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The Evanston Police Department announced on Sept. 27 a successful joint operation of the Cook County Sheriff’s Police, the Evanston Police Department and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, resulting in the arrest of Evanston business owner James Coello. He is facing multiple felony charges after purchasing thousands of dollars in stolen jewelry and other valuables during the course of the sting operation.
Mr. Coello, 47, of Chicago, who owns and operates North Shore Coin at 1501 Chicago Ave. in Evanston, appeared in bond court today after being charged with one felony count each of organizer of a continuing financial crimes enterprise, continuing a financial crimes enterprise and theft.
Evanston Police initiated the investigation approximately six months ago when information was developed that merchandise stolen in residential home burglaries was being purchased at Mr. Coello’s store. Undercover officers, posing as burglars, began bringing items into North Shore Coin to sell. During their conversations the officers alluded to Mr. Coello that the merchandise was stolen. The investigation revealed that Mr. Coello was not recording the sales or requesting identification from sellers.
According to investigators, Mr. Coello assured the undercover officers that he would not reveal the source of the goods and further assured them that he always melted the valuables down quickly. During a subsequent meeting, an undercover officer told allegedly the defendant that he had purchased his sale items from another burglar, but that he also sometimes steals things himself. Mr. Coello allelgedly advised him that it was better to be a middleman than a burglar because they typically faced less serious charges when caught. On another occasion, the defendant allegedly advised undercover officers not to steal near Evanston and not to tell anyone else about his business.
During the course of the investigation, Mr. Coello was recorded buying thousands of dollar’s worth of purportedly stolen merchandise that included watches, gold and silver rings, coins, necklaces, and other valuables. On Sept. 25, Cook County Sheriff’s Police, Evanston Police, and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office executed a search warrant on North Shore Coin and recovered property that had been reported stolen in recent area burglaries.
Mr. Coello appeared in court today at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse in Skokie where bail was set at $250,000 and his case was continued to October 18 for a preliminary hearing.