(BROWARD COUNTY, Fla.) — The Florida man accused of stealing $2 million in merchandise from Toys R Us locations across the country appeared this week before a probate judge to contest his competency to stand trial, with the outcome still uncertain.
Ignatius Michael Pollara, 48, of Broward County, Fla., is being held in Broward County Jail after pleading not guilty in January to charges of grand theft, organized fraud and dealing in stolen property, to name a few, according to Lizette Marciniak, a judicial assistant in the Broward County Mental Health Court.
The judge is out of the office and Marciniak said she did not know the result of Pollara’s Monday court appearance, adding that the case is still being reviewed by the mental health court.
Pollara’s attorney declined to say whether his not guilty plea was based on his competency to stand trial.
As of August 2012, Pollara had allegedly stolen an estimated $2 million worth of merchandise from Toys R Us stores in 25 different states, ranging from Maine to Florida, according to an arrest report filed in Broward County Aug. 9, 2012.
He was arrested by Det. William Upegui Jr. of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, who had been investigating Pollara since May 2012, Upegui wrote in the report.
Pollara, Upegui alleges, used a method called “box stuffing” to smuggle valuable items out of the stores, often right under employees’ noses.
“This method of theft is used by selecting a less expensive item in the store, and removing the contents and concealing the contents somewhere in the store,” Upegui said in the report. “The suspect then selects a more expensive item in the store and places it in the empty box.”
Pollara would then proceed to checkout, paying only for the cheaper boxed item but leaving with the more expensive items inside, Upegui alleges.
Pollera had a preference for sneaking out Leapfrog computers and Lego boxed sets, valued at more than $300 each, according to the arrest report.
“He has made over 175 purchases, spending $6,737.94 at the 139 different Toys R Us locations throughout these states,” Upegui said.
Police were first alerted to Pollera’s alleged thefts when he was accused of making off with almost $900 worth of Harry Potter Lego sets from a Toys R Us store in Broward County May 9, 2012. A store employee noticed the missing toys and notified a company investigator, who, in turn, notified Upegui, according to the report.
Upegui proceeded to monitor Pollara in the course of two months as he continued allegedly to shoplift from stores in the area, according to the police report.
“We were able to track Pollara’s purchases based on the Toys R Us Rewards cards he continued to use,” Upegui said. “Pollara is responsible for multiple thefts at four different Broward County stores and 31 different Toys R Us stores throughout the state of Florida.”
Pollara allegedly sold the stolen goods on the Internet.
“It was discovered that Pollara had two different eBay sales accounts registered in Broward County, Linemart and Buy Mart-USA, in which he sold the same make and models that he had been identified as stealing from Toys R Us,” Upegui said.
From one account, Pollara sold $200,000 worth of stolen toys and, from the second account, sold $700,000-worth of toys, according to the report.
A third account, registered in Maryland and also linked to Pollara, had more than $600,000 in credit, Upegui alleges.
The three accounts, as well as allegedly stolen goods found in Pollara’s home, totaled more than $2 million, police said.
A spokeswoman for Toys R Us declined to comment on shoplifting in the chain’s stores.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News