Leader Blues

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

TOP STORY > >Ebay sellers from Cabot found guilty

By JOAN McCOY
Leader staff writer

Cabot business owners arrested almost two years ago for taking payment for scooters sold over the Internet but not delivered to customers were found guilty Tuesday in Lonoke Circuit Court on six felony charges of theft of property.

Special Judge John Cole said the evidence from the prosecutor showed that Eddie and Connie Williams, owners of Tecboys in Cabot, intended to take their customers’ money and that the defense did not show otherwise.

The judge expects to sentence the couple in mid-October after he has had sufficient time to review Eddie Williams’ medical records.

The couple’s defense was that illness had caused problems for the business and that there had been no intent to defraud.

The couple was arrested in October 2006 after Cabot police started getting calls from concerned customers, who apparently panicked after Ebay took away Tecboys’ selling privileges.

Lt. Scott Steely, a Cabot police detective, said then that his department got 15 calls the first week in October 2006, and 17 customers called the Arkansas Better Business Bureau.

Eddie Williams contended that his sales were out of state so Cabot police had no jurisdiction.
Stuart Cearley, who prosecuted the case, saw it differently.

“Here’s where the criminal was, so this was the logical place to prosecute him,” Cearley said.

Dan Hancock, the defense attorney, would not allow his clients to talk to reporters.

Although some merchandise was for sale at the Tecboys store at 403 S. Second St., most sales were through Ebay or the
Tecboys Web site. In December 2006, the city council gave the city clerk authority to revoke Tecboys’ business license.

Testimony against the couple came from Alex Koerger, Fir Crest, Wash.; Mike Powell, Archer, Fla.; James Clausen, Dallas, Texas; Terry Slade, Monroe, La., Travis Rogozinsk, Pittsburg, Penn. and Mike Powell, Ward.

Steely said when the couple was arrested that from February to June 2006, his department got four complaints about Tecboys.

The complaints were resolved by refunds to the customers.

Then on Oct. 6 after the department was swamped with complaints, detectives searched the business and found documents that Steely said were evidence that Tecboys took customers’ money but didn’t place orders for scooters with the California company that was supposed to ship them, or delayed ordering for 90-120 days.

The documents contained enough information for police to locate the customers through email.

Steely said many of the Tecboys customers were reluctant to communicate with him, perhaps believing he was trying to defraud them in some way.

But eventually he gained their trust and about 100 customers replied.

Some complained that they were unhappy with the product, he said.

But the only complaints that were included in the fraud charges were those from customers who had sent money but not received their orders.

The October sentencing will not necessarily be the end of this case. Cearley said more charges could still be filed.