From the Orange Police Department:
Due to the retail section in Orange, our officers respond to quite a few shoplifting incidents. Often these thefts are perpetrated by those struggling with drug addiction, but they do not operate alone.
People who shoplift from stores often use another person as a ‘fence,’ or a place where they sell their stolen goods. The ‘fence’ then resells the items to the public.
In the matter detailed below, the actions of two people acting as fences, and paying for others to act as shoplifters, caused retail stores in this area to lose just under $4 million worth of merchandise.
The following press release details the prosecution of one such person:
Stratford Man Sentenced to 18 Months In Prison For Role in Large-Scale Fencing Operation
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that Matthew Harwood, 43, of Stratford, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford to 18 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for his role in a large-scale fencing operation.
Judge Shea also ordered Harwood to pay a $35,000 fine and perform 100 hours of community service while on supervised release.
According to court documents and statements made in court, between January 2012 and December 2014, Harwood participated in a conspiracy to purchase the stolen property from “boosters,” who typically were shoplifters with opioid addictions, and then resell the property at online websites.
Harwood, his co-conspirator Andrew Sacco, and others instructed the boosters to steal certain items from retail stores such as Petco, Staples, Walmart, and Bed Bath & Beyond and paid cash for the stolen items at approximately one-third of their retail price.
At times, Harwood provided expenses for car rentals and spending money for overnight or out-of-state trips to steal products.
After receiving the stolen merchandise, Harwood and Sacco stored the merchandise at multiple locations, including Harwood’s former residence in Durham, Sacco’s former residence in Durham, and business locations in North Haven. Harwood and Sacco then sold the stolen products at online sites, including eBay and Amazon.
Through this scheme, retailers lost more than $3.9 million.
On November 3, 2016, Harwood pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit the interstate transport of stolen property and one count of interstate transport of stolen property.
Harwood also has forfeited the house in Durham where he formerly resided, and two mutual fund accounts in his name.
Harwood, who is released on a $100,000 bond, was ordered to report to prison on March 19, 2018.
Sacco pleaded guilty to the same charges and, on December 6, 2017, was sentenced to 48 months of imprisonment.
This matter has been investigated by Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Connecticut State Police, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, Connecticut Department of Correction, Connecticut Chief State’s Attorney’s Office, and the New Haven, North Haven, Milford, West Haven, Wallingford, Hamden and Orange Police Departments.