Mount Pleasant police say a 31-year-old man was buying stolen tools from a drug addict and then selling the items on craigslist, using detailed records to track the transactions.
Jesus Cortez, of Racine, will be formally charged Jan. 7, 2016 with one felony count of receiving stolen goods. His initial appearance was postponed to give him time to retain a lawyer. If Cortez is convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison and/or up to $25,000 in fines. Because he is a repeat offender, the judge in his case has the option to tack more time onto any sentence he might receive.
According to the criminal complaint, police were called on July 1 to Putzmeister on 90th Street for a report of stolen tools, power tools and tool boxes. When officers arrived, they were told the incidents took place between June 29 and July 1 and that only certain employees are assigned tools and only those individuals know where the tools are located.
Police say they found ads on craigslist for tools and toolboxes and set up a buy in the parking lot of Walmart. Putzmeister management were shown photos of the items for sale, and they confirmed the tools were part of a special order from Germany. When officers met Cortez and bought the tools, they took him into custody.
During questioning Cortez at first would only admit that what he was doing was wrong, the complaint reads. He would only say that former co-worker Randy Gartner would bring him the tools and would not admit the tools were stolen despite the tools being in their boxes and looking new.
When officers executed a search warrant on his home, they found in his bedroom a ledger with detailed records of tools, power tools and tool boxes from Putzmeister. In the basement, a variety of tools were located with a total value of $9,824.80. A search of Cortez’s phone revealed communications with Gartner regarding the trade of tools for various illegal and prescription drugs.
A complaint was filed against Gartner last month, and he was also supposed to have been in court Thursday for his initial appearance. Online court records indicate Gartner was a no-show, but a warrant issued for his arrest has not yet been recorded.
Investigators say they interviewed Gartner on July 16, and he admitted to stealing tools from Putzmeister for over a year to pay for his drug habit. He told police that Cortez knew the tools were stolen.