Authorities have busted up a major shoplifting ring in New York State that boosted hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise and then sold the stolen goods for 25 cents on the dollar.
A member of that ring, Terry Stewart, 35, of Stillwater, New York, pleaded guilty to racketeering. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
The group made off with items such as breast pumps, tooth whitening strips, cross stitch and needlepoint kits, electric toothbrushes, thumb drives, pet supplies, razors, and tool sets from big box stores including Walmart, Sears, Home Depot, JoAnn Fabrics, Tops and Wegmans.
The merchandise was then allegedly sold to a co-defendant, Rico Vendetti of Rochester, New York, for a fraction of the retail value. Vendetti is accused of selling the merchandise on eBay for about half of its retail price, primarily to out-of-state buyers. Stewart alone supplied Vendetti with about $700,000 in stolen goods over several years.
Vendetti is also facing charges for a home invasion in which a man was murdered in Medina, New York. He and three co-defendants could get life in prison in that case.
Man Gets 70 Months for Robbing Jewelry Courier
Jose Vicente Ramirez-Rodriguez, 40, of Atlanta, Georgia, has admitted his role in a 2013 jewelry heist and was sentenced to 70 months behind bars.
Ramirez-Rodriguez followed a jewelry courier to a QuikTrip gas station on January 31, 2013. As he was following the courier, Ramirez-Rodriguez contacted a co-defendant to help him with the robbery. That co-defendant contacted the other three defendants, all of whom came to the gas station. When the courier was putting gas in his car, two of the defendants approached him. One restrained him with a knife and the other smashed the car’s window and took a briefcase containing over $125,000 in assorted jewelry.
Co-defendants Honorio Sanchez-Valenica, John Rodriguez, Ali Alejandro Godoy-Maximo and Michael Alejandro Tovar-Vargas were sentenced to prison terms of various lengths in October 2014 for their involvement in the robbery.