A large-scale, multi-state crime ring concluded last week when the ringleader known as Willy Wonka was sentenced to prison, said law enforcement authorities.
Essex County, Massachusetts, District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett announced the case involved more than 60 law enforcement agencies from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut. He announced the case concluded Nov. 7 with a change of plea and sentencing of lead defendant William Rodriguez, 47, also known as Willy Wonka and Chocolate Man.
The case was dubbed “Operation Golden Ticket” and culminated with admissions from four men about their involvement in 38 burglaries and 20 car thefts over the last year and more than $900,000 in stolen cash and property.
Portsmouth Police Lt. Darrin Sargent said city officers assisted with the investigation, detective Erik Widerstrom was the local lead investigator and he “contributed greatly towards the resolution.”
Included among the charges are that the men committed a burglary at the Enterprise Rent-a-Car, at 155 Mirona Road in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on Feb. 10, when five vehicles were stolen. Portsmouth police said at the time that burglars forced their way into the business, stole the four vehicles from the lot and attempted to also steal a safe.
A fifth vehicle, a black 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee, was stolen from a nearby business and was “used in the commission of the burglary at Enterprise,” police said.
“In total, this case entailed the prosecution and conviction of these defendants for 39 charged commercial and ATM burglaries, and the receipt of 20 stolen motor vehicles,” Sargent said. “These offenders engaged in multiple high speed chases, stole numerous vehicles, caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, and stole over $900,000 in currency and merchandise. The crew has been dismantled for the next decade and through the collaboration and contributions of the affected agencies, the entire region has been made safer.”