TRENTON – The leader of an organized retail theft ring that targeted approximately 70 Home Depot stores, primarily in New Jersey, pleaded guilty today, Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced.
Julio Arriola Suarez, 49, of West New York, aka Jimmy R. Alcivar, pleaded guilty today to a second-degree shoplifting charge before Superior Court Judge Robert J. Gilson. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Suarez be sentenced to four years in state prison. Gilson scheduled sentencing for Dec. 14.
Suarez was arrested on April 3 in Jersey City. An investigation by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and the United States Secret Service, conducted with assistance from the Home Depot Corporation, determined that Suarez led a ring that committed thefts at multiple Home Depot stores per day, stealing hundreds of dollars in merchandise by “under-ringing” it through self-checkout areas. Three additional members of the ring pleaded guilty earlier this month and face jail time.
“This ringleader pleaded guilty under a state law that provides for a substantial prison term for shoplifting if over $1,000 in merchandise is stolen by an organized retail theft enterprise,” said Chiesa. “We’ll continue to make strong use of this criminal statute and related provisions aimed at organized retail theft in order to address this growing problem, which retailers estimate costs them $15 billion to $30 billion annually across the U.S.”
“We’ll continue to partner with other law enforcement agencies and retailers to dismantle retail theft rings and successfully prosecute their members,” said Stephen J. Taylor, Director of the Division of Criminal Justice. “These investigations often depend heavily on store records and personnel, so we count on strong cooperation from the industry, as exemplified by Home Depot in this case.”
A fifth man who was charged in April in the investigation, Nicolas Arriola Cortez, 49, formerly of Union City, remains a fugitive and is being sought on a warrant. The charges against Cortez are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.