Warrants have been issued for five men who took part last August in a bathtub/shower theft ring, in which the manufacturer turned a hot lead into a sting operation to catch them, according to court documents.
Zachery Barone, 22, Joseph A. Barone and Joseph Barone, all of the 600 block of Fallen Timbers; Derek L. Moss, 24, of the 8200 block of Rocky Glen Place; and Brendan M. Lewis, 24, of the 500 block of Lewis Street, all were charged with one count of corrupt business influence, a Level 5 felony, Monday in Allen Superior Court.
According to a probable-cause affidavit, an employee of R3 Composites in Grabill approached management Aug. 8, 2016 after he discovered a Facebook "Mancave" and "Garage Sale" page with a large number of shower units and bathtubs that looked identical to the ones manufactured by R3 Composites. After management positively identified the items as from the company, management then went to a friend to negotiate a deal while installing more security cameras around the company.
While viewing footage, management noticed an employee, Joseph Barone, allegedly had shower and tub units in his truck bed while leaving the property. Six videos were turned over to police between July 26, 2016 and Aug. 2, 2016, allegedly showing Joseph Barone leaving with units in his truck bed, the affidavit said.
The friend allegedly negotiated a deal to purchase 100 tubs and showers for $100 each through Lewis, who said they purchased a storage unit which had the showers and tubs and informed police about the transaction.
Police also searched social media to find Lewis and Moss played college hockey with Joseph Barone's son, Zachery, who ran a small landscaping company, which also employed his younger brother, Joseph, Lewis and Moss, the affidavit said.
On Aug. 26 an Indiana State Police detective then conducted a sting operation by contacting Lewis, who allegedly was selling bathtubs and showers on Facebook's "Fort Wayne Used Tools and Building Materials" page. He negotiated the purchase of three tubs for $200 apiece from a couple of adjacent storage units the officer observed to be completely full before taking the men into custody, the affidavit said.