Cops: Small Mt. Pleasant Twp. grocer allegedly banked millions by selling stolen goods
The proprietor of a tiny Mt. Pleasant Township grocery store netted big profits for years — largely by selling Red Bull, Tide and other items shoplifted from area businesses, sometimes with the owner providing lists of what he needed, state police said.
Melvin “Beanie” R. McCloy, 60, who runs McCloy’s Store at 333 Buckeye Road in the tiny village of Bridgeport, bought stolen items that people brought to his business and then resold them for profit for at least three years, according to court documents filed Thursday.
A forensic analysis of McCloy’s business records showed that in 2016 McCloy “deposited $3.9 million into his business account,” investigators reported. “In the year of 2017 up to July, he deposited $1.7 million.”
Reached at his store, McCloy declined to comment.
“I haven’t even had a chance to speak with my attorney yet,” he said.
McCloy’s attorney, Francis Murrman, could not be reached.
Area police departments responded to a rash of retail thefts in recent years involving grocery store items, including thefts from various Walmarts and Shop ‘n Save, Giant Eagle and County Market stores, among other places in Fayette and Westmoreland counties, according to state police and court documents. Stolen items included soda, energy drinks, coffee and laundry detergent.
“Some loss prevention agents reported that at times individuals would attempt to wheel entire shopping carts full of cases of soda out of their stores,” court documents state.
An investigation started in May 2015, state police spokesman Steve Limani said.
“Investigators were able to determine that … Beanie was responsible for receiving and reselling many of the items being stolen from multiple surrounding grocery stores,” Limani said. “Meat items, other food items, soda, Tide laundry detergent, practically whatever you brought in, he would buy it and resell it.”
McCloy is charged with running a corrupt organization, dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, receiving stolen property and fraudulently trafficking in food orders. He was arraigned before Norvelt District Judge Roger Eckels and released on $25,000 unsecured bond.
Investigators in July 2017 searched and took inventory of items inside McCloy’s one-story, wood building. They found approximately 65 percent of the items there were believed to be stolen merchandise, Limani said.
“Basically, whatever you took from other stores you would take to McCloy’s, and they would buy it and resell it,” Limani said.
Investigators reported that one officer obtained a diary from a heroin user who documented entries of conversations “with Beanie” where McCloy allegedly directed the unidentified person to what retail items he needed.
In 2015, investigators paid $160 for 20 cases of soda at an area store. They took the cache to McCloy, who paid $40 for it, according to court documents. In July 2015, an undercover trooper took 25 cases of soda to McCloy, who bought it for $80.
While Walmart sold a 12-pack of Red Bull for $18.73, McCloy sold the same 12-pack for $12, Fayette County Detective Steve Kontaxes and state police Trooper Todd Adamski reported in court documents.
Investigators searched McCloy’s store in July 2017 and found $24,862. At his nearby residence, another $722,000 was recovered, the complaint said.
“Some of the funds were hidden in a floor safe,” investigators reported. “The money wrappers were stamped and dated within the past three years.”
A preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled Nov. 29.
Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, email@example.com or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib.