Six Portage Residents Charged in Money Laundering Scheme
JOHNSTOWN, PA—On June 2, 2015, six residents of Portage, Pa., were indicted by a federal grand jury in Johnstown on a charge of conspiring to commit money laundering, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
The one-count indictment named Tonia Vaughn, 39; Gary E. Vaughn, 41; Melissa R. Seymore, 39; Jason A. Seymore, 39; Brandon Hill, 19; and Brittany Garrett, 21.
According to the indictment presented to the court, from Jan. 1, 2012, to Jan. 22, 2014, the named defendants conspired with one another, and with others, to commit certain offenses against the United States, that is, to knowingly conduct and attempt to conduct financial transactions affecting interstate and foreign commerce, which involved property representing the proceeds of a specified unlawful activity, that is, mail fraud, in violation Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341, with the intent to promote the carrying on of the specified unlawful activity, and that while conducting and attempting to conduct such financial transaction knew that that property involved in the financial transaction represented the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(a)(1)(A)(i).
It was part of the conspiracy that the direction of and business decisions at Gary’s Steals and Deals were made by TONIA VAUGHN and/or GARY E. VAUGHN. It was further part of the conspiracy that, on a daily basis, customers would bring stolen new merchandise [a/k/a “new in package (NIP)” or “new in box (NIB)”] to Gary’s Steals and Deals for purchase by Gary’s Steals and Deals. It was further part of the conspiracy that, on a daily basis, employees of Gary’s Steals and Deals would purchase the stolen new merchandise, knowing it had been stolen. It was further part of the conspiracy that employees at Gary’s Steals and Deals would tender a monetary percentage of the retail value of the stolen new merchandise back to the customer. It was further part of the conspiracy that on frequent occasions, the same customer(s) would bring numerous identical stolen new items of merchandise to Gary’s Steals and Deals (including but not limited to razor blades, pet products, teeth whitening strips, ink cartridges, jackets, Lego sets), which were repetitively purchased from the customer(s) by employees at Gary’s Steals and Deals. It was further part of the conspiracy that the stolen merchandise that had been purchased from the customers by Gary’s Steals and Deals was thereafter sold by Gary’s Steals and Deals over the Internet on websites such as Ebay and Amazon. It was further part of the conspiracy that Gary’s Steals and Deals utilized the mail to deliver the stolen merchandise to persons who had purchased such merchandise over the Internet. It was further part of the conspiracy that Gary’s Steals and Deals would receive monetary payments for the stolen merchandise that had been sold over the Internet. It was further part of the conspiracy that, in connection with the above-described offense (mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341) the named defendants obtained proceeds of such conduct.
The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $500,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of each of the defendants.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie L. Haines is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Laurel Highlands Resident Agency, conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case.
An indictment or information is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.