Pinellas pastor led ring that stole $1.4M in Home Depot goods, officials say

A Pinellas County pastor, his wife and others are accused of stealing over $1.4 million worth of home improvement merchandise from Home Depot stores across Florida and reselling the goods on eBay, state officials said.

Robert Dell, 56, also “forced vulnerable people” to take part in the scheme, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced this week.

A news release from Moody’s office said Dell is a pastor at The Rock Church in St. Petersburg and the founder of a halfway house serving people recovering from drug addiction. But a note on the homepage of The Rock Church’s website says Dell hasn’t been pastor there for more than two years.

The news release names four other people as co-conspirators in the case: Jaclyn Dell, 39, who is Robert Dell’s wife; Karen Dell, 72, who is Robert Dell’s mother; Jessica Wild, 40; and Daniel Mace, 36.

Robert Dell, Jaclyn Dell and Karen Dell were arrested on Aug. 1 after officers with the Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement executed a search warrant at Robert Dell’s home on the 2600 block of 39th Avenue North in St. Petersburg. He is charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering and dealing in stolen property as an organizer.

Jaclyn Dell was arrested on a charge of conspiracy to commit racketeering and Karen Dell on a charge of dealing in stolen property.

Mace, of Tampa, was arrested Wednesday on charges of racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering.

Wild’s booking and charge information was not available.

According to Moody’s office, the group shoplifted Milwaukee, DeWalt and other branded products from Home Depot stores in Citrus, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties.

Mace and Wild stole a majority of the merchandise and, “on average, victimized stores five to six times a day,” the release said. The pair then delivered the products to Robert Dell, who sold them on an eBay storefront named “Anointed Liquidator,” the release said.

“According to the investigation, Dell demanded the crimes under threat of abuse and used the positions of being a pastor and founder of a halfway house to manipulate other vulnerable people to participate in the criminal scheme,” the release stated.

The release did not give the name of the halfway house.

Home Depot suspects Robert Dell operated this scheme for more than 10 years, and that the company has lost more than $5 million, the release said.

Pinellas court records show a judge sealed search warrants and other documents related to the case at the request of prosecutors who argued that making information public could compromise an ongoing investigation.

In 2019, police arrested Wild and Mace on a grand theft charge for attempting to take nearly $4,500 worth of hardware batteries from a Clearwater Home Depot, according to an arrest affidavit in that case. The pair placed the batteries inside a bin, closed the lid and attempted to exit the store when one of them “became scared/spooked” after spotting a loss prevention officer. The two left the merchandise by the door and exited the store, the affidavit said.

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The affidavit states loss prevention officers knew Wild and Mace because they were seen at a Port Charlotte Home Depot earlier, taking batteries from the location. The pair told police they thought someone was following them and so they left the merchandise in the store.

Prosecutors dropped the case less than a month later, court records show.

An eBay account with the name “annointedliquidator” that has sold tools matching the brands named in the release was created in August 2011. The account has sold more than 35,000 items, according to the website.

Robert Dell was being held in the Pinellas County Jail on Friday, with a bond set at $752,150. Jaclyn Dell was also being held Friday, with a bond set at $150,000. Mace was also still in jail, with a bond set at $500,000

Karen Dell was released from jail on Tuesday after posting $20,000 bail.

“Just to clear the record. Robert Dell is NOT the pastor of the rock church,” the note on the The Rock Church’s website said. “He wasn’t the founding pastor either. He was the pastor when it was named the Rock Community Church and Transformation Center, and hasn’t been a pastor for the last 2 1/2 years.”

“We do know that Robert Dell currently has some serious charges, and we will pray for the entire matter and everyone involved,” the church said in a similar statement posted on its Facebook page.

A call to the church, located at 4224 28th St. N, was not immediately returned on Friday.

The arrests were the result of an investigation by the Florida Organized Retail Crime Exchange Taskforce, which Moody created. Since 2019, statewide prosecutors have filed more than 90 cases and charged more than 300 defendants in cases involving organized retail theft, the release said.

Times staff writer Tony Marrero contributed to this report.

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