STRATFORD, Conn. — A Stratford man on Thursday was sentenced to 18 months in prison for his role in a large-scale fencing operation, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office.
From January 2012 to December 2014, Matthew Harwood, 43, and his co-conspirator Andrew Sacco would buy stolen goods from “boosters,” typically shoplifters with opioid addictions, and then resell the property at online websites such as Amazon and eBay, the statement reads.
Harwood pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit the interstate transport of stolen property and one count of interstate transport of stolen property in November.
In addition to his prison time, U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea sentenced Harwood to three years of supervised release, a $35,000 fine and 100 hours of community service.
According to court documents, Harwood and Sacco would instruct the boosters to steal certain items from retail stores such as Petco, Staples, Walmart and Bed, Bath & Beyond.
They would pay cash for the items at one-third their retail price.
Harwood sometimes gave the boosters expenses for car rentals and spending money for overnight or out-of-state trips to steal products.
After receiving the stolen merchandise, Harwood and Sacco stored the merchandise at multiple locations, including their former homes in Durham and business locations in North Haven.
Retailers lost more than $3.9 million because of the scheme, according to the court.
Harwood, who is released on a $100,000 bond, was ordered to report to prison on March 19.
Several law enforcement agencies were involved in the investigation, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and police departments in New Haven, North Haven, Milford, West Haven, Wallingford, Hamden and Orange.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. attorneys David Huang and John Pierpont, Jr.
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