SAN MARCOS — A husband and wife arrested for selling stolen merchandise from their residence through online Web sites were arraigned Sept. 14 on charges relating to their fraudulent business.
Matthew Allen Eaton, 34, and Laura Renee Eaton, 26, are charged with a single count each of conspiracy to transport stolen property across state lines.
The Eatons caught the eye of federal prosecutors when they appeared on the “Dr. Phil” TV show and boasted how they shoplifted to support their lifestyle. They admitted on the show to shoplifting and then selling the items online through sites like eBay.
Additionally, the couple told the show’s host, Dr. Phil McGraw, they had been involved in their criminal enterprise, which sometimes involved out-of-state shoplifting trips with their three young children, for more than six years during which time they made approximately $100,000 a year.
Authorities arrested the Eatons on Sept. 11 at their home on Leslie Court in San Marcos.
If convicted, the couple faces up to five years in prison. Their next scheduled court appearance is an Oct. 19 motion hearing in San Diego Federal Court.
According to the federal grand jury indictment, the Eatons are charged with selling stolen goods, in particular toys, dating back to August 2006 and continuing through March 2009, when authorities raided their home.
The indictment cites 10 overt acts carried out by the defendants to perpetrate the conspiracy, including obtaining out-of-state driver’s licenses and setting up seller accounts on eBay for the purpose of peddling their stolen merchandise.
When the couple’s home was searched March 26, authorities found more than 500 boxes of stolen toys at their residence, the indictment states. The previous day, Matthew Eaton had four boxes of stolen toys shipped to their residence, according to the indictment.
Laura Eaton, who is free on $25,000 bail, didn’t return a message left at the number she listed as her home phone number in court documents.
As a stipulation to her release on bail, United States Magistrate Judge Ruben Brooks ordered Laura Eaton to seek treatment from a mental health program. If released on bail, Matthew Eaton would have had to follow the same court order. He remains in custody on $35,000 bail.
Following their arrest, the Eatons’ children were placed with relatives.
Both have pleaded not guilty.