FBI AGENTS MADE A SURPRISE VISIT TO ISLAMORADA IN JANUARY; WHAT FOR?

Questions to vice mayor surrounded council members & bribes

a sign for a golf club with a solar panel on top of it
FBI agents paid a visit to Islamorada in early January, specifically to see Sharon Mahoney, village vice mayor, and ask if she knew of any council members taking bribes. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly

Sharon Mahoney was tending to business inside her Islamorada flower shop on a weekend in late January. Around three o’clock, her front door bell rang as a young male holding a clipboard and a female entered her Enchanted Florist shop.

“He said, ‘Sharon Mahoney … Vice Mayor Sharon Mahoney who sits on council?’” Mahoney recalled. 

To her surprise, both individuals proceeded to flash an FBI badge. 

The agents told Mahoney the FBI’s Tampa branch received six to seven calls from individuals who believed she had information related to council members taking bribes from the local building community. No specific names were mentioned during the visit, but the agents believed she possibly had information into the matter. The agents were told by callers to speak with the vice mayor, who was elected to the council following the 2022 election. 

“They said, ‘Whoever called us made it extremely clear you’re not involved in any way, you’re an honest person on the council, but your friends say you know something,’” Mahoney recalled. 

Mahoney told the agents she knew nothing about current council members taking bribes. Following a minutes-long conversation which yielded no answer or leads, the agents exited her flower shop. Mahoney said she wasn’t sure if the two were actual agents, so she called Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay and John Quick, village attorney, to inform them of the visit. 

“She was concerned over whether they were real agents. She was caught off guard,” said Ramsay, who wasn’t aware of the FBI’s visit until Mahoney’s call. “It didn’t sound legit to me at the time, so we put out a BOLO (be on the lookout). We never found them, so I proceeded to contact the FBI Miami field office.”

Eventually, the FBI reached out to the sheriff to confirm they were real agents. The sheriff said he didn’t ask for nor receive details on the visit.

“We just wanted to know if they were legit,” Ramsay reiterated. 

The next day, Mahoney received a call from the sheriff’s office informing her they were FBI agents from the Miami office. Eventually, Mahoney received a call while she was at her flower shop from the FBI agent Scott Curley who visited Mahoney’s business. She said a 15-minute conversation ensued as Curley asked if Mahoney had anything she’d like to say. 

“I said I don’t know what you’re looking for,” Mahoney told the agent. “I know all builders; I grew up with them. I told him if anyone tries to offer me a bribe, I’ll offer you a call.”

Mahoney said she hasn’t heard from the FBI since the phone call. The FBI’s visit to Mahoney’s business earlier in the year sparked several rumors over what they were seeking. Some rumors believed the FBI’s visit to Mahoney centered around Ted Yates, former village manager who was let go by the council via a 3-2 vote last July. Mahoney, who voted not to renew a contract for Yates, told Keys Weekly the agents didn’t question her about the former village manager. Yates’ name wasn’t even mentioned in conversations she had with the agents, she said.

“His name never came up,” Mahoney said. 

The Keys Weekly contacted the FBI Miami office regarding the visit and any ongoing investigation in the village. The FBI responded by stating they could not confirm nor deny the existence of investigations.

Jim McCarthy
Jim McCarthy is one of the many Western New Yorkers who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures for warm living by the water. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 4-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. “One of my college professors would always preach to be curious,” he said. “Behind every person is a story that’s unique to them, and one worth telling. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. Jim is a sports fanatic who loves to watch football, hockey, mixed martial arts and golf. He also enjoys time with family and his new baby boy, Lucas, who arrived Oct. 4, 2022.