“Willy Wonka” was taken down by a “Golden Ticket” Thursday, but it has nothing to do with the classic Chocolate Factory movie.
William Rodriguez, who goes by the nicknames “Willy Wonka” and “Chocolate Man” is being held on half a million dollars bail after he was indicted in a multi-state, six-month-long investigation into ATM, business and car thefts called “Operation Golden Ticket.”
“We were able to find the consistencies and link them all together,” said Carrie Kimball-Monahan with the Essex County District Attorney’s office.
Their office worked with more than 50 other law enforcement agencies in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut to tie Rodriguez and four co-defendants to at least 17 ATM and business burglaries, along with 12 car thefts totaling $300,000 in stolen goods and money.
“They donned clothing and masks to conceal their identities, they used equipment to break into the ATMs," Kimball-Monahan said.
Rodriguez’s alleged partners in crime, Nelson Rodriguez and Marilyn Santiago, were both arrested Thursday and held on bail.
Co-defendants Chepiel Sanchez and Ignacio Duran remain on the loose but will be charged in connection with these crimes as soon as they can be brought into court.
The break in the case came when Sanchez and Duran were caught after a theft of thousands of dollars of cigarettes from an Attleboro store in April.
“We were able to build a case that shows what they’re doing is really a very sophisticated criminal operation,” Kimball-Monahan said.
All four male co-defendants are being charged as habitual criminals, so they will face the maximum amount of jail time if they're convicted.
They are all due back in court on Oct. 11.