Florida man wearing 'Family First Money Second' shirt accused of scamming elderly woman

Robert Lahori was arrested and charged with scheme to defraud under false pretenses on May 17, 2024. (Photo: Flagler County Sheriffs Office)

A Florida man accused of scamming and defrauding an elderly woman at Publix has found himself behind bars over a year after the alleged theft, according to the Flagler County Sheriff's Office. 

Robert Lahori, 59, was arrested and charged with scheming to defraud under false pretenses after the incident that unfolded at the grocery store on Belle Terre Parkway in Palm Coast on March 24, 2023, according to an arrest affidavit. He was taken into custody on Friday, arrest records show. 

Lahori's alleged partner, Megan Steele, was arrested for scheming to defraud under false pretenses back in May 2023. She has since been released from the Flagler County Jail. 

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In March 2023, Lahori and Steele – donning medical face masks – entered the Publix and followed an elderly woman around the store for about five minutes, according to the arrest affidavit. Steele allegedly distracted the woman by asking her for help reading a label while Lahori, wearing a shirt that said "Family First Money Second," allegedly grabbed her wallet from her purse in the shopping cart. 

"When she turned to help her, she heard the magnet pop on her purse that was seated in the top portion of her cart. (The woman) immediately turned around and noticed her $150 wallet was missing," the arrest affidavit said. "She stated that she has multiple wallets in her purse and learned that the one the subjects took did not contain any credit cards."

Inside the wallet was a document with her, her son's and her late husband's social security numbers, her insurance cards and $25 in cash, according to deputies. 

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Lahori and Steele left the Publix in a minivan that was later reported in St. Johns County the next day. Deputies said Lahori and Steele were allegedly fleeing from deputies on Interstate 95 and crashed into three patrol vehicles. Both Lahori and Steele were identified and read their Miranda Rights and declined to speak to law enforcement.  

A search warrant of the minivan yielded the discovery of a gun, $20,000 to $30,000 in gift cards, multiple forms of ID and credit cards, deputies said. 

Lahori was arrested that day by the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office on several charges, including multiple counts of possession of stolen credit/debit cards, aggravated battery on an officer, resisting arrest and reckless driving, arrest records show. He was released in March of this year. 

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Steele was arrested that day as well on the following charges, according to court records: possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, fraudulent use of credit card, dealing in credit cards of another. She was sentenced and was released last August.

Megan Steele was arrested and charged with violation of pretrial release and scheme to defraud under false pretenses in 2023. (Photo: Flagler County Sheriff's Office)

The charges Lahori is facing in Flagler County are related to the alleged Publix theft, the affidavit said. 

"It was determined that Robert Lahori and Megan Steele are involved in an organized and systematic scheme to commit theft and subsequent fraud by distracting elderly women," the arrest affidavit said.