A veteran Florida Keys detective was charged with misdemeanor theft after an internal investigation revealed he stole six spiny lobsters from a boat he pulled over last year, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.
The Monroe County State Attorney’s Office issued a summons Thursday morning for Detective Sgt. Scott Ward to appear in court to answer the charge.
“I am disappointed to have to announce this case, but the public will always hear the good news and the bad news from me first,” Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay said in a statement.
Ward, who could not be reached for comment, is scheduled to appear in front of Judge Sharon Hamilton at the Plantation Key Courthouse on Aug. 18. He has not been arrested.
He’s accused of taking the lobsters from the boater during a routine resources check off the Upper Keys some time last year.
Sheriff’s office spokesman Adam Linhardt would not say when the incident happened nor comment on whether it happened during the busy two-day spiny lobster miniseason that takes place every year on the last Wednesday and Thursday of July.
However, that would explain why a high-ranking detective would be conducting resources checks on the water, a job normally done by officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or deputies assigned to the sheriff’s office marine patrol.
During miniseason, however, law enforcement agencies in the Keys employ an all-hands-on-deck approach to monitoring the busy event to ensure compliance with conservation laws and to ensure public safety.
A sheriff’s office press release states the incident was reported by other deputies “who were on the scene.”
A Facebook post from the sheriff’s office from July 29, 2020, the first day of last year’s miniseason, shows Ward holding lobster while conducting a check on someone’s boat. The people in the photograph were in compliance with the rules and were just posing with Ward showing off their catch.
Linhardt would not comment on any other details of the case. The Miami Herald/FLKeysnews.com filed a request with the sheriff’s office for the incident report. The Monroe County Clerk of the Court’s website shows the 22-page document is not available pending redaction.
Monroe State Attorney Dennis Ward, no relation to Sgt. Ward, would only comment that his prosecutors issued the summons to appear Thursday after the sheriff’s office submitted its internal affairs report.
Ward was hired by the sheriff’s office on Aug. 20, 2007. His annual salary is $69,932, Linhardt said.
He is still employed by the sheriff’s office and has not been suspended, Linhardt said.
“Not at this time, as that decision will be made at the conclusion of the Internal Affairs investigation,” he said.