Never trust a meth head.
Via Palm Beach Post:
Michael Johnson envisioned those commemorative presidential dollars spiraling down a slot, to be converted from $33,000 worth of collectibles to just enough store credit to buy a couple of 12-packs of beer.
“He easily had $33,000 worth, and he dumped it in a Coin Star machine,” Johnson said.
Authorities said Shane Anthony Mele, 40, of Riviera Beach confessed he stole rare coins and other items, valued at $350,000, from Johnson’s North Palm Beach office in December.
Mele reportedly said he sold some, then ran many through change machines, where he got just face value.
Johnson, who said he’s disabled and mostly not working, said Mele wiped him out of his life savings.
“I was using those coins to help stay alive,” he said.
“There’s no insurance that covers this kind of thing, really. Not at the losses we’re talking about,” he said. “It’s put me in a world of hurt.”
Mele was booked the evening of Feb. 1 at the Palm Beach County Jail, charged with grand theft of more than $100,000, along with a unrelated 10-count drug charge. He left Feb. 4 after posting bond, jail and court records show.
Mele could not be located for comment. A North Palm Beach Police report shows no address, and the telephone number shown for Mele was disconnected.
Johnson, who’s in the finance industry, said he inherited a large coin collection, as well as a love of collecting, from his father, who died about six years ago. He said he started collecting at age 16 and estimated he had more than 100,000 coins in 80 boxes, some worth just a little and some extremely valuable.
Now, he said, they’re mostly gone.
He said he’d met Mele a few years back through mutual friends and he’d helped out the man. He said Mele contacted him last fall on social media, saying his wallet had been stolen, and he let Mele stay at his business office on U.S. 1 just north of Ebbtide Drive, in exchange for help with a work project. He said Mele stayed off and on from October until Dec. 19.
Johnson said he came in the next day “and everything was ransacked.”
He said Mele had broken the lock on the cabinet.
The police report said Johnson gave investigators security-camera video showing Mele placing blue tape over cameras on the night of Dec. 19.[…]
He said he’d had some collectible coins out but had not mentioned to Mele his large cache or where it was.
The report said police learned Mele had an outstanding warrant — it doesn’t say for what — and, acting on a tip, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office picked up Mele on Feb. 1 at a home in Lake Worth.
He told investigators he took some coins to South Florida Coins & Jewelry in Lake Worth, where he said he got about $4,000.
The store’s owner, George Hornberg, told The Palm Beach Post on Tuesday the total actually was $2,330. He said he spent about 2½ hours processing the coins. He said unlike valuable jewelry, sales of collectible coins do not require filling out of paperwork. He said he is cooperating with law enforcement.
Mele told police he dumped the rest of the collectibles in “Coin Star” machines at area grocery stores. People often trade large stashes of loose coins for store credit, minus a fee of as much as 11.9 percent.