Investigators said he had another side business: illegal Universal and Walt Disney World ticket sales on the classified advertising website craigslist.com.
On Friday, Robey, 40, and his wife, Shaton, 35, surrendered at the Orange County jail on several felony and misdemeanor charges relating to the business, including grand theft, trafficking in stolen property and identity theft.
Court documents released Friday show Robey, his wife, two employees at the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal and an employee of another business were the subject of an undercover investigation by the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation that lasted several months.
According to prosecution documents:
The couple began selling Wendell Robey’s free employee tickets, marked “not for sale,” about Sept. 1. Then they began buying and selling other tickets, express-line passes and parking passes. A bellman at the Hard Rock Hotel sold them room keys that could be used to avoid standing in line at Universal and to park for free at the hotel.
The Robeys resold the tickets in the parking lot of a tourist-area TGI Friday’s — which is not implicated. In at least one instance, Shaton Robey brought her twin toddlers with her, documents show.
Unknown to the Robeys, they sold items to a Universal Orlando detective and MBI investigators, from whom they also bought tickets. Shaton Robey told authorities the couple earned $10,000 to $15,000 a year from ticket sales.
Messages left on Wendell Robey’s telephone Friday were not returned. On Wednesday, when the charges came to light, he would not comment. The couple cooperated with investigators.
Robey’s base salary at the Police Department, where he has worked since December 2000, is $63,373. He has been on paid leave since his superiors became aware of the criminal investigation, said Dwain Rivers, manager of internal investigations. There will be a review of his status next week, Rivers said. Last school semester, he was stationed at Dr. Phillips High School across from Universal.
According to prosecutors, Wendell Robey paid $40 apiece for one-day, two-park tickets and sold them for $80 to $100. Express-line passes, which help customers avoid a wait, were included. A legitimate ticket retails for $109. Express passes cost between $25.99 and $55.99 depending on the season. Parking costs $14 daily.
Wendell Robey also bought 20 Universal tickets from an undercover MBI agent for $800 — $40 apiece, as opposed to a $109 retail value, investigators said.
In one transaction, Wendell Robey bought 400 free tickets for $40 apiece that were meant for or used by Orange County band students marching in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade at Universal Studios, agents said. He told investigators he thought the money he was paying a third party for the tickets would go to the students for a trip to Atlanta.
In December, the couple resold tickets that University of Central Florida had bought legitimately for $37 apiece, prosecutors said.
Also implicated is Eric Swinarski, 37, a bell captain at Hard Rock, who worked there for 10 years, documents show. He is charged with theft, trafficking in stolen property, identity theft and fraudulent possession of tickets.
Swinarski told investigators he and Wendell Robey were “hustlers” who traded, bought and sold theme-park tickets for a few months, documents state. Robey told them he bought Universal tickets from Swinarski, they said.
Another bell captain, Nicholas Borey, 29, also is implicated. He had not been arrested as of Friday night. Borey, a three-year employee, told investigators he gave the Robeys 30 Hard Rock room-key cards over six months at $5 apiece. Agents said the Robeys sold the cards for $10 each.
The couple matched the key cards by gender of the original buyer, who had either discarded them or given them to Borey to throw away, documents show. The cards no longer provided access to a hotel room, but they could be used for express-line passes and free parking at Hard Rock until they expired.
One other person, Paul Chacon, 26, also had not been arrested Friday. Documents claim he stole 46 complimentary Walt Disney World tickets marked not for sale from his employer, Bags & Cars, documents show. Wendell Robey ended up buying those, prosecutors said.
The Robeys also are charged with fraudulent possession of theme-park tickets, engaging in business without paying Orange County tax, failure to register with the Florida Department of Revenue and failing to collect sales tax. All are misdemeanors.
They were released from jail after posting $9,750 bail each shortly after they were booked Friday.