Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested 57-year-old Antonio Colmenares and 60-year-old Antonio Sabatier, both of Miami, on first-degree grand theft related to more than $300,000 worth of donated items to the Florida Veterans Foundation (FVF).
The FVF is a nonprofit that offers support to the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs (FDVA).
Colmenares, of 4345 SW 10th St., was a volunteer as the Miami Director for the FVF; Sabatier, of 4247 SW 10th St., is a close friend of Colmenares. He did not have an appointed position with the FVF.
In March 2015, FDLE received a complaint from the state Department of Veterans’ Affairs alleging a theft of disaster blankets and ready-to-eat emergency meals. The items had been provided to FVF by a Tampa-area nonprofit agency to be used for an event to help homeless veterans in Miami. Colmenares had organized the event. During the investigation, agents found that in February 2015 Colmenares and Sabatier arranged for the sale of more than 27,000 blankets and 9,700 meals instead of using the items for their intended purpose. The proceeds from the sale of the items totaled $46,800 and did not benefit FVF but were deposited into an account of Nike Management, a company owned by Sabatier.
The investigation uncovered that other donated items, such as sleeping bags, cots and back packs, were also sold for profit. Colmenares and Sabatier sold most of the items to Worldwide Tactical, a Miami company, on three different occasions: April 2014, February 2015 and May 2015 for a total of $79,394.41. Worldwide Tactical had no knowledge the items were being sold illegally.
“These donated items should have gone to help feed and warm veterans struggling to get back on their feet—instead they were sold to fatten the pockets of those charged with preying on the good intentions of others,” said Attorney General Pam Bondi. “I want to thank FDLE for their tireless efforts investigating this case and working with my Office of Statewide Prosecution. I also want to commend the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs for immediately contacting law enforcement about the alleged theft so an investigation could be opened.”
FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen said: “These items were donated with the express purpose to help our veterans who unselfishly serve our country. To take advantage of any opportunity that would benefit them is indefensible.”
The Inspector General’s Office of the FDVA assisted with this investigation. Both Colmenares and Sabatier were booked in the Miami-Dade Jail on a $20,000 bond each.