ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The former leader of a St. Petersburg church may have skipped over the ‘thou shalt not steal’ commandment as authorities arrest him for operating a multimillion-dollar theft ring that spanned several Florida counties.
Authorities say Robert Dell, a former pastor of The Rock Church and operator of a halfway house for people recovering from drug addiction, is accused of working with four accomplices to shoplift Milwaukee, DeWalt and other branded products from Home Depot stores throughout Citrus, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota Counties and sell the stolen items online through an eBay store called ‘Anointed Liquidator’.
Authorities arrested Dell and the four accused associates for stealing merchandise worth more than $1.4 million.
According to the Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement, Dell’s co-conspirators, Daniel Mace and Jessica Wild, stole the majority of the merchandise and, on average, victimized stores five to six times a day.
Daniel Mace and Jessica Wild mugshots courtesy of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
The suspected co-conspirators then delivered the merchandise to Dell’s house to be sold on eBay, according to the Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement.
Investigators say Dell used his position as founder of a halfway house to manipulate and threaten vulnerable people to take part in the scheme.
The Home Depot suspects Dell operated this scheme for more than 10 years, resulting in the loss of more than $5 million.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, "Due to the success of FORCE, another retail theft crime ring is dismantled, and our Statewide Prosecutors continue to file charges against organized retail thieves. This pastor clearly skipped over the commandment—thou shall not steal. Our FORCE taskforce shut down his criminal operation stealing millions of dollars worth of merchandise from Home Depot stores across the state to resell the items on eBay. We will not tolerate organized retail theft in Florida and my office will continue to combat these criminal organizations."
Attorney General Moody launched the FORCE taskforce to fight back against organized retail theft and prevent lawlessness seen in major cities Los Angeles and New York City from taking root in Florida
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Wilton Simpson said, "I’m proud of our Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement making these arrests and ending a years-long organized crime spree. While some progressive states may look the other way or pursue reduced charges for retail theft, this operation sends a clear message that Florida is relentless in our pursuit of justice and will not tolerate this criminal activity. I appreciate the investigators and law enforcement personnel who worked tirelessly on this case, as well as our partners at the Office of Statewide Prosecution and The Home Depot. Together, we will continue to pursue a safer and more secure Florida for all its residents and visitors."
Mugshots of Robert Dell, Jaclyn Barrie Dell and Karen Hurley Dell. Courtesy of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.
In addition to Dell, Mace and Wild, authorities also identified Jaclyn Dell, Robert Dell’s wife and Karen Dell, Robert Dell’s mother, as conspirators, who assisted in the collection, shipment and payment of the stolen goods.
Jaclyn Dell faces a charge of conspiracy to RICO and Karen Dell is charged with dealing in stolen property.
Dell faces charges of racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering and dealing in stolen property as an organizer, which are all felonies.