Mark Brunelle sentenced to prison for steal-and-return scheme

(WJLA) - If you’re not happy with what you buy at Home Depot, you can do what customers typically do: take it back.

But returns without a receipt were not a problem for one Maryland man, who turned in thousands of dollars in stolen items at this Falls Church store.

Mark Brunelle, 47, is now paying for his crime. He will spend more than four years in federal prison for his part in a massive $400,000 scheme involving as many as 50 stores – including Home Depot, Lowe’s, and others. The feds say he booted their merchandise and then returned it – getting gift cards in exchange.

Stores did check identification as guidelines say to do, but Brunelle and his associates reportedly modified driver’s licenses in order to make their returns – and it worked.

Brunelle’s hits to Lowe’s and Home Depot alone cost the stores more than $60,000 in two years. Over the span of five years, these chains lost more than $150,000 in total.