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Tallahassee Criminal Attorney > Blog > Criminal > Tallahassee “Ringleader” Charged with Organized Retail Theft

Tallahassee “Ringleader” Charged with Organized Retail Theft


Recently, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced criminal charges against the ringleader of an organized theft ring who allegedly stole nearly half a million dollars in heavy equipment from Florida Home Depot stores. The suspect faces multiple felony charges for stealing stump grinders, trenchers, boom lifts, excavators, and more. The suspect claimed to be a wholesaler and sold the equipment on Facebook Marketplace at discounted prices. As a result of the scheme, the suspect allegedly cost Home Depot more than $460,000 in ill-gotten proceeds. Civilians who purchased the equipment also lost thousands of dollars after buying it under false pretenses.

Police say that the suspect sent straw purchasers into Home Depot with prepaid credit cards to rent a piece of heavy equipment. The suspect would then immediately list the equipment for sale on Facebook Marketplace. The listings contained photos of equipment belonging to Home Depot and offered the items for far less than the going market value. To explain the pricing discounts, the suspect would claim to be a wholesaler who was attempting to sell the equipment before taking it to auction. The suspect would also present purchasers with a bill of sale listing his name and address.

All told, the suspect is alleged to have stolen 21 different pieces of rental equipment. In the process, he targeted multiple Home Depot stores across multiple jurisdictions.

The suspect is facing multiple charges for organized retail theft. They include:

  • One count of organized scheme to defraud $50,000 or more
  • One count of conspiracy to commit organized scheme to defraud $50,000 or more
  • 21 counts of unlawful sublease of a motor vehicle

Organized scheme to defraud 

Under Florida Statute § 817.034, it is unlawful to engage in a scheme to defraud to acquire property. The Florida Legislature passed this statute as a means to give law enforcement the ability to prosecute individuals who use modern technology to communicate with victims while concealing their identities. The statute prohibits using social media, text, phone, or mail to commit a scheme to defraud by communicating with a person with the intent to obtain property. The communication element of the crime is not required to prove the suspect violated this law. Prosecutors only need to establish that the suspect engaged in a scheme to defraud and property was obtained as a result of that scheme.

Organized scheme to defraud $50,000 or more is considered a first-degree felony under Florida law. That means it has a maximum sentence of 30 years in state prison. The conspiracy charge carries a similar punishment. Plus, the suspect is also facing 21 counts of unlawful sublease of a motor vehicle. This suspect could be facing a substantial amount of time in prison on these charges.

Talk to a Tallahassee Criminal Defense Lawyer Today 

The Tallahassee criminal defense lawyers at Luke Newman, P.A. represent the interests of those charged with serious crimes in Florida. If you are facing state or federal charges, call our office today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.



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