Second Annapolis Man Sentenced to over Three Years in Prison for Receiving Stolen Cell Phones
Trailer Filled with Cell Phones Stolen from Freight Terminal
Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced Lawrence Michael Branch, Jr., age 44, of Annapolis, Maryland today to 37 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for receipt and possession of stolen goods from interstate carrier shipments in connection with a scheme to steal cellular telephones, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. Judge Blake also ordered Branch to pay restitution of $6,179.
According to his plea agreement, on August 29, 2006, a trailer containing a shipment of Cingular Wireless cellular telephones was stolen by a white tractor from the parking lot of a freight terminal in Glen Burnie, Maryland. Cingular had placed a box within this cargo that contained a global positioning system (“GPS”) to address a rash of recent cargo thefts. Once the trailer was reported stolen, the GPS was activated and the FBI was provided with its coordinates. The FBI located the stolen and stationary trailer in Annapolis and observed 19 shrink-wrapped pallets of unopened cellular telephone cases, as well as one opened case of cellular telephones with several individual cellphone boxes missing, inside the trailer.
At 10:00 p.m. on August 30, 2006, a blue tractor hooked up to the stolen trailer in Annapolis and towed it to a warehouse area rented to Branch, on Wilkens Avenue in Baltimore City. A few hours later, the trailer began to move again and stopped in Jessup, Maryland. When the GPS unit embedded in the cargo began to move again, law enforcement recovered the now-empty white trailer in Jessup while other agents continued to follow the embedded GPS unit to Annapolis, where law enforcement had also located the blue and white tractors used to move the stolen trailer.
Early on August 31, 2006, law enforcement observed co-defendant Walter Lee Green driving the white tractor and stopped him for traffic infractions. During an interview, Green said that he knew of the shipment of stolen cellular telephones, showing officers five stolen Cingular wireless cellular telephones in a storage compartment in the tractor. Green then took law enforcement to the warehouse space on Wilkens Avenue. According to the plea agreements of Green and Branch, both defendants had helped unload pallets of cellular phones at the warehouse on the previous evening in order to store them until they could decide how to sell them for profit.
Of the 19 pallets originally stolen, authorities recovered 13, containing approximately 4,500 stolen phones. The total value of the shipment was $585,000.
Walter Lee Green, age 50, of Annapolis, Maryland, was sentenced on February 2, 2009 to 46 months in prison for receipt and possession of stolen goods from interstate carrier shipments
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Anne Arundel County Police Department for their investigative work. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorney Solette Magnelli, who prosecuted the case.