FBI foils theft of $773,000 in concession receipts

July 29, 1991|By Mary Anne Ostrom and Frances Dinkelspiel | Mary Anne Ostrom and Frances Dinkelspiel,Knight-Ridder News Service

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Following a bizarre trail that led them to a Phoenix call girl and a Texas bar, authorities Saturday arrested an Oakland Coliseum concessions manager accused of stealing more than $700,000 in receipts from refreshment sales at last weekend's baseball games.

Thomas Edward Hagins, 29, of Berkeley, Calif., was arrested by FBI agents at a hotel near Dallas about 10 hours after authorities -- suspecting he shipped the money to himself by bus -- confiscated four boxes at the Dallas Greyhound station. The boxes were believed to contain most of the missing money, estimated at $773,000.

Mr. Hagins had $4,490 when he was arrested, authorities said.

Without the call girl's assistance and a quick-thinking Greyhound manager, authorities said they might still be looking for Mr. Hagins and the record receipts from last weekend's four-game series between the Oakland A's and the New York Yankees.

Mr. Hagins, who allegedly took the money from a Coliseum safe on July 21, came within three minutes of collecting the boxes Friday afternoon and likely disappearing, authorities said.

Police were combing Greyhound records in Oakland about 2 p.m. Friday and found a suspicious shipment receipt. They immediately called a Greyhound baggage supervisor in Dallas and told her not to hand over the boxes to anyone.

Barely three minutes later, the supervisor called police back to say a man was there to pick up the boxes. Making up a story on the spot, she told the man that the California bus hadn't arrived and jotted down the number of the cab that he sped away in.

The FBI traced the man to a Holiday Inn near the Dallas-Fort Worth airport and arrested Mr. Hagins there without incident at 3 a.m. Saturday after he left Lace, a striptease joint in a Dallas suburb.

Authorities in Dallas and Phoenix -- where Mr. Hagins once worked in stadium concessions -- had been alerted to look for Mr. Hagins in red-light districts in their cities. Oakland police Sgt. William Gillespie said telephone bills found in Mr. Hagins' Berkeley, Calif., apartment indicated he knew prostitutes in Phoenix.

"He led a double life. He was one person at work, a great guy," Sergeant Gillespie said. "But other people interviewed [in Phoenix] said he was into prostitutes and massage parlors."

One Phoenix call girl whose pager phone number appeared on Mr. Hagins' phone bill told police Wednesday that he came to Phoenix late Monday with "a tote bag full of money" and gave her $1,000 in $20 bills.

Mr. Hagins had left his two Berkeley roommates the same amount before hopping a Southwest Airlines flight Monday afternoon to Phoenix, according to investigators.

Investigators began examining United Parcel Service and Greyhound shipments from the Oakland area on the assumption that he couldn't have taken all of the cash with him on the Phoenix flight. On Friday, Oakland Greyhound manager Bill Wright turned up one receipt worth investigating -- it contained a code number that enabled the person receiving the shipment to pick it up without showing identification.

The sender, believed to be Mr. Hagins using another alias, had listed the same street number he used when he registered at the hotel.

Mr. Hagins was being held without bail Saturday at the Dallas County Jail on a federal warrant for his arrest for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. He is scheduled to be arraigned today, at which time the FBI hopes to get a warrant to open the boxes.

Mr. Hagins then will likely be extradited to California, where a $5 million warrant for his arrest on felony burglary and grand theft has been issued, police said.

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