Four arrested a fix-it store
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office made three arrests on June 3 and one arrest on June 6 in Winter Park related to the dealing of stolen cell phones at the We Fix Phones at 595 W. Fairbanks Ave. – the result of a yearlong investigation of the business by the Winter Park Police Department.
We Fix Phones owner Hunter Sanders and employees Lisa Jo Sanders, Adam Sanders and Michael Chaney were charged with multiple counts of dealing in stolen property, money laundering, dealing in stolen property over the Internet, engaging in a pattern of racketeering activity, conspiracy to commit racketeering and operating a secondhand dealer without a registration or license.
Winter Park Police received a tip last year that the location was buying stolen cell phones and selling them on the Internet, starting an investigation last June. Police later conducted a series of controlled sales over a six-month period, sending a confidential informant posing as a customer selling several phones believed to be stolen.
The store obliged the customer and bought the phones without resistance, said Sgt. Tim Volkerson of the Winter Park Police Street Crimes Unit.
“Through that information gathering we learned that most probably that tip was pretty accurate,” Volkerson said. “At that point we began the active investigation…. They participated regardless of whether we told them it was stolen.”
Police are unsure of how long the business may have been dealing in stolen phones, Volkerson said.
We Fix Phones has been serving Winter Park residents for more than 14 years, according to a post on the store’s Facebook page.
It goes to show that any business could be capable of operating a crime enterprise, said Sgt. John Bologna of the Winter Park Police Department.
“They’ve done repairs; they’ve helped people out,” Bologna said. “They were a legitimate business doing legitimate business. How they got into what they were doing with the alleged charges against them and how that started, I don’t know.”
Bologna said he didn’t know of any other pending arrests in the area related to the alleged crimes.
The suspects have since posted bail and continue to run their store, Volkerson said. The state will decide whether there’s enough evidence to proceed with a trial.
The suspects’ defense attorney didn’t respond to requests for comment before press time.