Two area men are each facing more than 35 years in prison after Fairfax County police arrested them for allegedly defrauding a coin-redemption machine in a Fair Lakes grocery store. Each was charged with nine offenses.
The men are Justin Kimmel, 21, of 3301 Thorngate Drive in Oak Hill, and Thomas Collodel, 20, of 1626 Woodmoor Lane in McLean. In a Nov. 7 affidavit for a search warrant to seek evidence against them, Det. Bill Baitinger of the Fair Oaks District Station detailed the facts of the case.
He wrote that, on Aug. 1 at 5:53 p.m., a man, approximately 20, entered the Food Lion in the Fair Lakes Shopping Center and gave a clerk a Coinstar receipt for $400.15. The clerk then gave him that amount in cash, and the man left the store. Later, wrote Baitinger, "It was determined that the receipt he had presented was a counterfeit."
Coinstar is a company that maintains coin-redemption machines in several grocery stores in Fairfax County. Patrons put in their loose change, and the machine counts it and returns a computer-generated receipt. The receipt is on white paper bearing a green, Coinstar-logo watermark, and the transaction information is printed in black lettering.
At Food Lion, a store logo and bar code also prints out with the receipt information. On the back of the receipt are instructions and information in red lettering on how and where the receipt may be redeemed. That receipt is then taken to a store register and redeemed for cash.
However, wrote Baitinger, regarding the receipt in question on Aug. 1, it appeared to have been printed on genuine receipt paper, but "the information normally entered by the Coinstar machine appeared to be slightly distorted. The black ink on the receipt was much thicker and darker than that on a valid receipt."
The detective received this case for investigation on Sept. 13. He was given the counterfeit receipt, plus a store-surveillance video tape of the Aug. 1 transaction — which showed the suspect redeeming the phony receipt. However, he wasn't able to develop a real lead until Nov. 1, when he was contacted by a Det. Remick of the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office.
"Det. Remick advised [me that] he had a similar case in which a subject attempted to redeem a counterfeit Coinstar receipt," wrote Baitinger. "He said he had developed a suspect in his case ... Thomas Collodel. Det. Remick said Mr. Collodel had recently moved to 2703 West Ox Road, Herndon, with a Justin Kimmel and [another man]. He said he called Mr. Collodel [there], but [Collodel] refused to meet with him."
The Loudoun detective also told Baitinger that Collodel drove a black 1995 BMW, and this information enabled him to obtain a photo of Collodel from the Fairfax County Mugshot Profile System. Wrote Baitinger: "I compared the photograph with that of the subject in the surveillance video and saw that it was the same subject."
Next, on Nov. 4, Baitinger set up his own surveillance of the Herndon address and saw Collodel standing in the driveway and a black 1995 BMW parked next to a shed. He also wrote down the license-plate numbers of several vehicles parked in back of the property. According to Baitinger, one license plate was on a 1994 Honda registered to Kimmel.
In his affidavit for a search warrant, the detective said he wanted to search that address for a home computer that could possibly have helped make the forged receipt. He also requested permission to search any outbuildings or vehicles on the property. He said both men used to live there, but had moved.
Following further investigation, Kimmel was arrested Nov. 27, and Collodel was arrested Dec. 2. Both men turned themselves in to the police on advice from their attorneys. Each was charged with two counts of false pretense.
But that's not all.
The search warrant involving this crime was executed on Nov. 7, at which time police seized five computers. Baitinger said they also noticed 18 marijuana plants growing in the basement, plus kitchen appliances that looked suspiciously out of place in that particular home. And after a second search warrant was executed, Nov. 15, at the same address, police charged each man with further crimes involving theft and drugs.
"It was an old house but, when we executed the first search warrant, we noticed that all the appliances were new," explained Baitinger. "So I checked with General Electric — who'd sold them to Toll Brothers — and learned that they'd been stolen from a South Riding house under construction."
A few days later, said Baitinger, police determined that the stove and Jacuzzi in the Herndon home had also been stolen. When they returned with the second search warrant, Nov. 15, they seized the refrigerator, dishwasher and kitchen cabinets.
"[Collodel and Kimmel] had moved out by then, and the Jacuzzi was gone," said the detective. "But we recovered it, a couple days later, in South Riding. They'd [allegedly] sold it to an acquaintance there. We got the stove from the [Herndon] kitchen. It had been stolen from U.S. Homes in Chantilly from a house under construction."
Police then charged Collodel and Kimmel each with three counts of grand larceny, two counts of possession of stolen property and one count each of manufacturing marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. The larceny, false-pretense and stolen-property charges are each punishable by five years in prison.
Kimmel was released from jail, Dec. 10, on $2,500 bond and has a Jan. 28 court date. Collodel was released, the same day, on $2,500 bond and has a Jan. 29 court date.