Florida Keys

Florida Keys inmate escapes from work release

A Florida Keys jail inmate briefly escaped while on a work release detail Tuesday morning.

Rico Munn Rodriguez, 26, who is serving a 180-day jail sentence on a fraud conviction, was cutting the grass at the Florida Keys Marathon International Airport when he sneaked away from his supervisor, a non-law enforcement county employee, according to a Monroe County Sheriff’s Office press release.

Both men were on riding lawnmowers, “and at some point the county employee lost sight of Rodriguez,” Adam Linhardt, sheriff’s office spokesman, said.

“Rodriguez was assigned to a Monroe County employee who works at the airport who has taken the sheriff’s office Inmate Supervisor’s Course, which is required for those who supervise inmate trustees,” Linhardt said.

The employee reported the escape to the sheriff’s office at 9:43 a.m., Linhardt said.

Deputies “swarmed” the area, Linhardt said, and also checked the airport’s security camera footage, which showed Rodriguez take off his jail clothes and put on a pair of pants he found in a work shed. The footage showed him run shirtless toward U.S. 1.

A deputy arrested Rodriguez about 45 minutes later as he ran from 92nd Street on his way to the airport’s rental car parking area, according to the press release.

Rodriguez began his sentence on Sept. 30 and was scheduled for release in February 2020. He will now face additional time, Linhardt said. He was arrested in August 2018 on grand theft, using another person’s identification and uttering a false note.

Rodriguez was also a “trustee,” a designation usually assigned to those convicted of non-violent crimes serving their time in county jail as opposed to prison, Linhardt said.

The sheriff’s office has between 40 and 50 inmates detailed to work release jobs every day, Linhardt said.

Time spent as a trustee may qualify inmates for shaved time off their sentence.

However, any time Rodriguez earned off his sentence is probably gone, since he was booked on felony escape.

“Rodriguez will likely lose his trustee status and lose all his gain time,” Linhardt said.

David Goodhue covers the Florida Keys and South Florida for FLKeysNews.com and the Miami Herald. Before joining the Herald, he covered Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.