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Dave Roepke, Published April 16 2010

Best Buy theft case made on cooperation

Timeline of suspects’ interviews compiled

from reports filed.

Fargo police and prosecutors in Cass County have called the Best Buy thefts investigated in the past two months a complex case of a size rarely seen in the area.

About $150,000 in items was taken from the store in Fargo, police say, about $50,000 of which has been returned to Best Buy.

Court complaints against the dozen suspects facing charges in the alleged theft ring show many of them cooperated with the investigation. Here’s a timeline of their interviews, culled from reports filed with the criminal charges.

Messages left for the suspects and their attorneys, for those who have them, have not been returned.

Thursday, Feb. 25

An area asset manager for Best Buy told police an employee had admitted to using his post as a loss prevention agent to let people take items.

Adetimisola Ogundipe, the employee identified by Best Buy, told police that another security worker at the store, Paul Larson, was coordinating the thefts.

Friday, Feb. 26

Larson was interviewed at the police station, and he said Ogundipe approached him about the thefts. Cops told him to gather as much of the stolen property as he could from whoever had it and return it by Monday.

Detectives then went to Ogundipe’s home, a place one suspect called “Best Buy Jr.,” but he was out of town. Chernel Magaga, a roommate, called Ogundipe on his cell phone and was told what to give back.

Monday, March 1

Ogundipe told police he would help try to retrieve stolen items from others while Larson, as promised, returned merchandise to police worth nearly $10,000, including three large TVs.

In text messages to police detectives, Ogundipe said he had stolen property to turn over at 6 p.m. When he gave them three Xboxes, police told him they knew there was more out there, including some large TVs.

Ogundipe told them he’d see what he could do.

Tuesday, March 2

Larson spoke with cops a third time, describing who he had seen taking items out of the store and what he recalled them taking.

He recounted one day in which the haul included at least seven TVs, three Xbox systems, CDs, a camera, video-game accessories and iPods – four shopping carts full of electronics.

Thursday, March 4

In an interview around their kitchen table, roommates Anthony Sands and Daniel Offerman Jr. told police they were involved in the thefts. As a detective was waiting for Offerman to arrive, Sands collected stolen items and set them on the table. Offerman said he’d pushed a cart of goods out of the store twice with the help of Ogundipe, trips Sands later said they took together.

The pair returned about $3,400 in merchandise.

Friday, March 5

In a flurry of voluntary interviews at the police station, detectives say they secured admissions from four more suspects, all who returned stolen items.

Clarence Taye brought a duffel bag full of goods to the police station and said they were what he had left from his one Best Buy trip.

Police told Ogundipe, who was Taye’s ride, they weren’t happy because he’d failed to give them details they got from others. He then told police Anthony Martin would sometimes take three or four carts a day from the store, selling items in St. Cloud, Minn.

Gregory Reid and Garrett Johnson, two North Dakota State University football players who’ve since been kicked off the team, told police they’d pushed carts of unpaid merchandise out of Best Buy.

Saturday, March 6

In a meeting in the Best Buy office, Jeffery Ingersol – who worked at the store – said Ogundipe recruited him during a routine check of Ingersol’s bags as he was leaving the store. He asked Ingersol if there were items he wanted from the store, and Ingersol said there was a lot of stuff he wanted but couldn’t afford. Ogundipe told Ingersol he’d let him take goods in exchange for helping him steal items.

Ingersol signed a statement for police and Best Buy indicating he did that four times for Ogundipe.

Wednesday, March 10

Ingersol came to the police station with an orange Nike bag full of merchandise he said was stolen.

Friday, March 12

Sheiku Deen told police he came to Best Buy three times to try to get Ogundipe to “give him some love,” not succeeding until the third attempt. He and Ogundipe didn’t get along because Deen had dated his girlfriend, he told police.

He heard about the theft ring when Ogundipe was talking about it with a group of football players at lunch, he told police.

“I got curious. Curiosity kills the cat,” he told cops before returning more than $900 in stolen goods.

Tuesday, March 23

Police met with Magaga at his home, where he told them that the thefts began after he noticed Ogundipe would bring home games and movies from work. He told police he figured his roommate was stealing the items and talked to him about it. He initially said he only took items once.

When police pressed him, saying that others had told them he’d been in on many trips to the store, Magaga admitted he took items on several occasions. He said he sold property to three friends. All three of them returned the items.

“He stated that he saw an opportunity to do this and to get some stuff for himself, and he decided to do it,” a police report states.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535

4 Best Buy suspects to appear in court today

Four of the 11 suspects in the Best Buy theft ring who were charged on Wednesday in Cass County District Court will make their first court appearances today.

Prosecutors reiterated on Thursday that the theft investigation is ongoing.

“There is a possibility there could be further charges, depending on how the evidence plays out,” said Tanya Johnson Martinez, assistant Cass County state’s attorney.

More than 15 names in addition to the individuals charged are mentioned in court records as having some connection to the case. Some are said to have purchased stolen property or accompanied defendants when items were stolen.

Three of those named are connected to North Dakota State University athletic teams, including two current football players. The Forum is not naming them because they haven’t been arrested or charged.

Nine of the 12 suspects already charged have ties to collegiate sports teams in the area, including two NDSU football players who were kicked off the team Wednesday.

All of the charges filed are either Class B or Class C felonies. Class B felonies carry a maximum sentence of 10 years and a $10,000 fine. Class C felonies max out at five years and $5,000.

-Amy Dalrymple and Dave Roepke