On August 9, 2023, Anthony Arenz, an active pre-filed candidate for Hernando County School Board District 4, was arrested and charged with a felony for organized fraud. His case was later remanded to another court, where his charges were five counts of “petit theft less than $100 without UTC,” which are all misdemeanors. There are two other cases open, each for one count of retail theft, a second offense (misdemeanor).
The penalty for organized fraud, if under $20,000, which is a third-degree felony, carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
According to the probable cause affidavit associated with one of the charges for organized fraud less than $20,000, Arenz used a self-checkout machine at a nearby retailer over the course of five visits between June 2 and July 10, 2023, prompting the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office to make an arrest. The items were valued at $8.40 to $57.41. Each time, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office affidavit, Arenz scanned one item but bagged other merchandise, then left the store without paying for the additional items.
In the two other retail theft cases, Arenz was arrested for stealing $28.06 in cell phone accessories on May 29, 2023, and $24.31 in merchandise, including soft drinks, on May 22, 2023.
Arenz’ opponents in the Hernando County District 4 School Board race are Dr. Mark Cioffi and Michelle Bonczek.
In 2022, Arenz ran for the Hernando County Board of County Commissioners. Jerry Campbell won the general election without facing any opposition after defeating Arenz in the Republican primary.
Arenz is pleading not guilty to retail theft, second offense, as well as the petit theft charges under $100. His attorney is George Angelidis. The county judge overseeing the retail theft, second offense and petit theft cases is Barbara-Jo Bell. There is a pre-trial conference set for Nov. 2 at 9 a.m.