Store owner accused of 2-state cargo theft conspiracy surrenders

FDLE raided William Shepard Ellison's Westside discount store last year

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William Shepard Ellison booking photo on photo of search of his Jacksonville store in January 2016

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A man whose two Jacksonville businesses are believed to have sold merchandise taken in a two-state conspiracy to steal cargo from tractor-trailers turned himself in Wednesday morning in Orange County on a charge of conspiracy to engage in racketeering.

William Shepard Ellison, 70, was arrested in Jacksonville last year after the FDLE raided his home and one of his businesses. He was charged with two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon after two shotguns were found in his home and was also charged with trafficking in hydrocodone. The charges were dropped in January 2017.

The racketeering charges are part of the attorney general's Office of Statewide Prosecution investigation into a cargo theft operation in which tractor-trailers loaded with power tools, refrigerators, beer and energy drinks were stolen in Florida and Georgia.

Prosecutors said the stolen merchandise was brought to Ellison's two Jacksonville businesses --Shep's Discount Furniture on Normandy Boulevard and Shep's Chicken and Auction House on Beaver Street -- where the items were offered for sale.

"Members of this multi-state theft ring are charged with stealing more than a million dollars’ worth of cargo, and then illegally selling the property,” said Attorney General Bondi, who added that the stolen goods have been recovered.eld accountable.”

Ellison, Pedro Fernandez Hernandez, 47 and Lewis Dominguez, 33, were charged with the racketeering and grand theft charges. Hernandez was already in prison in Florida and Dominguez was in federal custody on unrelated charges.

A fourth man, Juan Carlos Castaneda Quintana, 45, of Broward County, is also charged in the ring. He remains at large.

Ellison is being held in the Orange County jail on a $1.5 million bond.

Ellison was found guilty in 1990 of solicitation of first-degree murder and pleaded guilty to arson and dealing in stolen property a month later.

 

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