Baltimore Business Owner Pleads Guilty In Fraud Scheme
Directed Persons to Steal Merchandise from Retail Stores and Exchange the Stolen Items for Gift Cards
Baltimore, Maryland – John Tadros, age 45, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty today to wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Brian Murphy of the United States Secret Service B Baltimore Field Office.
Tadros owned Busy Bees Convenience Mart located at 335 South Monroe Street, and J&J’s Bar and Liquor located at 1801 Ramsay Street, both in Baltimore. According to his plea agreement, from January 2009 to February 2013, Tadros directed Melissa Perry, Deanna Lynch, Mohamed Al-Omeri and others, known as boosters, to steal merchandise from large retail stores throughout Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Prince George’s, Howard and Harford Counties in Maryland, as well as Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware. The boosters then returned the stolen items in exchange for store gift cards. They used modified Maryland driver’s licenses that contained the personal identifier information of actual persons, without those persons’ knowledge, when returning the stolen items without a receipt.
Tadros bought the fraudulently obtained gift cards from the boosters for 50% of the card’s value. Tadros told the boosters to target specific stores at specific locations, and advised them of the best days to steal merchandise and the manner by which they modified their Maryland driver’s licenses. Tadros also collected the welfare benefit debit cards of the boosters which he held as collateral if he deemed that the boosters owed him money, and returned the benefit cards to the boosters for 50% of the card’s value. Tadros used the gift cards to purchase personal home goods, and supplies for his businesses and rental properties.
On February 27, 2013, the U.S. Secret Service executed a search warrant and seized 32 fraudulently obtained gift cards from his home. From Busy Bee, agents also seized 329 retail store receipts for purchases made with fraudulently obtained gift cards.
The actual loss to retailers in Maryland caused by the scheme is $401,326.12.
Tadros faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the wire fraud conspiracy and a $500,000 fine for money laundering. U.S. District Judge George L. Russell III scheduled his sentencing for April 14, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.
Melissa Perry, age 34; Deanna Lynch, age 44; and Mohamed Al-Omeri, age 39, previously pleaded guilty to their participation in the scheme and scheduled to be sentenced on April 3, March 7 and April 11, 2014, respectively.
Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the U.S. Secret Service B Baltimore Field Office for its work in the investigation, and commended the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office for its assistance. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Mark W. Crooks, who is prosecuting the case.