By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Police announced the arrest of four suspects linked to a million-dollar retail fraud ring, including one who is accused of leading the ring run out of Cas Bar in Detroit.
Three New Boston residents, Cas Bar owner Beverly Jo Sassin, 70; Amanda Mosed, 38; and Christopher Bucannion, 45, and Jodie Welbes, 49, from Lincoln Park were arrested and charged with eight felonies each.
Bucannion was also charged with two additional firearms charges.
The three women were arraigned on Nov. 29 in front 19th District Court Judge Mark Somers with bonds set at $100,000 cash for each.
Bucannion was arraigned on Nov. 30 on the charges in front of Somers with his bond set at $250,000 cash, but will be required to wear a GPS tether if released.
The police department coordinated with federal, state, and local partners to execute multiple search warrants in the retail fraud ring on Nov. 26, Police Chief Ronald Haddad said. He said items recovered included $620,000 in cash allegedly used to fund the criminal enterprise, arcade games, weapons, alcohol, drugs, appliances, poker machines that pay out, merchandise.
“Several months ago, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy recognized the fact that retail fraud had an organized conspiracy behind it and she formed a task force within her office,” he said. “Dearborn police and Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office conducted an investigation into an alleged organized retail fraud enterprise that had been plaguing the metro Detroit area for numerous years.”
During a Dec. 3 press conference, Haddad said did not name Cas Bar owner Sassin by name as the ring leader, but said the oldest of the four suspects charged was the ringleader.
He also added that the items stolen were resold from Cas Bar, 7800 Michigan Ave. in Detroit less than a mile from Dearborn.
Items sold were stolen from Kroger, Home Depot, Meijer, Target and other grocery stores or big retailers in Wayne County.
Fadwa Hammoud, Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office lead attorney for the business protection unit, said retail crime is impacting all types of businesses in the entire county.
“The message is we want businesses to operate in our county, we want them to be successful, bring in jobs; however, we want our businesses to operate legally,” Hammoud said. “We will not be tolerating illegal activity in our businesses, especially activities that are impacting other businesses that are established here in our county.”
Haddad said the items on display at the press conference were a fraction of the stolen property recovered by the Police Department in the retail fraud ring. He also added that the items were stolen from four to five different places including some residents of suspects involved.
“I say you’re looking at a million dollar operation,” Haddad said. “This is not somebody looking for a deal at Christmastime or buying some used merchandise from a friend. This is an ongoing criminal enterprise that victimizes everyone.”
He said the investigation is ongoing.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)