Thursday September 15, 2011

BENNINGTON -- Four members of a floor cleaning crew pleaded not guilty Monday to allegedly stealing items from the store they cleaned at night.

Ulysses Fabricio, 19, of New Bedford, Mass., Osni Lucio, 47, of Fall River, Mass., William Coalho, 30, of Providence, Rhode Island, and Victor Garcia, 22, also of Providence, each pleaded not guilty to a felony count of possession of stolen property in Bennington Superior Court Criminal Division. Each was released on $500 bail.

According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Detective Michael Plusch, on Aug. 4 he was told by Chris Colehammer, a loss prevention officer for the Kmart store on Kocher Drive, that Colehammer had seen four members of the cleaning crew take items from the store without paying for them.

Colehammer told police that the store had been having problems with nighttime thefts, and he set up a number of cameras. He said that on Aug. 1 and 2 he recorded Coalho and Garcia taking items from a "waste buster bin," which were distributed among the four men. These items included an mp3 player, a Bluetooth headset, headphones, a box cutter, and a knife.

Later, he said he recorded the four filling two shopping bags worth of merchandise obtained from the area around the cash registers.

He said the men could also be seen eating a number of food items throughout the evening, although they hadn't brought those food items in. Colehammer said he believed the food was being taken off the shelves.

Plusch said Fabricio gave police permission to look through his hotel room at the Paradise Inn, where a number of the items were recovered. According to the affidavit, $958 in items were retrieved.