Saturday, August 08, 2015

BUSINESSMAN BUSTED FOR THEFT RING -- EZ Money Pawn Shop owner arrested in connection to raid

EZ Money Pawn Shop owner arrested in connection to raid

The owner of EZ Money Pawn Shop was arrested Thursday in connection to a raid at the shop that occurred last month.
Robert Benton Ellis, of St. Augustine, is accused of being a leader of a group that “initiated several grand thefts on several occasions from Target, Wal-Mart and Home Depot business,” according to the arrest affidavit.
The group targeted stores in St. Johns and Duval counties, and the stolen property was sold to Ellis at his pawn shop, located at located at 2640 U.S. 1 South.
The merchandise was unused and still in the box, the affidavit said.
Ellis, 56, would then pay cash for the merchandise.
“The suspects worked as a group at times and took orders from Robert Ellis for specific items,” the affidavit said.
The other suspects in the case told investigators the same story — they “stole several items at retail outlets at the request of Robert Ellis” and then “sold them to Robert Ellis at his business.”
The other parties in the theft ring were identified through online leads and in video surveillance footage, the affidavit said.
From June 14 to July 14, the Sheriff’s Office conducted three undercover operations, the affidavit said.
During the first operation, Ellis made a request for specific items during a controlled phone call.
He also purchased brand new merchandise valued at $599.99 for $100.
Ellis bought one of the requested items valued at $99 for $25 during the second operation. That item was also unused and sealed in its original packaging.
A short time later, Ellis requested another brand new item valued at $370.99. He purchased that item for $85.
The search warrant for EZ Money Pawn Shop was executed on July 14, and items stolen by the suspects were found in the store, the affidavit said.
The two-day search yielded $30,000 worth of stolen merchandise, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Among the items found during the raid of the store were air conditioners, flat-screen televisions, vacuum cleaners and chain saws.
The merchandise was confirmed stolen by loss prevention representatives from Home Depot and Target.
Detectives have suspected that the business has operated as a place where criminals sell stolen merchandise for several years, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Ellis was booked into the St. Johns County jail on three dealing in stolen property charges.
He remains in jail on a $15,000 bond.
The other suspects in the case have not been arrested, said Cmdr. Chuck Mulligan, a spokesman for the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.
“We’re still working on warrants,” he said. “This is still a living investigation, and there’s other information we’re working with.”

No comments: