A man defrauded Home Depot and the Missouri Department of Labor as part of two different schemes, according to federal authorities.
In one scheme, authorities said he stole about $35,100 of vinyl flooring from the home improvement store chain. In another, the man is accused of defrauding Missouri’s Division of Employment Security out of $142,423.
Now, the 36-year-old man from Ste. Genevieve County has pleaded guilty to wire fraud, conspiracy to steal money and being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to a May 10 news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri.
The man’s defense attorney told McClatchy News that his client is a “great dad” who “comes from a really good family.” The man has a lot of redeeming qualities, he said, but made some bad decisions.
He said the defendant has accepted responsibility for his actions and has the potential to be a great member of the community after his time in custody.
Home Depot Theft
Starting on Jan. 4, the man and an accomplice began stealing from Home Depot stores in the St. Louis area, according to his signed plea agreement.
Prosecutors said he would fill a shopping cart with boxes of vinyl flooring, then place “an inexpensive item” on top.
“At the checkout counter, (the man) paid for the inexpensive item but would claim that the flooring had been paid for online, producing a fraudulent receipt,” officials said.
Authorities estimate he stole about 468 boxes of flooring — each “priced at about $75 or more.”
The man then sold the flooring on Facebook, according to the release.
The man began filing fraudulent unemployment claims for about 10 people in May 2020, according to court records.
In the claims, he lied by saying those individuals had been laid off from his construction company, authorities said.
He then “cashed out the unemployment benefits, which had been placed on debit cards, and kicked some money back to the ‘workers,’ who had voluntarily provided him their personal information to use in the scheme,” according to the release.
Detectives with the St. Charles County Police Department were investigating catalytic converter thefts on March 31, 2022, when they found the man inside his Jeep parked in a storage lot, authorities said.
He was arrested, and police said they found a stolen Glock 9mm pistol inside his vehicle.
The man was not allowed to have a gun as a convicted felon, authorities said.
He faces up to 35 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000 in addition to restitution, according to the release.