RINGLEADER PLEADS GUILTY IN HOME DEPOT THEFT INVESTIGATION

(The following is a reformatted version of a press release
issued by New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa and
received via e-mail. The release was confirmed by the sender.) 
October 23, 2012 
RINGLEADER PLEADS GUILTY IN PROSECUTION OF ORGANIZED RETAIL
THEFT RING THAT TARGETED HOME DEPOT STORES IN NEW JERSEY 
Faces state prison sentence in investigation by Attorney
General’s Office & U.S. Secret Service 
TRENTON - Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced that a
man pleaded guilty today in connection with an organized retail
theft ring that he led that targeted approximately 70 Home Depot
stores, primarily in New Jersey, but also in New York,
Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. 
Julio Arriola Suarez, 49, of West New York, aka Jimmy R.
Alcivar, pleaded guilty today to a second-degree shoplifting
charge before Superior Court Judge Robert J. Gilson.  The charge
is graded as a second-degree crime under New Jersey law because
Suarez admitted that he committed thefts totaling more than
$1,000 in merchandise as part of an organized retail theft
enterprise.  Deputy Attorney General Michael J. Rappa took the
guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial &
Computer Crimes Bureau.  Under the plea agreement, the state
will recommend that Suarez be sentenced to four years in state
prison.  Judge Gilson scheduled sentencing for Suarez for Dec.
14. 
Suarez was arrested on April 3, 2012 in Jersey City.  An
investigation by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and
the United States Secret Service, conducted with assistance from
the Home Depot Corporation, determined that Suarez led a ring
that committed thefts at multiple Home Depot stores per day,
stealing hundreds of dollars in merchandise by “under-ringing”
it through self-checkout areas.  Three additional members of the
ring pleaded guilty earlier this month and face jail time. 
“This ringleader pleaded guilty under a state law that provides
for a substantial prison term for shoplifting if over $1,000 in
merchandise is stolen by an organized retail theft enterprise,”
said Attorney General Chiesa. “We’ll continue to make strong use
of this criminal statute and related provisions aimed at
organized retail theft in order to address this growing problem,
which retailers estimate costs them $15 billion to $30 billion
annually across the U.S.” 
“We’ll continue to partner with other law enforcement agencies
and retailers to dismantle retail theft rings and successfully
prosecute their members,” said Stephen J. Taylor, Director of
the Division of Criminal Justice.  “These investigations often
depend heavily on store records and personnel, so we count on
strong cooperation from the industry, as exemplified by Home
Depot in this case.” 
The following three men each pleaded guilty to third-degree
shoplifting before Judge Gilson earlier this month.  The state
will recommend that each man be sentenced to 364 days in the
county jail and a period of probation. 
1.      David Pulgarin, 29, formerly of Union City and West New
York, pleaded guilty on Oct. 9; 
2.      Javier Duque Piza, 56, formerly of West New York,
pleaded guilty on Oct. 9; and 
3.      Julio Duque Barahona, 30, recently in prison in New York
State, pleaded guilty on Oct. 10. 
Pulgarin is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 2, and Piza and
Barahona, on Nov. 16. 
A fifth man who was charged in April in the investigation,
Nicolas Arriola Cortez, 49, formerly of Union City, remains a
fugitive and is being sought on a warrant. 
The ring members, who are from Central and South America, were
based in Hudson County, N.J.  Pulgarin is a naturalized U.S.
citizen, but the others are not U.S. citizens. Suarez, Piza and
Barahona could potentially face deportation on the charges.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had previously filed a
detainer against Barahona in connection with a drug conviction
in New York State. 
The investigation revealed that the ring members typically
struck numerous Home Depot stores and stole hundreds of dollars
in merchandise each day. The ring members allegedly stole items
that were relatively expensive from the Home Depot stores by
going through the self-checkout areas and not properly scanning
the items. They allegedly would use various tactics to hide
their “under-ringing” activity in the self-checkout area from
security cameras and any employee assigned to the area. In some
instances, a second ring member would distract the store
employee. 
The investigation was conducted for the Division of Criminal
Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau by Deputy Attorney
General Rappa and Detective Sgt. Louis Matirko.  Attorney
General Chiesa thanked the United States Secret Service Newark
Field Office, under the supervision of Special Agent in Charge
Jacob Christine, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s
Homeland Security Investigations Newark, under the supervision
of Special Agent in Charge Andrew McLees. 
Attorney General Chiesa also thanked the Central Investigation
Team of Home Depot Corporation, which provided valuable
assistance throughout the investigation, as well as the
following law enforcement agencies: West New York Police
Department, Dover Police Department (Morris County, N.J.), Union
Township Police Department, Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s
Office, Whitehall (Pa.) Police Department and Lehigh County
(Pa.) District Attorney’s Office. 
For Further Information Contact:
Peter Aseltine (609) 292-4791 
(sgp) NY 
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