Eight people took in a scheme that stole more than $100,000 from two companies, and the ringleader organized the crimes from behind bars, the Polk County Sheriff's Office said Thursday.
The "Operation Dirty Jail Bird" investigation began Nov. 20, 2017, when Tapia Construction of Lakeland reported fraudulent activity on their Home Depot account. The company reported that unlawful transactions of merchandise and gift cards totaling $45,388.81 were made in multiple cities across the state, starting in June 2017.
Tapia Construction's Lowe's account was hit by the group in 2018, netting another $47,434.76.
Detectives notified Yarbrough Electric, Inc. of Clearwater that the group was possibly accessing the company's business accounts. In one day, the company had $11,975.08 charged to their account in two different cities.
Sheriff Grady Judd said Thursday that the suspects used aliases and fake driver licenses to purchase 557 gift cards and merchandise.
Bobby Staley, 42, ran the scheme while incarcerated in Liberty Correctional Institute, Judd said. He allegedly made calls to banks from inside prison, telling call takers that he was the owner of the business.
Staley allegedly set up new mailing addresses in Jacksonville, where five of the suspects live. New credit cards were then linked to the victims' accounts.
Staley bragged to witnesses about smuggling cell phones into prison to assist in the scheme. He also recruited his daughter Adriana to take part, Judd said.
Bobby Staley was released early from the Florida Department of Corrections in October 2018 for good behavior. He violated his probation a few weeks later and was arrested again in Broward County.
Staley, 42, and Curtis Harris, 28, were already being held in the Broward County Jail. Christopher Coaxum, 34, Leonard Robinson III, 34, Nahshon Williams, 35, and Katrina Cyrus, 33, all of Jacksonville, were taken into custody in Duval County.
Ken Theogene, 36, of Tampa, and Adriana Staley, 18, of Jacksonville, remain at-large, investigators said.
Judd said Staley has committed 102 felonies and been in prison five times.
"Bobby Staley has a shockingly long criminal career," Judd said. "He's an unrepentant thief and con man. He steals from others' hard work. He cannot be trusted outside of jail or prison and now we have clear evidence he can't be trusted in prison."
"With the charges he's racked up this time, it looks like he's earned another long stretch in state custody," Judd continued. "Let's hope going forward, he's also earned close scrutiny from state prison officials so he can't continue to victimize innocent people while he's locked up."
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