Ten Days at Key West Airport: A Plane Crash, Bomb Threat, and Six-Figure Embezzlement

It's been an interesting time for the little Key West International Airport, which has been home to a plane crash, a bomb threat, and a six-figure embezzlement -- all in the past ten days.

It started on October 24, when 32-year-old Texas resident Darren Tonner drank a bit at one of the airport bars, got into a fight with his wife, and decided he didn't want to get on his flight to Miami -- so police say he just called in a bomb threat.

A sheriff's deputy who got word of the argument between the two was escorting Tonner to his luggage when the deputy heard on his radio that someone had called the Key West Police Department saying, "There's a flight between Key West and Miami, and someone onboard has explosive ordnance."

The caller -- later identified as Tonner -- had phoned in his message and then hung up and didn't pick up his phone when the dispatcher attempted to call him back, police say. He told police that his phone was in his back pocket and that he had "misdialed" and claimed he was just having a regular old airport chat about explosives.

A week later, on Halloween, a Gulfstream 150 jet carrying former NASCAR driver and current team owner Rick Hendrick crash-landed on the runway.

Police say both the pilot and copilot attempted to use the brakes on the plane, but the brakes were not holding pressure.

All four of the people onboard were transported to the hospital with minor injuries, and some fuel leaked out of the plane. Police estimate that less than 300 gallons of that fuel made its way into a pond adjacent to the crash.

Then there's the embezzlement, in which police made an arrest of an airport restaurant employee after they say more than $165,000 went missing off the books.

On September 26, the owner of the Conch Flyer Restaurant called the cops saying he believed one of his employees has been stealing money from him since January 2010.

The three people with key access to the cash deposits were 42-year-old David Imbaro, who's worked there since November 2009, and the bookkeeper and her husband, who have both been there since 1994.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office says the only time money didn't go missing since January 2010 was when Imbaro went on vacation for a month in August.

They also noticed that when Imbaro was arrested by Key West Police in May on a drug charge, they recovered $40,000 in cash from a safe in his home.

Imbaro told the cops at the time that he had just sold his bar in Miami, which police discovered to be a bar that never existed.

Imbaro was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center yesterday on a grand theft charge and was being held on $150,000 bond.

That's one hell of a ten-day stretch for a one-runway airport.

Follow The Pulp on Facebook and on Twitter: @ThePulpBPB. Follow Matthew Hendley on Facebook and on Twitter: @MatthewHendley.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley