Following the arrest of three suspects on fraud charges Saturday at a Lincoln County convenience store, deputies have uncovered new details in the incident accusing the trio of carrying out similar criminal behavior at businesses in three other surrounding counties, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Deputies arrested Albert Leonard Alexander Jr., 43, of 2721 Bellefonte Drive, Apt. A in Charlotte, Justin Louis Wright, 28, of 300 Mountain View Avenue in Onondaga, N.Y., and Patricia Louise Thompson, 38, also of 2721 Bellefonte Drive, after they allegedly used an “altered” gift card to buy cigarettes from the Murphy’s Express on N.C. 73 in Denver, the Times-News previously reported.
However, Lincoln was only one of the four North Carolina counties the trio targeted, deputies said.
After searching the suspects’ rental vehicle earlier this week at Penny Car Rental in Charlotte, officers located more than 60 cigarette cartons, numerous fake gift cards and receipts revealing where some of the items had been purchased, including stores in Iredell, Catawba and Mecklenburg counties, according to an agency press release.
An employee at Murphy’s Express is credited with helping bust the suspects Saturday after she told deputies she noticed the gift card number they were using was different from the account number on the receipt, the release said.
Detectives said the suspects used different cards but always the same victim’s account number when buying items between 5 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at each of the stores.
Lincoln County Sheriff David Carpenter even commended the Denver store clerk in the release for her valiant efforts in helping to stop the trio’s “crime spree.”
“Hats off to her for helping us,” he said.
However, before being apprehended, two of the suspects led deputies on a foot chase, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Deputy F. Runyon required assistance from three bystanders to secure and handcuff Alexander after Runyon chased him down following a failed attempt with a stun gun.
In addition, deputies said Wright ran across the street and hid in a store restroom until they procured the key and took him into custody.
Alexander faces one felony count of obtaining property by false pretenses and one misdemeanor count each of driving while license revoked and resisting, delaying and obstructing a public officer. Wright faces one felony count each of obtaining property by false pretenses and conspiracy to obtain property by false pretenses along with one misdemeanor count of resisting, delaying and obstructing a public officer. Lastly, Thompson faces one felony count of conspiracy and one misdemeanor count of aiding and abetting.
Wright remains behind bars under a $27,500 secured bond while his two alleged counterparts have since been released.
Additional charges will be filed in the future as an investigation continues, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Deputies have also notified surrounding law enforcement agencies about the case.