A Keys man charged with nine felonies related to the use of fraudulent credit cards greeted his three-year prison sentence Tuesday with what could fairly be described as glee.
Joseph Arnone, 36, agreed to plead guilty to the charges stemming from an arrest last August in order to avoid a trial, where the multiple felon could have received a stiffer sentence. The original deal presented Tuesday at the Plantation Key courthouse called for a three-year suspended prison sentence, 215 days time-served in county jail and two years with absolutely no electronics capable of accessing the internet. The latter was a non-starter, not only for Arnone, but for Circuit Court Judge Luis Garcia, who said such a restriction was unrealistic in this age and almost a certain set-up for failure.
“The slightest technical violation, and you’re going to prison,” Garcia said about Arnone, who has a felony arrest record in the Keys dating back to 2011. “You look his prison record: failure to register as a felon. He’s not going to comply with this.”
Garcia said to Assistant State Attorney Jonathan Raiche and public defender Matthew Matteliano that three years in prison with no probation afterward is a fairer deal.
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Arnone’s interest was so piqued by Garcia’s comment that he spoke out from the jury box — where inmates sit during status hearings — asking Garcia, “Are you offering 36 months in state prison and no probation?”
Garcia answered, “Yes.”
“Sold,” Arnone enthusiastically replied.
Garcia warned Arnone that with his record, any arrest following his release will mean he spends much of the rest of his life in prison.
“You commit another felony and you’re going away for a long time,” Garcia said. “If you commit another felony in front of me, I’ll remember you.”
Arnone promised the judge his days as a criminal are over.
“I won’t your honor,” he said as a deputy took his fingerprints. “Thank you your honor.”
Deputies arrested Arnone last August after the manager of Hog Heaven Sports Bar in Islamorada called the Sheriff’s Office to report him using a fraudulent credit card at the bar.
Turns out, Hog Heaven wasn’t the only place Arnone was using the sham cards. Credit-card numbers for three people, two of whom have never been to the Keys, were used to buy dinners and fast food in addition to paying hefty bar tabs, detectives reported. Total loss to the credit-card companies was placed at $1,250.
Staff at Hog Heaven called the Sheriff’s Office on Aug. 6 to report that man identified as “Joey” Arone used a credit card to pay his bill. A check confirmed the card number was registered to another person.
A bar worker told the detective that Arnone was known for leaving big tips. Arnone admitted that he purchased the bogus card online and knew it wasn’t legitimate, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office arrest report.
Detectives said that Arone apparently obtained stolen credit-card information online and somehow transferred that information to a blank credit card printed with Arone’s name. When swiped, the card would bill the legitimate card holder.