BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - A former candidate for Brevard County Commission and her husband are facing charges, accused of operating an organized theft ring out of their family-run ice cream parlor.
Lisa and James McDermott were arrested at their Melbourne home Thursday morning and taken to the Brevard County Jail where they're both being held on $65,000 bond.
From the outside looking in, the Ice Cream Depot on Wickham Road in West Melbourne seems like a legitimate business and sheriff's agents say it is, but it's what was happening behind closed doors where things apparently became illegal.
At the center of it all was former Brevard County Commission candidate, 50-year-old Lisa McDermott. McDermott withdrew from the District 4 County Commission race on June 12, a week after agents searched her business.
"I'm just glad we were able to find out about this, put a stop to it and punisher her for her part in a criminal enterprise. It's just good someone like that didn't get into public office," said Major Tod Goodyear with the Brevard County Sheriff's Office.
After tips starting pouring in last year, the sheriff's office began an investigation, eventually finding out the McDermotts were hiring thieves to steal large amounts of health products from retailers across the state of Florida.
Those stolen items were then brought to the ice cream parlor's back door in plastic bags where the McDermotts would pay the crooks a percentage on the dollar.
"Then they would leave with the money and the products would be resold on either eBay or we believe there was one person who they were selling a large amount of these products to who would pay them through a PayPal account," said Goodyear.
Investigators say some of the $111,000 received in the theft ring went to McDermott's campaign fund, but they aren't sure how much.
The couple is charged with racketeering, money laundering and dealing stolen property. They're expected to face a judge for the first time Friday afternoon.
Leanord Greenberg, 79, Brandon Lettiere, 29, and Thierry Lettiere, 60, were also arrested Thursday for their role in the theft ring. Agents are still looking for another alleged accomplice, 55-year-old Susan Lovell.
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