Crime

Florida Couple Charged With Stealing $76,000 Worth of Honey

Florida Couple Charged With Stealing $76,000 Worth of Honey
Photo by Natali_Mis / iStock
Miami's biggest honey caper began unraveling this past April 25, when William Steel bumped into a drum of honey at his company's warehouse in Homestead. The drum was supposed to be full of 600 pounds of honey, but it wobbled like it was half-empty.

Steel was suspicious, so he checked each drum that had been delivered to his business, Bee Natural Honey, from beekeepers Jose and Celestino Aguilar. As he used a forklift to pick up the drums and maneuver them onto the scale, he noticed water leaking from inside. 

He weighed all of the drums in his warehouse and found at least 70 were light of liquid gold. That's when Steel knew: He'd been the victim of a massive honey theft.

Soon he realized only two people could be to blame: 45-year-old William Faith and his wife, 41-year-old Cristina America Faith (yes, that's her middle name), whose job was to unload the drums, document their weight, and add security seals.

When Steel reviewed the weight sheets, he found that the Faiths had marked all 70 drums as full and sealed them with security labels.
William and Cristina Faith - MIAMI-DADE CORRECTIONS
William and Cristina Faith
Miami-Dade Corrections
So Steel fired the Faiths and called the cops.

Homestead Police now say the couple had conspired to defraud "Bee Natural Honey for approximately two years by altering the amount of honey received in their respective drums and overcharging the company in order to obtain profit for themselves," according to Officer Ryan Khawly.

In July, Khawly and two police detectives met Steel at the company's headquarters in Homestead to inspect the honey drums. At this point, Steel still hadn't removed the security seals, but with the detectives present, he was finally able to get a look inside.

Turns out only 21 of the 73 drums that were inspected by the police contained honey.

The Faiths had filled 51 drums with nothing but water, police say.

"The total amount of pounds of honey that was recorded was 50,598 pounds, but in actuality, there was only 5,463 pounds of honey," Khawly wrote.

That meant Bee Natural Honey "sustained an approximate loss of $76,729.50."

About a month after detectives uncovered the honey plot, they confronted the Faiths at their home near the Everglades in Homestead, and the couple agreed to come down to the police station. The Faiths explained their professional roles and responsibilities for Bee Natural Honey, but they didn't confess to the honey heist. It didn't take long for them to lawyer up.

By then, cops had been investigating the pair for months. As they charged the couple, police detailed the full, nefarious bee plot: The Faiths, they say, would "falsely record the amount of honey that was received, causing Bee Natural Honey to pay out more money than the true value of the product," according to Khawly. "Further investigation revealed that the Faiths would receive a kickback from the Aguilars [the beekeepers]."

The Faiths were both out of jail the next day after posting their respective $7,500 bonds. They're scheduled for arraignment hearings the second week of September and have not yet entered pleas. Neither of the Aguilars has been charged in the scheme.
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Meg O'Connor is a freelance journalist for Miami New Times. She moved to Miami from New York after earning a master's degree in investigative journalism from Columbia University. She previously worked for CNN's Investigative Unit.
Contact: Meg O'Connor