Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

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


Click on the highlighted headlines to hear an audio recording of the story

December 29, 2004

Marina manager arrested for grand theft

Key Largo-Monroe County Sheriff’s detectives arrested 31-year old Mark A. Vera in connection with an alleged plot to stage a burglary to cover up the unauthorized use and damage to one of the marina’s rental boats. An anonymous caller tipped off detectives to the plot. The caller stated that Vera, who manages the marina, was going to take a rental boat from the marina Tuesday night in order to tow another rental boat that he taken from the marina several days ago. The caller stated that Vera had damaged that rental boat and he wanted to take it to deep water to sink it and cover up both incidents with the staged boat burglary.
Sheriff’s detectives contacted the owner of the marina who stated that Vera did not have permission to take any of the boats. Detectives set up surveillance at the marina last night. The officers observed Vera as he arrived at the marina around 8 p.m. after closing hours. Vera used a forklift to put a rental boat in the water and proceeded to motor out of the marina. Detectives apprehended Vera, who led them to the location of the other rental boat. Vera told detectives that the first rental boat had broken down and he was just using the second rental boat in an effort to tow it back to the marina. However, the marina owner told detectives that Vera did not report the first incident and did not have permission to take either boat. The manager stated he wanted to press charges. Detectives arrested Vera on charges of two counts of grand theft. He was booked into the jail at Plantation Key. Bond was set at 25 thousand dollars.

Drug dealer arrested

Stock Island-Sheriff’s deputies, conducting surveillance in an area know for drug dealing, arrested 65-year old Lazaro Mazorra on charges of possession of cocaine with intent to sell. Deputies observed Mazorra around three a.m. Wednesday as he exchanged objects with another man through a fence of a carport on Fifth Avenue. The other man quickly left and the deputies, who were on foot patrol, walked up to Mazorra. The deputies observed three pieces of what appeared to be crack cocaine near where Mazorra was sitting. The pieces subsequently tested positive for cocaine. Mazorra consented to a search of his clothing. The deputies found 239 dollars in cash that was folded up small enough to fit through the chain link fence. Deputies arrested Mazorra and booked him on drug charges at the County Detention Center.

December 28, 2004

Ramrod Key search warrants

Acting on Crime Stopper tips and neighborhood complaints, Sheriff’s investigators served search warrants at two Ramrod Key residences, resulting in three arrests and seizure of drugs and narcotics paraphernalia.
Members of the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Unit, detective division and road patrol converged on the first house on Mariposa Road shortly after seven p.m. Monday. 72-year old Malcolm Nathan was arrested on charges of possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia. Officers found small amounts of cocaine in tin cans, plastic baggies and pill bottles. Sheriff’s officers also arrested 40-year old Steven R. Kline, who was at the house when the search warrant was served. Kline was taken to jail on charges of being a felon in possession of firearms. Officers found a 38-caliber pistol and a nine-millimeter handgun in his automobile. Both Kline and Nathan were booked into the County Detention Center.
After completing the first search warrant, Sheriff’s officers moved to another Ramrod Key location. The second search warrant targeted the residence of 44-year old Lori L. Morris on Dolphin Road. Officers seized a crack cocaine rock, several containers with cocaine and marijuana residue and narcotics paraphernalia, including three crack cocaine pipes, digital scales, glass pipes and metal mesh filters. Morris was arrested on charges of possession of cocaine, possession of a controlled substance and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

December 27, 2004

Two arrested in connection with Key Haven car burglary

Sheriff’s deputies arrested 16-year old Dontrell A. Holloway and 15-year old Joseph P. Stickney in connection with the burglary of a vehicle on Key Haven last Friday morning. Deputies were initially called to the area around three a.m. after a resident spotted someone rifling through their parked car. Deputies spotted and detained two juveniles who were riding bikes without lights in the area. A gold key chain and a set of keys were on the ground near the two youths. The chain and keys were reported taken from the burglarized vehicle. Deputies canvassed the neighborhood and recovered the victim’s purse, which was also reported taken from the car. Holloway and Stickney were arrested on charges of burglary of a conveyance, grand theft and possession of stolen property. Deputies also recovered jewelry, sunglasses and car radio parts that were stashed under a truck in the area. Another Key Haven resident reported those items taken from a parked car that same morning. Deputies could not tie that car burglary to the two suspects. Deputies also stopped three other juveniles who were riding bikes in the area early Friday, but after questioning they were released due to lack of evidence that they were involved in the burglaries. In both burglaries, the residents left their vehicles unlocked. Sheriff’s Neighborhood Crime Watch Program Coordinator, Deputy Emil LaVache, reminds residents to always lock their vehicles and to keep valuables locked in the truck and not in plain sight.

Aggravated battery arrest

Sheriff’s deputies responded to a family disturbance in Marathon early Christmas morning, resulting in the arrest of 25-year old Curtis B. Welch on charges of aggravated battery. When the deputies arrived at the scene, Welch was brandishing a knife. The Deputies drew their weapons and ordered Welch to drop the knife, which he did. However, deputies had to pepper spray Welch before they could handcuff him. A neighbor told deputies that Welch approached him in an aggressive manner and swung at him with the knife. The neighbor said the knife cut him on the back. The neighbor told deputies that he wanted to press charges. While transporting Welch to the Marathon detention center, he tried to kick out the patrol window and at the jail, deputies had to place him in a restraining chair. Welch was also charged with criminal mischief and resisting an officer

December 22, 2004

Cable equipment stolen in the upper Keys

Upper Keys - A company contracted by Comcast cable to install new fiber optic cable in the upper Keys reported Monday that a large amount of fiber optic equipment was stolen.

Six fiber optic nodes used to switch signal from fiber optic cable to coaxial cable were taken from their installation points between the 86 and the 105 mile markers of highway U.S. One. Each node is valued at approximately $2,500.00. They were removed sometime between December 17th and the 20th. The nodes are enclosed in a large steel case which can only be opened by loosening six large bolts on each case.

Anyone with information about this case can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers may remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward if the tip leads to an arrest in the case. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

Miami man arrested for transporting large amount of gasoline

Key Largo - A Miami man was arrested Tuesday after he was caught in his truck pulling a boat with no registration numbers loaded with barrels full of gasoline.

A Border Patrol agent observed the truck at 3 p.m. Tuesday, pulling the boat trailer traveling southbound on Card Sound Road near the intersection of State Road 905. He followed it to the intersection of U.S. One in Key Largo and stopped it. When he got out to investigate, he smelled a strong odor of gasoline. The driver, 36 year old Mario Rodriguez-Perera told him the boat belongs to a friend of his in Miami. He said he drove the boat to Key Largo to fill it with gas and then he was returning to Miami.

Upon further inspection, the agent observed 12 plastic barrels on board, each filled with 20 gallons of gasoline. The vehicle and vessel were escorted to the Islamorada Coast Guard station for further investigation and Lt. Tom Brazil responded to assist.

Lt. Brazil placed Rodriguez-Perera under arrest for illegal transportation of the fuel and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. The boat, a 32 foot Renegade, and the trailer were seized, along with his 2004 Dodge truck.

DUI driver backs into deputy's patrol car

Marathon - A driver, under the influence of alcohol, was pulled over by a Sheriff's deputy Tuesday in the early morning hours. During the traffic stop, the driver backed into the deputy's patrol car.

At 3:10 a.m. Tuesday, Deputy Mark Eastty saw 36 year old Paul Whitfield driving his grey van erratically on U.S. One near 80th Street in Marathon. He pulled him over after the van turned right on 89th Street, then left on Ocean Terrace. Deputy Eastty exited his patrol car and began to approach the van. As he was approaching, he saw the van was in reverse and was backing up toward him and his car. The deputy jumped out of the way and yelled for Whitfield to stop, but the van hit the patrol car, causing minor damage.

Whitfield was ordered out of his van. He reportedly smelled strongly of alcohol and he admitted to drinking. He said he was coming home from a Christmas party. He refused roadside sobriety exercises and refused to take a breath test. He was placed under arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol, violation of a corrective lense restriction on his license, improper backing, failure to maintain a single lane and refusing to sign a citation. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

December 20, 2004

Homestead man arrested for transporting fuel

Saddlebunches - A Homestead man, pulled over after a deputy thought he observed a domestic dispute between he and his wife, was arrested after he was found to be transporting barrels of gasoline in his car.

Off-duty Deputy Matt Dowling saw the man and his wife out of their car at the 12 mile marker Saturday at 4:20 p.m. He radioed Deputy Paul Schultz and said it looked like the two were having a domestic dispute of some sort. He saw them get back in their car and begin driving northbound. Deputy Schultz pulled them over at the 13 mile marker to make sure everything was okay. Deputy Dowling stopped as well, as back up for Deputy Schultz.

The driver, 61 year old Orlando Monserrat, got out of the 1998 Ford Explorer and walked to the back of his vehicle smoking a cigarette. His wife, who remained in the vehicle, was also smoking. Upon approaching the Explorer, Deputy Schultz immediately smelled a strong odor of gasoline. When he looked inside, he saw three blue plastic barrels inside. Monserrat told him the barrels were full of gasoline. Monserrat's wife was immediately removed from the Explorer and everyone waited at a safe distance until Fire/Rescue units arrived at the scene. Closer examination revealed the gasoline, in three 25 gallon drums full to capacity, was leaking from the barrels and the rear interior of the vehicle was saturated in the fluid.

Monserrat was arrested and charged with transporting dangerous material and reckless driving for having what the deputies said was reckless disregard for the safety of his passenger or for the safety of other's on the roadway. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Man arrested for possession of marijuana

Marathon - A Clewiston, Florida man was arrested Saturday in the early morning hours for possessing 162 grams of marijuana.

Deputy Chuck Kellenberger and Key Colony Beach Officer Ken Fricke were in the vicinity of Dion's Quik Mart in Marathon at 2:20 a.m. when Officer Fricke was flagged down by a citizen who had information about drugs in a nearby vehicle. Deputy Fricke approached the car, backed up by Deputy Kellenberger. There were five people inside.

The officers immediately smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from the car. Deputy Kellenberger looked inside and saw a gallon size plastic bag on the floorboards by the driver's feet. In the gallon bag were five smaller bags of a green leafy substance which later tested positive as marijuana. The small bags were packaged as if for sale. The driver, 18 year old Jesus Moya of Clewiston, Florida, was arrested for possession of the illegal substance.

A further search of the vehicle turned up more marijuana, more plastic bags like those used to package the marijuana, and a scale like those commonly used to weigh the drug. Total marijuana found was 162 grams. Moya was charged with possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Boca Raton woman reports sexual battery

Key Largo - A 30 year old Boca Raton woman called the Sheriff's Office Friday morning to report being sexually battered on a boat off of Key Largo.

The woman said she got into a fight with her boyfriend Thursday night and went to a Key Largo bar. She said she met up with a group of people and went to a party on board a boat at a Key Largo marina. The victim is unclear about the details of what happened to her. She says she was hit on the head and woke up later to find a man on top of her, raping her. She's not sure if the rape took place on the same boat where the party was, or on another boat.

She said after the rape occurred, someone threw her from the boat onto another smaller boat. She isn't sure what happened after that, but she thinks she wound up in the water and swam to shore and returned to the room she was staying in with her boyfriend. He called the Sheriff's Office.

The victim doesn't remember much about her attacker. She says he was unshaven, and had bad teeth and had no chest hair. Detectives are investigating the case.


December 13, 2004

Search warrant results in two arrests

Key Largo - Detectives from the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Unit arrested two people and seized drugs and cash Friday evening on Key Largo. The detectives served a search warrant at the mobile home on Mockingbird Lane. The search yielded six plastic bags with small amounts of powdered cocaine, narcotics paraphernalia that tested positive for narcotics residue and 582 dollars in cash. Detectives arrested the residents identified as 32-year old Carlos A. Chavez and 26-year old Kristine Ann Wojtas. Both of the Key Largo residents were booked into jail at Plantation Key on charges of possession of cocaine, possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

December 8, 2004

Teens arrested for robbing homeless man

Marathon - Two 17 year old boys were arrested Tuesday night for knocking a homeless man off of his bike and stealing it from him.

Deputy Mark Eastty was approached by 50 year old Marino Sanchez at 11:20 p.m. Sanchez reported to him in Spanish, with a friend interpreting, that he'd been pushed off of his bicycle by two young males who then rode off on the bicycle. He indicated that the two boys could be found at Winn Dixie Plaza.

The deputy went to Winn Dixie Plaza and found 17 year old John Hernandez and 17 year old Yoandy Cancio sitting in front of the store. When questioned, the boys denied pushing Sanchez off the bike but admitted to taking it. They said Sanchez told them they could have it. Sanchez identified the boys as the ones who pushed him. He suffered a large abrasion on his arm when he fell off the bike. He refused medical treatment for the injury. His bicycle was returned to him.

The boys were arrested and charged with robbery and theft. They were booked at the Monroe County Detention Center.

December 7, 2004

Sheriff's Detective saves woman's life on Florida's Turnpike

Note: A photo of the detective is not available at this time. Click here to download a copy of the Florida Highway Patrol report of the accident.

Miami-Dade County - On Friday, December 3rd, Monroe County Sheriff's Detective Peter Chong-Yen was returning home from a week long undercover operation in New York City. He'd flown into the Fort Lauderdale International Airport and was on the Florida Turnpike near mile post 38.9 in Miami when he saw a black Ford Escort station wagon go airborne from a collision. The car went off the southbound shoulder of the turnpike where it struck an embankment, launching into the air and landing in the center of a roadside canal.

Detective Chong-Yen immediately pulled over across five lanes of traffic and ran over to the scene where he saw 68 year old Mary Faveron, of Miami, in the driver's seat. The vehicle was partially submerged and was sinking fast. Detective Chong-Yen and another male passerby dove into the canal and swam to the vehicle.

As the detective reached the car, water began entering the open windows and the car sank quickly, trapping Faveron inside. Detective Chong-Yen dove down and reached the car, which had settled to the bottom in approximately six to eight feet of dark, murky water. According to Chong-Yen's own account of the incident, he could not see and had to feel his way for the window and pull the woman out of the car and to the surface. He and the other man were then able to bring Faveron to shore.

Faveron reportedly suffered no serious injuries and was treated and released by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue units. Chong-Yen said the woman's daughter arrived on the scene and thanked him for his actions, wishing him a wonderful holiday and happy Christmas season. According to Chong-Yen's written account, he told her "I have just received the best Christmas present I could have ever asked for."

Chong-Yen is a detective with the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, assigned to the South Florida Money Laundering Strike Force based out of Miami. Prior to working for the Sheriff's Office, he spent 15 years working as a trooper with the Florida Highway Patrol in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties. Colonel Rick Ramsay will be recommending that Chong-Yen receive the Monroe County Sheriff's Office Medal of Valor for his life saving actions.

Man arrested for DUI wanted in Broward County for same charge

Marathon - After five people called to report a man swerving on the roadway, deputies stopped the vehicle and arrested the driver for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Dispatchers received five phone calls from drivers who spotted the 1992 Ford Van swerving dangerously as it drove southbound from the Long Key bridge. Deputy Louis Rivera spotted the car near Coco Plum Road in Marathon just before 8 p.m. He saw it swerve in it's lane of traffic before pulling in to a gas station and stopping. The deputy stopped as well to check out the driver's condition.

31 year old Martin Schriber of Daytona, Florida reportedly smelled of alcohol as the deputy approached him. He swayed and had trouble standing, and when Deputy Rivera glanced into the van, he saw an open can of an alcoholic beverage inside. Schriber was given field sobriety exercises which he could not perform properly. He was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. A check on his name in computers revealed an outstanding warrant from Broward county for four counts of driving under the influence of alcohol with property damage. He was further charged with that warrant.

An inventory search of his vehicle turned up marijuana, drug paraphernalia and eleven Xanax pills. Both Schriber and the passenger, 22 year old Maia Gale of Deland Florida, were charged with possession of the marijuana and the Xanax and they were booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Woman arrested for DUI fights with deputies

Key Largo - A Vero Beach woman driving with no license was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol shortly after midnight today (Tuesday). More charges followed after she struggled with deputies.

Deputy John Perez spotted the Black Nissan Altima southbound at the 99 mile marker shortly after midnight and saw that it had no tag light. He pulled it over at the 98 mile marker of the highway. When he asked for Rebecca Ayers license, she said she had none. She said it had been suspended for a previous D.U.I. Deputy Perez smelled alcohol coming from the vehicle, and asked Ayers if she'd been drinking. She admitted to drinking alcohol earlier in the evening.

Deputy Perez asked Ayers to remain in her car and he returned to his patrol vehicle to do a records check. Ayers got out of her car and was instructed to get back inside. Deputy Perez called for back up and, as Deputy James Fitzgerald arrived, Ayers got out of her car again, this time with her coat and purse, and began walking away. She was told she was under arrest and she began to flee the area. The deputies were able to grab her and handcuff her. She struggled, kicking at Deputy Perez and fighting the two officers. They finally managed to put her in the back of a patrol car. She continued her struggles in the back of the car and deputies had to use a Hobble restraint to confine her arms and legs.

Once at the Detention Center, she continued to fight and had to be placed in a restraint chair to keep her from hurting herself or others. Ayers was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, having no tag light, no proof of registration, driving without a license, battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting an officer with violence.

December 6, 2004

Airport runway shut down for 1.5 hours due to landing gear malfunction

Key West - The Key West International Airport was shut down Sunday for an hour and a half due to a landing gear failure on a plane.

At 2 p.m., the pilot of the Cessna floatplane radioed the airport tower to report having trouble with his landing gear not working properly. He circled for a time, attempting to manually pump the gear down, but was unsuccessful. The plane belongs to Seaplanes of Key West, and the pilot is identified by Deputy Karl Beilmann as 63 year old Louis Tuzzolo.

The plane, carrying the pilot and two passengers, landed without incident on it's floats. The runway was closed to allow the landing and remained closed while the plane was removed from the tarmac.

No one was injured during the incident.

Homeless man arrested for burglarizing car

Marathon - A homeless Marathon man was arrested after a deputy on foot patrol spotted him rifling through a car in a grocery store parking lot Saturday in the early morning hours.

Deputy Chuck Kellenberger was doing a foot patrol of Winn Dixie Plaza at 1 a.m. Saturday, checking the security of businesses in the area. He spotted a man open the door of a jeep parked in the parking lot. The deputy said it looked like the man was going through the interior of the vehicle, so he approached to investigate.

When he shined his flashlight on 48 year old Gerard St. Jacques, the man turned around. The deputy asked him what he was doing and St. Jacques said he was looking for a cigarette lighter so he could smoke his cigarettes on the way back to his camp. St. Jacques was arrested and charged with burglary to a vehicle and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Drug Court burglarized - urine samples stolen

Islamorada - Detectives are investigating the theft of 23 urine samples from the Monroe County Drug Court building on Porto Salvo Drive in Islamorada.

41 year old Lisa Winne reported to work Friday morning and found someone had pried open the side door to the building, then had pried open an office door. Once inside the suspect removed the urine samples. Nothing else was found to be missing. The samples were taken from people on probation to determine if they are maintaining the requirements of their probationary status.

Drug Sting Operation leads to 11 arrests

Stock Island - Eleven people were arrested after an undercover operative working for the Sheriff's Office Special Investigations Division sold them imitation crack cocaine Friday night.

The sting operation took place in the vicinity of 5th Avenue on Stock Island between 7 and 11 p.m. People who approached the undercover operative asking for cocaine were sold an imitation substance and then were taken into custody, charged with solicitation to purchase cocaine. Arrestees included:

The Sheriff's Special Weapons and Tactics Team assisted in the operation.

Detectives arrest one after Search Warrant

Stock Island - Detectives from the Sheriff's Office Special Investigations Division arrested two people at a trailer on Laurel Avenue, Stock Island after a search warrant at the home turned up various controlled substances there.

The search warrant was obtained for #12 Waters Edge Trailer Park on Laurel Avenue, Stock Island after undercover operatives for the Sheriff's Office purchased drugs from the couple who lives there on several occasions. When detectives arrived at 3 p.m. Friday, they found both 52 year old Cesar Davila and 44 year old Kim Perez, inside the trailer. As they entered, they saw Davila run into the bathroom and begin flushing something down the toilet.

During the search, detectives found Oxycontin pills, crack cocaine, marijuana, other various pills and drug paraphernalia as well as over $300 in cash.

Both Davila and Perez were arrested on multiple charges, including some outstanding warrants from the previous drug sales made at the trailer. Davila was charged with sale of cocaine, possession of cocaine, marijuana, controlled substances and drug paraphernalia and destruction of evidence. Perez was charged with sale of a controlled substance, possession of cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

The Sheriff's Special Weapons and Tactics Team assisted in the operation, along with a K-9 team from the United States Coast Guard.

December 1, 2004

Murder suspect booked at Monroe County Detention Center

Rafael Chang, 41, of Miami - charged with three counts of Murder

Monroe County - Miami-Dade County murder suspect 41 year old Rafael Chang was booked at the Monroe County Detention Center overnight on a warrant out of that county for three counts of murder. Chang is currently being held at the jail facility on Stock Island.

At 10:51 a.m. Tuesday, Chang turned himself in at the Public Defender's Office on Plantation Key. Detectives from the Sheriff's Office were called and they transported Chang from that location to the Plantation Key jail. Detectives from Miami-Dade County responded to the Keys and interviewed Chang, after which he was booked on the warrants.

Details of the crimes in question should be obtained from Miami Dade County police. Chang will be transferred to Miami-Dade County to face the charges. The specific date and time of the transfer will not be released to the public due to security concerns.

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