OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
MATT J. WHITWORTH
Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106
JUNE 4, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PLATTE COUNTY MAN PLEADS GUILTY
TO HIGH-TECH FENCING SCHEME
MERCHANDISE SHOPLIFTED, AUCTIONED ON EBAY
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Matt J. Whitworth, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced a Kansas City, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to organizing a scheme to shoplift merchandise then sell the stolen property on the Internet auction site eBay.
John Charles Chass, 41, of Kansas City, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple this afternoon to the charge contained in a June 3, 2008, superseding indictment.
By pleading guilty today, Chass admitted that he was the leader and organizer of a conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to transport stolen property across state lines from February 2005 through December 2007. Chass recruited a group of “boosters,” who would steal merchandise from retail stores and deliver it to Chass, who paid the boosters for the stolen merchandise based upon a percentage of its retail value. Chass then advertised the stolen merchandise on his eBay Web site known as “stairway to the stars.”
The actual losses to retail stores resulting from this scheme were in excess of $70,000, but less than $120,000.
Six co-defendants have already pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy. Joshua L. Zimmerman, 23, of Kansas City, Stacie M. Emmerich, 34, of Independence, Mo., Barbara J. Sharp, 54, and Michael Dale Ivester, Jr., 28, both of Gladstone, Mo., and Tina Deann Cox, 39, and Daniel G. Moody, 31, both of Gower, Mo., have all pleaded guilty and await sentencing.
In addition to the conspiracy charge, Chass pleaded guilty today to the interstate transportation of stolen property (related to the shipments across state lines of stolen merchandise), wire fraud (related to the postings of stolen merchandise for sale on eBay) and mail fraud (related to stolen property that was delivered by mail).
Under federal statutes, Chass is subject to a sentence of up to 55 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $1.25 million and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
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.
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