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Palm Coast Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 8 years ago

Sheriff's deputy arrested on grand theft charges

by: Andrew OBrien Contributing Writer

Matthew Koenig has been with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office since 1998. He was arrested for swapping evidence cash with paper towels.

In two unrelated stories this month, county residents were arrested for claiming that a paper towel was actually cash, and lawn clippings were actually marijuana (see box on this page).

A Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy was arrested in connection with almost $5,000 in missing funds from the agency’s evidence room, according to a news release.

Matthew Koenig, 40, was arrested at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 12, at the State Attorney’s Flagler County office, following a three-month investigation, and was charged with grand theft and official misconduct.

Koenig, who has been with the Sheriff’s Office since 1998, is being charged with taking $4,847 in cash from envelopes stored in the evidence division, according to spokeswoman Debra Johnson.

The cash was seized in criminal cases and was being held until the cases ended in court. Koenig was able to access the evidence room property through his position as evidence technician.

The investigation on Koenig revealed cash inside 12 evidence envelopes had been removed and replaced with paper towels. Koenig was matched to the theft through DNA testing on the envelopes and the paper towels. Unexplained deposits into Koenig’s personal bank account between 2009 and 2010 were found by investigators, the release states.

Sheriff Donald Fleming said the cash was discovered missing in October 2010, when another evidence technician went to retrieve a case envelope. An audit of the evidence commenced, with the help of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

“I brought in State Attorney (R.J.) Larizza’s office and, through mutual cooperation, the investigation proceeded for the next three months,” Fleming said in a statement.

Koenig was booked Jan. 12, into the Flagler County Inmate Facility and was released after posting $2,000 bail. Koenig was also placed on unpaid administrative leave.

Additionally, as a result of the investigation, procedure modifications have been made to the evidence division, according to the press release.

This isn’t the first time Koenig was placed on leave.

In 2008, while Koenig was working as an investigator with the Sheriff’s Office, he was placed on paid administrative leave while investigators checked a complaint by his mortgage company that he had burglarized his former house, which had been foreclosed. However, that same month, the mortgage company dropped the complaint.

Sheriff: DUI arrests increase
The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office closed out 2010 with 151 arrests for driving under the influence, showing a significant increase over DUI arrests for 2009, the agency announced in a Jan. 12 release. In 2009, deputies netted 101 DUI arrests.

During the recent holiday period from Nov. 27, 2010 to Jan. 1, 2011, deputies made 174 traffic stops. Of those, 20 arrests were made, with 12 individuals being charged with impaired driving. In that same effort, deputies also issued 125 warnings and issued 13 nonmoving citations and 32 moving citations.

“We are sending a message: ‘Don’t drink and drive in Flagler County,’” said Sheriff Donald Fleming.



‘Bad grass’ deal sprouts three arrests
A Palm Coast man reported Jan. 11 that he was beaten and kidnapped by two other Palm Coast men following a counterfeit marijuana deal.

Jordan Marrero, 20, of Russo Drive, told deputies that around 5:30 p.m. Jan. 11, he sold a bag of green leafy substance to Christopher Medeiros, 27, of Pickford Drive, and Michael Vieira, 28, of Princess Kim Lane. The transaction took place near the intersection of Russell Drive and Rolling Sands Drive, according to a Jan. 12 release by the Sheriff’s Office.

After the two paid Marrero $100 for the bag, they realized that, instead of marijuana, they had purchased a bag of grass clippings. Apparently angry at being duped, Medeiros and Vieira chased Marrero on foot into a wooded area. Then, the two beat Marrero and threatened to shoot him. Marrero told deputies he was threatened but never saw a gun.

The two then loaded Marrero into a vehicle and traveled to a home on Rockefeller Drive, where the two thought Marrero had a partner in the fake drug deal. When Medeiros and Vieira left Marrero alone in the vehicle, Marrero fled and hid in a garage of a nearby home. After more threats, Marrero said, he rejoined the two. All three eventually were stopped by deputies shortly after 6 p.m. as they walked back to the home on Rockefeller Drive.

Deputies charged Medeiros and Vieira with false imprisonment. Medeiros was also charged with aggravated assault with a firearm. He was booked in the Flagler County Inmate Facility and later released on $3,000 bond. Vieira was charged with battery and was being held on $26,000 bond. Marrero was charged with theft and unlawful sale of a counterfeit controlled substance. His bond was set at $1,500.

“Apparently drug users can’t trust their drug dealers,” said Sheriff Donald Fleming. “It worked well for us, since we got all three of these losers.”

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