FORT WAYNE – Three Florida men have been charged with stealing more than a half-million dollars worth of cargo as part of a trucking scam that targeted two Fort Wayne companies, according to court documents filed Friday.
Between Oct. 24 and Dec. 3, the men picked up loads from OmniSource Corp., a metal recycling company, and Rea, a magnet wire producer, but the loads never arrived at their intended destinations in the Midwest, South and Northeast, court documents stated.
The loss to OmniSource was $499,525.65 worth of metal, and the loss to Rea was $296,412.86 worth of magnet wire, according to court documents.
Late last year, city police started investigating the thefts, four from OmniSource and two from Rea. Surveillance video showed that the same semis, a blue-and-white Freightliner and a yellow Kenworth, were used in the heists, court documents stated.
The loads that were stolen had been listed on Internet sites where truck drivers can learn about shipments that need to be picked up. A man calling himself Jimmy responded to the OmniSource postings and claimed to be with MAM Trucking in Hialeah, Fla. When the loads did not reach their destinations, the company that handles OmniSources logistics called Jimmy back, and he was evasive and gave excuses as to why he could not confirm the deliveries, court documents said.
A company called J&M Transport Cargo in Hialeah responded to Web postings for the Rea loads.
In both cases, the victimized companies were given what looked like proper paperwork, court documents stated.
An insurance company investigator, looking into the thefts for OmniSource, told police that a man named Roberto M. Gonzalez was a suspected member of the theft ring.
REA and OmniSource employees each picked Gonzalez out of a photo lineup as a driver who hauled away missing loads, court documents said.
Fingerprints found on a shipping document used in one of the OmniSource thefts matched those of men named Dairan Calderon and Yasmel Encarnacion. An OmniSource employee picked Encarnacion out of a photo lineup, court documents stated.
Police believe the ring is also responsible for an Oct. 25 theft of cargo worth $40,888.31 from an OmniSource site in Toledo. Additionally, police learned that the Kenworth rig was involved in the theft of trailers loaded with liquor in New Jersey in early 2012. That rig is registered to Gonzalez, and it was seen parked at his fathers Hialeah home in January, court documents said.
Gonzalez, 24, of Hialeah, and Calderon, 34, of Miami, were each charged Friday with corrupt business influence and two counts of theft. Encarnacion, 25, of Miami, faces a charge of corrupt business influence and a single count of theft. They have not yet been arrested.