Conspirator Sentenced to 46 Months in Prison in Scheme to Launder $20 Million in Proceeds in Stolen Merchandise
Laundered Millions of Dollars in Proceeds of Stolen Over-the-Counter Medicines, Health and Beauty Aid Products, Gift Cards, DVDs, Tools and other Items
Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Benson E. Legg sentenced Spencer Michael Garonzik, age 44,of Baltimore, today to 46 months in prison, followed by six months of home detention and two years of supervised release, for conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Acting Postal Inspector in Charge Robert B. Wemyss 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 Special Agent in Charge Rebecca Sparkman of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation.
“We are pursuing not just the thieves who steal merchandise and drive up the costs for honest businesses, but also the downstream criminals who create a market for stolen property and launder the cash that it generates,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “This ongoing investigation aims to reduce retail theft by disrupting the market for stolen goods.”
According to his plea agreement, from 2007 to March 2010, Garonzik, and his co-conspirators conducted monetary transactions involving the sale of mass quantities of stolen over-the-counter medications, health and beauty aid products, gift cards, DVDs, tools and other merchandise. Shoplifters, also known as “boosters,” stole products from Target, Safeway, Wal-Mart, Kohl’s and other retailers in Maryland and other states. Pawn shops bought large amounts of stolen items from the boosters. Garonzik was an owner of We Buy Pawn Shop, where Justin Mayhew and Daniel Filip Mimer worked; Michael Ender and others worked at Fast Money and Cash N A Flash Pawn Shops; and Warren Culver worked at Blue Diamond Pawn Shop and at TS Liquidators, owned by Jerome Stal. Louis Leitch, Sr. and others were owners of E-Z Money Pawn Shop and 2Brothers Liquidators, Inc.; and Jared Lee Ezra and others owned Shine Corner Pawn Shop, and We Buy.
Garonzik, Leitch, Mayhew, Mimer, Ender, Ezra, Culver, and Stal were responsible for receiving some of the stolen products at the locations where they worked. Mayhew, Reed, Culver and others “cleaned” the stolen items, meaning that the security labels and retail tags from the stolen products were removed. Co-defendants Robert Anthony Reed, Michael B. Levy, and others were responsible for picking up the stolen products from the pawn shops and delivering them to TS Liquidators. Garonzik worked with co-defendant Jerome Stal to purchase and transport stolen material. Stal and others, including Yooho Weon, also had on-line auctions sites, such as eBay and Amazon.com, where they would sell the stolen products far below normal retail value. The stolen products were then delivered to unsuspecting customers via the U.S. mail.
The defendants received payment from the sale of the stolen items by interstate wire transfers using PayPal accounts and through various financial institutions in Maryland. For example, co-defendant Jason Logue owned JML Enterprises, Eastern Trade Center, Harford Exchange, Patapsco Exchange, and other entities. From February 2006 to March 2007, Logue made approximately 152 cash withdrawals totaling $1,429,780, from his account at the Bank of America. Logue’s currency transactions ranged from $8,000 to $9,800, all below the $10,000 federal threshold for reporting cash transactions. Logue knowingly caused such structured transactions to avoid reporting requirements in connection with the sale of stolen over-the-counter medications, health and beauty aids, DVDs, tools and other products.
On March 25, 2010, agents from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Baltimore County Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation executed search warrants at the liquidation shop and several pawn shops. Agents recovered well over $1 million in stolen merchandise, approximately $1 million in bank accounts and over $140,000 in cash, and 44 firearms. Although the entire conspiracy involved approximately $20 million in stolen merchandise, between $2.5 to $7 million in stolen product was reasonably foreseeable to Garonzik.
In all, fourteen defendants have pleaded guilty to their roles in this scheme, including all the defendants listed above.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Kwame J. Manley and Richard Kay, who prosecuted the case.