A bar in Detroit was caught serving a whole lot more than just drinks.
The Michigan Avenue watering hole allegedly served as front for a marketplace dealing in stolen items and it’s alleged the owner was part of a major theft ring.
The doubling-up appeared to have operating for years at Cas Bar run by a local woman known as ‘Mama Joe’.
Dearborn police have depict the woman as the leader of a criminal gang specializing in retail fraud.
The bar would sell everything from air fresheners, to top shelf liquor to ceiling fans
$670,000 in cash was found in among the haul at the Detroit, Michigan bar
Numerous bottles of top-shelf liquor was found ready to be sold to whoever paid cash
Investigators said heroin addicts were being paid to steal as part of a fencing operation with the stolen goods then being sold out of Cas Bar
The bar appeared to have served as a marketplace for stolen items and was part of a major theft ring that operated for years
There appeared to be a healthy trade in air fresheners and booze going on a the bar
Dearborn police found large amounts of cash after raiding the bar as well as weapons, booze and drugs. The cash element alone totaled $620,000.
70-year old Beverly ‘Mama Jo’ Sassin, 38-year-old Amanda Lynn Mosed, 49-year-old Jodie Beth Welbes and 45-year-old Christopher Buchannion are all accused of stealing and selling the items.
Sassin has owned the bar for at least the past 20 years. Members of the group would head to big stores such as Target, Home Depot, Kroger and Meijer before shoplifting.
The goods when then be sold at the bar with a huge discount. But to the owners, having not paid for any of the merchandise, every dollar earned was pure profit.
Beverly Jo Sassin, 70, was the alleged ring leader of the theft ring which had been running for years. Christopher Bucannion, 45, face eight felony counts related to the case
Amanda Lynn Mosed, 38 and Jodie Beth Welbes, 49, face eight counts related to the case. Another man Christopher Bucannion, 45, was also charged with the same
Items recovered include weapons, booze, drugs, and large amounts of cash totaling $620,000
A corner of a police conference room was filled with proceeds from the alleged theft ring, including three video arcade games, a washing machine, many bottles of top shelf liquor
A strange array of stuff, from ceiling fans to Instant Pots to coffee and air freshener, was found, plus lots of liquor and Red Bull
Three arcade video game machines were also seized in the haul from the bar
Donovan Bertrand lives right down the street from Cas Bar, and says he goes there often. He told 7 Action News he saw some strange things happening inside the bar.
‘People come in with things like Jack Daniel bottles, like space heaters, like just the most random things to bring into a bar late at night, and you’re like where are they getting it,’ Bertrand said.
During a press conference earlier in the week, an entire corner was filled with proceeds from the alleged theft ring, including three video arcade games, a washing machine, many bottles of top shelf liquor,stacks of energy drinks, tools, Starbucks coffee, televisions, guns, ceiling fans, faucets and $600,000 stashed in a large box of Velveeta.
‘This is a prominent crime that is happening in our communities, and the message is we are no longer tolerating it,’ said attorney for the stores, Fadwa Hammoud.
‘This was not someone looking for a deal at Christmastime,’ Hammoud said. ‘This isn’t a pack of gum — it’s high-end stuff.’
It’s believed Sassin had run the retail fraud ring out of the bar since she took it over years ago
The haul looked like something that might have been purchase during a Black Friday sale
The bar, which had a legal capacity of less than 50 people, had become a favorite, drawing plenty of regulars
Hammoud said that in her years of trying these cases, organized retail fraud is ‘drug-driven, heroin-driven,’ estimating that some 90 percent of boosters, the people who physically steal goods from store shelves, are addicts resorting to theft for drug money.
‘It’s a quick way for boosters to go out and get cash,’ Hammoud said.
‘It was a criminal enterprise concealed in a legitimate business that was the bar,’ Chief Ronald Haddad of the Dearborn Police Department said.
The authorities believe Sassin had customers in place to buy certain items, Chief Haddad said.
The stolen items found at Cas Bar were things that could expire or could not be stored for years at a time. ‘It was obvious that there was a quick turnaround time,’ he said.
Drug addicts would be sent yo Target, Home Depot, Kroger and Meijer, as part of a fencing operation with the stolen goods then being sold out of Cas Bar
A number of weapons were also found in among the haul. That brought new charges
‘The stolen property was purchased at a much devalued rate’ before being sold, he added. ‘That’s where the profits came from.’
In May, the authorities began surveilling the bar’s owner, Beverly Jo Sassin, after they arrested a man who had been accused of shoplifting ‘large amounts of alcohol’ from a retail store in Dearborn, according to Chief Haddad.
During an interview meant to determine if he needed help with drug addiction, the man explained to the police that he could ‘fence’ the stolen goods at Cas Bar, the chief said.
The four suspects are charged with eight felony charges described as people ‘in position to move a lot in a hurry. t’s organized and they know exactly what they’re doing.’
‘What you see here is a mere fraction of what our department recovered in the way of stolen property,’ said Chief Haddad.
The bar’s status as a beloved dive could soon come to an end, with officials saying they are trying to get the bar padlocked