Amazon seems like a relatively safe place to shop online, but one pastor almost got in serious trouble with the law due to a mixup when trying to buy a new Macbook.
Bronx pastor Tyrone Holmes thought he’d purchased a new Macbook on Amazon, but instead he was sent a laptop that previously belonged to a secretive oil pump company.
The company asked the NYPD to get the computer back, and the police warned he would be placed under arrest unless he returned the 15-inch laptop, an ongoing lawsuit alleges.
Holmes ordered the $1,799.99 Macbook Pro on June 22, 2016, along with a $345.50 AppleCare protection plan, according to his Manhattan Federal Court suit.
But on Sept. 8, NYPD Detective Rodrigo Caballero rolled up to Holmes’ home and started asking his neighbors where he was, the suit states.
Caballero called Holmes the next day and informed him that his Macbook contained “sensitive” surveillance software — and that he and other cops went to his home to take the device.
“When I was at church playing for a funeral, they descended on my residence like I was a criminal, asking if they knew where I was,” the 49-year-old told the Daily News. “My neighbors have not looked at me the same.”
When Caballero called again on Sept. 10, Holmes said his estranged wife had the laptop, and that he didn’t know her whereabouts.
But the detective kept calling and, “due to the increasingly threatening nature of the communications,” Holmes lawyered up on Sept. 12, he says in his June 16 lawsuit.
When Holmes’ lawyer, Jeff Garfin, spoke to Caballero, the detective told him the laptop belonged to CheckPoint Fluidic Systems International, and “contained sensitive surveillance software.”
During that conversation, Caballero told Garfin he could arrest Holmes if the Macbook wasn’t returned.
Garfin demanded proof from Caballero, and he was forwarded a letter from Bobbi Jo Bridges, CheckPoint’s vice president of operations.
According to Holmes’ complaint, as well as a copy of the letter attached to his lawsuit, Bridges said the Mandeville, La., company wouldn’t push for the pastor’s arrest if the computer were returned ASAP.
“Please be advised that our Information Security department has ascertained information proving that your client is in possession of our equipment,” Bridges wrote.
“This equipment has been tracked since leaving our facility. We have legally collected ample information to prove that your client is in possession of property belonging to CheckPoint Fluidic Systems International … If this equipment is returned immediately, in its original condition complete with all original parts and pieces, we will not move further to pursue legal action.”
“As a further condition of this agreement, I would require this matter be resolved through our mutual contact at the NYPD, Detective Rodrigo Caballero. I see no reason for your client, Mr. Holmes, to have any knowledge of our organization or its employees.
“To conclude our arrangement, please certify that our organization and staff shall remain anonymous to your client,” said the letter, which Holmes attached to his civil suit.
Holmes kept trying to get the computer back — and his lawyer explained as much to the detective — but they said Caballero wouldn’t let up.
“This was a daily event,” Garfin said.
On Sept. 21, the detective told Garfin he would arrest Holmes for criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree. The detective also said Holmes had to surrender to the 47th Precinct, in Woodlawn, at 1 p.m. on Sept. 22.
“They started putting lines in the sand,” Garfin told The News. “They were threatening to charge him with a class-E felony.”
They managed to buy some time, and Holmes didn’t get arrested.
Holmes retrieved the laptop from his ex several weeks later and was cleared — but he says has not yet received a refund for the laptop.
“I was a wreck,” Holmes said. “You hear all these stories about jail …”
CheckPoint did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday.
Both Amazon and Apple declined comment.
Garfin represented Holmes in the criminal matter. Holmes filed the civil lawsuit on his own.
What a mess.