BROOKSVILLE — Three Lowe's employees, two of whom were managers, have been arrested and charged with stealing $70,000 worth of merchandise over a two-year period from the Brooksville store.
Zone manager James Goldberg, 43, and store employee Barry Fehling, 64, admitted to stealing power tools, lawn mowers, wood and other merchandise, according to a Hernando County Sheriff's Office report.
Lumber department manager Robert Celli, 45, is believed to be an accomplice, according to the sheriff's report.
An investigation was launched June 25 by loss prevention manager Giovanni Ferrano and senior loss prevention investigator Randy Delaney at the Lowe's store at 7117 Broad St. in Brooksville after a nonrelated retail theft revealed a significant amount of missing store merchandise.
During the inquiry, it became apparent to the loss prevention officers that Goldberg, with the help of Fehling, had removed $70,000 worth of merchandise from the store.
After Goldberg admitted to the theft, Lowe's staffers and deputies found approximately $40,000 worth of merchandise at Goldberg's and Fehling's homes and recovered it.
Statements by Goldberg and Fehling led investigators to Celli's home at 8371 Diver Lane in Spring Hill, where police found $6,300 worth of merchandise.
Celli denied any wrongdoing and told authorities that all of the materials had been given to him by Goldberg as compensation for work he had done, according to the report.
The whereabouts of the remaining merchandise is unknown, but deputies are attempting to track it down, according to Sgt. Donna Black, public information officer for the Hernando Sheriff's Office.
Representatives of Lowe's did not return a message seeking comment Wednesday.
Goldberg, of 16807 Diplomat Street in Ridge Manor, and Fehling, of 33 Milbark Drive in Homosassa, were arrested and charged with one count of dealing in stolen property and one count of grand theft of $20,000 or more, but less than $100,000.
Both were taken to the Hernando County Jail and released Sunday on $15,000 bail.
Celli was charged with one count of grand theft and was released from jail Tuesday on $3,000 bail.
Ryan Strong can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 848-1432.