The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office works to keep the county safe

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 Officer of the Year ceremony occurred in Marathon recently.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “This is an important time of year. We identify four people from the Bureau of Law Enforcement, the Bureau of Corrections, Communications and a Reserve of the Year. This is a special award, Dave Cormier Award. Dave Cormier was a reserve deputy who got killed in a car crash in 1989. His family comes down every year and that’s who the award’s named after. We had a nice turnout. We talked about some great employees and some great stuff they’ve done throughout the course of the year to be selected as the person of the year. To get that award is so prestigious. It was an honor to be there with them, and present the awards to these four fabulous employees.”

A woman was arrested recently on fraud charges for taking more than $34,000 from a Key Largo homeowners associations show.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “Fraud cases are not uncommon from our community associations, homeowners associations, businesses, and part of the time we track it back to the bookkeeper or the treasurer, someone who’s got access to the money. We keep telling the groups that they should have checking accounts which require dual signatures. It shouldn’t be one person that can just sign a check. We like to trust people. But we see a lot of people take advantage that can cook the books as they say. Over a period of about a year and a half, she stole about $34,000 writing checks to herself, overpaying herself, buying stuff, she paid for clothing, hotels, trips, different variety of stuff. We eventually figured it out when a complaint came in, tracked it back down to her where, where she was subsequently arrested and will be held accountable. But there’s got to be some checks and balances with HOAs and communities and businesses to have their books audited, at least on an annual basis for some check and balance. But again, dual signature is not a bad thing to make sure that someone just can’t get a check and go out there and empty the account out. It’s hard to get the money back. Sometimes they have nothing left. It’s like getting blood from a rock. So she gets arrested. If she gets found guilty, there’s restitution, okay, well, how long or when do they ever get that money back? Does it ever come back? So it’s important to trust but at certain levels and still have oversight.”

A 33 year old Bay Point Florida man was arrested for stealing nearly $1,000 in a credit card cell phone fraud case.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “These days we know our cell phones are computers. Your whole life history is there, your banking, your checking, your access. So it’s more likely to have to keep these phones close and have these password protected phones. This individual did get the phone was able to somehow have the password to enter the phone. Once inside had pertinent information, had access to some financial information from this person, used identity fraud. With information from that phone, spent over $1,000 of this person’s money. So we got the call and investigated. These are tricky cases, they’re not so easy to handle, but we did determine who took the phone, who entered the phone illegally, took out security information, and subsequently under fraud and identification used the information to access money from the victim in his case. We keep focusing on how important it is to protect your identity, your information, these phones, good solid password protected phones, whether it be from a thumb or a good numbers that are hard to count. People want to put the code 1234, everyone checks that first. Make sure it’s a four or six digit number that someone’s not likely to crack.”

Natural resource protection is another topic the Sheriff’s Office focuses on.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We had three cases in a short period of time. One was off a traffic stop. We got the car stopped. When the window opened up, we could smell marijuana rolling out the car windows. They had no medical marijuana card which gave us probable cause to search the car. In the car besides marijuana, we found a bucket with short out of season snook with no one in the car having a license to catch or possess snook. So we got traffic charges, drug charges and environmental charges from that stop. Another case was a stop at the Old Seven Mile Bridge, people fishing around there, one of my deputies was doing a bridge inspection check at 8 o’clock in the morning came across a male, caught him with a undersized snapper and could barely fit in your hand it was so small and also small sandbar shark which he’s not allowed to possess without special licensing. So again, just catching this and kill that sandbar shark for nothing. You can’t eat it. You wonder why just kill it. And the fish he caught it’s so small, there’s no meat on it to get off. It is so small. You’re just destroying our environment for no means. So that’s the case we dealt with. We also had a recent case up there as well for again, in Islamorada for catching and possessing undersized, small snapper, which again, they have not even had a chance to reproduce one time. So we continue to try to do our job on the streets but also help our partners at the FWC and the waterways and environment to protect our resources which are so fragile. That’s why we’re here. And these people are just destroying, taking everything they can. We keep saying if we don’t do something to protect the resources one day there will be nothing left for future generations.”

Another traffic stop of a 60-year-old Homestead Florida man was crossing the center line in Key Largo on US 1 which lead to a number of charges including DUI, possession of cocaine, possession of pills without a prescription.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We always talk about how important it is to have the partnership with our citizens to contact us and let us know what’s going on. This emanated from citizens calling in 18 mile stretch southbound towards Monroe, a reckless vehicle that was failing to maintain a single lane that was driving erratically. They were concerned about the motorist. We saw the car. We observed it. We immediately observed unusual driving patterns, consistent with what we heard from the motorist. We did do a traffic stop on the vehicle. We did find the motorist to be impaired. Inside the car we did find cocaine and prescription pills that were in the car which had no prescription to the driver with the association of those pills. So you can’t possess controlled substances without a prescription. So this person was intoxicated, and had illegal drugs, as well as non prescribed drugs in the car with him on him. So he was arrested for multiple charges. But the biggest key here is besides arresting him, the biggest plus of the day is we got an impaired driver off the street, before he could hurt or kill somebody, or even himself. That’s the stuff we have to focus on is trying to make our roads safe, and get these reckless drivers, these uninsured drivers off the streets to try to protect our citizens each and every day.”

Littering can also land you in jail.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We take a lot of pride in having one of the cleanest communities anywhere. This is not uncommon, trash, garbage, people put stuff in these different places. People sometimes use other people’s dumpsters, fill other people’s dumpsters up. You can’t discard stuff behind businesses, you can’t put them in other people’s garbage cans. This is not hard to get rid of trash. We’re very vigilant about dumping, about trash, about this type of stuff. We want to keep trying to send a message that we’re not going to tolerate it because we want to keep our community clean, safe and secure. We always talk about clean communities are safe communities. Dirty, disheveled neighborhoods are more apt to have crime and that’s what we’re trying to prevent.”