TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The owner of two Jacksonville businesses was arrested Wednesday.
William "Shep" Ellison, 70, was arrested in connection with a cargo theft ring "that stole semi-trucks and trailers with various cargo from areas in Georgia and Florida," according to a release from the office of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.
The stolen property included beer, energy drinks, refrigerators and power tools, totaling more than $1 million in losses, the release detailed.
Ellison owns Shep's Chicken and Auction House and Shep's Discount Store. According to the release, investigators found that "three defendants stole semi-trucks, trailers and cargo and transported the property to Ellison’s two Jacksonville businesses. Ellison then allegedly offered the stolen property for sale."
Investigators served search warrants for Ellison's home and businesses and seized thousands of stolen items.
Bondi's office said two additional defendants involved with this operation are in custody and one defendant is still at large. Pedro Fernandez Hernandez, 47, is currently in the custody of the Florida Department of Corrections; Lewis Dominguez, 33, is currently in federal custody on unrelated charges; and Juan Carlos Castaneda Quintana, 45, of Broward County, remains at large.
According to the release, the defendants face a range of charges, including racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering and grand theft.
“Members of this multistate theft ring are charged with stealing more than $1 million worth of cargo and then illegally selling the property,” Bondi said in the release. “Thanks to the great collaboration between my Office of Statewide Prosecution and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, stolen goods have been recovered, and those responsible will be held accountable.”
“Our investigation uncovered a massive cargo theft ring operating in multiple states,” Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen said in the release. “I’m pleased with the work of our agents in dismantling this theft ring and recovering over $1 million worth of stolen items.”
In January 2016, Ellison was arrested on drugs and weapons charges. In 1990, Ellison faced charges that included one count of solicitation to commit first degree murder, arson and two counts of dealing in stolen property. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
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