Anthony J. Cicero
HARRISBURG — Criminal charges have been filed against an Allegheny County man accused of running a lucrative criminal enterprise by paying others, including drug addicts, to steal various items from retail stores and later reselling the items on the Internet.
Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane announced the charges against Anthony J. Cicero, 50, are the result of an investigation by the Office of Attorney General’s Organized Crime Section.
Evidence presented to a statewide investigating grand jury showed Cicero through the alleged criminal enterprise made a gross of more than $2 million over the course of several years. The grand jury, which recommended the criminal charges, also heard testimony that Cicero used drug addicts in the initial thefts and fueled their addictions by providing them with money.
“This defendant not only cost retail stores millions in lost inventory, but he also enabled and fed the drug addictions of multiple individuals,” Attorney General Kane said. “This was a case where the defendant exploited others at every turn.”
According to the grand jury presentment, the investigation began after Glenn Justus, a senior corporate investigator with a major bookseller, identified several individuals involved in the theft of merchandise from retail stores in Allegheny County.
Interviews revealed these people, often referred to as “boosters,” were selling stolen merchandise to Cicero, the grand jury presentment states. Subsequent investigation showed Cicero allegedly sold the items online using Amazon.com and eBay.
Investigators also reported that Cicero directed these “boosters” which items they should target. The items included medical books, computer books, graphic novels, hard cover books, new releases and LEGO products.
Stores that were targeted during the alleged criminal enterprise include Rite Aid, CVS, Giant Eagle Market District, Staples and Wal-Mart.
Investigators also made controlled purchases from Cicero in which they went online and purchased items they suspected were stolen from a particular store. In one case, a suspected stolen item arrived in a package that was marked with a return address of Cicero’s residence, the grand jury presentment states.
Investigators also executed a search warrant at Slipped Disc, the Pittsburgh used record store that Cicero owns. There they found approximately 1,500 suspected stolen items with a retail value of more than $44,000. Agents also said they seized merchandise that was specially marked and sold to Cicero during earlier undercover transactions.
Attorney General Kane thanked Justus, the senior corporate investigator, for his assistance with the investigation.
Cicero, 280 Cline St., East Pittsburgh, is charged with two counts of corrupt organizations and one count each of theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, criminal conspiracy and organized retail theft.
His bail was set at $50,000 unsecured at a preliminary arraignment this morning. A preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 14.
Cicero will be prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Mark Serge of the Office of Attorney General’s Organized Crime Section.