St. Petersburg man accused of forcing elderly woman to purchase meat

Ronald Vanwie Jr


An 85-year-old woman said the man forced his way into her home so she would buy meat from him.

LARGO, Fla. - Pinellas County Sheriff 's detectives with the Economic Crimes Unit arrested a man accused of robbery, burglary and theft after an 85-year-old woman said he forced her to purchase meat from him.

Shirley McGathey told police she was outside getting her mail at the Oak Crest Mobile Home Park in Largo on May 11 when Ronald Vanwie Jr., 44, approached her asking if she would like to buy meat. McGathey said Vanwie Jr. followed her to her front door after she told him she wasn’t interested. When she told Vanwie Jr. two more times that she wasn’t interested in buying any meats, Vanwie Jr. forced his way into her home.

Investigators said Vanwie Jr. refused to leave McGathey’s home and that he became increasingly more aggressive each time she declined to buy any meat. McGathey said Vanwie Jr. wanted $500 for a package of meat and that she offered him $200 if he would leave her home. Vanwie Jr. placed the package of meat in her freezer, took the $200 check and left.

Detectives said Vanwie Jr. has a history of reported aggressive meat sales and a conviction of home solicitation without a permit. He was charged with robbery, burglary, theft from a person over 65 years of age, home solicitation without a permit and failure to provide three-day right to cancel. He was taken to the Pinellas County Jail on Thursday.

Pinellas County Consumer Protection was investigating cases with similar crimes involving two other employees of Gourmet Grocery LLC. On Friday detectives arrested additional suspects Andrew Tsaffaras and Erick Harmon.


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