A 39-year-old Louisiana man faces decades behind bars after pleading guilty to three counts of wire fraud on Jan. 7. Each count carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000. The Bossier City resident is scheduled to be sentenced on May 2. Prosecutors say that he stole more than $180,000 from Walmart, Target and Sam's Club stores. The matter was being heard by a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.
Court documents reveal that the man obtained expensive electronic equipment and other consumer goods by using barcodes from much cheaper items. Reports indicate that he then made money by selling online the items he had fraudulently obtained. Inspectors from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service led the investigation into the man's activities.
The man's activities first came to light when he was taken into custody by police in Minnesota after paying $35.82 for two home security systems with a retail price of $329 each in October 2017. He is said to have admitted switching the prices on the security systems, and media reports reveal that police discovered 20 boxes of expensive toys and electronic devices in his car.
This case shows how serious the penalties for fraud and other white-collar crimes can be. When the evidence against their clients is compelling, experienced criminal defense attorneys may suggest entering into a plea agreement rather than facing a jury. This is because proving allegations beyond reasonable doubt is rarely straightforward, and prosecutors will often reduce charges or offer a more lenient sentence to avoid the risks of a criminal trial.
Source: KLFY, "Bossier man steals more than $180,000 by switching out barcode stickers", Nancy Cook, Jan. 18, 2019
Source: Sun Thisweek, "Serial retail thief charged in Dakota County", Staff report, June 7, 2018