“A pastor and a former police officer is at the center of a suspected multimillion-dollar theft ring.
“I just have a problem with a pastor stealing stuff,” says Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
This is a story that impacts all shoppers. The Macy’s in Winter Haven discovers thousands of dollars of high-end merchandise missing.
Investigators unravel a massive theft ring that leads to a Tampa pastor and truck driver.
Parishioners at Bay City Refuge are disappointed that their pastor, Alex Nealy, isn’t practicing what he preaches. Church members tell 10 News that Nealy has continued to lead the congregation, never saying a word, that he and four others got arrested. They’re accused of stealing merchandise, as they worked as delivery drivers for department stores.
“I was very shocked. I would not expect that of him,” says one parishioner. She just saw Nealy Thursday night at choir practice, where he made no mention of his recent time behind bars.
The self-proclaimed prophet is free from jail.
The former police officer turned truck driver is accused of concocting an elaborate scheme with Roberto Barahona, Jorge Salazar Brito, Patrick Brown, Jerome McCord and Timothy Waring. Investigators say they’ve been skimming purses, perfume, watches and clothes from the deliveries heading to Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s.
Judd says they’re caught on video in action at the Ybor City U-haul. “They spent eight hours unloading the truck, opening the boxes, stealing the product, resealing the boxes, putting it back on the truck, and ultimately delivering it to the store,” says Judd.
But the men apparently got greedy. Macy’s reported $10,000 in merchandise missing from one delivery.
Then, the sheriff says the men actually called the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to report the stolen goods stolen from the storage unit as a way to collect on the insurance.
“He calls in a burglary to a stash house to report stolen property he stole. Unbelievable, ” says Judd.
The sheriff says Nealy sold some items at flea markets, while Barahona traded the goods for sex with prostitutes.
“I guess that’s a pretty good deal: you turn a trick and get a $1,300 purse,” Judd says.
Parishioners will wait to see if Nealy has a confession at Sunday services. “I don’t worship him. I worship God, and God has the final say,” says a parishioner.
Deputies are still searching for Waring.
Waring was previously arrested and booked into the Polk County Jail for possession of marijuana and paraphernalia on June 5, and was released after posting $1,000 bond. Detectives have obtained a warrant for his arrest for dealing in stolen property. His criminal history includes possession of marijuana, resisting arrest, burglary, aggravated assault, fraud, violation of injunction, violation of probation, and dealing in stolen property. He told detectives that he is receiving government assistance.
Investigators say Waring is known to frequent hotels in Polk and Hillsborough counties.
If anyone has information on Waring’s whereabouts, they are urged to contact the Polk sheriff at 863-298-6200. To remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward contact Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS(8477).”