SMITHFIELD — The owner of a Johnston County computer store was arrested Monday on charges that he didn't return customer's computers after closing his Smithfield store.
Mark Edward White, 33, of 6921 Porcher Road, Myrtle Beach, S.C., faces 18 counts of felony conversion and one count of misdemeanor conversion. Smithfield Police Det. David Johnson says White closed his downtown Smithfield store, Laptop Pros, in late March without returning computers to 19 customers.
Since then, Johnson said, only three customers have received computers, but they either received the wrong computer or one without any software.
Rachel Vega said her husband took their computer to Laptop Pros last August for a repair. They paid for the repair long ago but never got the computer back, she said. "They gave him the runaround for at least eight months," Vega said. "He called repeatedly, walked in, threatened lawsuits, and nothing. Before we could file a lawsuit, they closed."
White also owns Caveman Computers in Apex and Sunshine Computers in Fuquay-Varina, Johnson said. But according to the Better Business Bureau, White does not own those two companies. Those businesses have F ratings from the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina, which has received dozens of complaints ranging from shoddy repair work to failure to return computers on time. Caveman and Sunshine customer complaints have been reported in The News & Observer's Triangle Troubleshooter column. Both stores remained open Tuesday.
The Smithfield police investigation, however, involved only Laptop Pros, Johnson said. Police are now focused on finding the missing computers and returning them to their owners.
"It's just a matter of locating where the property's at," Johnson said.
White's lawyer, Jim Levinson, could not be reached for comment Tuesday morning. In April, Levinson said that his client was returning computers as customers called.
White has been released on $10,000 bond, according to Johnston County jail officials.
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