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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                          Jan. 18, 2012                   


Defendant Admitted to Stealing Nearly $200,000 in Merchandise from Charleston Business 

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Michael Tincher, 45, of Charleston, pleaded guilty today in federal court before United States District Judge Thomas E. Johnston to mail fraud.  Tincher admitted that from approximately 2002 and continuing through October 2010, he devised a scheme to defraud Charleston-based electronics retail store, Sodaro’s Electronic Sales, Inc. (“Sodaro’s”).  Tincher was employed at Sodaro’s at the time of the fraudulent scheme. 

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said, “Small businesses are the fuel that drives our economy, so it is vital that we do everything within our power to protect them.”

The defendant admitted that he placed numerous orders for merchandise on behalf of Sodaro’s for the sole purpose of stealing the items.  Tincher further admitted that he subsequently listed the items for sale on eBay, Inc. (“eBay”).  The defendant also admitted that he sold at least 1,295 items that he had stolen from Sodaro’s using separate eBay auctions.  Tincher received payment from eBay customers through a PayPal account, and from that account, he withdrew cash and otherwise converted the funds for his personal use. 

The defendant admitted that during the course of the fraud scheme, he stole at least $197,312 in items from Sodaro’s.     

Tincher faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced on April 18, 2012. 

This case is part of the ongoing efforts of the United States Attorney’s Office to prosecute crimes against small businesses.  In September 2010, U.S. Attorney Goodwin created and launched a comprehensive plan to protect small businesses and nonprofit agencies from fraud and abuse.  Goodwin has redoubled efforts to identify, investigate and prosecute dishonest employees and other criminals who defraud or embezzle from small businesses.

The Crimes Against Small Business Initiative strives to protect businesses and nonprofit organizations by working in partnership with the business community, along with state and local law enforcement officials, to ensure that occurrences of fraud, embezzlement, scams and other crimes targeting small businesses are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation.  Assistant United States Attorney Meredith George is in charge of the prosecution. 

Click here to listen to an audio clip from U.S. Attorney Goodwin discussing the importance of small businesses.

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