Fishmonger pleads guilty in theft from seafood supplier

A former St. Charles fishmonger has pleaded guilty in the theft of more than $100,000 in seafood from a Bensenville supplier, officials said.

Ernesto Candia-Campos, 49, of South Elgin, entered a plea Monday to one felony count of conspiracy to commit theft. He was sentenced to two years of probation and 15 days in the Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program, according to DuPage County court records.

Something fishy: Former St. Charles restaurant operator accused of stealing thousands in seafood

Authorities said that from Oct. 1, 2018, and Oct. 1, 2021, Campos made an arrangement with three workers at Fortune Fish and Gourmet to steal the fish. Candia-Campos would place a legitimate order and then text the workers to add more. He paid them $187,670 via the Zelle payment app, according to court records.

The company called police after noticing the loss of about $4,000 worth of products a week from April 2021 to October 2021.

A detective was waiting when Candia-Campos picked up an order on Oct. 8, 2021.

Authorities said Candia-Campos wheeled out what was supposed to be a 21-pound order valued at $237. But the dolly had 125 pounds of fish valued at $2,258, according to the charges.

The workers also were charged with theft.

Co-defendant Oscar Gil, 48, of Chicago, pleaded guilty on March 18 to one count of felony theft as part of a plea deal, which included testifying against Candia-Campos and Francisco Arizmendi-Garcia, who is charged with conspiracy to commit theft and theft. Gil was sentenced to three years of probation and 15 days in the sheriff’s work program. He also was ordered to repay $62,223.

The charges against co-defendant Jose Martin Hibarra were dropped in March 2023.

Arizmendi-Garcia, 39, of Carpentersville, is due to appear in court on Tuesday for a possible plea.

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