'Operation Sticky Fingers' Nets 12 in Retail-Theft Ring

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A dozen people were indicted on Wednesday for a far-reaching theft ring that amassed millions worth of stolen printer ink cartridges, small electronics, headphones, and other random items the thieves smuggled out of stores in 28 states, including NY, according to state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

The year-long investigation - dubbed "Operation Sticky Fingers" - was conducted by the Attorney General's Organized Crime Task Force with support from the New York State Police.

Roger Ringhiser, 53, of Long Beach - also known as "Captain Rog" - and Kevin Cerrato, 22, of Elmont, listed as a "Sergeant", were among the 12 indicted, according to Schneiderman's office.

While electronic goods were most favored, they also ran a sideline in expensive flea collars pinched from pet stores, which like other ill gotten gains were re-sold online on sites such as Amazon and eBay, prosecutors said.

"Since 2009 alone he has resold more than 20 million in stolen goods based on his ability to send these theft crews around the country stealing items at his direction", she added.

More than $7.7 million was recovered from the defendants' homes, financial institutions, and Amazon and PayPal merchant accounts, according to prosecutors.

Twelve alleged gang members have been slapped with a 41-count indictment that could land them in jail from eight to 25 years.

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At his apartment, Rimbaugh received, sorted, catalogued, and shipped the stolen merchandise for resale and met with theft crew members to pay them for the stolen merchandise, the indictments charge.

The crew was allegedly led by Manhattan resident Richard Rimbaugh, 64, aka "The General", and Brooklyn man George Athanasatos, 62, aka "The Field Marshall".

Staples (NasdaqGS: SPLS - news) and BestBuy were two of the stores most often targeted. When worn underneath regular clothing, the vests can hide large amounts of merchandise while at the stores.

When departing the stores, the crews used "kryptonite" devices to deactivate security alarms at store exits, as well as short-wave radios, which made it easier for the crews to eavesdrop on store security, authorities said. He would also issue credit cards to his associates to cover travel expenses such as flights, vehicle rentals, and hotels.

In fact, when the Attorney General's office was executing its search warrant on Rimbaugh's home, five packages of stolen merchandise arrived, Schneiderman said.

An attorney for Rimbaugh, Barry Slotnick, said he believes he will be acquitted.

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