Owner of 4 Shop ‘n Saves accused of falsifying coupons worth $300K
The owner of a string of Pittsburgh-area Shop ’n Save grocery stores allegedly ordered employees to hoard unused coupons and used them to bilk more than $300,000 from manufacturers over the course of four years, according to theft charges filed against him Wednesday.
Michael Mihelic, 59, of Franklin Park owns the Rochester Road, Pines Plaza, Glenshaw and Richland Mall Shop ’n Save stores and has, for years, instructed employees to clip coupons from unsold newspapers so he could turn them in for reimbursement, according to the criminal complaint.
Detectives with the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office began investigating in 2017 when a former employee of the Rochester Road store came forward and told police of Mihelic’s standing orders to cut the unused coupons and turn them in as though they were used by customers, according to the complaint.
According to the complaint, the practice began with Mihelic’s late father, the original owner of the stores, and continued when Mihelic took over.
Employees said they were ordered to cut $500 worth of coupons at the Rochester Road location and lesser amounts at other stores, according to complaint. One manager said that “everyone knows what they are doing is wrong but they do it because they were always told they had to do it,” according to the complaint.
The employees charged with this task would take a corresponding amount of money from the cash register so as to even out the drawer, according to the complaint.
Between June 2014 and September 2018, cash register reports showed that $50 to $100 worth of illegitimate coupons were added to registers each day – about $306,550 in total, according to the complaint.
Mihelic surrendered to detectives Wednesday morning, and he was released on his own recognizance. He is charged with dealing in the proceeds of illegal activity, receiving stolen property and two counts of theft by deception.
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.