Two former deputies with the Dallas County Sheriff's Office were indicted by a Dallas County grand jury Monday after being accused of looting a tornado-damaged Home Depot and trying to return the merchandise for credit.
Former Deputy Joseph Bobadilla and former Sgt. Rebecca Evans are each accused of stealing 72 tools and hardware items, court documents show. They each face a theft charge, which is a state felony. If found guilty, they could each face 10 years behind bars.
Bobadilla was hired to work as an off-duty security officer at the store which was heavily damaged during the Oct. 20, 2019 tornado outbreak in Dallas.
While he was being questioned by detectives, officials with the sheriff's department were searching his home in Garland. Video from Texas Sky Ranger showed deputies removing at least two appliances which were still in boxes.
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The investigation started after Home Depot corporate office told the Dallas County Sheriff's Office that they believed Bobadilla ws involved in a theft and tried to return the stolen items to another store for credit.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by NBC 5, on Oct. 31 Bobadilla, working as an off-duty security guard at the damaged store, asked Home Depot officials if cameras at the store were working and asked about potential items that could be taken from the store.
An arrest affidavit said on Nov. 1, Bobadilla was recorded on surveillance video at the Wheatland Road store, in full uniform, returning a box of wet, new, unopened merchandise. With no receipt, he signed for a store credit of $753.98. On Nov. 7 he went back to the Wheatland store, again in full uniform, and returned more wet, unopened merchandise and signed for a credit of $454.46. Some of the merchandise was marked Store 6503, the store damaged by the tornado.
On Nov. 8, Bobadilla went with a woman, identified in the affidavit as Veronica Palacio, a current or former Dallas County employee, to the store on Elam Road and each attempted to return $535.10 worth of items. Both attempts at making the return were rejected and the pair left the store with the items.
Then on Nov. 11, Bobadilla and Palacio purchased a washer, dryer and microwave on store credit. The washer and dryer were delivered to his residence and the microwave was delivered to her residence.
According to Home Depot officials, the amount of merchandise "appropriated" totaled $2,398.57. The location of the stolen items unsuccessfully returned, worth $535.10, remains unknown.
Evans, who, according to the arrest warrant affidavit, was interviewed that afternoon and waived her rights. She told investigators the thefts were Bobadilla's idea and that he told her what to take and that she entering the store three times and concealing items under her shirt. She also admitted to taking photos of the items and accepting payments of $250 and $500 from Bobadilla for the stolen merchandise.
"The Dallas Sheriff's Office does not condone or support employees that break the law. Our core values are integrity, professionalism and accountability and as a result, we will follow the proper procedures and guidelines in place to uphold the law and ensure the deputy is held responsible for his actions," said Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown in a prepared statement in November.