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

September 26, 2005

Robbery at upper Keys Gas/Convenience store

The clerk at a Key Largo gas station and convenience store called 911 to report being robbed at gun point this morning (Monday).

The victim said a man wearing a t-shirt wrapped around his head walked into the store at 3 a.m. and pointed a handgun at him. The suspect robbed the clerk of cash, then fled on foot. Besides wearing the white t-shirt around his head, he was wearing green colored pants and gloves. He was estimated to be in his 20s, about 5'5" to 5'7" tall, thin and may have been Hispanic.

Detectives are investigating. Anyone who has information about this case can contact the Sheriff's Office at 853-3211. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a call to crime stoppers results in a felony arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

September 15, 2005

Crime Stopper tip nets federal fugitive

A Crime Stopper tip led Monroe County Sheriff’s deputies to the apprehension of federal fugitive, 50-year old Juan J. Barrios, at a residence on Summerland Key.

Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Luth took Barrios into custody without incident at a residence on John Street at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. A warrant check confirmed that Barrios, who was using the alias Juan Barrios-Marquez, was wanted out of Lake County, Florida on a federal warrant for violation of probation on a felony marijuana charge.

Barrios was taken to the county detention center on Stock Island where he will be held until picked up by agents of the U.S. Marshall’s Office. The anonymous Crime Stopper tipster will be eligible for a reward of up to one thousand dollars. Crime Stopper tips, so far this year, have assisted local law enforcement in 16 felony arrests, including the apprehension of six fugitives. The Crime Stopper tip line is 1-800-346-TIPS.

Sheriff's Office needs help with boat motor thefts

Yamaha 225 four stroke engines like these are particularly popular with boat motor thieves.

Sheriff's detectives say they are in need of the publics assistance tackling the ongoing problem of boat motor thefts.

So far this year, Detective Mike DiGiovanni says there have been approximately 73 boat motors stolen in the Keys. He says a particular problem is Yamaha engines, and the 225 HP Yamahas seem to be the most popular with thieves. - 44 of the stolen outboards have been Yamaha engines. The engine thefts take place throughout the Keys, but most of the large engines are stolen in the upper Keys. Thieves. target both boat yards and private homes. Detectives say the engines are being taken both from boats in the water and boats on trailers. Thieves. may be traveling on land or on the water.

"We really need people to keep their eyes open. If they see a truck driving down the road with an outboard engine in it, they should call us with a description, direction of travel and a license number if at all possible," Detective DiGiovanni says. "Even if it turns out to be someone legitimately transporting an engine, that's okay. We'll check them and they'll be on their way. But you never know when one phone call might help catch some of these people who are stealing these engines."

To that end, Crime Stoppers is offering a minimum of a $500 reward for information leading to the felony arrest of someone caught stealing a boat motor. If you see a theft in progress, call 911 immediately. After reporting the crime to 911, follow up with a call to the Crime Stoppers hot line.

The Sheriff's Office recommends that if you have a boat on a trailer, you park it in a location which makes it difficult for thieves. to see the engine, and to gain access to it. Back the boat in to a garage or carport if possible. There are alarms available as well. If you have a boat in the water or mounted on davits, make sure the area is well lighted at night.

September 12, 2005

Detectives target drugs on Stock Island

Detectives from the Sheriff's Special Investigations Division served a search warrant on Stock Island Friday, followed by a drug operation targeting people wanting to purchase crack cocaine.

The search warrant was served at 1:20 p.m. at an apartment at 5515 5th Avenue. During the search detectives found crack cocaine and a pipe used to smoke the illegal substance. 69 year old Antonio Herrera was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine and paraphernalia.

At 7:30 p.m., an undercover drug operation was set up in the same vicinity as the earlier search warrant, outside La Cuerva Grocery on 5th Avenue, Stock Island. Over a two hour period, undercover operatives sold crack cocaine to seven people who were subsequently arrested. The arrestees included:

Key West Police and the Sheriff's Special Weapons and Tactics Team assisted with the drug operation.

September 9, 2005

Repeat Robber caught as he flees from Bank

A Stock Island man was arrested for bank robbery today after he robbed the same bank two days in a row.

44 year old Joe Nicholson walked into First State Bank on Maloney Avenue, Stock Island at 10:40 a.m. today. He walked up to the teller, told her he was there yesterday and wanted to do the same thing today. He demanded all the money in her till and she complied. He the same man who walked into the same bank at 4 p.m. Thursday, handed the teller a note demanding money and she complied by handing over her cash.

Following today's robbery, Nicholson fled on foot and employees of the bank immediately notified the Sheriff's Office. Detectives were in the area investigating Thursday's robbery and were able to respond within minutes. They set up a perimeter around the area and began searching. Deputies also arrived and Nicholson was caught after Deputy Vincent Catala spotted him running through a nearby trailer park. Detectives pursued him, catching him a short distance away.

Detectives expect Nicholson to be charged with two counts of Bank Robbery today. Robbing a bank is a federal crime and falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Investigators from that agency are working with Sheriff's detectives on the case.

September 8, 2005

Bank Robbery

A suspect who passed a note demanding cash robbed the Stock Island Branch of First State Bank this afternoon.

Bank employees set off the bank’s alarm and called the Sheriff’s Office shortly before four p.m. No injuries were reported and the robber did not appear to be armed. Bank employees told investigators that the suspect, after taking the money, walked out of the building and then walked across McDonald Avenue.

Employees described the suspect as a white male, approximately six feet tall, who was between 35 and 40 years old and had long blonde hair that was braided and stuck under a light colored ball cap. The suspect was described as wearing a tan tee shirt and tan shorts.

Sheriff’s deputies set up a perimeter for several blocks around the bank, but could not locate the suspect. Anyone with information should call the Sheriff’s Office at 296-2424. Crime Stoppers will pay a one thousand dollar cash reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspect. Callers may remain anonymous. The Crime Stoppers’ hotline is 800-346-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be made on the internet at

September 6, 2005

Marathon man charged with firearm threats, impersonating an officer

A Marathon man was arrested Sunday night after he flashed a badge, identified himself as a law enforcement officer, and brandished a handgun in front of witnesses on the old Seven Mile Bridge.

A family, planning on fishing together on the bridge said they were unpacking their van when 24 year old Ellis Paul approached them just before 9 p.m. They said he was obviously drunk, and had some type of badge hanging around his neck. He demanded to see their fishing license and, when they told him to leave them alone, he said he had a gun and would shoot them if they came too close to him. Several others on the bridge said Paul had also harassed them, demanding to see their fishing licenses and going through their coolers taking things out of them. One witness said Paul had shown him a gun and threatened him with it. He said at that point another man approached and dragged Paul away, saying he "wasn't right".

When Sgt. Lionel Vargas and Deputy Ken Fricke arrived, they placed Paul under arrest. He admitted to having a badge, handing it over to the officers. The gun, a .22 caliber handgun, was found thrown underneath a car nearby. It was positively identified as the gun he was threatening people with. He fought with the officers, yelling that he had a right to check licenses, and that he owned the whole area from the Seven Mile Bridge to Coco Plum.

Paul was charged with aggravated assault, improper exhibition of a firearm, resisting arrest and impersonating a law enforcement officer. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Marathon man charged with robbery

A Marathon man was arrested Friday in the early morning hours, charged with robbery.

The victim told Deputy Robin Tanner and Deputy Derek Paul she was walking along the highway near 41st Street just before 6 a.m. when a man ran up and grabbed her purse from her arm. The victim chased him down 41st Street and saw him run into an apartment. She called the Sheriff's Office for assistance.

The deputies knocked on the apartment door and 23 year old Anthony Natta opened it. The victim identified Natta as the man who stole her purse. Although the purse was not recovered, cash was found in Natta's back pocket. Natta was arrested, charged with robbery, and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Miami man charged with stolen auto

A deputy who stopped a vehicle for speeding recovered an auto stolen from Miami-Dade County in May and arrested the driver Saturday morning.

Deputy John Perez clocked the black Honda Accord traveling northbound at 73 miles per hour near the 102 mile marker just before 6 a.m. When he pulled the car over, the driver claimed he couldn't find the insurance or registration because the car belonged to his sister. He said he had a valid driver's license, but couldn't locate it either. He claimed his name was Carlos Gonzalez and gave Deputy Perez a birth date and social security number.

Deputy Perez ran the name and date of birth with no results, and the social security number came back to a woman. The car's tag was checked and the tag turned out to be stolen. When back up officers arrived, Deputy Perez approached the passenger in the car and asked her who the driver was. She told the deputy the driver was her boyfriend, 30 year old Carlos Carbonell. A check of that named revealed his license had been cancelled. A check of the car's Vehicle Identification Number showed it to have been stolen in May from Miami-Dade County. Carbonell was arrested, charged with grand theft auto, driving without a license and falsely identifying himself to a law enforcement officer and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Man arrested for fleeing from deputies, reckless driving

A Key West man who fled from deputies at high speeds Saturday in the early morning hours was arrested after he finally pulled over on Sugarloaf Boulevard.

Deputies Brian Kibbe and Evan Calhoun were parked at the 7 mile marker of the highway just before 1 a.m. when they spotted the black Honda speeding northbound. Deputy Kibbe pulled out and attempted to stop the vehicle using his lights and siren, but it sped up. As he followed the car north, it appeared that the driver was begriming to lose control, swerving back and forth on the roadway. Finally the Honda turned off the highway on Sugarloaf Boulevard and pulled over the side of the road. The deputies ordered the driver out of the car. 53 year old Rex Mathews, who was dressed in a semi-transparent pink dress and high heels, told the deputies he fled from them because he was embarrassed about the way he was dressed.

Mathews was charged with fleeing and eluding police, reckless driving, and, after marijuana and smoking pipe were found in his purse on the front seat, he was charged with possession those illegal items as well. Mathews was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.