Theft ring operating in Detroit bar busted
Dearborn — The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office has charged four people in what it calls organized retail fraud, and is attempting to shut down a Detroit bar alleged to be the “fence” for the stolen goods, officials said Monday.
Three women — Beverly Jo Sassin, 70, of New Boston; Amanda Lynn Mosed, 38, of New Boston; and Jodie Beth Welbes, 49, of Lincoln Park — face eight counts related to the case. They were each given cash bonds of $100,000 last week at their arraignments at Dearborn’s 19th District Court.
Christopher Bucannion, 45, of New Boston, faces the same slate of eight charges, along with two gun charges, and received a $250,000 bond.
Wayne County Jail records do not show any of the four as being currently incarcerated.
During a Monday press conference at the Dearborn Police Department, Chief Ronald Haddad described the “most senior” of the four as the ringleader, without mentioning Sassin by name.
Police and prosecutors say the theft ring stole goods for months from big box retailers and grocery stores, such as Kroger, Meijer, Home Depot and Target. Many of the items, they say, were resold out of Cas Bar in Detroit and on the border with Dearborn.
Dennis Doherty, an assistant prosecutor for Wayne County, said the office is “working on having it padlocked,” and that the defendants are connected to the business.
A bartender at Cas Bar, who is not among the four facing charges, declined comment.
Fadwa Hammoud, lead attorney for the business protection unit at the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, said the seemingly strange resale location actually isn’t that unusual.
“We’ve seen stolen merchandise sold in businesses you can’t even imagine,” she said.
Haddad said organized retail crime is “on the rise” in Wayne County, and cited it as “the reason consumer prices are going up.”
A corner of a conference room was filled with proceeds from the alleged theft ring, including three video arcade games, a washing machine, many bottles of top shelf liquor — and some $620,000 in cash, Haddad said.
“This was not someone looking for a deal at Christmastime,” Haddad said. “This isn’t a pack of gum — it’s high-end stuff.”
He described the four defendants as people “in position to move a lot in a hurry.”
Hammoud said that in her years of trying these cases, organized retail fraud is “drug-driven, heroin-driven,” estimating that some 90 percent of boosters, the people who physically steal goods from store shelves, are addicts resorting to theft for drug money.
“It’s a quick way for boosters to go out and get cash,” Hammoud said.
Hammoud declined to estimate how many people might be involved in the retail ring overall.
All four are due in court for a probable cause conference on Dec. 7.