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Pawn shop couple face 80 charges

The couple who run Blanche's Project One store entered pleas of not guilty Tuesday to charges that included more than 80 new counts of failing to maintain proper records at a pawn shop. The numerous counts of failing to maintain proper records were filed last week. The charges were based on detectives' analysis of records that Sheriff's Office deputies confiscated from the store during a raid Sept. 18, said Sheriff's Office Lt. Randy Cramer.

Shortly after the raid, Blanche Bone, 46, and Raymond Reiniger, 50, both of 5088 Bone Lane, were arrested on charges that included dealing in stolen property and failing to keep proper records.

Even before last week, additional charges were filed as detectives went through the evidence. Bone now faces eight counts of dealing in stolen property, four counts of food stamp fraud, one count of a scheme to defraud, one count of misleading advertisement and 87 counts of failing to maintain proper records.

Reiniger, who deputies said had been going by the alias of Ray Bone and posing as Bone's wife, is charged with 10 counts of dealing in stolen property, four counts of food stamp fraud, one count of possession of obscene material, one count of scheming to defraud and 90 counts of failing to maintain proper records.

Both also have been charged with violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act, and under provisions of the act a lien has been put on their house and business, which remains open.

The two did not appear in court Tuesday, but entered written pleas. A pretrial hearing was set for Dec. 6.

They both said they could not comment about their case on the advice of their lawyer, Arnold Levine of Tampa.

Levine called the bulk of the case against his clients "a batch of misdemeanors. ... We are going to vigorously defend these people."

Assistant State Attorney Donald Scaglione said the number of charges show the offenses represent more than sloppy paper work.

"You might do it one time. You might do it five times. But you are not going to do it over and over ... unless you are doing it on purpose," Scaglione said.

He said the documents show that the store, a combination convenience store/pawn shop east of Brooksville on State Road 50, repeatedly failed to report important information required of pawn shops when goods are bought or sold, such as the names of the customers, serial numbers and dates.

Excluding such information from forms makes it easier for pawn shop owners to buy and sell stolen goods, Scaglione said.

The added charges also may make it easier to prosecute the two in connection with the RICO Act, used when two or more people are alleged to have conducted ongoing criminal activity.

The investigation of the store began when federal Department of Agriculture agents began inquiring about possible food stamp violations in late 1988.

The Sheriff's Office became involved after Reiniger repeatedly offered to sell a Department of Agriculture agent a weapon in December 1988, Capt. Richard Nugent said last month.

The Agriculture Department eventually fined the store, Scaglione said. Agriculture officials, however, were not able to provide details on the case Tuesday.