Bridgeport store owner gets prison time in stolen grocery scheme
The owner of a mom-and-pop grocery store near Mt. Pleasant will serve up to 23 months in jail after he pleaded guilty Friday to selling merchandise stolen from other retail outlets and improperly cashing checks for customers.
Melvin “Beanie” McCloy, 67, was arrested in January following a three-year investigation into the operations at his small shop in the tiny village of Bridgeport, a business handed down from his parents that he operated for the last 40 years.
“Mr. McCloy made some mistakes and some of his actions he did not know were illegal,” said defense lawyer Fran Murrman.
McCloy pleaded guilty to felony counts of operating a corrupt organization and dealing with the proceeds of unlawful activity. Three other counts, including charges of receiving stolen property and fraudulent trafficking of food items, were dismissed.
Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court Judge Rita Hathaway imposed terms of the negotiated plea bargain that called for McCloy to serve 9 to 23 months in jail and an additional five years on probation.
McCloy closed his store last week and, as a condition of the plea, is barred from operating another business.
Police seized nearly $1 million in cash, money in bank accounts and gift cards found in McCloy’s store and in a safe at his home. Prosecutors agreed to return $390,000 of the seized cash to McCloy and will keep the remaining funds.
Investigators said a forensic audit revealed McCloy deposited $3.9 million into his business accounts in 2016 and another $1.7 million the following year.
According to court records, police contended McCloy enticed neighbors and customers to steal from other stores or use welfare benefits to purchase items that he in turn bought at a discount and used to stock his store shelves.
Police said about 65% of the items sold at McCloy’s store was stolen.
Investigators said McCloy also operated an illegal check cashing operation as a means to lure customers to spend money in his store.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .