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Friday, November 9, 2012

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Three Men, Including Two Former Employees, Found Guilty
Of Conspiring to Steal Books From University Bookstore
-Fourth Man Pled Guilty to Charges Weeks Before Trial –

     WASHINGTON – Three area men have been found guilty by a jury of charges stemming from a month-long conspiracy to steal books from the George Washington University Bookstore for resale online, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced today.

     Hao Nguyen, 42, of Falls Church, Va., Darrell Coleman, 21, of Washington, D.C., and Kiry McCullum, 22, also of Washington, D.C., were found guilty of conspiracy and other charges on Nov. 8, 2012, following a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. They are to be sentenced Jan. 18, 2013, by the Honorable Stuart G. Nash.

     According to the government’s evidence, Coleman, McCullum, and another defendant, Kyle Culbreath, 22, were employed in December 2010 as seasonal employees at the bookstore, with the job of unloading boxes of textbooks and stocking them on the shelf. Security video captured them instead removing books from the shelf, placing them into boxes, and taking the boxes to the loading dock of the Marvin Center, where the bookstore is located.

     At the dock, the employees either hid the boxes in the trash compactor or passed them directly to Nguyen, a local hot dog stand operator who also used his stand to buy textbooks from students at George Washington University. Nguyen then resold the stolen books online. 

     This pattern continued for over a month, from Dec. 13, 2010 through Jan. 19, 2011.  During that time, the bookstore lost approximately $200,000 in textbooks.  Simultaneously, Nguyen sold or attempted to sell the books online for over $50,000. 

     The scheme was detected by the bookstore manager, who realized that certain books were completely out of stock, even though they should have been in the inventory.  He reviewed security video, discovered the activity at the loading dock, and alerted police.

     George Washington University Police Department then participated in an operation on Jan. 19, 2011, to catch the perpetrators in the act. That day, Culbreath came to work and took three boxes full of books to the loading dock.  Nguyen pulled up in his car to receive the boxes.  Before they could complete the transfer, the university’s police swept in and arrested them.

     The evidence at trial showed that the car Nguyen was driving matched a vehicle seen on security video at the loading dock on prior occasions.  Documents were recovered from the vehicle showing Nguyen’s online transactions, along with a cell phone showing his communications with Coleman and Culbreath in furtherance of the conspiracy.

     Culbreath, of Washington, D.C., pled guilty on Aug. 16, 2012 to a total of 12 counts of first-degree theft, each of which carries a maximum of 10 years in prison, and one count of conspiracy, which carries a maximum of five years.  He is to be sentenced Nov. 16, 2012.

     At trial, Nguyen was convicted of conspiracy, eight counts of first-degree theft, and trafficking in stolen property, which also carries a maximum penalty of 10 years of incarceration.  Coleman was convicted of 10 counts of first-degree theft and one count of conspiracy.  McCullum was convicted of seven counts of first-degree theft and one count of conspiracy.

     In announcing the verdicts, U.S. Attorney Machen expressed his appreciation to the George Washington University Police Department and to the Metropolitan Police Department. He also commended the work of Paralegal Specialist Allison Daniels and Investigator John Marsh, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Rickard, who prosecuted the matter.






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