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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


JOHN F. WOOD


Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html


FEBRUARY 4, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


SEVEN DEFENDANTS INDICTED FOR $1.2 MILLION

HIGH-TECH FENCING SCHEME


MERCHANDISE SHOPLIFTED, AUCTIONED ON EBAY


            KANSAS CITY, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that seven defendants have been indicted by a federal grand jury for participating in a scheme to shoplift merchandise then sell $1.2 million worth of stolen property on the Internet auction site eBay.


            John Charles Chass, 40, and Joshua L. Zimmerman, 22, both of Kansas City, Stacie M. Emmerich, 33, of Independence, Mo., Barbara J. Sharp, 52, and Michael Dale Ivester, Jr., 27, both of Gladstone, Mo., and Tina Deann Cox, 38, and Daniel G. Moody, 30, both of Gower, Mo., were charged in an eight-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Kansas City on Friday, Feb. 1, 2008. That indictment was unsealed and made public today upon the arrests and initial court appearances of several defendants.


            All seven co-defendants are charged with participating in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to engage in the interstate transportation of stolen property from February 2005 through December 2007. The indictment alleges that Chass recruited Zimmerman, Emmerich, Sharp, Ivester, Cox and Moody to participate in the scheme as boosters, who would steal merchandise from retail stores and deliver it to Chass. Chass then advertised and sold the stolen merchandise to buyers outside the state of Missouri through the eBay auction Web site. The proceeds of those sales, which totaled approximately $1.2 million, were split among the conspirators.


            Chass allegedly provided money to bond his boosters out of jail on the occasions when they were arrested, and sometimes provided the boosters with small loans for gas money so they could get to the retail stores to steal merchandise.


            Among the merchandise that was stolen, the indictment lists electronic dog collars, a computer hard drive, electronic toothbrushes, GPS devices, nail guns and a radar detector. The stolen merchandise was purchased by, and delivered to, buyers from several states, as far away as California, Alaska and New Jersey.


            The indictment alleges that on March 18, 2001, Chass registered the User ID name “stairway-to-the-stars” on the eBay Web site for the purpose of commencing a scheme to sell stolen merchandise to buyers throughout the United States. In May 2005 he registered a PayPal account for online payments for the stolen merchandise he sold on eBay, the indictment says.


            In addition to the conspiracy charge, Chass is charged with one count of interstate transportation of stolen property related to the shipments across state lines of stolen merchandise, as well as six counts of wire fraud related to the postings of stolen merchandise for sale on eBay.


            The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, which would require the defendants to forfeit to the United States any property derived from the proceeds of the alleged offenses, including approximately $1.2 million that represents the net proceeds obtained from the scheme. Substitute assets identified for forfeiture include a 2000 Toyota MR2 Spyder, a 1989 Mercedes Benz, a 2007 Chevrolet Hummer, a Land Rover, and Chass’s residential property in Platte County, Mo.


            Wood cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.


            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John E. Cowles. It was investigated by the Career Criminal Section of the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, which also includes agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.



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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html