Theft can cover just about anything, but as a quick article in the Orlando Sentinel shows, this theft had a distinct Florida flair to it…
In nearby Winter Haven, Florida local resident Brad Reiter is accused of a most unusual crime. Think of the plot of Ocean’s 11 but with more vitamin C.
State agricultural investigators are claiming that Reiter unlawfully took over 4 million pounds of oranges and other citrus. These fruits came at an estimated loss of over half a million dollars!
The agricultural commissioner held a press conference in which he explained the details of the grand theft crime. Brad Reiter entered into at least three contracts to harvest citrus groves back in March, 2014.
The grove owners clearly did not do their research as it turned out that the suspect was not even a licensed citrus dealer! That didn’t stop him from harvesting all of the oranges and grapefruits from the groves.
The scurvy-resistant thief made off with over 50,000 boxes full of fruit without paying for it. The estimated amount of the stealing? Over $530,000!
The unlucky suspect was booked into Polk County Jail on first degree larceny and fraud charges. At the time of this writing he did not yet have a criminal defense attorney
Grand Theft is found under Florida Statute 812.014. Because the amount that allegedly was taken was over $100,000, this would be a first degree theft, punishable by up to 30 years in prison! This does not even take the separate felony fraud cases into consideration.
Common sense will tell you that many times prosecutors are willing to reduce prison time or even agree to probation if the defendant pays back restitution. In this case what was stolen were perishable items. These are not stolen goods that can just be returned and almost certainly the defendant did not sell all the citrus. This means a lot of the fruit he stole became spoiled and worthless. Any fruit he managed to sell would probably not cover the over half a million dollars in loss. In other words, unless he happens to have hundreds of thousands of dollars ready for restitution, he is almost certainly looking at a lengthy prison stay.
Finally, if he had attempted to resell any of this fruit, the state can add second degree felony charges of dealing in stolen property to him.