Federal authorities accuse a Lake in the Hills man of concocting a gift card scheme to illegally obtain about $310,000 in merchandise and services from a national retailer.
Salvatore Cribari, 59, faces nine counts of wire fraud in connection with the scam against the chain of home improvement stores, according an announcement from the U.S. attorney's office in Rockford. Authorities said Cribari, also known as Sal Fradillio, was arrested Thursday in Algonquin.
Cribari pleaded not guilty to the charges when he was arraigned Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Iain D. Johnston. Cribari will remain detained pending a hearing set for Monday in federal court in Rockford.
Prosecutors, who did not name the store chain, said the Lake in the Hills man worked the fraud by first stealing merchandise from northern Illinois stores. Cribari then portrayed the items as legitimately purchased and returned them without receipts, according to authorities.
As part of the scheme, Cribari provided store employees with roughly 1,300 false Illinois driver's license and state identification numbers when he made the returns and received about $340,000 in gift cards in exchange, authorities allege. Cribari used the gift cards to purchase about $310,00 in merchandise and services. prosecutors said.
Lake Zurich Police Chief Steven Husak said Thursday evening that Cribari was charged with theft this year after taking a "few hundred dollars' worth" of tools from a Home Depot. He said the arresting officer found several gift cards in Cribari's car.
Lake Zurich and Lake in the Hills police were credited by federal authorities for assisting in the Cribari investigation. If convicted, Cribari faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a potential fine.
In September 2009, Cribari received probation after pleading guilty to a retail theft charge for stealing from a Home Depot in Carpentersville, according to Kane County circuit court records. At a bond court hearing on May 20, 2009, Cribari told a judge that he was receiving medical treatment for kleptomania.