cited for selling alcohol to a minor
On February 17, 2016, the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Division conducted an operation checking businesses that sell alcohol in the Lower Keys. Nine businesses were checked including restaurants, convenience stores and bars. Six of the businesses served alcohol to a minor during the course of the investigation. The clerks who sold the alcohol were issued a notice to appear in court before a Monroe County Judge.
The following Businesses and attendants were charged with the sale of alcohol to a minor:
February 16, 2016
Man arrested after taking backhoe for a dangerous joyride on the Seven Mile Bridge
The Seven Mile Bridge was closed to traffic for over three hours early today after a man dumped boulders on the roadway with a backhoe at the north end of the bridge. He then took the backhoe for a ride, traveling back and forth on the bridge for an hour and a half.
59 year old Carl Blahnik damaged the roadway and the sides of the bridge with the backhoe as he recklessly traveled first southbound, then northbound changing directions several times. Deputies following him with lights and sirens had to also reverse directions several times to avoid being struck by the backhoe. One deputy’s patrol vehicle was damaged during the pursuit. Deputies finally left the bridge for their own safety, also making sure all other vehicles exited the bridge as well.
Finally, at about 1:20 a.m., Blahnik drove off the north end of the bridge and waiting deputies threw Stinger Spike strips in front of the backhoe puncturing its tires. The vehicle came to a rest and Blahnik was arrested. He complained of pain in his shoulder and trouble breathing so he was taken to Fishermen’s Hospital before being taken to jail.
It took more than an hour and a half to clean the roadway of debris with the assistance of Florida Highway Patrol and make sure the bridge was safe. Traffic was finally allowed to resume just after 3 a.m.
Blahnik was charged with reckless driving, fleeing and eluding police, digging up or any way disturbing any street or highway (FL. Statute 316.2035.3), failing to register a motor vehicle and grand theft of a vehicle.
Blahnik was carrying a Wisconsin identification card at the time of his arrest, but an encounter deputies had with him Monday morning revealed he is possibly homeless and staying in a wooded area near Coco Plum Beach. It is believed the backhoe may have been taken from a construction site at Marathon City Park.
Two charged with reckless driving
Two Geiger Key residents were arrested Monday morning after a traffic enforcement deputy saw them driving recklessly at high rates of speed on the Boca Chica four lane in the Lower Keys.
The Sheriff’s Office has received numerous complaints from citizens about speeding in the construction zone on the four lane stretch of highway between Stock Island and Big Coppitt Key. The speed limit for the area has been set at 45 miles per hour while construction is being done.
On Monday morning, Deputy John McGee was on patrol at 8 a.m. on his motorcycle in that area when he spotted two vehicles – a green four door sedan and a blue pickup truck - traveling at over 85 miles per hour in that area. The vehicles appeared to be racing each other. The truck was behind the car, so Deputy McGee got behind the lead vehicle in an attempt to pull them both over. The woman driving the car – identified as 25 year old Melissa Bazley – refused to pull over. He pulled up to the driver’s side window, which was down, and motioned and yelled for her to pull over. She still refused.
Deputy McGee finally got both vehicles stopped. Bazely refused to produce her driver’s license, instead asking the deputy “why are you harassing me?” After repeatedly ordering her to produce her license, she continued to refuse. The male – identified as 24 year old Shaun Stevens – also began to get belligerent with the deputy, so he called for backup officers to assist.
Bazely had to be forcibly removed from her car because she continued to be completely non-compliant with all orders. Stevens was also resistive, and at one point as he confronted Deputy McGee, he stepped out into the roadway into oncoming traffic. Stevens at protested that they were “just speeding to get home” and asked why the deputy had to “harass them like that”.
Both of them were arrested and taken to jail. Bazley was charged with failure to obey a law enforcement officer, participating in unlawful racing and resisting arrest. Stevens was charged with participating in unlawful racing.
February 7, 2016
Man with neck injury airlifted to Miami
A man found in the street on Big Coppitt Key with a severe injury to his neck was airlifted to a Miami hospital for treatment of his injuries.
The victim, 39 year old Oleimys Clemente, was found in the street on Avenue D, Big Coppitt Key by his sister and a neighbor at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday. He was bleeding profusely from a neck wound, possibly caused by a broken bottle found nearby.
The victim’s sister, who lives on Avenue D, said she saw her brother arguing with two men just before finding him injured, in the street. The neighbor said he went outside his house to close his front gate and saw the victim, bleeding.
Clemente was taken to Lower Keys Hospital, then airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami for treatment of his injuries.
Sheriff’s Detective Patricia Garcia from the Major Crimes Unit responded and has been assigned to investigate the circumstances.
Marathon man charged with robbery
A Marathon man who robbed a woman was arrested early today.
The victim said she met 31 year old Phernando Hill at the Brass Monkey bar. He told her his name was Todd Johnson. She said they left the bar to go to her place to have sexual relations. She said he wanted to make a stop, and asked her for $200. She said she stopped at Tropical Apartments on 41st Street, but had changed her mind about giving him the money. She said she had the money in her hand and he grabbed it from her and jumped out of the car. As he jumped out, his hat fell off and was still in the vehicle.
The victim said she waited, but he didn’t return. She went into the apartments to try to find him, but couldn’t locate him. She was sitting outside the apartments honking the horn on her vehicle when deputies pulled up to find out what was going on.
Investigations revealed who Hill really was, and that his parents live at the apartment complex. Deputy William Daniels made contact with the manager of the apartments. She recognized the description given of Hill, but he could not at first be located on the property.
At 5:30 a.m. Sunday, the manager called the Sheriff’s Office and said Hill had just left the property, running toward U.S. One. He was located near the intersection of 41st Street and U.S. One. Several hundred dollars in cash was found in his pockets. He denied taking money from a woman. He said he’d been at Brass Monkey earlier in the evening, but claimed to have taken an On Time Taxi home. A check with On Time Taxi revealed his claims to be false.
Hill was arrested. He was charged with robbery and he was taken to jail.
Tattoos lead to man’s identity, arrest
A Marathon man who gave a false name to a Sheriff’s sergeant was correctly identified by his tattoos and was arrested Friday afternoon.
Sgt. Mark Maison was dispatched to check out suspicious people at the end of 37th Street in Marathon just before 4 p.m. When he arrived, he spoke with the five people who he found there, standing next to a parked truck. He recognized three of those who were there. He called the truck’s Pennsylvania tag into Sheriff’s dispatchers and asked for identification from the two people he did not know, a male and a female.
The woman produced a driver’s license from Pennsylvania. The man said he’d lost his ID, but gave his name as Dean Garner.
A check on the name Dean Garner did not return any information. The truck, however, was registered to a Joshua Garner who had a warrant from Pennsylvania for violation of parole on robbery charges. A description of Joshua Garner included several distinctive tattoos of clowns on his arm. The man who gave the name “Dean Garner” had those same tattoos.
Sgt. Maison called for backup officers and attempted to take Garner into custody. Garner struggled with him, broke away and jumped into the water at the end of the street. He initially refused to come out. The officers called for help from the U.S. Coast Guard. As they were en route, Garner exited the water and was taken into custody.
He was charged with resisting arrest and giving a false identification to a law enforcement officer. He was also charged with the outstanding warrant. He was booked into jail.
February 4, 2016
Deputy saves man who locked himself in car trunk
A Marathon Sheriff’s deputy saved a man who had fallen into his car’s trunk and become locked inside.
Deputy Seth Hopp was on patrol at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday when dispatchers said they had a report of a suspicious vehicle parked at Sombrero Beach. When the deputy arrived, he found a 1997Lincoln Continental with all its doors wide open, but the trunk was closed. As he approached the vehicle, he heard knocking coming from the trunk. Deputy Hopp announced himself as an deputy with the Sheriff’s Office and ordered the person in the trunk to come out.
The man in the trunk replied that he could not get out because he was locked inside.
Deputy Hopp opened the trunk and let the man out. The 32 year old Marathon man told Deputy Hopp he’d decided to go for a walk at the beach and when he returned to the car, he noticed his keys were missing. He said he was looking for the keys when he fell into the trunk, which then closed, locking him inside.
A small amount of marijuana was found in the car, in the open glove box, along with a small metal pipe. The man was given a notice to appear in court for possessing the illegal substance.
Deputy, FWC help deer escape from tree
A deputy on patrol on Big Pine Key in January helped a Key Deer stuck in a tree to escape.
Sheriff’s dispatchers received a call from a woman who said a small Key Deer was stuck in the fork of a tree. She said it looked like the deer tried to jump through and got stuck.
Deputy Dyllon Hansen responded to East Sandy Circle where he found the stuck Key Deer. According to the deputy, he and a Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer attempted to pull the deer out, pick him up, move him around, but the deer remained stuck. They called for more FWC officers to assist and when they arrived, the deer became so agitated at the number of people around, he finally got himself out of his predicament, struggling out of the tree himself.
The FWC officers, who deal with local wildlife on a regular basis, told Deputy Hansen they’d never seen a deer stuck in a tree before.
February 2, 2016
Man arrested on multiple charges, outstanding warrants
A Key West man wanted on numerous warrants was arrested Monday night after a domestic dispute on Stock Island.
Sheriff’s dispatchers received a call from a pizza delivery man at about 8 p.m. He said he was delivering food to a residence on 11th Avenue at 8 p.m. He said after knocking on the door, a woman and two children inside pleaded with him to call the police. He said he left immediately and called for help.
When Deputy Jorge Prince arrived, 30 year old Taurean Roberts had already left the residence. Robert’s 28 year old pregnant wife was inside, as were two children aged 8 and 13. They said Roberts had entered the residence through the laundry room door. He was carrying a large knife and was yelling “for his stuff”. When the children tried to call 911 for help, he threw their cell phones against the wall breaking them. He grabbed the 13 year old girl around the neck and pushed his wife against the television set, knocking her to the ground.
While deputies were there, Robert’s wife received a call with information that Roberts had gotten a ride in a white Mercedes with another woman who lives on 5th Avenue. Deputies responded to 5th Avenue and found the Mercedes in front of 5513 5th Avenue. Roberts was found hiding inside the residence, lying on the floor of one of the bedrooms.
He was arrested. He was charged with child abuse, aggravated battery by strangulation, obstruction of justice – preventing someone from calling 911 and aggravated battery on a pregnant person. He was also charged with outstanding warrants for fleeing and eluding police, three counts sale of cocaine, two counts use of a two way communications device to facilitate a felony, two counts driving with license suspended and failure to appear in court. The warrants are all related to cases by Key West Police.
As deputies were transporting him to jail, he made several threats against the woman and the two children. At one point he reportedly said “they better give me 50 years because I am going to make sure they get theirs.”
February 1, 2016
Man arrested for stealing boat
A man from Davie, Florida was arrested Sunday evening after he stole a boat from Islamorada.
A witness called the Sheriff’s Office just before 7 p.m. to report seeing someone steal his neighbor’s boat, a 16 foot Sea Rayder on a trailer. The boat was parked at Founder’s Park at the time it was stolen. The witness said the man who stole the boat was driving a silver two door BMW with tinted windows and distinctive rims on the tires.
Deputy Christopher Kilmurray, who was in the area of Dove Road and U.S. One north of the theft location, heard the notice to be on the lookout for the vehicle and began watching for it. He spotted it as it passed him and stopped the vehicle at the 95 mile marker of the highway.
The driver was identified as 39 year old Eduardo Tapenas of Davie, Florida. The passenger was a 17 year old female.
Upon questioning, Tapenas claimed he’d been texting the owner of the vessel trying to purchase it from him. He said they had an agreement and he was taking the boat to test it with the victim’s permission. Investigations revealed the story to be false. The victim had been corresponding with Tapenas, but had not given him permission to take the boat.
Tapenas was arrested. He was charged with grand theft, and use of a two way communications device to facilitate a felony crime. The 17 year old girl who was with him said they were friends and had come to the Keys to “look around”. Her mother was notified of her mother, who responded to pick her up.
Woman arrested for misusing 911
A Marathon woman was arrested after she repeatedly called 911 for non-emergency reasons.
51 year old Melodie Aycox called 911 repeatedly on Friday just before noon to complain that she could not buy a bus ticket, then to complain that a deputy refused to give her a ride to the bus stop.
Deputy Matthew O’Neill first met with her at the Marathon Visitor’s Center and explained to her repeatedly that she was misusing 911 and should only call the number for emergencies. He gave her the non-emergency number and tried to help her with her efforts to purchase a bus ticket. He finally explained to her where the nearby bus stop was to catch a bus to Miami.
Aycox berated him repeatedly, yelling and swearing at him. She called 911 numerous times and claimed her glasses were broken and she could not see, although the deputy could plainly see the glasses were not broken. She claimed to be blind, although at that time she had managed to cross the road on her own with no problems. She claimed she could not walk to the bus stop, although she had already walked past one bus stop and was approaching another.
He gave her a final warning, telling her she would be taken to jail. She said “take me to jail” and continued to yell at him and berate him, so he finally placed her under arrest and took her to jail, charged with misuse of the 911 system.