Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

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

December 26, 2000

Home made explosive device found aboard boat in Lower Keys

 A homemade explosive device was found aboard a boat today on Rockland Key.  The owners of the 24-foot open fisherman type boat called the Sheriff’s Office shortly after nine a.m., stating that their boat was missing from a docking area on Big Coppitt Key.  While they were filing a report with Deputy Genie Hernandez about the missing boat, they spotted the boat across the bay on nearby Rockland Key.  Apparently, after it was set adrift, another boater had spotted the vessel floating unattended and towed it in. The owners went aboard to inspect it with Sheriff’s Deputies when they noticed that a liquid-filled plastic jug with attached wires and some type of timing device had been placed near the boat’s forward console. 

The Deputies called for Sheriff’s bomb squad technician, Sgt. Bobby Randolph.  After inspecting the device, Sgt. Randolph determined that the explosive device consisted of a plastic jug of gasoline that had been wired with a timing device.  Sgt. Randolph said that the timing device itself had ignited, but it failed to cause the gasoline to explode.  Randolph said that someone had definitely tried to fire bomb the boat.  The device was safely removed from the boat.  The case is under investigation.  Anyone with information should call the Sheriff’s Office at 296-2424.  Anonymous calls can be made to the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-346-TIPS.  Crime Stoppers will pay cash for information leading to an arrest in this case.

 Sheriff’s Traffic Deputies will be out in force this New Year’s Holiday Weekend

 Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputies and the Traffic Enforcement Unit will be patrolling Keys’ highways this weekend in an effort to make the New Year’s festivities safe for residents and visitors.

The Traffic Unit will be out in force in the Upper Keys to monitor the anticipated heavy influx of motorists during the afternoon and evening hours on Friday, December 29.  The Traffic Deputies will be looked for speeders, illegal passing offenders and impaired drivers.  The Traffic Unit will also monitor motorists leaving the Keys after the Holiday on Monday, Jan. 1, 2001.

Also, Sheriff’s Deputies and the Florida Highway Patrol are setting up a DUI Checkpoint on Friday, December 29 from ten p.m. until 2 a.m. at mile marker 88 on Plantation Key.  Motorists will be directed to the checkpoint area.   The Officers will be looking for any signs that the drivers are impaired. 

Visitors and residents are also advised that the winter season is here in the Keys and that means heavy traffic on U.S. One.  All drivers are asked to have patience.  Traffic backups and slow moving traffic are routine occurrences during the winter season.

 December 22, 2000

Search Warrant yields one arrest and crack cocaine seizure

 Sheriff’s detectives with the Special Operations Division arrested one person and seized 177 crack cocaine rocks after serving a search warrant on Stock Island Thursday afternoon.  The search warrant followed a two-week investigation of drug dealing at a rental unit at 6639 Maloney Avenue.  Detectives arrested 51-year old Luis Sosa on charges of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.  The street value of the seized cocaine is more than thirty-five hundred dollars.  Detectives also confiscated one thousand dollars cash and a shotgun found inside the rental unit.  Sosa was taken to the Monroe County Detention Center and booked on the felony drug charges.


December 20, 2000

Bomb Squad Removes Explosive Devices from Key West Residence

Fifteen explosive devices were safely removed from a Key West residence today by the Monroe County Bomb Squad.  The devices were found in the home of a man who was taken into custody by Key West Police Tuesday under the Bakers Act for psychiatric evaluation and treatment.  The man’s wife this morning requested that Deputies pick up a firearm and other objects at the house.  Shortly after 9 a.m., Deputy Jack Bernhard responded and immediately recognized that one of the objects was likely a pipe bomb. Sheriff’s Bomb Squad Technician, Sgt. Bobby Randolph was called to the scene.  Sgt. Randolph confirmed that the object was an explosive device and after discovering other similar devices in the house, he ordered an evacuation of the immediate area.  Key West Police and the Key West Fire Department responded by quickly evacuating residents in the 1400 block of Rose Street and cordoning off the area. 

Sgt. Randolph donned his protective bomb suit and began the tedious process of searching the house.  Sgt. Randolph found PVC pipe and galvanized pipe bombs filled with gunpowder, ammunition and metal objects.  He also removed four one pound canisters of gunpowder and one fifteen-pound can of gunpowder.  A large, suspicious metal box also got Sgt. Randolph’s attention.  He used a remote-controlled robot device to open the metal box, which contained two cannon balls, gunpowder, a battery and explosive-type wiring.  Also removed from the house were several handguns, a rifle and ammunition.

All of the explosive devices were safely disarmed and removed for disposal.  The Rose Street area was cleared and residents were allowed to return to their homes shortly before 4 p.m.

The Sheriff’s Office is not releasing the name of the resident because he was taken into custody for medical reasons. The incident is under investigation.  No charges have been filed. 


December 19, 2000

Sheriff’s Office looking for female spotted at the scene of a fatal traffic accident

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office wants to question a woman spotted running from the scene of a fatal traffic accident that occurred last week on Stock Island.   Witnesses told Sheriff’s Deputies that the woman was a passenger in a car that plowed into the side of the Four Star Rental building on Stock Island at approximately 7:18 p.m., Monday, December 11, 2000.  Witnesses stated that woman ran north on U.S. One after getting out of the wrecked car. 

The car was driven by 49-year old Frank Dudek, of Key West. Dudek, according to accident investigator Deputy Russ Stamets, was headed north on U.S. One when he made a right turn into the Chevron Station.  Dudek’s car, a black 1999 Cadillac, continued across the parking lot, crashed through a fence and plowed into the rental building. 

Witnesses, who called police, stated that a female passenger had fled from the scene.  Dudek was taken to the hospital because he appeared to be in medical distress.  The accident itself, apparently did not cause any injuries, according to investigators.  After examination at the hospital, Dudek was diagnosed as having suffered a brain aneurysm.  He was airlifted to Baptist Hospital in Miami.  Dudek died on December 14th. 

Dudek’s death is listed as a traffic fatality.  Sheriff’s accident investigator, Deputy Stamets, is asking anyone with information about the female passenger in Dudek’s car to call the Sheriff’s Office at 296-2424.  The female passenger was wearing a black shirt and jeans, according to the witnesses, who could not provide a detailed description.  Anonymous calls about the case can be made to the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-346-TIPS (8477.)

Sheriff’s investigators want to question the female passenger about the accident.


December 14, 2000

Search Warrant leads to arrest on Big Pine Key

Big Pine Key – A search warrant served at a Big Pine Key residence resulted in one arrest on drug related charges Tuesday.

Detectives from the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Division served the warrant at 31330 Avenue F, Big Pine Key, at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. Inside the trailer, the search turned up a cigar tube hidden between some mattresses on the living room floor. Inside the tube were 27 crack rocks. Detectives found 19 year old Aristides Chavez sleeping on the mattresses at the time the warrant was served.

The search also turned up a 9mm handgun reported stolen during a burglary on Big Pine Key in October. The gun was hidden underneath a garbage can inside the trailer. A pipe used to smoke crack cocaine was also found in a cabinet under the sink.

Chavez was arrested, charged with possession of cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of stolen property. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

More arrests/charges in Marathon business burglaries

Marathon – Marathon Sheriff’s detectives have issued warrants and made another arrest in connection with a spate of business burglaries in the Marathon area that took place between June and November of this year.

Detective Rick Martin arrested 18 year old Bud Brown of Big Pine Key Wednesday, charging him with two June burglaries at the World Class Angler and at the Hurricane Raw Bar. Brown was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center on two counts each of Burglary, Grand Theft and Criminal Mischief.

Warrants have also been issued for 16 year old Chris Orr of Marathon and 16 year old Victor Sokoloski, of Big Pine Key. Orr is wanted for two burglaries at the World Class Angler,  and break ins at the Hurricane Raw Bar, the Quay Restaurant, Shipwrecked by Design and Jeff’s Bait  and Tackle Shop. Sokoloski is wanted for break-ins at the Quay and Shipwrecked by Design.

Orr resides in Marathon, but is currently in the Miami area. Detectives will be serving the warrants on him in the near future. Sokoloski is believed to be in the Pennsylvania area. When he is found, he will be extradited to face the charges here.

Detective Martin said the two ringleaders in the burglary spree were Chris Orr and 17 year old Tristan Benshetler. Benshetler has been charged with seven counts of burglary so far and was last arrested November 27th by Detective Martin. Orr and Benshetler would allegedly plan the crimes and then bring friends along to assist in the break ins. Martin estimates the group of teens stole well over $10,000.00 during the course of their five month spree.

More charges and more arrests are pending in the case.


December 12, 2000

Marathon man charged with molesting young girl

Marathon – A 22 year old Marathon man was arrested Monday morning, charged with molesting a young girl.

The girl’s mother caught Michael Thomas Albert, Jr. in the act of fondling her. She called the Sheriff’s Office to report the incident. Key Colony Beach Police Officer Todd Tetterton responded to the call. Detective Krissy Games responded to investigate as well, from the Sheriff’s Crimes Against Women and Children’s Unit.

Albert, Jr. was arrested, charged with lewd and lascivious molestation. He was also found to be in possession of cocaine, so he was charged with that drug offense as well. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Man reports spray painted dog

Key Largo – A Key Largo man called the Sheriff’s Office to report his dog had been spray painted.

When Deputy Bradly Sirro responded to the home on Buttonwood Circle, the owner showed him the dog, which had orange spray paint on his back which would not come off. IT is unknown who might have committed the crime, which is classified as criminal mischief, a second degree misdemeanor which carries a potential penalty of up to 60 days in jail and a $500.00 fine.


December 11, 2000

Man stabs girlfriend; kills himself

Stock Island – A man repeatedly stabbed his ex-girlfriend Friday night at their Stock Island residence. He then apparently committed suicide over the weekend, hanging himself from a porch railing.

40 year old Alfredo Martin-Jimenez was found Monday morning hanging from a porch railing of a business just off of 5th Avenue on Stock Island, a victim of apparent suicide. Sheriff’s deputies have been looking for him since Friday night, when he stabbed his girlfriend repeatedly with a kitchen knife, then fled out the back door of their apartment.

The victim, 52 year old Susan Pfleiger,  told Detective John McGee she was lying in bed watching television Friday night just before 9 p.m. She said she was almost asleep when Martin-Jimenez, her ex-boyfriend of five years, burst into the room and grabbed her around the throat, choking her. She said she struggled with him and he let go of her throat. He then pulled out a kitchen knife and began stabbing her. She says the attack was completely unprovoked, and she has no idea why he did it.

She sustained stab wounds in her chest, shoulder and back, and had defensive cuts and stab wounds on her hands and on one of her feet.

After the attack, Martin-Jimenez fled out the back door of the residence, at the Wilson Apartment complex on Stock Island. Pfleiger ran out the front door screaming for help and collapsed on the pavement outside.

Deputies Mark Long and Luis Vega responded to the scene and searched for Martin, but could not locate him. Detective John McGee responded to investigate. The victim was transported to Lower Keys Health Systems East Hospital for treatment of her injuries, and was later released.

Martin’s body was found Monday morning by employees of the business arriving for work. It appears he has been dead for some time, possibly since as early as Saturday night. An autopsy will be done to clarify that information, and to determine more details about his death.

Shortly after the body was found, Detective McGee spoke with a witness who reportedly had spoken to Martin-Jimenez recently. The witness Martin-Jimenez reportedly told him Pfleiger had put a voodoo curse on him and he said he was going to Miami to be “cleansed” of the curse.

Man wanted in Ohio, found in Key West

Key West – Thanks to a Crime Stoppers tip, a man wanted in Ohio was found and arrested by Sheriff’s detectives in Key West Monday morning.

31 year old John Ray Deal was arrested at 7:30 a.m. after a car he was traveling in was stopped by Detective Bob Voss, backed up by Detective Scott Robinson. The traffic stop occurred near the intersection of Thomas and Southard Streets in the city of Key West. Detective Voss located Deal after a Crime Stoppers tipster called to give the man’s location.

Deal is currently wanted in Tiffin, Ohio by the Seneca County Sheriff’s Office for violation of probation, ref. Sexual battery on a minor child. According to Ohio detectives, Deal and his girlfriend broke up, and Deal then had sexual relations with the woman’s 14 year old daughter. Deal later took the identity of the ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend, Tony Vasvary. According to Detective Voss, that was the name he was going by when he was placed under arrest.

Deal was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center where he will be held for extradition to Ohio.

Woman’s wheelchair stolen

Marathon – A Marathon woman reported that her mother’s wheelchair was stolen from their front porch sometime between Friday and Saturday.

The woman, who lives on Porpoise Drive in Marathon, said she last saw the wheelchair Friday night and noticed it was missing from the front porch Saturday morning. The wheelchair is black and chrome in color and is valued at approximately $1,500.00.

Deputies are investigating the case.


December 8, 2000

Dynamite disposed of by Bomb Squad

Islamorada – Approximately 100 sticks of 30 year old dynamite were exploded and burned by the Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad Thursday afternoon.

The dynamite was found Wednesday by employees of the property owner who were working on a radio tower on the premises. The property is located near the 86.5 mile marker of Highway U.S. One, on the Bayside. The dynamite was in an underground concrete structure described by Bomb Squad members as an “explosives bunker”. Detective Sgt. Bobby Randolph, who is on the Bomb Squad and responded to handle the explosives, said he thinks the dynamite was left after construction of the Venetian Shores neighborhood approximately 30 years ago.

According to Det. Sgt. Randolph, when dynamite is old it can become very unstable. Because of the potential instability, he could not remove the dynamite from the property safely. Instead, he portioned it out into small groups and exploded them separately, on the property. He then burned the rest of the debris, including dynamite sticks which were too decayed to explode.

“We rendered the debris and dynamite safe. There is no longer any danger to the public,” Randolph said. “There were no injuries and was no damage to surrounding property,” he added. The closest building to the site was an estimated 200 yards away.

The Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad is a county-wide unit trained in the recognition and safe handling of explosives and explosive devices. They are currently the only trained Bomb Squad in the Keys. The Bomb Squad is on call 24 hours a day and is made available on an as-needed basis to all communities in Monroe County.


December 7, 2000

Woman arrested after fleeing from law enforcement officers

Marathon – A woman was arrested Wednesday afternoon after fleeing from law enforcement officers through Marathon southbound at a high rate of speed. Deputies had to use the Stinger spike system to stop her car near the Spanish Harbor bridge.

Deputy Joseph Ziglar first spotted the white mini-van at 3 p.m., speeding southbound in the northbound lane through the school zone at 33rd Street in Marathon. He radioed ahead to Deputy Stephen Mahmood, who was stationary at 22nd Street. Deputy Mahmood got out of his patrol vehicle and attempted to wave the female driver down, but she sped past him at a high rate of speed. He got into his car and began following her with his lights and sirens on, backed up by Sgt. Glen Test who was also on patrol in the area.

The woman, 28 year old Carolyn Duvall-Mustain,  of Fort Pierce, Florida refused to stop for the officers. She continued south at speeds of 80 to 90 miles per hour over the Seven Mile Bridge. The officers following her called ahead for deputies to set up the Stinger Spike system to stop her. The spikes were set up at the south end of the bridge. She crossed the Spanish Harbor Bridge driving south in the northbound lane through a construction zone at 75 miles per hour. The spikes flattened two of her tires, but she continued driving on her tire rims to the 32 mile marker, where she finally stopped.

Upon questioning, the woman said she didn’t stop because she doesn’t trust the police.

In the car, Deputy John O’Mally found a metal pipe, rolling papers, a small amount of marijuana in a tin box and a partially smoked marijuana cigarette. Duvall-Mustain was placed under arrest and charged with aggravated fleeing and eluding police, reckless driving, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. She was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.


December 6, 2000

Man says he was attacked with “stun gun”

Marathon – A Marathon man said he was attacked with a stun gun during a “road rage” incident.

The victim said he was driving his truck at 5 p.m. Monday southbound on 107th Street. He said he made a left turn on 3rd Avenue and didn’t see the suspect’s vehicle, which was apparently trying to pass him. He said he almost hit the vehicle, which was a black colored Ford Explorer with a New York license plate.

An argument reportedly ensued, and the victim said the other driver retrieved a stun gun from his vehicle and used it on him. The victim said the stun gun didn’t effect him, and he punched the other driver several times in retaliation, knocking the man to the ground. The suspect then got up, retrieved a metal broom handle from his vehicle and struck the victim on the side of the neck.

According to the victim, the fight continued until he finally got into his truck and drove away. He said he drove to Walgreen’s  and went inside. When he came out, he found all his tail lights broken out and feels the suspect followed him there to damage his vehicle.

He said he wanted to report the incident because of the stun gun and said he is concerned about possible officer safety issues.

Investigations are continuing.

Crawfish boat stolen; possibly en-route to Cuba

Stock Island – The owner of a crawfishing vessel reported Tuesday his boat had been stolen, possibly by an ex-employee who may be headed to Cuba.

The owner, 36 year old Rigoberto Hernandez said his 43 foot boat “Tomasito” was moored at the Sea Lobster on Stock Island at the time of the theft. He said it was fully stocked for a two day fishing trip and it’s fuel tanks were full.

A witness told Deputy Jan Smiarowski he saw the ex-employee take the boat. As the boat was leaving the dock area, the suspect reportedly yelled out that he was taking the boat to Cuba. Estimated value of the vessel is $180,000.00.

The United States Coast Guard was notified of the boat theft. Investigations are continuing.


December 5, 2000

Rash of criminal mischief complaints in Key Largo, Tavernier

Upper Keys – Sheriff’s deputies took reports of a number of criminal mischief complaints over the weekend in the Upper Keys.

Two residents on Garden Street in Tavernier woke up Saturday morning to find paint had been poured on their cars overnight. The two victims each called Saturday morning to report finding the paint Saturday morning. One car was a 1999 Toyota Corolla, with an estimated $1,000 damage to the vehicle; the other was a 1991 Plymouth Voyager van with an estimated $500.00 damage.

A woman who lives on North Channel Drive in Key Largo reported her mailbox was damaged sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning. It was a plain, black mailbox on a post, set in a concrete block. The block and mailbox were pushed approximately 3 feet from the original position and the box was dented. A neighbor reported hearing a noise during the night, but she said she looked outside and did not notice any damage to the mailbox at that time.

A resident of Sexton Cove Road in Key Largo reported that someone broke into his house while he was away between Friday evening and Saturday evening, and spray painted the inside of the house, including his television set, the front of his air conditioner, a large mirror, the refrigerator, sink, and many other areas of the house.

It is unknown if the destructive incidents are connected. Investigations are continuing.

Possible arson reported in Ocean Reef

Key Largo – A house under construction was damaged by fire Saturday evening. The case is being investigated as a possible arson.

According to reports by Deputy Keith Nyman, he was dispatched to the fire just before 11 p.m. Saturday. The flames were extinguished by fire units from Ocean Reef Public Safety and the Fire Marshall’s Office was notified of the blaze.

The house, on Channel Cay Road, had no electricity hooked up, and no chemicals stored on the premises. The fire may have started near some insulation. A number of new windows stored inside the structure were damaged, along with other building supplies.

The case is under investigation by the Fire Marshall’s Office.

Teens interrupted while smoking marijuana

Marathon – Deputies on routine patrol Sunday afternoon caught a group of teenagers smoking marijuana behind a closed business in Marathon.

Deputy Dave Carpenter was on patrol at 3:30 p.m. when he saw a young teenaged boy walk behind a closed business in the area of 107th Street in Marathon. He stopped to check the situation out because he knew there are no residences or any other public areas at that location.

The deputy walked around the building and immediately smelled the strong odor of marijuana burning. He saw a group of four boys between the ages of 12 and 15. One of the boys was smoking a cigar shaped object and dropped it to the ground when he saw Deputy Carpenter. The deputy also saw what appeared to be marijuana seeds scattered on a table in front of the four boys.

Deputy Carpenter told the boys he could smell the marijuana and he wanted to know where the rest of it was. One of the boys pulled a plastic bag with a green leafy substance inside from his pocket. He was also found to be in possession of a small pipe used to smoke the illegal substance. Tests later revealed marijuana both in the bag and in the cigar. Upon closer examination, it appeared that the tobacco in the cigar had been mixed with marijuana.

All four boys were given civil citations for possession of tobacco products; three of the four were charged with possession of a misdemeanor amount of marijuana; one of them was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.

Islamorada man charged with exposing himself in public

Islamorada – An Islamorada man, caught masturbating inside a drug store in Islamorada Sunday afternoon, was placed under arrest.

Deputy Winifred Higgins was dispatched to Eckerd Drugs in Islamorada at 1:45 p.m. Sunday to reports of a man masturbating inside the store. A woman said she saw him standing in a store isle holding a t-shirt on a hanger in his left hand. The t-shirt was in front of his crotch, and his right hand was concealed behind the t-shirt. She said he was watching her, and rubbing his crotch area. She said shortly after she spotted him watching her, she saw him zip up the front zipper on his shorts.

When the deputy arrived, he found 37 year old Javier Del Toro Ocho still in the store. He fled from the deputy, running around the end of a store isle, but Deputy Higgins caught him a short time later.

The t-shirt was taken into custody as possible evidence. Ocho was charged with exposure of sexual organs and disorderly conduct and he was taken to the Monroe County Detention Center.


December 1, 2000

Marijuana plants lead to search warrant at Stock Island residence

A Special Operations detective shows off
a confiscated plant.

Stock Island – Sheriff’s detectives from the Special Investigations Division found four large marijuana plants growing outside a Stock Island residence Thursday. A search of the residence turned up more illegal drugs. Arrests are pending in the case.

Detectives received information that marijuana was growing on property located at 5515 5th Avenue on Stock Island. They spoke with the owner of the property who gave them permission to search for the marijuana. The owner’s son lives on the back portion of the property, and they spotted four large marijuana plants, approximately five feet tall, growing in plain view just outside the son’s residence.

A search warrant was obtained for the son’s home. Once inside, detectives found two more marijuana plants growing in pots, a whole marijuana cigarette and several partial ones, a plastic bag with marijuana residue in it, rolling papers, and items of drug paraphernalia with cocaine residue on them. The son was not home at the time the search warrant was served.

The investigation is continuing and arrests are pending in the case.