Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

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

Click here to read press releases on other Sheriff's Office events and occurrences


December 28, 2009

Woman arrested for damaging home, threats with a knife

Key Haven - A Cudjoe Key woman broke into a home, caused considerable damage by breaking things and threatened her boyfriend with a knife early Sunday.

Deputies responded to Evergreen Avenue at 1:45 a.m. The victim lives in the lower portion of the house. The upper portion is locked and he said no one is allowed inside. He told them his girlfriend had forced her way into the locked upstairs and was "getting out of control". He had a laceration on his face where he said she'd beaten him and he told them she'd threatened him with a knife and had slashed the tires on his car as well.

Deputies Chris Fraser and Peter Garcia went upstairs to investigate. They found evidence she'd forced open the front door. Inside, they found a large amount of broken glass and broken picture frames. A knife was found in the bathroom shower.

26 year old Marcella Venuto was found hiding on the porch. She was taken into custody. Inside her purse, Deputy Fraser located a plastic bag with marijuana inside.

Venuto was charged with Burglary, aggravated assault, battery, possession of marijuana and two counts of criminal mischief. She was booked into jail.

Detectives investigate jewelry store burglary

Tavernier - Sheriff's detectives are investigating a break in at DePaula Jewelers in Tavernier.

Suspects reportedly broke in through the roof of the business sometime between Saturday evening at 7 p.m., when the store was closed, and Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m. when the owner arrived at work. He said when he arrived he found the alarm system off and a mess inside the store. He looked toward the back and saw light coming in through a hole in the ceiling. At that point, he left the building and called 911 for help.

Detectives say suspects took jewelry from inside the store. It appears they tried to break into safes inside, but were unable to access them. Ongoing investigations indicate suspects probably committed the crime sometime between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Anyone who may have noticed suspicious activity during that time period or who may have information about this crime should call Detective Mike Wilkinson at 305-853-3211. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a substantial cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS or email tips may be submitted at

December 27, 2009

Woman charged with burglary

Key Largo - A Key Largo woman was arrested early today, charged with burglary and theft.

28 year old Rebecca Phelps is accused of entering a home at the 103 mile marker of the highway at 2:45 a.m. She told Deputy Sheila Swindle she went inside through an unlocked door because she wanted to talk to her ex-boyfriend who is dating a woman who lives there.

Once inside, she took a bag belonging to him, and several items belonging to the girlfriend, including a laptop and some jewelry. As she was leaving the house, the couple returned home and saw her.

Once they discovered the burglary, they called her and told her to return the stolen items. When she agreed, and returned the items, Phelps and the girlfriend got into a physical altercation. That is when deputies responded to the scene.

Phelps was arrested. She was charged with burglary and grand theft and she was taken to jail.

Homeless man arrested for breaking in to vacant house

A homeless man was arrested after he was caught inside a vacant home in Islamorada Saturday evening.

A man who lives in the area of Pippin Drive was checking the vacant house at 7 p.m. after his wife told him she'd seen a stranger "hanging around" outside of it. He found a bicycle near the back door and the door appeared to have been forced open.

He investigated further and found 37 year old Paul Osimo inside the house. When he confronted Osimo, Osimo fled on his bike.

Deputies responded to the report of a break in. The witness was able to give them a description of a man on a bike with a red backpack. Osimo was caught at a nearby convenience store. He was positively identified by the witness as the person he saw inside the vacant house.

The owner of the house was notified. He said he never gave anyone permission to be inside his home. Osimo was arrested and charged with criminal mischief and trespassing and he was booked into jail.

December 23, 2009

Homestead teen arrested for stealing car, possessing alcohol

Islamorada - A Homestead teen was caught in Islamorada Tuesday night, driving a stolen car with a cooler full of beer in the back.

Deputy Barney Sajdak was on traffic patrol at 11:20 p.m. at the 86 mile marker of the highway when he saw a dark blue Honda Civic tailgating a red Ford Expedition. He ran the Honda's tags and found out it had been reported stolen from Miramar, Florida. He called for more deputies because it appeared the two vehicles were traveling together and there were multiple people in them.

The vehicles were stopped at the 95 mile marker. The driver of the Honda, later identified as 18 year old Edilio Noda, gave the deputy a driver's license belonging to someone else at first. When confronted by the false ID, Noda finally gave his real name and admitted to having no driver's license. He was placed under arrest.

In the car, deputies found an open, partially consumed can of Bud Light on the driver's side floorboards. More beer was found in a cooler, filled with ice, in the trunk of the car.

The two others in the Honda and all the occupants of the Expedition were checked, and released. Noda was charged with grand theft auto, violation of the open container law, driving without a license, possession of alcohol by a person under 21 and falsely identifying himself. He was booked into jail.

December 21, 2009

Corrections Officer arrested - again

Lower Keys - A Corrections Officer currently suspended with pay following a domestic battery arrest on December 2nd has been arrested for violating an injunction by following his wife this morning.

According to reports, 43 year old Gregory Johnson allegedly followed 34 year old Kimberly Johnson as she left the gym on NAS Boca Chica at 8 a.m. She told Deputy David Lariz her husband followed her off the base onto Highway U.S. One southbound. She said he followed her on her bumper all the way to the intersection of College Road.

The injunction for protection issued by the court specifically states Johnson must stay 500 feet away from his wife, and 100 feet away from her car at all times. Johnson was arrested and charged with violation of the injunction. He was booked into jail.

Johnson, who has been with the Sheriff's Office for less than a year, was terminated from his employment today because he failed to successfully complete his year long probationary period with the Office.

December 17, 2009

Sheriff's Office participates in South Florida grow house operation

The Monroe County Special Investigations Narcotics Unit, Monroe HIDTA, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents participated in operation Reindeer Wednesday, a coordinated multi-jurisdictional marijuana grow house operation which took place throughout South Florida.

Acting on information about cultivation and possession of marijuana, Sheriff's Special Investigations detectives and ICE Agents arrested a number of Keys residents Wednesday.

Detectives then went to the Largo RV Park, lot #73D. They were given permission to search and found five marijuana plants growing in the bathroom. 24 year old Ronald Hancock was arrested for cultivation of marijuana.

In Islamorada, detectives served a search warrant at 201 Nautilus Drive. When they arrived, they could smell marijuana inside the home. Inside, they found 57 year old Steven Andrews. The search turned up four pounds of marijuana, prepackaged as if for sale; they also found drug paraphernalia and $6,300 in cash believed to be proceeds from drug sales. Andrews was arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of paraphernalia. His cash was seized for possible forfeiture.

In Marathon, detectives went to 700 43rd Street and knocked on the door. When the door was opened, they could smell marijuana inside. They secured the residence and obtained a search warrant. The search turned up 280 grams of marijuana, one gram of cocaine, several weapons and $3,500 in cash believed to be proceeds from drug sales. Brothers 20 year old Patrick and 21 year old John Branyan were arrested for possession of marijuana and paraphernalia; 19 year old Christopher Flingos was also there and was charged with possession of marijuana and cocaine. The cash was seized for possible forfeiture.

On Sugarloaf Key, detectives went to 19970 Flamingo Road where 44 year old Kenneth Jones gave them permission to search his home. They found 232 grams of marijuana and $930 in cash. Jones was charged with possession of marijuana and his cash was seized for possible forfeiture.

A total of five pounds of marijuana were seized, along with 12 marijuana plants, one gram of cocaine, three guns and $10,730 in cash. Seven people were arrested and booked into jail.

December 16, 2009

Door to door solicitors

Sheriff's Office dispatchers have received a number of phone complaints county wide about people going door to door selling magazines.

According to callers, the solicitors are extremely aggressive in their sales tactics. They use sympathetic stories, some claiming to be college students trying to go to school; some saying they are raising money for charity. In many instances, they try to get a resident to let them inside the house, ostensibly in the hopes that once they get in, they'll have more of an opportunity to sell their wares. In one case, a girl insisted she had to use the restroom in order to gain access. Fortunately, the homeowner was wise to her tactics, refused and told her where to find a public restroom nearby.

If someone knocks on your door and tries to sell you something, you have the right to refuse them and ask them to leave your property. If they become insistent or refuse to take this as an answer, tell them you are going to call the Sheriff's Office to report them. Under no circumstances should a person ever allow a stranger into their home.

December 15, 2009

Alarm call leads to burglary arrest

Key Largo - A man from Port Orange, Florida was arrested Monday, caught in the act of burglarizing a home on Andros Road in Key Largo.

Deputy George Rosemeyer responded to an alarm call on Andros Road. He met a friend of the owner at the home and they checked the outside of the residence, which appeared to be secure. They left the scene, but returned when the alarm went off again a few minutes later.

When the arrived, they saw 58 year old Robert Boston walk out of the laundry room door. Boston told Deputy Rosemeyer he lived in the house and produced a key, which he said was given to him by the owner although he didn't know the owner's name. Deputy Rosemeyer checked the inside of the residence and found the master bedroom window unlocked. A kitchen drawer which held keys was ajar. From the evidence at the scene, it appears Boston climbed through the window, setting the alarm off the first time. He then found the house key in the drawer, using it to open the laundry room door, setting the alarm off the second time.

The owner of the house denied knowing Boston or giving him a key. Boston was arrested, charged with burglary and theft and he was taken to jail.

Man arrested for March boat burglary

Plantation Key - An Islamorada man was arrested today, charged with burglarizing a boat in March of this year.

According to reports by Detective Jason Madnick, he received information from a source that 24 year old Richard Sypek had stolen a radio, amplifier, speakers and other stereo equipment from a boat, kept at an Islamorada Yacht Club. After Sypek was arrested in the early morning hours Monday on traffic related charges, Detective Madnick obtained a search warrant to search his car, because that is where the source said the stolen equipment was.

In the car, detectives found the stolen amplifier. The serial number had been removed, but a second hidden serial number was located and matched that of the one stolen in March. Sypek, who was already in jail, was confronted with the evidence against him and he admitted to committing the burglary. He was charged with burglary, grand theft and removing a serial number.

December 11, 2009

Stock Island man arrested for burglary, robbery

Stock Island - A Stock Island man is in custody, charged with breaking in to a home, stealing several items and then robbing the victim when she caught him in the act.

Deputies Evan Calhoun and Jon Riggs responded to an alarm call at a Maloney Avenue residence at 2:40 a.m. When they arrived, they found a woman who lives there standing in the front yard with a man later identified as 34 year old Garry Chrycy. Also in the yard, piled against the fence, the deputies saw two televisions and a pry-bar.

At first, the woman told them everything was all right. Chrycy told them he witnessed a black male breaking into the woman's residence and chased him away. Deputy Calhoun asked him for identification. Chrycy reached into his back pocket and pulled out a portable Playstation. He quickly returned it to his pocket and pulled out a wallet, handing it to the deputy. In the wallet was identification belonging to the woman's boyfriend, who is not Chrycy.

At that point, Deputy Calhoun became suspicious of Chrycy's story and placed him in handcuffs. After he was secured, the woman told the deputy what really happened.

She said she woke up to find Chrycy in her bedroom, stealing her television set. She confronted him. He told her he would shoot her if she didn't give him money. Chrycy was holding her TV and had her purse hanging on his arm at the time and she told him the money was in the purse. He handed it to her, she pulled out some cash and gave it to him. She then followed him outside. She saw that her living room television was missing as well and, when she got outside, she saw her living room television set outside. The front door had been pried open with a pry bar, which was also outside.

Chrycy picked up the pry bar in his hand and she said it looked like he was going to hit her with it when deputies arrived. She said he quickly threw the pry bar away and told her if she told the police what happened, he would kill her. She said that is why she did not initially tell Deputy Calhoun what happened - she was afraid.

Deputy Calhoun asked the victim if she recognized the portable Playstation Chrycy pulled out of his pocket; she said it belongs to her three children, who were sleeping inside. The wallet belonged to her boyfriend, and had been in the living room, along with his cell phone. The cell phone was also found in Chrycy's pocket. Deputies also found the cash the victim gave him. When confronted with the evidence against him, Chrycy denied it all: he said he didn't break in, and didn't steal all the items found in his pockets.

Chrycy was charged with aggravated assault, grand theft, robbery, criminal mischief, burglary and possession of burglary tools.

December 10, 2009

Key Largo teen arrested for aggravated battery

Marathon - A Key Largo teen was arrested Wednesday night, charged with hitting another teen in the mouth with what turned out to be a pellet gun.

According to the victim and witnesses, 19 year old Joseph Lindsey was in the vicinity of the 240 Sombrero Road apartments at about 9 p.m. talking with a group of people when he suddenly pulled out what looked like a 9mm Beretta pistol and hit the 18 year old victim in the mouth with it.

Someone called 911 for help. When deputies arrived, they found a crowd gathered in the parking lot. One of the witnesses told the officers the suspect they new by the nickname of "Scooter" had fled toward a nearby bus stop. Lindsey was apprehended at the bus stop and taken into custody.

The victim was transported to Fishermen's Hospital where he was treated for injuries to his mouth, including the loss of several teeth and cuts and bruises to the inside of his mouth and his lips. The gun was recovered from a dumpster and turned out to be an airsoft pistol which looks just like a 9mm Beretta. Lindsey was charged with aggravated battery and he was booked into jail.

December 9, 2009

Detectives ask for the public's help with business burglaries

Big Pine Key - Detectives say they need information from the public to solve a series of three business burglaries in the Big Pine Key area.

The first burglary took place at Five Brothers on Ramrod Key on November 20th. An unknown suspect threw a rock through the glass door, taking two jars of change from inside.

On November 21st, someone threw a rock through the glass door at Joe's Cash Flow Pawn Shop on Big Pine Key. 14 cartons of Poker Light and Poker Full Flavor cigarettes were taken, along with watches, earrings, and necklaces.

On December 6th, someone threw a rock through the glass door at Paradise Petroleum on Big Pine Key; the suspect filled a 32 gallon garbage can full of cigarettes including 501s Parliaments and Marlboros. The owner estimates 120 cartons were taken.

Detectives say they believe the three crimes are connected. They are asking everyone to watch out for anyone selling cigarettes. Please call Detective Diane Mimosa at , the Sheriff's Office, 305-745-3184, with any information about these crimes. If you wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If your tip leads to an arrest, you will be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS or on line at

December 6, 2009

Tavernier man arrested for vehicle burglaries

Tavernier - A Tavernier man is under arrest today, charged with burglarizing several vehicles on Oleander Drive in Tavernier.

Witnesses who live on the street called the Sheriff's Office at 2 a.m. today to report seeing a man entering cars in their neighborhood. When Deputy Edgar Piniero and Sgt. Derek Paul arrived, they spotted 21 year old Alexander Acs. They observed him as he wandered in and out of yards, and then got onto his bike and rode it down the street.

When Deputy Pineiro ordered Acs to stop, he fled on his bike. When Sgt. Paul ordered him to stop or he'd be tased, Acs jumped off his bike and continued to flee on foot, so the Sgt. Used his Taser, knocking him to the ground.

In his pockets, the officers found a GPS and a pair of Oakley sunglasses. Acs admitted to taking the GPS from a 2008 Honda SUV. Witnesses also told the officers they saw Acs enter three other vehicles.

Acs was arrested and charged with four counts of vehicle burglary. He was booked into jail.

Suspicious activity, traffic stop leads to drug arrest

Marathon - A deputy who first saw suspicious activity, then performed a traffic stop arrested a Marathon man for Marijuana possession Saturday night.

Deputy Nicholas Whiteman was on traffic patrol near 112th Street at 9 p.m. when he saw two vehicles pull up next to each other, driver's side to driver's side, and stay that way for approximately 10 minutes. When they separated, one of the vehicles then pulled up to U.S. One and sit stationary for several more minutes before pulling out.

The silver Dodge truck had it's tag light out, so Deputy Whiteman pulled the truck over. When he approached the driver's window, he could smell a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside. He called for back up officers.

Deputy Whiteman asked the driver, 23 year old Andrew Flis, to get out of the car. He told Flis he could smell marijuana and asked where it was in the car. Flis admitted he had marijuana in the center console and under the passenger seat. The 16 year old female passenger was also removed from the car and a search turned up 35 grams of marijuana in the two locations.

Flis was arrested. He was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell and he was taken to jail. The 16 year old was turned over to the custody of her mother.

December 5, 2009

Big Coppitt Key man flees on motorcycle

Big Coppitt Key - A Big Coppitt key man was arrested Friday afternoon after he fled from deputies in a traffic stop.

Deputy John McGee was performing a traffic stop at the 8.5 mile marker of the highway at 3:30 p.m. Friday. Deputy Jacek Szymanski was also there, watching for violations of Florida's Move Over law. The Move Over law requires drivers to move over one lane or slow down to 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit when passing a police vehicle with it's emergency equipment activated.

38 year old Chad Nettles rode by the traffic stop northbound and failed to comply with the Move Over law, so the deputies attempted a traffic stop of him, but he failed to stop. He fled over the Rockland Key bridge, passing in no passing zones at a high rate of speed. Once on Big Coppitt Key, he turned into a vacant lot n an attempt to continue his flight. He lost control of the motorcycle, however, and ran it into some mangroves. He jumped off and began running, but the deputies caught up with him, taking him into custody.

Nettles had no valid driver's license and no motorcycle endorsement. He was not wearing eye protection when riding. He was placed under arrest.

He was charged with Reckless driving, fleeing from police, resisting arrest, driving with license suspended, and was cited for no headlights, no eye protection, violation of the Move Over act, no rearview mirrors, passing in a no passing zone, improper display of a tag, unlawful speed and having no motorcycle endorsement.

Marathon man charged with burglary

Marathon - A Marathon man was arrested Friday for burglarizing the AT&T Wireless store in Marathon.

The burglary took place on November 9th after the store closed. Deputy James Jenkins is the investigating officer on the case.

According to video from the store's surveillance system, 25 year old Winston Ellis entered the store through the front door, opened the safe and stole something from inside. He then wiped the safe down and left through the front door.

Ellis is a former employee of the store and still had a key and alarm codes for the premises. When the store manager audited funds in the safe, she found cash missing from it. Ellis later told Deputy Jenkins he entered the store and took the money. He said he "borrowed" it in lieu of a payroll check he was still owed.

Ellis was charged with burglary and grand theft and he was taken to jail.

December 4, 2009

Detectives arrest three for drugs on Summerland Key

gun and drugsSummerland Key - Detectives from the Sheriff's Special Investigations Division arrested three Summerland Key residents on drug charges Thursday evening.

Detectives operating in an undercover capacity originally went to the home at 25011 Overseas Highway on Summerland Key to serve an arrest warrant on a man they believed to be staying there named David Hunter. When they arrived, 23 year old Brian Mills answered the door. As they were speaking with Mills, 22 year old Norberto Blanco pulled up to the house next door. As Blanco got out of his car, Mills walked over to him. Blanco pulled a gun from his waistband and handed it to Mills.

At that point, detectives identified themselves as law enforcement officers. At gunpoint, they removed the gun from Mills' possession. Because Mills is on probation, he was placed under arrest. Blanco was also on probation; he also was arrested. In Blanco's vehicle, in the center console, they found 36 bags of cocaine.

Blanco's sister, Marlene, gave consent for them to search their house; inside they found 26 year old Johnaton Brown sleeping on the couch. A pat down search for officer safety revealed 9 bags of cocaine in his pants pocket; 69 grams of marijuana were found in the kitchen, along with cocaine residue and drug paraphernalia. Mills gave consent to search his house; inside detectives found 5 grams of marijuana and prescription drugs.

Blanco was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of a  firearm by a convicted felon, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving with his license suspended. Blanco is currently on probation for burglary with a firearm. Mills was charged with possession of marijuana, possession of firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a controlled substance. Mills is currently on probation for a misdemeanor. Brown was charged with possession of cocaine and possession of marijuana.

A 40 caliber pistol was seized along with 25 grams cocaine, 70 grams marijuana and 2 pills of Hydrocodone.

Boat stolen from Key Largo

Key Largo - A 48 foot Sea Ray boat was reported stolen from a home on Adam's Drive in Key Largo.

The owner told Deputy Tony Conde he last saw the vessel on November 16th. He said his neighbor called him to tell him his electric had been out at the house for some time and rotting items in the freezer were begriming to smell. When he got to the house to check on the situation, he found the boat gone.

He said he believes the boat to be valued at approximately $250,000.00.

Detectives are investigating.

Drunk man flees from deputies

Islamorada - A drunk man from Palm City, Florida fled from police, first in his vehicle and then on foot. Deputies had to pepper spray him and use a Taser before taking him into custody.

Deputy Yunier Galvez was on patrol at the 81.8 mile marker when he saw 42 year old Tracy White leaving Woody's bar. He saw him stumble as he crossed the street. The deputy tried to get close enough to stop him before he could get in his car, but White was able to begin driving away from the area.

Deputy Galvez attempted a traffic stop, but White fled. He ran through a security gate at Cheeca Lodge, then continued fleeing through the resort. He fled around the golf course area, then ran through a second security gate before jumping out of the car and fleeing on foot. Deputies caught up with him after he tripped over some pipes on the ground and fell down.

As they attempted to take him into custody, White struggled with them violently. Deputy BArney Sadjak used his pepper spray in an attempt to subdue White. White continued to struggle, so Deputy Galvez used his Taser. They were finally able to handcuff White and take him into custody.

White was booked into jail for driving under the influence of alcohol with damage to property; fleeing and eluding police; resisting arrest; driving with license suspended; and refusal to submit to a DUI test after a license suspension. He was booked into jail.

December 3, 2009

Corrections Deputy arrested by KWPD

Key West – A Corrections Deputy was arrested by the Key West Police Department Wednesday night, charged with domestic battery and child abuse.

Key West Police Officers responded to the Sigsbee Naval Air Station, where 43 year old Gregory Johnson lives with his wife and three children. When they arrived, both Johnson and his wife admitted to arguing. According to his wife and one of the children, he hit her during the course of the argument, and struck one of the children as well when the child tried to intervene in the argument. When his wife tried to call for help, he allegedly held her in a “bear hug” to keep her from dialing the phone. She managed to escape from his grasp and call 911 for help. Johnson was booked into the detention center shortly after his arrest at 10:15 p.m.

Johnson has worked for the Sheriff’s Office since January of 2009. He is currently assigned to the Stock Island Detention Center as a Corrections Deputy. He has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation into the circumstances of his arrest.