Final Defendant in Pawn Shop Case Pleads Guilty in Scheme to Sell $20 Million Worth of Stolen Merchandise
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 21, 2011|
BALTIMORE—William Cooper Jr., age 38, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to transport stolen goods. With today’s plea, all 16 defendants have been convicted of their roles in the scheme.
On December 9, 2011, a federal jury convicted co-defendant Jared Baroloto, age 38, of Monkton, Maryland, of conspiracy to transport stolen property across state lines, a money laundering conspiracy and one count of interstate transportation of stolen property.
Today’s guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Postal Inspector in Charge Daniel S. Cortez of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service-Washington Division; Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III; and Acting Special Agent in Charge Jeannine A. Hammett of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation.
According to his plea agreement, from 2007 to March 2010, Cooper admitted that he and others were involved in the purchase and sale of mass quantities of stolen over-the-counter medications, health and beauty aid products, gift cards, DVDs, tools and other merchandise. Pawn shops purchased large amounts of stolen items from shoplifters, also known as “boosters.” The boosters would steal products from Target, Safeway, Wal-Mart, Kohl’s and other retailers in Maryland and other states. Investigators observed boosters bringing in large bags full of stolen material. The stolen items often had retail security labels and merchandise tags still on the products.
According to testimony at his three week trial, co-defendant Jared Baraloto would obtain stolen material from pawn shops, including shops owned by other co-conspirators. Baraloto often had his workers bring the stolen material from the pawn shops to TS Liquidators, where the items would be cleaned and prepared for shipment in interstate commerce. Co-conspirator Jerome Stal paid Baraloto approximately $1.8 million for his stolen materials. Baraloto and Stal later opened Blue Diamond Jewelry and Loan, a pawn shop located at 3438 Annapolis Road in Halethorpe, Maryland, where they also purchased some of the stolen goods, deliberately ignoring obvious evidence that the items were stolen.
Cooper was employed by defendants Jared Ezra and Spencer Garonzik, among others, and received some of the stolen products at We Buy Pawn Shop, Shine Corner Pawn Shop and other locations. Cooper coordinated with several “boosters” the purchase and drop-off of the stolen items at the pawn shops for which he worked. Cooper also purchased presumably stolen material at We Buy from an undercover agent. Cooper knew that many of the indicted defendants participated in the scheme. Some of the defendants also had on-line auction sites, such as eBay and Amazon.com, where they would sell the stolen products far below normal retail value. Cooper was one of the defendants who maintained such an eBay account. The stolen products were then delivered to unsuspecting customers by mail. Cooper and other defendants received payment using PayPal accounts and through financial institutions in Maryland.
On March 25, 2010, agents from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Baltimore County Police Department and the FBI executed search warrants at We Buy, Shine Corner, TS Liquidators and the pawn shops in this case. Agents recovered in total well over $1 million in stolen merchandise, approximately $1 million in bank accounts and over $140,000 in cash from these shops.
Although the entire conspiracy involved approximately $20 million in stolen merchandise, at least $400,000 but less than $1 million in stolen products was reasonably foreseeable to Cooper.
Cooper faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for April 13, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Benson E. Legg. No date has been set for Baroloto’s sentencing.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Baltimore County Police Department; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Baltimore Police Department; and Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation for their work in this investigation and commended Assistant United States Attorneys Sujit Raman, Barbara S. Sale and Sean O’Connell, who are prosecuting the case.