Deputy arrested and demoted for cutting an unlicensed driver a break and writing a speeding ticket to the driver's girlfriend instead

A veteran Florida Keys police officer was arrested and reassigned Wednesday for what appears to be giving a driver a break by falsifying a speeding citation.

Sgt. Ralph Williams with the Monroe County Sheriff's Office was arrested on a charge of falsifying an official document, a misdemeanor. He's been taken off law-enforcement duty and assigned to the agency's communications center.

On Oct. 26, Williams pulled over a driver for doing 69 mph in the 45 mph zone at mile marker 89 of U.S. 1 in Tavernier. The driver -- he wasn't named in the warrant for Williams' arrest -- didn't have a license but his passenger girlfriend, Jesely Brenes-Fernandez, did.

He reportedly told the couple he could arrest them both -- the driver for driving and Brenes-Fernandez for knowingly allowing him to drive. Williams also reportedly threatened to report Brenes-Fernandez to the state Department of Children and Families (her 11-year-old daughter was in the car).

Williams decided to write her the speeding ticket instead of the driver and told her if she contested it in court, he would obtain an arrest warrant for her boyfriend, Deputy Nestor Argote told Internal Affairs. Argote had backed up Williams on the call.

Argote left to respond to another call but soon returned to the traffic stop. Williams reportedly told him that he gave the woman the ticket instead of the driver, and Argote reportedly responded that he couldn't do that.

Argote reported Williams to Internal Affairs.

Brenes-Fernandez told Internal Affairs she was grateful for "avoiding a problem." The “problem” to which she referred was her boyfriend being arrested, Internal Affairs investigator Lt. David Carey wrote in a report.

Deputy Becky Herrin, the agency’s communications officer, said Williams began working for the Sheriff's Office as a reserve deputy in March 2003; he was hired as a road patrol deputy in May 2005 and promoted to sergeant in June 2011. His salary at the time of his arrest was $63,984.54.