Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Three Schuylkill County Men Charged in Retail Theft Scheme Targeting Cabela's Store

Three individuals from Schuylkill County are facing charges after allegedly orchestrating a retail theft operation targeting the Cabela's store near Hamburg. 

According to online records, Charles S. Lehman, 46, Timothy Kelly, 39, both of Barnesville, and Julius C. Dudash, 42, of Mahanoy City, have been accused of conspiring to defraud the outdoor equipment retailer out of thousands of dollars through a scheme involving the manipulation of price tags.

According to court documents filed by Tilden Township Police, the operation involved switching price tags on high-value outdoor equipment, allowing the accused to purchase items at significantly reduced prices. 

Moreover, one of the accused would then return the merchandise without a receipt, receiving a gift card for the full value of the items plus sales tax. This gift card was then utilized to further perpetuate the fraudulent scheme.

The charges leveled against the trio by Tilden Township police on February 1 include felony counts of retail theft, conspiracy, receiving stolen property, and possessing an access device knowing it is counterfeit, altered, or incomplete—a charge directly related to the alteration of price tags.

Detailed court records reveal the extent of the operation, with incidents dating back to November and December 2023. On November 10, Timothy Kelly, identified from a prior retail theft, entered the Cabela's store and allegedly replaced price tags on items totaling approximately $2,000 in value. Subsequently, Charles Lehman, another of the accused, fraudulently returned the items and received a gift card for their full value, which Kelly then utilized to purchase additional items at reduced prices.

The investigation further uncovered similar incidents involving Kelly and Lehman on multiple occasions throughout November and December. 

Additionally, Julius Dudash, who had been banned from the store from an undisclosed previous incident, was implicated in a November 24 incident where he allegedly participated in the price tag switching scheme.

Kelly and Lehman were both arraigned on February 12th, 2024 before Magisterial District Judge Steven Michael Chieffo.  Lehman is currently free on ROR and Kelly free on $50,000 unsecured bail, pending a hearing scheduled for March 18th, 2024.

According to online records, Dudash has not been arraigned yet.