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Disgruntled ex-employee allegedly breaks into former workplace

A Eustis man has been arrested on burglary and theft charges after allegedly breaking into his previous place of employment to steal about $1,500 worth of items.

Michael Stacy Hughes
Michael Stacy Hughes

A deputy responded to an alleged robbery at Spencer Fabrications Inc, located at 29511 County Road 561 in Tavares, around 11:30 a.m. April 22, according to an arrest report from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. 

Upon arrival, the deputy met with the complainant, a co-owner of the business, who stated a recently terminated employee, later identified as 55-year-old Michael Stacy Hughes, had returned to the business the day before and taken materials without permission. Hughes had been notified he was terminated, effective immediately, as of March 26 via an email but was possibly still in possession of keys to the business, the report said. 

The complainant advised that he recognized Hughes on the business’ security video entering the premises a short time after 6 a.m. He could be seen taking a cart carrying miscellaneous aluminum materials that totaled about $1,500. He did not have permission to enter or take items from the business, the report said. 

The deputy watched the security video which corroborated the complainant’s story. He observed Hughes enter the business at about 6:06 a.m. wearing a dark long-sleeved shirt, shorts and work-style boots. He also appeared to walk hunched over forward, the report said. 

The footage showed Hughes wheeling a cart through the business with multiple metal items on it. He could also be seen in other parts of the business moving several items using a forklift. After the complainant provided Hughes’ information with an employee file, the deputy was able to verify Hughes as the same person in the video through his driver’s license photo, the report said. 

The deputy then responded to Hughes’ address and met with him. He was read his rights and waived them, agreeing to speak to the deputy. He denied any involvement with the theft, the report said. 

Additionally, a check of Hughes’ criminal history revealed several previous convictions for burglary and theft. Two burglary convictions were from April 1991 and June 2017, while three theft convictions were from April 1991, June 2017 and Oct. 2017, the report said. 

Hughes was ultimately arrested on charges of burglary unoccupied structure (unarmed) and grand theft (greater than $750 less than $5k). He was transported to Lake County Jail and released after posting $7,500 bond. 

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