Hardware store worker arrested in fraud case
August 1, 2008
ASPEN ” An employee of the Ace Hardware store in Aspen who allegedly ran more than $4,000 in false merchandise returns and funneled the money to his credit card was arrested Thursday.
Store managers notified police in June that Richard Portillo, 18, an employee, was committing thefts, according to a police report.
The managers allege that Portillo took items off the hardware store shelves ” everything from an extension pole for painting and three universal remotes to two carpenter’s routers and expensive five-gallon buckets of house stain ” then returned them at the cash register where he was working and credited his own credit card.
The full tally of 12 returns, which totaled $4,305, is laid out in a paper trail of cash register printouts in the police reports.
On June 24, officers went to Ace Hardware, below Clark’s Market, and took Portillo in for questioning.
When Portillo pulled his ID from his wallet, officers noticed an Alpine Bank credit card, which he handed to officers.
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The credit card number matched the 12 bogus returns at Ace, and Portillo confessed to the crime, according to the police report.
The 12 returns were also allegedly conducted at the cash register where Portillo worked (employees sign in at a cash register using a code).
Portillo was 17 years old during the first incident on May 18, and there could be two separate cases for the string of thefts ” one in juvenile court, the others in district court, said Aspen police Investigator Jim Crowley.
Portillo was arrested Thursday at noon, charged with theft and taken to the Pitkin County jail. He posted a $5,000 bond and was released.