LARGO – Detectives with the Largo Police Department investigated the theft of more than $500,000 in cigarettes and cash from Dosal Tobacco Corporation’s distribution center in Largo, resulting in charges against two former employees within the last month.
Detective Lance Wagoner, with the assistance of Detective Keith Wedin, began the investigation into a $350,000 theft from the Dosal warehouse located in the 13800 block of U.S. Highway 19 on March 20.
They worked with the manager of the Largo warehouse, as well as Dosal’s national sales manager. Dosal is a multimillion-dollar company that produces cigarettes in Miami and markets them worldwide under the brands Competidora, DTC, Romy and 305’s.
The investigation made it clear that two suspects were stealing independently of one another, police reported. To gather evidence, Wagoner and Wedin canvassed 38 convenience stores in Pinellas and Pasco counties and interviewed the owners.
Detectives discovered that former employee Basem Quasem Shahin, 36, had taken about $50,000 in currency and money orders from accounts on his route in St. Petersburg, according to police. Shahin quit his job with Dosal before police were notified of the theft.
Wagoner collaborated with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and learned that Shahin had taken flight to the country of Jordan. Police are seeking a warrant for his arrest, charging him with a second-degree felony scheme to defraud.
Former employee Scott Joseph Delemeester, 31, of St. Petersburg was arrested for a first-degree felony scheme to defraud on April 28. He is accused of stealing $293,787 in cigarettes.
“The second suspect's case was a bit more problematic, as it involved the detectives having to learn about the inventory control system, computerized devices and standard operating procedures used by the company,” explained Detective Randall Chaney, a sergeant in Largo’s investigative services division.
An executive with Dosal flew to Pinellas County to give her expert testimony and help detectives develop probable cause in the case.
In the course of the five-week investigation, police also discovered that Delemeester stole from his employer two years ago, according to reports. Police will pursue a second charge, bringing the amount of Delemeester’s thefts to more than $500,000.
Largo Police Chief Jeff Undestad praised his detectives for their work in a citywide email about the case.
“A great deal of time goes into investigations like this and not all have a successful outcome like this one,” he wrote.