Be sure to drive carefully this holiday season

Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about what’s been going on in the county.

The holidays can bring more accidents so be sure to drive carefully. One happened early this morning on Duck Key.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “This is shortly after 6 am this morning. So it’s still dark out. We got a report of a what was believed to be a motorcycle crash in front of Duck Key and US 1. That’s about the 60 mile marker. Deputies got on scene to find a crashed motorcycle and a male and female, both around early 60s, down in the middle of the road, not able to communicate, unconscious, head injuries. So really serious, severe accident. We called our friends in FHP to respond and to investigate the crash. Our first goal obviously is to render medical aid to scene and the people involved here. We were not able to find any witnesses, so we’re not really sure if there was a single vehicle crash, where the motorcycle just went down on itself because you know it was heavy rain this morning, wet, pooling water. So we don’t know if the bike just went down and they crash themselves or that’s a kind of busy intersection. We’re not sure if a car was trying to pull in or out of Duck Key and may have violated a right of way of the motorcycle causing it to take evasive maneuvers and crash and then just fleeing the scene. So right now we’re looking for witnesses, someone that may have seen something, know something, but it is being investigated by Florida Highway Patrol. Obviously, we’re very concerned about the two motorcyclists that have serious severe injuries as a result of this crash. Again, we don’t know if it’s a single vehicle or two vehicles involved. But that’s under investigation. We did have some traffic backups this morning. As a result the road was shut down for investigative reasons and the medical attention. So that’s kind of a fluid situation right now.”

The holidays can also be a time for scams. A Miami woman was recently arrested for fraud for trying to sell a fake diamond ring for $5,000 to a shop in Marathon.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We have two scams we’re dealing with now. The first and foremost is the diamond case. That’s an interesting case, a little unusual. A 45 year old female from Miami, Florida, was arrested Thursday for selling a fake diamond ring for $5,000. She went to a pawn shop slash jewelry shop Cash Flow Pawn Shop in Marathon and brought in this ring with this nice big diamond and had a certificate saying it was authenticated. Apparently this certificate was really well done, it looked really good. Usually the jewelry shops have a little instrument, a machine that they can touch on the diamond and push the button and it will tell you if it’s real or not. I don’t know why that wasn’t used or if it was and for some reason didn’t work. But the jeweler slash Pawn Shop custodian believed that this was a real diamond and valuable and agreed to buy the diamond ring from the person for $5,000. Paid her the money and then sometime thereafter determined that it was fake, contacted the sheriff’s office. So we started doing an investigation. It’s a little tricky because when you pawn stuff, sell stuff at a pawn shop, you’re required to give ID, information, contact stuff, but all the information she gave was fake. Fake name, fake IDs, fake addresses, fake phone numbers. So everything that she was required to submit by law, and that the pawnbroker would have wanted for this exact case, was false. So it made it difficult, challenging for team members to track her down, figure out who she was and where she lived, but we eventually did figure it out. Once we got her identity, we were able to check her in the computer and we find that she’s under investigation in two other states, I think California and maybe New Hampshire, for the same exact thing, selling fake diamond rings. So we got a warrant for her arrest. We were able to locate and arrest her. When we did get to arrest her, we found more fake diamonds on her person, in her possession. So this appears to be an ongoing scam artist, who’s done pretty well, apparently is pretty realistic with her fake certificates and whatnot. She was able sell a two cent piece of glass for $5,000. She also went to Joe’s Pawn Shop in Marathon, had done some illegal pawning there as well and some fraudulent work there. So we’re dealing with that case as well. But she spent Christmas at the Rick Ramsey Bed and Breakfast. So she had Christmas dinner with me and my team members at the jail. She’ll remain there on the bond. I think the bond is set at somewhere around $75,000 for the first charge, and we think more charges are pending.”

There was an illegal fish case as well for four undersized mutton snappers.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “This is such an important part of our environment and our community is our fisheries. We have to protect it against poaching. We do have marine officers and we were doing some enforcement checks around the Channel Two Bridge, over at the 60 mile marker and during that time about 11 o’clock in the morning we came across two individuals from again Miami, a 34 year old male and a 46 year old male and they were in possession of undersized mutton snapper. We see this a lot. People may not think that’s a lot, four fish, but when you keep taking four here, four there, four everywhere else, at the end of the day, there’s no more fish left and these are fish which have not even had a chance to reproduce one time. These fish are so small, we just don’t understand it. There’s no real meat to get off these fish. Why you’re even taking them because they’re so small, so thin. But we take all this serious whether it be lobster tails, whether it be stone crabs, whether it be fish. We try to be good partner to our Fish and Wildlife Commission. We try to do what we can for poaching and try to make sure the resources are here for today. But make sure the resources are here for tomorrow as well.”

There were some battery cases in the Upper Keys, in a grocery store in Key Largo and a knife incident over the weekend as well.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We deal with people fighting all the time, unfortunately, this is one of the prime calls we get. This is an incident in the Upper Keys in the parking lot of a grocery store, about 7:15pm. We got called to a disturbance, a fight in the parking lot. This was a 30 year old Key Largo man and another man in the parking lot. So when we get there, we did wind up arresting Mr. Chad Lyons for the battery call. We were able to investigate this. We had an independent witness there as well. These two had some altercation about some other criminal proceeding. The victim in this case had cuts and bruises consistent with being struck and choked. No life threatening injuries occurred. Mr. Lyons was gone upon our arrival, but later on we did locate him and he did admit to the involvement in the altercation and subsequently we did arrest him. So these are situations that we wish people would just walk away and go the other way. But sometimes people aren’t so good about this. Then we had a case on Tuesday, another battery. This was a case we got called to a disturbance, late in the afternoon, about 4pm. When we get there, we find this individual who was very aggressive towards us and others, this was in Marathon. It was between a male and a female over allegedly the female blowing marijuana smoke in his window or somewhere around his house. So a 37 year old male out of Key Largo got enraged and started a fight and battery with this female. She had marks consistent with being grabbed and pulled on her arms and her body. He was a big guy, this guy was just a large man, I think 6’2”, 300 pounds, and this woman was a smaller female. Obviously he outweighed her in strength and weight by a lot. We got there, he was just agitated, combative, had been drinking. So he’s high on alcohol. So he’s drunk. He won’t listen to our commands. We have clear signs that he grabbed and threw her against the building as she indicated. We tried to do a deal with him. He’s sort of fighting with our deputies, it took three deputies and tasers to ultimately eventually get him handcuffed and secured and get him to jail. Again, a big violent, intoxicated male, which continues to show how difficult and challenging our jobs are. We’re dealing with people that just because you show up in uniform and tell him to stop doing something, they don’t automatically stop. Their violence shifts from the one person that they were dealing with, their violent activity sometimes shifts to the law enforcement officers who are just trying to show up and de-escalate and control and contain a violent situation. It just sometime continues. That’s why we have tasers and pepper sprays and other intermediate weapons. It’s not trying to hurt people but trying to contain, control and stop the fight. We don’t want to see who’s the baddest guy on the block. We don’t want to throw punches at bad people. Nor do we want people punching on my deputies and knocking their teeth out and hurting, injuring them. The intermediate weapons we use are so we don’t have to go hands on and we don’t have to go to a deadly weapon, either. We don’t want to go to either your fist or your gun. We have intermediate stuff to try to force compliance. We hope that when the taser or pepper spray comes out people see it, a lot of times they don’t want to get tased because they’ve seen it before on TV. So a lot of times they will yield to the command when they see the red dot on them. Sometimes they don’t and then we have to unfortunately tase them or even spray them.”

Another resisting arrest case happened yesterday at Rose Place where apparently someone was hit in the head with a plate.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “Most time when we talk about these types of situations we always generally see a common denominator. We generally see alcohol and or drugs involved when we’re dealing people who want to fight the sheriff’s office because people who are generally sober and thinking clearly know for every action there is a reaction and know that if you fight with an officer, you’re going to go to jail for felony charges and you may get tased or may get pepper sprayed. So you think during the Christmas holidays is time for people to calm down, chill out and be goodwill towards others. But here again we see not so much in this case. On Christmas day my men and women have to work these holidays as well, be away from their families, but we have to deal with people that are ruining the holiday for other people. Fighting, took a plate and smashed it over a friend’s head before we got there and other stuff being thrown around. The anger when we tried to seek compliance shifts from the party to the deputies in the green uniforms and continues. So it’s sad to see these people who if you can’t control your alcohol you should not be drinking or know when to not have another drink. An alcohol influenced decision which will last a lifetime for people when they get arrested. You have a permanent arrest file for battery on a law enforcement officer and other charges. Then you spend the rest of Christmas in my jail and probably if you don’t bond out throughout the New Year at the Rick Ramsey Bed and Breakfast.”