Those charged are from Arcola and Mattoon
Chicago – Attorney General Raoul charged four individuals in connection to the alleged theft of tools, electronics and equipment in the estimated amount of $24,000. The charges are the result of a multi-jurisdictional investigation facilitated by Raoul’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force.
The Attorney General’s office charged Zachary Harris, 35, of Mattoon, Illinois, with two counts of organized retail crime, Class 2 felonies each punishable by up to seven years in prison; theft, a Class 2 felony punishable by up to seven years in prison; money laundering, a Class 2 felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison; and two counts of retail theft, Class 3 felonies, each punishable by up to five years in prison. Harris is currently in custody at Graham Correctional Center on unrelated charges.
Corey Mitchell, 33, of Mattoon, Illinois, was charged with theft, a Class 2 felony punishable by up to seven years in prison; money laundering, a Class 2 felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison; and two counts of retail theft, Class 3 felonies, each punishable by up to five years in prison.
Charles McSpadden, 40, of Arcola, Illinois, was charged with organized retail crime, a Class 2 felony punishable by up to seven years in prison; theft, a Class 2 felony punishable by up to seven years in prison; and money laundering, a Class 2 felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison.
Holly Brewster, 36, of Mattoon, Illinois, was charged with money laundering, a Class 2 felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison; and retail theft, a Class 3 felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.
“The effects of organized retail crime are not limited to any one region of Illinois, particularly when the sales of stolen merchandise often fund additional criminal activity that makes communities less safe,” Raoul said. “These charges demonstrate the importance of the collaborative work that my office’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force is doing to hold individuals accountable. I would like to thank the Mattoon Police Department and our law enforcement and retail partners for their help with this investigation.”
“The City of Mattoon Police Department and its officers are very fortunate to work alongside AG investigators in curbing retail crime affecting our communities,” Mattoon Police Chief Sam Gaines said. “The burden these crimes place on the retailer with the reduction of staff or wages for employees when stores lose profits, the loss of community jobs when stores are forced to close, the loss of state and local sales tax revenue for local programs and services, are all issues the Mattoon Police Department takes seriously and will continue to battle against.”
Attorney General Raoul’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force is the first statewide, public-private collaboration of its kind in Illinois and is designed to foster cooperation among retailers, online marketplaces, law enforcement agencies and state’s attorneys dedicated to targeting organized retail crime enterprises. The task force allows the office to utilize data and tips provided by retailers and to partner across jurisdictions with law enforcement agencies to investigate organized retail crimes and trace thefts to the source. Raoul’s goal in establishing the task force is to improve communication among public and private entities and utilize a multifaceted approach to combatting organized retail theft and related criminal activity.
In addition to establishing the task force, Attorney General Raoul initiated changes to Illinois law to create and specifically define organized retail crime in state law. The new law signed in 2022 puts in place stronger oversight of online marketplaces to curb actors who exploit these legitimate platforms to illegally sell stolen goods. It also creates a statewide intelligence platform to help retailers and law enforcement agencies better coordinate their enforcement efforts. Additionally, the law requires online marketplaces to verify the identity of high-volume sellers, which will help police outlets used to monetize stolen merchandise. The law also aims to reduce a criminal’s ability to avoid prosecution for organized retail crime by allowing any state’s attorney where any element of organized retail crime takes place to prosecute the whole crime. The law also gives the Attorney General’s office authority to utilize the statewide grand jury to prosecute organized retail crime. In addition, the legislature appropriated $5 million to the Attorney General’s office to award grants to state’s attorneys’ offices and law enforcement agencies that investigate and prosecute organized retail crime.
The public is reminded the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Assistant Attorneys General Heidi Epperson and Angel VonBokel are prosecuting the cases for Raoul’s office.