Chicago men charged with theft by swindle
FAIRMONT – Two Chicago, Illinois, men are facing felony charges in Martin County. Robert Jones, 65, has been charged with one count of theft by swindle. Frederick Vorter, 62, has been charged with one count of aiding and abetting theft by swindle. Both charges carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
According to the complaint:
On October 22, 2019, an officer with the Fairmont Police Department responded to the Graham Tire business on a report of a fraudulent transaction that had taken place. The officer met with an individual who indicated that on October 8, 2019, a male party had called and spoke with a tire salesman.
The man asked to order eight large truck tires for a total of $3,032. The man supplied a credit card to make payment and indicated he worked for Bull Auto Transport in Minneapolis.
On October 9, 2019, a man showed up to pick up the tires. The individual indicated a man was driving a transport van with Illinois license plates. The man took possession of the tires and left the area.
The individual became suspicious of the transaction and took down the license plate of the vehicle. Several days after the male party picked up the tires, the transaction was canceled on the card and the business received no money for the transaction.
The individual indicated that on October 10, 2019, the same male party called and requested to order eight more tires. The man supplied a different credit card number, which went through successfully, and indicated he would be in to pick up the tires on October 11. The man never showed up.
The officer was supplied with still photos from a surveillance system, and he determined that the license plate came back to a vehicle that was registered to an individual in Chicago, Illinois.
On December 19, 2019, another officer was contacted by an officer from Brainard, Minnesota. The Brainard officer explained that he was working a case involving several men from the Chicago area that had used a fake credit card to order several tires from a local Brainard outlet. He determined that the same van was used to pick up the tires that was used in Fairmont.
The Brainard officer later spoke with an employee from the Sheriff’s Office in Boone County, Indiana. The Brainard officer had determined that contact with the suspect vehicle had been made on November 25, 2019, in their jurisdiction.
It was determined that the Lebanon, Indiana, Police Department had made contact with two occupants of the vehicle used in the two Minnesota thefts. The occupants identified themselves as Jones and Vorter. The Brainard officer located photos of the men in their database and provided the photographs to the Fairmont officer.
On December 26, 2019, the officer made contact with a Graham Tire employee who had seen the parties pick up the tires in question. The employee pointed to a photograph of Jones and indicated that he was the man who exited the van and helped load the tires. The employee then pointed to a photograph of Vorter and said he believed he was the one that had been driving the van.
Other employees also identified Jones and Vorter from the photographs.
In March of 2020, Jones was charged in Todd County, Minnesota with one count of theft by swindle stemming from a similar scheme involving the theft of tires from a business. Law enforcement officials from the various jurisdictions have been unable to located Jones or Vorter.
An arrest warrant is active for Jones in the case charged in Todd County. Records indicated that Vorter has an active arrest warrant out of Hubbard County, Minnesota, for driving without a valid license.