Charges re-filed in Cortani theft case

Clallam County Deputy Prosecutor John Troberg, backed by 15 pages of Sequim Police Department investigation reports, re-charged Sequim businessman Anthony Cortani and his father William Cortani with organized retail theft in the second degree June 9.

Anthony Cortani, 41, of Sequim, and William Cortani, 67, of Manteca, Calif., are accused of strategically stealing a Bluetooth device and a Casio watch from Costco, assorted tools from The Home Depot and three flat-screen TVs, valued collectively at $1,981, from Walmart on Nov. 26, 2010.

The original charges were dismissed Jan. 20 with the intention of re-filing after the police investigation was complete.

According to police reports, the incident began when police were called to Costco on Nov. 26. Employees reported they saw the Cortanis using a pocket knife to remove a watch and a Bluetooth device from their packaging, then discard the packaging and attempt to leave the store, police said.

William Cortani was stopped at the exit of the store but Anthony Cortani continued, later returning after his father called him, police said.

Costco managers told police Anthony Cortani had his return privileges denied due to a higher than usual volume of returns without receipts and there were two incidents in which he allegedly purchased items after which other retail items in their original packaging were discovered inside the purchased goods. During both incidents he said he had no idea other items were inside the ones he purchased, police said.

Upon the arrival of police, Anthony Cortani consented to a search of his truck but stopped the search when officers wanted to look through boxes in the back, according to police reports.

Police saw in plain view several drills, flat screen TVs and other items.

Anthony Cortani told police he purchased the TVs at Walmart and had receipts. Police found receipts showing he purchased one of each TV.

After reviewing surveillance footage and obtaining purchasing records from Walmart and The Home Depot, police believe the Cortanis stole the TVs and assorted tools by purchasing one of an item, then returning with the receipt and walking out with another of the same item, according to police reports.

Walmart records showed three of the TVs, matched by serial number, still should be in stock and were never purchased, police said. Video footage shows the Cortanis communicating at the TV wall, selecting TVs and loading them into their carts before returning with empty carts and loading the same TVs again, police said.

The theft charges reference the theft of TV sets from Walmart and an arraignment is set in both cases for 9 a.m. July 1 in Clallam County Superior Court.

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