Man charged in convenience store heists
By Katie Sullivan
Times Shamrock Writer
An Illinois man faces federal wire fraud charges after FBI investigators said he ripped off small businesses and convenience stores throughout the country to fuel his crack habit.
Investigators said Calvin Lewis, 41, of Rockford, Ill., called the Dandy Mini Mart on Route 267 Sept. 2 in Rush Twp. in Susquehanna County and identified himself as “Mike,” the regional deli manager. “Mike” told the store clerk his car broke down and the responding towing company would not accept the corporate credit card, so he needed a prepaid cash card for $500. He asked the clerk for the activated card numbers and told her he’d be by later to make the payment for the card, but he never showed up, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court on Monday.
A similar incident was reported at the Dandy Mini Mart in Meshoppen in Wyoming County the next day.
On Sept. 5, the loss-prevention officer for the convenience store informed state police of similar schemes at other locations of the chain throughout the region, where a caller identified himself as “Mike” and “Jack Felt,” both names of actual managers within the company.
The loss-prevention officer traced the transactions to a PayPal account listed under Kathleen Goral of Rockton, Ill., which revealed transaction deposits from locations across the county, including Murphy Oil in Rockford, Ill., and other Dandy Mini Mart locations.
By cross referencing pictures and birthdays of Ms. Goral and her boyfriend, Mr. Lewis, listed on Facebook with video surveillance footage at Murphy Oil during the times of the fraud transactions, FBI agents were able to positively identify both Ms. Goral and Mr. Lewis.
On Oct. 2, members of the Rockford Police Department served a search warrant on the couple’s Rockford home based on a separate investigation regarding similar incidents. Police seized account numbers, personal identification numbers, cellphones, handwritten notes and a computer from the home.
Mr. Lewis and Ms. Goral were extradited to Susquehanna County, where Mr. Lewis allegedly told police that he had defrauded those stores to fuel a crack addiction.
It was unclear where Mr. Lewis was being held Monday. A detention hearing is set for 10 a.m. Wednesday and a preliminary hearing for 10 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 24, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Malachy E. Mannion in Wilkes-Barre.
It is unclear if any charges have been filed against Ms. Goral.