Operator of Pawn Shop Case Pleads Guilty to Evading over $587,000 in Income Tax in Connection with the Sale of Stolen Merchandise
Baltimore, Maryland - Jerald Bradford, age 47, of Glen Burnie, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to willfully attempting to evade income tax of more than $587,000, on income earned from the sale of stolen merchandise through Fast Money, the pawn shop he operated.
The 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.
“No matter what the source, all income is taxable,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Jeannine A. Hammett. “The prosecution of individuals who willfully take from others what is not theirs, will get the full attention of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division.”
According to his plea agreement, from 2007 to March 2010, Bradford and others, including his brother Scott Bradford, operated Fast Money, a pawn shop located at 3529 S. Hanover Street in Brooklyn, Maryland. Bradford 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. Bradford and others 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. Several witnesses took stolen merchandise, often with retail security labels and merchandise tags still on the products, directly to Jerald Bradford and others at Fast Money. Jerald Bradford and others removed security labels from the stolen medications, tools, and other items, then sold the stolen items over the Internet using an eBay account. At one point, eBay closed Jerald Bradford’s account for non-payment. But Jerald Bradford used other people’s eBay accounts, so that the scheme could continue. Bradford made additional money with eBay and PayPal websites using nominee names and bank accounts, after eBay closed their account.
On March 25, 2010, agents from the United States Postal Inspection Service, Baltimore County Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation executed search warrants at Fast Money and the pawn and buy/sell 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.
Jerald Bradford and others sold at least $3,355,433 in stolen items from 2005 through 2009 and his gross income during that time was at least $2,348,803. None of this income was reported on his federal income tax return, since he failed to file any personal income tax returns during this time.
In order to conceal the income from the IRS and evade the income tax due, Jerald Bradford opened a PayPal account and a bank account in another individual’s name, without that person’s knowledge, and used these accounts to transact business on behalf of Fast Money, thereby concealing the true ownership of the income earned. In addition, Bradford failed to deposit the majority of income earned from the operation of Fast Money into the business bank account; used PayPal debit cards to withdraw money from the PayPal account which would have normally been deposited into the business account; purchased, or caused to be purchased, at least 620 United States Postal Service money orders, totaling approximately $1.6 million, using a PayPal debit card linked to the PayPal account opened in the name of another individual. Operating in this manner allowed Jerald Bradford to avoid depositing this income into the business bank account, which helped him to avoid reporting that income to the IRS.
Jerald Bradford admitted that the total tax loss from his failure to file tax returns for tax years 2005 through 2009 was at least $587,200.
Jerald Bradford faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $100,000 fine. U.S. District Judge Benson E. Legg has scheduled sentencing for February 21, 2012, at 3:00 p.m.
To date, sixteen defendants, including Scott Bradford, have pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme.
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 and Joyce K. McDonald, who are prosecuting the case.