Suspicious store clerk ends crime spree

A Home Depot sales associate in Deerfield Beach, Fla., helped end an organized crime operation that defrauded the retailer of more than $97,000 in merchandise, according to an article in the Sun Sentinel.

Authorities arrested Bobby Joe Ellis Staley, 34, who they claim was able to make fraudulent purchases by duping the company that handles credit card accounts for Home Depot into adding him as an authorized purchaser.

Staley made many purchases at Home Depot stores in Broward and Miami-Dade counties during the months of September, October and November 2010, according to investigators.

"He'd buy expensive items like impact windows and power tools," Detective John Calabro of the Broward Sheriff's Office's told the Sun Sentinel. "Some of his transactions were up to $25,000." Most of the store employees thought Staley was legitimate except for one sales associate, who got suspicious and notified authorities, according to the police affidavit.

In addition to the alleged fraudulent transactions in Broward and Miami-Dade counties during the three months in 2010, investigators from Palm Beach County said they had arrested Staley many times in 2009 on similar charges.

The suspect was arrested and charged with one count of organized scheme to defraud and 12 counts of unlawful use of credit cards. He was held on a bond of $12,000 at a Sept. 29 court appearance.

According to the affidavit, investigators determined that Staley had been arrested at least 40 times throughout South Florida and Southwest Florida, on charges including grand theft, credit card fraud and issuing worthless checks. He has 34 convictions, the document said.

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