STURTEVANT — Authorities allege a group of Cree Inc. employees set up an eBay store to sell almost $90,000 in unauthorized products from the company.
Saturino R. Avila, James A. Barker III and Joshua J. Golden were each charged Monday with conspiracy to commit felony theft-movable property.
According to a criminal complaint, company officials discovered more than 400 unauthorized deliveries of Cree products were shipped between July 23 and March 31.
Many of those packages were allegedly shipped from Cree’s Yorkville distribution center to Avila’s home. Authorities executing a search warrant at the home Thursday reportedly found two boxes of Cree LED light fixtures in the basement.
Boxes were also reportedly delivered to Barker’s home. Every Monday, a man would drop off boxes from Cree, the contents of which were later sold on eBay, a family member told investigators.
Surveillance recordings and 19 empty Cree lighting boxes were seized from Barker’s home by authorities, according to the complaint. Barker also rented a storefront at 2310 16th St., where authorities found seven boxes of Cree LED light fixtures.
Another Cree employee allegedly printed at least 50 shipping labels for Avila on two occasions, according to the complaint. The employee reportedly got a ride home from work by Avila the first time, and received $100 for doing it a second time.
That employee has not been charged, according to online court records.
The group’s eBay store, “ForRealDeals2014,” had sales of $89,583 in unauthorized products between Aug. 1 and April 5, the complaint states. The store appeared to have been taken off eBay by Monday.
Barker, Avila and Golden made their initial court appearances Monday and preliminary hearings are scheduled for May 6. They each face up to five years in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted of the conspiracy to commit theft charge.
In a statement, Cree identified the alleged stolen items as E-conolight, a brand of outdoor and indoor lighting products.
“We have been made aware of the theft of E-conolight products at the Racine, Wis. facility,” Cree said in a statement provided to The Journal Times. “We are fully cooperating with officials, and as a matter of policy we cannot comment on ongoing investigations.
“Serving our customers is a top priority and we will continue delivering on this promise with no disruption to day-to-day operations.”
A spokeswoman declined to answer further questions.
Barker attempted to flee from sheriff’s deputies at his girlfriend’s house and was taken into custody after he was found hiding behind her garage, according to the complaint.
He was additionally charged with marijuana and drug paraphernalia possession after deputies allegedly found drugs at his girlfriend’s home.
Avila was also charged with two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon after investigators allegedly found two handguns in his bedroom. He has previous convictions for marijuana, obstructing police, bail jumping and carrying concealed weapon offenses, according to court records.
Young children were reportedly living in Avila’s home, where authorities say marijuana also was found. Because the children were in the presence of loaded guns and illegal drugs, the Racine County Human Services Department assisted with the care of the children, the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release last week.
Editor's note: The location from which the Cree employees allegedly shipped unauthorized packages was incorrect in an earlier version of the story.