Three More Conspirators Plead Guilty in Scheme to Launder $20 Million in Proceeds in Stolen Merchandise - Pawn Shop Case
Defendants 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 - Spencer Michael Garonzik, age 43; Michael Ender, age 32; and Warren Allen Culver II, age 31, all of Baltimore, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The guilty pleas were 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 Special Agent in Charge C. André Martin 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. “Five defendants have pleaded guilty so far in this ongoing investigation, which aims to reduce retail theft by disrupting the market for stolen goods.”
According to their plea agreements, from 2007 to March 2010 Garonzik, Ender, Culver and others conspired to conduct 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; Ender and others worked at Fast Money and Cash N A Flash Pawn Shops; and Warren Culver worked at TS Liquidators and Blue Diamond Pawn Shop. Garonzik, Ender and Culver, along with co-defendant Daniel Filip Mimer, who worked at the We Buy Pawn Shop and TS Liquidators, were responsible for receiving some of the stolen products at the locations where they worked. The stolen items were “cleaned,” meaning that the security labels and retail tags from the stolen product were removed. Co-defendant Robert Anthony Reed and others were responsible for picking up the stolen products from the pawn shops and delivering them to TS Liquidators where Reed, Culver and others would remove security labels and retail tags from the stolen products. Ender helped to send stolen merchandise to co-conspirators in New York and other states. Ender also knew that other co-conspirators obtained stolen merchandise and sold it on Ebay to unsuspecting customers. Reed helped to ship those products via the U.S. mail.
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; and between $1 million and $2.5 million in stolen items was reasonably foreseeable to both Ender and Culver.
The defendants each face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. U.S. District Judge Benson E. Legg has scheduled sentencing for Garonzik, Ender and Culver on August 26, 2010 at 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 12:00 noon, respectively.
Reed and Mimer, both age 27, of Baltimore, previously pleaded guilty to the same charge and are scheduled to be sentenced on July 1, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. and July 15, 2010 at 10:00 a.m., respectively
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Kwame J. Manley and Richard Kay, who are prosecuting the case.