MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Eight current and former employees of a local video game franchise have pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft of property charges, following an undercover investigation into buying stolen video games, officials announced Wednesday.
Shelby County Sheriff's Detective Dee Bowling said during the investigation, undercover deputies entered local Gamestop stores asking employees if they would purchase video games implied to be stolen. The deputies then sold the items implied to be stolen to the employees.
Bowling said deputies sold games to employees at multiple GameStop locations in the Memphis area.
"In some occasions, the employee would instruct the person how to get around their store policy without getting flagged: come in with different games on different days; don't come in with the same games; don't come in the same store on multiple occasions," Bowling said.
The defendants, identified as Carmen Meacham, 41, of Bartlett; Brandon Blackwell, 20, of Memphis; Andrew Cline, 23, of Cordova; Jeffrey Ford, 29, of Memphis; Patrick Hitt, 21, of Cordova; Corrie Morris, 24, of Memphis; Marcus Smith, 19, of Memphis; and Thomas Wells, 30, of Southaven, Mississippi, pleaded guilty to theft of property under $500 and were ordered to serve one year of diversion.
Following the investigation, GameStop Regional Vice President of Stores Rory Rhoads said the company would suspend cash-for-trade transactions in Shelby and DeSoto Counties until next February.
"In addition, we have conducted extensive training to reiterate the Company's policy against receipt of stolen property and to assist employees in identifying questionable merchandise," Rhodes said.
"If GameStop wasn't in the market of buying games without asking any questions, like the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy - if they weren't in that market - there wouldn't be a high volume of theft," Bowling said.
None of the defendants had prior criminal records. There are 18 Gamestops located in the Memphis area.