By Charles Rabin
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HIALEAH GARDENS, Fla. — Four times over the past two months a rookie police officer who dabbled in martial arts pawned several high-powered weapons issued to him by the law enforcement agency for just over $1,200, police said Thursday.
The guns pawned by Leonardo Carbo, 30, included an Armalite AR-15 rifle and were service weapons provided to him by the Hialeah Gardens Police Department.
Despite at least four visits to Airport Pawn Jewelry, Guns & Gift Cards at 831 NW 42nd St., Carbo’s scheme didn’t unravel until he allegedly stole from a fellow officer. Police say they were alerted to Carbo after he used his partner’s credit card to make purchases at a Walmart, a gas station, even splurging on a $171.56 dinner at Divieto Ristorante in Aventura.
The one purchase that really caught the attention of police and led to the officer’s arrest: Carbo is alleged to have used the credit card fraudulently to retrieve one of the weapons at the pawnshop for $350 and purchase another one for $385.
Carbo had his partner’s credit card, according to his arrest form, because his co-worker realized it was missing as he was boarding a plane two weeks ago and asked Carbo to retrieve it from a restaurant he had visited the night before.
“Oscar [Carbo’s partner] received a picture message of the credit card from Leonardo confirming that he had it in his possession,” the arresting officer wrote in the report. “Oscar then replied to Leonardo via text message to keep the credit card for safekeeping or to place it in Oscar’s mailbox at work.”
Carbo, who was hired in Hialeah Gardens this past June 27, has been fired, said Hialeah Gardens police spokesman Lt. Eddy Medina.
“The investigation is still ongoing. We just had enough to terminate him because he was still on probation status,” Medina said. Police officers serve a one-year probation period after they are hired.
Steadman Stahl, president of the South Florida Police Benevolent Association, confirmed that Carbo was a union member, but said he had not contacted the PBA office as of Thursday. Carbo was arrested Wednesday, according to the report. As of Thursday afternoon, there was no record of him at the jail.
He’s been charged with four counts of unlawfully pawning service weapons, petit theft, using fake identification and credit card fraud. Social media sites show Carbo as running the Martial Arts and After School Center in Hialeah. State business records list him as a director or agent of the company, but show it’s been inactive since 2017.
According to his arrest report, Carbo’s first visit to the pawnshop was on Aug. 18, less than eight weeks after he was hired. Police say he pawned his department-issued .40-caliber Glock handgun that day for $300. He was back on Aug. 13, this time police said, handing over his AR-15 rifle for $310. He visited twice more in September, the report said, both times trading in a Glock for $300.
But it was Carbo’s fifth visit to the pawnshop on Sept. 30 that caught the attention of police. That’s the day, police said, that he used his partner’s credit card to retrieve one of the pawned weapons and purchase another.
The next day Carbo’s partner called Hialeah Gardens Police and said his card had been used “fraudulently” at the pawnshop. Soon he noticed all the other charges. Police spoke with the pawnshop manager, retrieved records and were able to match fingerprints from receipts to Carbo.
A man answering the phone at Airport Pawn Jewelry, Guns & Gift Cards Thursday and who said his name was Bruce, said the store owner is aware of the situation, but that he had little to say because it was still under investigation.
“We didn’t know what was going on,” he said.
Carbo was taken into custody Wednesday at his home by Miami Police, without incident.
Miami Herald Staff Writer David Ovalle contributed to this report.
(C)2022 Miami Herald. Visit miamiherald.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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