Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Laptop bandit sentenced to 10 years in prison

TAMPA — Stealing laptops from Outback Steakhouse's Tampa headquarters and other big-name companies in the state earned a career criminal 10 years in prison on Wednesday.

It was the maximum term allowed by law that Eric Brandon Almly could receive.

"The only way to protect the public from Mr. Almly is to keep him in prison," U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr. said.

Almly, 34, pleaded guilty in June to one count of interstate transportation of stolen property. Prosecutors said he crisscrossed the country stealing laptops from businesses and then selling them through eBay.

Investigators had dubbed Almly the "Khaki Bandit." Authorities said he'd slip into corporate offices during business hours, mix among employees and then walk away with laptops in a shoulder bag. He pleaded guilty to stealing 11 laptops from the West Shore Boulevard headquarters of Outback's parent company, OSI Restaurant Partners.

Authorities said he also stole laptops from the Miami headquarters of Burger King Corp. and the FedEx Corp.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Palermo said Almly carried out his scheme in Arizona and California before coming to Florida.

In court, Almly blamed his crimes on a gambling problem.

"My mind-set was, 'All I needed was one good night at the casino, and I wouldn't have to steal again,' " Almly said in court. "I would like to sincerely apologize to Outback Steakhouse and the other companies I stole laptops from."

Nonetheless, Judge Moody seemed unmoved by Almly's remorse.

"I find that the likelihood of Mr. Almly reoffending is extremely high," the judge said.

Moody mentioned that Almly's criminal record stretched back to when he was 12. The judge said he didn't think Almly's gambling problem dated back that far.

Toni Brown, a Phoenix police detective who headed a task force investigating Almly, testified at the sentencing that Almly once called to brag about his crimes. He claimed to be an official with eBay. Brown said when she pressed him again for his name "he kind of chuckled."

"He said, 'You know who this is. I'm a master at the game. You'll never catch me,' " Brown recalled.

Kevin Graham can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.

Laptop bandit sentenced to 10 years in prison 12/10/08 [Last modified: Thursday, December 11, 2008 12:06am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pentagon investigating troubling questions after deadly Niger ambush


    WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary James N. Mattis, troubled by a lack of information two weeks after an ambush on a special operations patrol in Niger left four U.S. soldiers dead, is demanding a timeline of what is known about the attack, as a team of investigators sent to West Africa begins its work.

  2. In the military, trusted officers became alleged assailants in sex crimes


    The Army is grappling with a resurgence of cases in which troops responsible for preventing sexual assault have been accused of rape and related crimes, undercutting the Pentagon's claims that it is making progress against sexual violence in the ranks.

  3. Trump on his Puerto Rico response: 'I'd say it was a 10'


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump gave himself a "10" on Thursday for his response to the widespread devastation Puerto Rico suffered after back-to-back hurricanes created a situation that the island's governor described as "catastrophic" as he met with Trump at the White House.

    Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello speaks with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on Thursday.
  4. Editorial: Rubio, Bilirakis owe Floridians answers on drug law


    Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Palm Harbor have some explaining to do. They were co-sponsors of legislation making it harder for the Drug Enforcement Administration to go after drug companies that distribute prescription pills to unscrupulous doctors and pharmacists, contributing to the deadly opioid crisis …

    Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Palm Harbor has some explaining to do. He was a co-sponsor of legislation making it harder for the Drug Enforcement Administration to go after drug companies that distribute prescription pills to unscrupulous doctors and pharmacists.
  5. Former Hillsborough school official files lawsuit alleging high-level corruption


    TAMPA — The fired human resources chief of the Hillsborough County School District is accusing district leaders and two School Board members of committing corrupt acts and then punishing her when she would not go along.

    Stephanie Woodford rose through the ranks of the Hillsborough County School District, then was fired as Chief of Human Resources on April 28. She's now suing the district, alleging numerous acts of corruption. [EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times]