DENVER - Twenty-five people have been indicted in a scheme that netted them more than $35,000 in stolen gift cards from Denver-area Lowe's and Home Depot stores.
Christopher Rodriguez has been arrested and indicted by a grand jury as the alleged ringleader of a group of two dozen people now facing felony charges, according to the Denver District Attorney's Office.
Rodriguez, 31, is charged with violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act (a felony), as well as other felonies including money laundering, theft and violation of bail bond.
The indictment alleges Rodriguez would tell fellow members of his criminal enterprise to steal merchandise from home improvement stores, then return the stolen items for store credit on gift cards the group would later sell for cash.
Members of the group were paid in cash or drugs for their deeds, according to the indictment.
The merchandise cards were sold at stores specializing in gift cards for about 70 percent of the card's value, the Denver DA's office says.
Between Dec. 2015 and Dec. 2016, Rodriguez allegedly provided room and board in Denver for some members of the enterprise.
The indictment says he would also bond associates out of jail and compel them to work for him until they could repay the bond fee.
At the time of many of the alleged incidents, Rodriguez was on bond under intensive supervision with electronic monitoring in connection with pending criminal cases against him.
Co-defendant Ginia Bobian was also on bond at the time of many of the alleged incidents and under intensive electronic monitoring supervision.
Their devices placed them at the scene of Home Depot and Lowe’s stores for which they are charged in the indictment.
Eighteen of the defendants were arrested or in custody. Seven remain at-large.
First appearances in Denver District Court have not yet been scheduled.
The indictment is the result of a months-long investigation and collaboration by the Denver District Attorney’s Economic Crime Unit, Denver Metro Gang Task Force, Denver Police Department, Aurora Police Department, and the Lakewood Police Department.
The Denver Sheriff’s Department assisted with the apprehension of several of the defendants, which took place last week.