Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

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

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August 24, 2015

Sheriff’s employee arrested

An employee of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office was arrested over the weekend by the Florida Highway Patrol.

20 year old Joseph Silva was booked into jail on Saturday, charged with driving under the influence with serious bodily injury and driving under the influence with property damage. For details of the arrest, please contact FHP.

Silva has worked for the Sheriff’s Office since September of 2014 as a property clerk at the Stock Island Detention Center. His employment status is currently under review as a result of this arrest.

August 23, 2015

Caregiver arrested for leaving two disabled men in hot car

A 62 year old Big Pine Key woman was arrested Saturday afternoon after she left two disabled men she was caring for in a hot car while she shopped in K-Mart in Marathon.

A witness saw the two men sitting in the van shortly after 1 p.m.. The van was not running and had all the windows rolled up. He called the Sheriff’s Office. When Sgt. Marc Maison arrived, he could see the two men were in wheel chairs which were strapped to the floor of the van to keep them from moving. The men were sweating. He motioned to the men to roll down the windows, but got no response.

He was able to unroll the sliding side door, which was unlocked. As he was doing that, Luda Logash, their caregiver, came out of the store.

Paramedics were called to the scene and checked the two men out. They suffer from a disability which does not allow them to open the door, window or exit the vehicle by themselves. They were not harmed by the incident. Logash was arrested and charged with neglect of a disabled person. Sgt. Maison called for another responsible party to come and get them, and take them home to Big Pine Key.

August 22, 2015

Key Largo man shoots at Coast Guard, flees

A Key Largo man was apprehended Friday night after a chase on the water during which he shot numerous times at the U.S. Coast Guard.

Deputies were dispatched to 51 Shoreland Drive in Key Largo to Jules Undersea Lodge marina. Witnesses called to report 40 year old Daniel Szabo had a gun and was acting strangely. When Deputy Gil Gonzalez and Sgt. Sydney Whitehouse arrived shortly after 9 p.m., Szabo had already left on a dinghy. The witnesses said Szabo was intoxicated and had been waving a gun around and had held it to his own head before taking off in the dinghy.

Sgt. Whitehouse saw Szabo in the dingy as he left. He watched as Szabo headed out into the open water. The U.S. Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission responded by water to assist. They pursued Szabo’s dinghy. At one point during their attempts to apprehend him, Szabo crashed his dinghy into mangroves and fired his gun at the Coast Guard several times. He also rammed a Coast Guard vessel with his dinghy. At one point, as officers ordered him to surrender himself, Szabo yelled “shoot me!”

Szabo was finally safely apprehended and handcuffed. He was brought to shore where he was charged with fleeing and eluding police. A Coast Guard investigator responded to the scene and said his agency would be pursuing federal charges due to his firing a gun at the Coast Guard.

August 20, 2015

Two charged with business burglary

Two Homestead men were arrested after dispatchers received a report of suspicious persons at Amara Cay at the 80 mile marker of the highway.

Two men who work at Amara Cay were waiting for the bus at 11:20 p.m. Wednesday when they saw two other men taking televisions from inside a storage building. The resort is currently undergoing renovation and they have stored many items, including television sets, on a nearby property. They saw the two suspects load the televisions into a red colored sport utility vehicle and then leave, northbound.

Deputy Garrett Test spotted a red GMC Denali heading north at the Whale Harbor Bridge. He stopped the vehicle and found two men inside identified as 37 year old Teddrick Griggs and 35 year old Michael Bell of Homestead. Inside the Denali were seven flat screen television sets. The TVs were later identified as belonging to Amara Cay. The two witnesses positively identified Griggs and Bell as them men they saw taking the TVs from the storage building.

Griggs and Bell were both charged with burglary and grand theft. They were booked into jail.

Key Largo resident charged with vessel burglary

A 21 year old Hollywood man was caught burglarizing a vessel in Key Largo. He fought with the owner and then fled, but was later apprehended by deputies.

The victim told Deputy Deanna Torres he was inside his house on Coconut Row in Key Largo about 9 p.m. when he heard a noise coming from his boat, which was parked on a trailer in his driveway. He went outside and saw a man inside of his boat. The suspect – later identified as 21 year old Michael Polanco – jumped off the boat and began walking toward the victim. The victim told him to get on the ground and began yelling for his neighbors to call the Sheriff’s Office for help.

Polanco reportedly punched the victim in the face and the two began wrestling in the street. The victim said he was trying to hold the suspect there until deputies arrived. Polanco managed to break away when his shirt came off in the struggle. He jumped on his bicycle, which was parked nearby. The victim knocked him off the bike, but Polanco fled on foot.

When deputies arrived, they found a bonfire and a house party taking place just down the street. They asked the victim to see if he could spot the suspect at the party. As Deputy Cody Kerns and the victim were standing there, looking at the gathering, Polanco jumped a fence near them. Deputy Kerns shined a flashlight on him. The victim immediately identified him as the man on his boat, who had attacked him.

Polanco was arrested. He was charged with burglary with battery and with trespassing and he was booked into jail.

August 18, 2015

Detectives investigate boat burglaries

Detectives are investigating a large number of boat burglaries at a storage lot on Big Pine Key.

An employee of the storage lot, located on Industrial Road on Big Pine Key, called the Sheriff’s Office Monday morning when he arrived at work and discovered the crimes that had taken place over the weekend. He said he left work Friday at 5 p.m., and over the weekend suspects had burglarized boats stored on the lot.

While detectives are still working to determine what was stolen, it appears the suspects entered 54 boats. Many of the boats had plastic or canvas covers which were sliced by an unknown sharp object. It is unknown how many of the boats are missing property. Many boat owners live out of the county and must be contacted individually to see if they had any valuables on their boats.

Just a reminder that the Sheriff’s Office posted surveillance photos and videos of possible suspects in marine related crimes that have been taking place in the Middle and Lower Keys. Take a look at those photos and videos here to see if the suspects are anyone you know. There is a special reward amount being offered by Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys and the Sheriff’s Office. If information from a tipster leads to an arrest in these crimes, the caller will be eligible for a reward of up to $5,000.

Remember: tipsters can remain completely anonymous. Call the Sheriff’s Office at 305-481-8060. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted on line at or via a text message to 274637 using the keyword TIP136.

August 13, 2015

Stock Island man charged with business burglary

A Stock Island man, already in jail on multiple burglary charges, was charged with burglarizing a Stock Island grocery store in February. DNA evidence left at the scene led to his arrest.

On February 28th the owner of DeLuna Grocery on Maloney Avenue, Stock Island arrived at work to find the business had been broken into. Suspects had smashed a window on the side of the building to get inside. Once inside, they took over $3,000 worth of merchandise. One of the suspects also consumed a bottle of Mango juice, leaving the empty container behind.

Testing of the bottle turned up DNA which was identified as belonging to 24 year old Barrington Patterson III of Stock Island. Patterson, who was already in jail for multiple burglaries, was further charged with burglarizing DeLuna Grocery and charged with grand theft.

Reminder: We are still out patrolling on the water and land for marine violations

August 12, 2015

Two arrested after search warrant served

Two Big Coppitt Key men were arrested this morning after a search warrant was served at their residence.

Detectives from the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Unit served the warrant at 6 El Monte Lane at 6:30 a.m. There were five adults and four small children in the home at the time the warrant was served. While searching the residence, they located seven grams of cocaine, 53 Hydrochloride pulls, four Hydrocodone pills and $2,260 in cash. Drug paraphernalia of various sorts were also found, including digital scales, a mortar and pestle and strainer with suspected cocaine residue on them.

32 year old Juan Duarte Cordon  and 40 year old Pedro Ortueta Morales were both arrested and charged with possession of cocaine, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and possession of drug paraphernalia. The others in the residence were not charged. The Department of Children and Families was notified that the children were found in a home where there were drugs located.

Assisting in the service of the warrant was the Sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Unit, road patrol deputies, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security Investigations.

August 10, 2015

Man killed in crash of small plane

A man from Jupiter, Florida was killed in the crash of a small plane offshore of Marathon early today.

Shortly after midnight, Sheriff’s dispatchers received a call from a Marathon man who said he heard the plane crash off the gulfside of Marathon. The caller said he got on his boat and went to find out what happened. About a mile offshore of 63rd Street in Marathon he found debris and then found the body of 53 year old Edward Elgin, the only occupant of a 1973 single engine Piper aircraft, tail number N54380.

The U.S. Coast Guard and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission responded to the site on the water. They reportedly located the plane, fully submerged. The Federal Aviation Administration was notified and will be sending an investigator to the area to investigate the cause of the crash.

According to his family, Elgin was in the Florida Keys for lobster season.

August 9, 2015

Burglary attempt suspect identified using surveillance cameras

A man was arrested for an attempted business burglary after cameras on the property caught clear images of him committing the crime.

An employee of Curley’s Coffee  reported to work early Saturday and found evidence of the break in attempt. It appeared someone had tried to pry open a door and a window, doing approximately $500 in damage to the property in the process.

Deputies and detectives responded  to investigate. Cameras caught images of a man Sgt. Marc Maison and Detective Mike Selicki recognized as 49 year old Todd Matthis from prior law enforcement contact. Matthis had a crow bar in his hand, was carrying a bag over his shoulder and had something covering his hands during the break in.

When they interviewed Matthis at his home near the coffee shop, they found a shirt with the same design as one worn in the video by the suspect. They also found a bag, a crow bar and two dark colored socks which appeared to be what he was wearing on his hands in the video. Matthis was arrested, charged with attempted burglary, criminal mischief and possession of burglary tools.

Two arrested for vehicle burglary in Marathon

Two men were arrested after a witness saw them entering a car and stealing money from inside.

The witness called the Sheriff’s Office after he saw the two men burglarizing a car in the parking lot of Walgreens in Marathon at 5:45 p.m. Friday. He gave Sheriff’s dispatchers a description of the two men, who fled from the parking lot on bicycles after they realized he had seen them.

Deputies Luis Sanchez and Nick Whiteman responded. On their way to the scene, each deputy intercepted one of the fleeing suspects aided by the witness’s description of them.

23 year old Jonathan Colby and 24 year old Kenneth Alexander were arrested. The cash they stole from the vehicle was found in their pockets and was returned to the owner of the vehicle. Both men were charged with burglary and theft.

Two charged with vehicle burglary in Islamorada

Two men were arrested Saturday afternoon for burglarizing a van parked in the parking lot of Theater of the Sea in Islamorada.

The victims are visiting the Keys from the Netherlands. The father, mother and their three children walked out of Theater of the Sea at 4 p.m. to find two men burglarizing their rental van. The two men fled in a white Ford sport utility vehicle. The father was able to get a detailed description of the vehicle the two men fled in, including the vehicle’s license tag number. He called the Sheriff’s Office with the information immediately.

Sheriff’s dispatchers radioed the description to road patrol and Deputy Luis Gomez, who was parked at the 87 mile marker of the highway, spotted the vehicle as it passed him northbound. He stopped it at the 90 mile marker. The two men inside were identified as  46 year old Julio Morales Boches of Miami and 45 year old Jose Ortiz of Brandon, Florida. There were gloves and tools commonly used in vehicle burglaries found inside the vehicle as well.

The victims identified the men as the ones they saw burglarizing their rental van. The van was locked, but the door handle had been damaged in order to give the suspects access to the inside. Both men were arrested. They were charged with burglary to a vehicle, possession of burglary tools, theft and criminal mischief.

August 5, 2015

One arrested, another wanted for prostitution at massage business

One woman was arrested on a warrant charging her with prostitution today; a second woman is wanted on a warrant for the same charge. Both women are accused of offering to perform sexual acts during the course of a massage for monetary recompense.

Detectives with the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Unit received a tip in June that prostitution related activities were taking place at a business in Islamorada called Oriental Massage. Their investigation into those activities confirmed the illegal activity was taking place.

On July 20th, a search warrant related to the prostitution activity was served at the business. At that time, 44 year old Guihua Chen and 35 year old Gao Hong were arrested for not having a license to practice massage.

Subsequently, warrants were issued for Chen and for 51 year old Yumei Han. Both women are accused of offering to perform sexual favors in exchange for cash during the course of massage sessions. Chen was arrested today. Han is still at large.

August 2, 2015

Restaurant fire

A Stock Island restaurant was damaged by fire overnight.

Deputy David Lariz responded to an alarm on MacDonald Avenue at Paradise Transmission at 3:40 a.m. today. When he exited his patrol car, he smelled smoke. He looked up and saw smoke billowing into the sky from somewhere nearby. He called for firefighters and then investigated further.

He found the origin of the fire at El Caney Restaurant on 1st Avenue. He could see flames inside as firefighters arrived. The fire was extinguished. The Fire Marshal will be investigating the cause.

Man charged with driving recklessly, failing to stop for  deputies and DUI

A Hialeah man was arrested Saturday afternoon after a deputy saw him speeding, passing other cars in a reckless manner and then continuing to drive south when the deputy tried to stop him.

Deputy Juan Martin-Reyes was southbound at the 29 mile marker just before 6 p.m. when he saw a gray Toyota Tundra truck coming up behind him. The truck was traveling very fast and was passing numerous cars in no passing zones. On a couple of occasions, he saw the truck force other cars off the roadway with his reckless driving behavior.

The truck’s driver  finally noticed the deputy’s marked patrol car when it was directly in front of him. At that point he slowed. The deputy pulled over and let the truck get in front of him, then turned on his lights and siren to pull the truck over.

Instead of pulling over, the driver – later identified as 36 year old Barry Pieger, continued on, failing to stop. He finally turned off the road into the Looe Key Tiki Bar parking lot. He drove through the lot and stopped just short of the Shell gas station on Ramrod Key.

Pieger was ordered out of the truck and was arrested. He smelled strongly of alcohol. He was charged with reckless driving, failing to stop / fleeing and eluding police, driving under the influence of alcohol, improper passing, and refusing to sign the citations given to him. He was booked into jail.

August 1, 2015

Missing diver’s body recovered

The body of a free diver who went missing yesterday has been recovered by members of the Sheriff’s Office dive team

The team went out on the water this morning to look for 37 year old Pedro Fernandez of Miami, who disappeared while free diving with friends  Friday on the Adolphus Busch wreck offshore of Little Torch Key on the ocean side.

He was reported missing Friday evening and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Coast Guard searched for him overnight.

His body was found in about 71 feet of water at 10:30 this morning not far from the wreck. It will be turned over to the Medical Examiner for an autopsy.