FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 2, 2014
NEWARK, N.J. - An Essex County, N.J., man today admitted his role in defrauding Home Depot Inc. out of more than $470,000 through an elaborate “double-dipping” scheme that he committed at various Home Depot locations, including in New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Daniel Chalet, 28, of Bloomfield, N.J., pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III to an information charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From March 2009 through June 2012, Chalet and his conspirators routinely purchased various items from Home Depot locations in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. The conspirators would assemble two shopping carts containing identical items. They then purchased the items in one cart (Cart 1) and stashed the other cart in the store (Cart 2). They would typically purchase the items in Cart 1 using cash, fraudulently obtained Home Depot store credit, or some combination thereof. Chalet and his conspirators would then leave the store with the items in Cart 1, as well as the receipt for the purchase, leaving Cart 2 inside the store.
The conspirators would return to the store almost immediately with a receipt corresponding to the items in Cart 1 and retrieve Cart 2, which contained the identical set of items. Under the guise that they had forgotten to purchase an item, usually an inexpensive one, Chalet and his conspirators would return to the register with Cart 2, and purchase only the additional small item. They would present the receipt for the items from Cart 1 and deceive the cashier into believing that the items in Cart 2 had already been purchased.
Chalet and his conspirators would later go back to the same Home Depot store or travel to different Home Depot store locations to return the items. In some instances, they presented a receipt for the return, and in other instances, the defendants obtained a refund for store credit without presenting a receipt.
Chalet and his conspirators carried out the scheme hundreds of times at various Home Depot locations, fraudulently obtaining Home Depot store credit and refunds totaling at least $470,511.66.
The conspiracy count to which Chalet pleaded guilty is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for April 15, 2014.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the U.S. Secret Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James Mottola, for the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lakshmi Srinivasan Herman of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.
Defense counsel: Richard Roberts Esq., Newark