Officer caught in habitual beer theft scheme at Remke grocery store, authorities say

Posted at 5:42 PM, Jan 30, 2014
and last updated 2016-04-17 18:14:52-04

CINCINNATI -- Every day, Officer Richard Frey works to uphold the law.

But the Hamilton County Courthouse service officer is no stranger to breaking it: He has been caught stealing multiple times.

Between July and November of 2013, surveillance video obtained by the I-Team shows Frey, 43, habitually stealing beer from a Remke store in Harrison.

In most cases, Frey walks into the grocery store, goes to the beer aisle and picks up a large case of Miller. He then grabs a bag of ice and makes his way to the self-checkout lane to pay.

But when Frey picks up the beer case and appears to scan it – he’s really not. Officials say he’s actually ringing up a single beer that costs only $1 and walking out of the store with a case worth $24.

According to a Harrison Police Department report, each case of beer has two bar codes: One that reads “case code” and another called “bottle code.” In each instance of theft, Frey scanned the bottle code.

But Frey’s actions didn’t go unnoticed.

Remke managerial staff said Frey used his Remke card in each case, making it easy to go back and look at his transactions and match them up to surveillance video.

A Remke clerk told the I-Team she caught Frey trying to walk out without paying in September, and asked him to pay for the entire case of beer.

Despite the warning, Frey – a Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office employee – didn’t stop.

During an investigation, officials found video evidence that Frey cheated the system at least seven times. Remke also found evidence of two more instances that were not available on video.

When authorities confronted him about the stolen beer, Frey became “teary eyed" and told an officer "he did something stupid," according to the police report.

But Frey has not been suspended or disciplined by the sheriff’s office. However, court records show Harrison police charged him with one count of misdemeanor theft.

His punishment: Diversion, which means after he pays a $300 fine and completes 40 hours of community service, the charge will be dropped.

Harrison prosecutor Bill Deters said Frey was “not given preferential treatment.” Deters said Frey was offered the diversion program like any other first-time offender.

Defense attorney Rick Scott said Frey’s fine and community service punishment is “typical.”

"It's a system that's there for people who kind of make a mistake,” Scott said. “Does it look fishy? It probably does to the average person. But to someone like me, and after I’ve explained it to you, it's typical…I think it’s silly that somebody would jeopardize their freedom to get a case of beer at a super discounted price.”

The I-Team reached out to Frey’s attorney for comment but have not received a response.

Frey declined to comment on the case. He has since been banned from the Harrison Remke store.

Deters said Remke decided to pursue only one count of theft against Frey -- rather than seven counts -- if he agreed to pay for the stolen beer.

Jim Knapp, Chief of Staff for Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil, told the I-Team an internal investigation into the case is ongoing.

Complete surveillance video can viewed by pressing START on the box below and following the steps.
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