2 men charged with stealing Personal Protective Equipment in Charleston

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Two people have been charged in federal court for stealing personal protective equipment from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Charleston.

United States Attorney Peter M. McCoy, Jr. said 49-year-old Frank Smail, Jr., of Round O, and 58-year-old Mike Pellegrini, of North Charleston, were charged Wednesday in a multi-count federal indictment alleging conspiracy to steal personal protective equipment from the law enforcement center.

According to a press release, Smail was also charged with PPE theft, obstruction of justice, and lying to federal agents.

Frank Smail Jr.

Indictments against the men show they worked for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. It also showed the center, which provides career-long training to law enforcement professionals in more than 90 Federal agencies, had a student and instructor test positive for COVID-19 on March 20.

The indictment alleges that – three weeks later – Smail stole a large amount of FLETC’s PPE supply after he and Pellegrini developed a plan for the theft.

“It is tragic that, at a time when PPE is most needed and in short supply, someone would steal this vital equipment from those who train our front-line federal law enforcement officers,” said U.S. Attorney McCoy. “This office will always stand up and protect our law enforcement partners. I appreciate the hard work of the FBI and our HPG Task Force, which worked tirelessly to investigate this case.”

According to the indictment, the large number of boxes stolen would have required a vehicle to transport and numerous trips to load the boxes. The indictment further alleges that Smail lied to Federal investigators and obstructed the Federal investigation into the PPE theft.

The case is part of the District of South Carolina’s Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force and led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Pellegrini and Smail face up to five years for the conspiracy charge, and Smail faces up to 10 years for the PPE theft charge, up to 20 years for the obstruction charge, and up to five years for the charge of lying to federal investigators.

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