June 14, 2011
King County prosecutors have charged two men with seven counts of first-degree trafficking in stolen property for allegedly taking more than $1 million worth of items from the Office Depot warehouse in Kent.
Dion Lawrence Alexander, 36, of Tacoma, and Kenneth N. Ngugi, 30, of Federal Way, are accused of running a scheme where Alexander, the warehouse manager, were remove ink cartridges and other items and pass them to Ngugi waiting outside the facility in a car, according to charging papers filed June 10. Ngugi would then sell the items on eBay through PayPal accounts.
Alexander and Ngugi are scheduled to be arraigned on the charges June 23 at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
An Office Depot loss prevention manager contacted Kent Police in March 2010 to report a loss of more than $1.2 million of toner and ink from the warehouse since September 2008. Office Depot security had not discovered how the items were taken until the company installed video surveillance cameras in early March 2010.
At about 1:30 a.m. on March 12, 2010, Alexander could be seen on camera removing 10 toner cartridges from the storage location and passing them out an overhead door to a person waiting in a car, according to charging papers. On four other dates, Alexander also is observed taking items and passing them to a man in the same vehicle.
Kent Police followed the vehicle after one of the incidents to a Federal Way apartment. That’s when detectives met Ngugi, the driver of the car that would stop at the warehouse.
Ngugi told police that he had worked at Office Depot from 2004 to 2006 and that Alexander was his supervisor. He said sometime in 2006 he started to obtain merchandise from Alexander once or twice a week in the early morning hours.
Ngugi would call Alexander to order specific items and then come pick up the merchandise and pay Alexander in cash. He told police that earlier that day he had given Alexander 10 $100 bills.
Alexander told detectives that he would leave items outside the warehouse for another man to pick up. Alexander had 10 $100 bills in his possession when detectives interviewed him, the same day they had interviewed Ngugi.
Once Ngugi had the items, he would sell them over eBay. He had one to three primary customers with the money transferred through PayPal accounts.
The Federal Way man estimated he had stolen at least $500,000 worth of merchandise from Office Depot.
Detectives obtained a search warrant for the eBay and PayPal accounts owned by Ngugi and discovered transactions worth more than $1 million over about a seven-year period.
One company had purchased $613,027 in ink and toner from 2007 to 2010.
Office Depot reported that inventories of the losses of ink and toner from June 2007 to April 2010 totaled $2.1 million.
The men were arrested for investigation of theft in April 2010 and are now facing the charges. Kent Police turned over probable cause documents to prosecutors in December 2010.