On 02/19/18 the Swansea Police Department began investigating a breaking and entering and larceny from the Verizon store at 728 GAR Hwy, Swansea, MA. Ptlm Amy Gallant and Det Keith Chomka arrived on scene and began investigating this incident. The store was broken into on the night of 02/18/18 and a second time in the early morning hours of 02/19/18 by the same three individuals while one other remained patrolling the area as a look-out vehicle. The individuals have been identified as William “Willy Wonka” Rodriguez a/k/a “Chocolate Man” , 47, Chepiel “Chep” Sanchez, 40, Ignacio “Iggy” Duran, 41, all of Lawrence, MA and Nelson “Pito” Rodriguez, 43, of Fitchburg, MA. An associate of these involved, Marilyn Santiago, 38, was also charged with 2 counts of accessory after the fact for her involvement. After the first entry was made the crew stole approximately $90,000 worth of merchandise. During the second entry the crew cut open multiple safes and stole a little over $2,000 cash.
After a lengthy investigation, officers were able to tie this incident to that of a ring committing crimes across 4 states including, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. Det Keith Chomka worked closely on a six month investigation with the Essex County District Attorney’s Office, Massachusetts State Police and more than 50 other agencies in a task force on “Operation Golden Ticket” in attempts to identify and arrest these individuals.
On 08/20/18 the Essex County Grand Jury secretly returned 177 indictments against the five involved which included breaking and entering, larceny, receiving stolen motor vehicles. This crew was also known to the task force to be stealing ATM’s. These charges include 17 commercial and ATM burglaries and 12 stolen vehicles totaling over $300,000 in stolen property and currency.
William “Willy Wonka” Rodriguez, a/k/a Chocolate Man, 47, was arraigned on 60 counts, including 2 counts of conspiracy, 14 counts of breaking and entering in the night to commit a felony, 9 counts of possessing burglarious tools, 11 counts of breaking into a safe or depository, 12 counts of receiving stolen motor vehicle, subsequent offense, 9 counts of larceny, 1 count of receiving stolen property, 1 count of resisting arrest, and assault dangerous weapon.
Chepiel “Chep” Sanchez, 41, was indicted on 61 counts, including 2 counts of conspiracy, 14 counts of breaking and entering in the night to commit a felony, 9 counts of possessing burglarious tools, 11 counts of breaking into a safe or depository, 11 counts of receiving stolen motor vehicle, 9 counts of larceny, receiving stolen property, 2 counts of resisting arrest, money laundering, and assault dangerous weapon.
Ignacio “Iggy” Duran, 41, was indicted on 10 counts, including 2 counts of conspiracy, possessing burglarious tools, 2 counts of breaking and entering in the night to commit a felony, 2 counts of breaking into a safe or depository, receiving stolen motor vehicle, larceny, and resisting arrest.
Nelson “Pito” Rodriguez, 43, was arraigned on 44 counts, including 2 counts of conspiracy, trafficking in fentanyl over 10 grams, 6 counts of possessing burglarious tools, 9 counts of breaking and entering in the night to commit a felony, 7 counts of breaking into a safe or depository, 7 counts of receiving stolen motor vehicle, subsequent offense, 6 counts of larceny, and receiving stolen property.
William “Willy Wonka” Rodriguez, Chepiel “Chep” Sanchez, Nelson “Pito” Rodriguez, Ignacio “Iggy” Duran, were all also indicted as Habitual Offenders under the Massachusetts Habitual Offender statute, Chapter 279, Section 25, due to their extensive criminal histories and prior state prison sentences. A Habitual Offender under Massachusetts law is a defendant who has two prior convictions in which they were sentenced to prison terms greater than three years. With the Habitual Offender sentence enhancement, a sentencing judge, upon conviction of a felony, must impose the maximum sentence permissible for that felony. In this case, each count of Breaking and Entering in the Night Time carries a 20 year state prison term as a maximum penalty, and each Receiving Stolen Motor Vehicle count carries a 15 year state prison as a maximum penalty.
Essex County Assistant District Attorney Phillip Mallard and Massachusetts State Police Sergeant Robert Labarge lead the task force and ADA Phillip Mallard is prosecuting this case.
Operation Golden Ticket led to indictments pertaining to the following incidents that took place over nine nights during the period of February 2018 through April 2018.
February 9, 2018
- Theft of a Jeep Cherokee in Waltham, MA
- Break-in to a Dunkin Donuts in Needham, MA, and Theft of an ATM and Currency valued at $3,600
- Break-in to a Gulf Station in Needham, MA
February 10, 2018
- Break-in to an Enterprise Rent-a-Car in Portsmouth, NH,
- Theft of a Five Vehicles from Enterprise Rent-a-Car in Portsmouth, NH,
- Break-in to Healthpoint Fitness in Waltham, MA, and Theft of a Citizens Bank ATM containing $52,000
February 19, 2018
- Theft of a Plymouth Voyager in Fall River, MA,
- Break-in to a Verizon Wireless Store in Swansea, MA, and Theft of over $90,000 in Electronics
- Break-in to United Check Cashing, in Medford, MA, and Theft of a Safe containing $10,000 in cash
- Break-in to a U-Haul branch in Malden, MA
February 24, 2018
- Theft of a Dodge Caravan in Plainfield, CT
- Break-in to a Verizon Wireless Store in Plainfield, CT, and Theft of over $35,000 in Electronics
March 3, 2018
- Theft of a Ford Van in West Springfield, MA,
- Break-in to a Florence Bank ATM, in West Springfield, MA, and Theft of approximately $61,000 cash
March 7, 2018
- Break-in to a Mobil Station in Hanover, MA, and Theft of approximately $8,000 in cash
March 16, 2018
- Break-in to Doctor Wheels in Yarmouth, MA
- Theft of a Jeep Cherokee in Yarmouth, MA,
- Break-in to a Bank of America ATM in Bourne, MA
- Break-in to Ukrainian Federal Credit Union in Westwood, MA, and Theft of $10,000 cash from an ATM
March 30, 2018
- Theft of a Jeep Cherokee in Newburyport, MA
- Break-in to a North Shore Bank ATM in Plaistow, NH
- Break-in to a Speedway in Needham, MA, and Theft of a Safe
April 21, 2018
- Break-in to a Citizens Bank ATM in Marlborough, MA
- Theft of a Dodge Intrepid in Pawtucket, RI
- Break-in to State Line Convenience in Attleboro, MA, and Theft of over $10,000 in Cigarettes
- Theft of a Ford Van in Attleboro, MA
In total over 50 law enforcement agencies across New England contributed to the investigation, which was led by Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett’s Office. The following law enforcement agencies and sheriff departments assisted in the investigation: Attleboro, Boston, Bourne, Chelmsford, Gardner, Fall River, Fitchburg, Hanover, Harwich, Haverhill, Hudson, Lawrence, Leicester, Lowell, Malden, Marlborough, Medford, Methuen, Milford, Needham, Newburyport, Newton, Swansea, Springfield, Tyngsborough, Yarmouth, Wakefield, Waltham, West Springfield, Westwood, Worcester, in Massachusetts; Bedford, Nashua, Pelham, Salem, Peterborough, Portsmouth, Plaistow, in New Hampshire; Pawtucket, Providence, in Rhode Island; Plainfield and Waterbury, in Connecticut, and Olde Orchard Beach in Maine. The Essex County Sheriff Department, Boston Regional Intelligence Center, the Bristol County Sheriff Department, the Massachusetts State Police Fusion Center, National Insurance Crime Bureau, the Massachusetts Department of Corrections, the Connecticut State Police, the New Hampshire State Police, New Hampshire Department of Correction, and the Rhode Island State Police also contributed to the investigation. Assistance was also provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
All five involved have been arrested.
William “Willy Wonka” Rodriguez, a/k/a Chocolate Man, was held on $500,000, and for violation of his parole out of New Hampshire.
Chepiel “Chep” Sanchez, was held on $200,000.
Nelson “Pito” Rodriguez, was held on $60,000.
Ignacio “Iggy” Duran, was held on $15,000.
Marilyn Santiago, was held on $1,000 which was posted.
The defendants are due back in Salem Superior Court on October 11, 2018.