The owner of a Marco Island landscape business is facing felony charges after detectives say he stole thousands of dollars’ worth of mulch from Collier County government.
Albert Benarroch, 60, 847 Rose Court, Marco Island, was arrested Wednesday and charged with grand theft and dealing in stolen property.
Collier County Sheriff’s Office arrest reports gave this account:
On July 13, CCSO detectives met with members of the Collier County Growth Management Department’s Road Maintenance Division who advised they received a tip that there were approximately 100 pallets of county-owned red mulch at Benarroch’s Affordable Landscaping Service & Design site at 2390 James Road that had been removed to another location. Benarroch did not have permission to store mulch at this location or to dispose of it.
A pallet is made up 70 bags of mulch and each bag cost the county $2.20.
Further investigation by detectives determined that from June 16-18 Benarroch directed an employee to load the pallets onto a truck. Benarroch had made arrangements for the truck to remove the county-owned mulch from the James Road site. The employee loaded approximately 90 pallets, or 6,300 bags, over three days that was removed from the site.
On July 9, the county Road Maintenance Division sent an e-mail to all of its vendors advising them to return all county property, including mulch. Affordable Landscaping returned 555 bags worth of county mulch on July 13, but not the 90 pallets that had been removed from James Road.
Follow-up investigation revealed the missing mulch had been moved to a recycling site in Felda.
The owner of the recycling facility told detectives that Benarroch asked him to come to Collier County and remove the mulch from the James Road site. He said Benarroch asked the owner to sell the mulch for him.
During June 16-18, a truck from the recycling facility made multiple trips to the James Road site and removed the 90 pallets of county mulch to Feld.
The mulch was returned to the county on July 24. A total of 88 pallets, or 6,160 bags, were recovered. The mulch was valued at $13,552.