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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Kansas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Indictment: Topeka Man Ran Auto Chop Shop

TOPEKA, KAN. - A Topeka man was indicted Wednesday on federal charges of operating a chop shop trafficking in stolen auto parts, Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said.

Maurice L. Stewart, 39, who is in federal custody, is charged with one count of operating a chop shop and two counts of trafficking in stolen auto parts. The indictment alleges Stewart’s operation at 13th and Madison in Topeka received stolen autos and disassembled them for sale as parts.

The indictment alleges that while the crimes occurred Stewart was on conditional release on another federal indictment charging him with tax fraud and wire fraud.

If convicted, he faces a penalty of up to 15 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on the charge of operating a chop shop, and up to 10 years and a fine up to $250,000 on each of the trafficking charges. A task force including the Topeka Police Department, the Kansas Department of Revenue – Office of Special Investigation, the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hathaway is prosecuting.      

OTHER GRAND JURY INDICTMENTS

Harley M. Edwards, 24, Narka, Kan., and Ric Meczyor, 27, Belleville, Kan., are charged with one count of conspiring to steal money orders from a post office and one count of stealing money orders. The crimes are alleged to have occurred during February to March 2016 in Narka, Kan.

If convicted, they face a penalty up to five years and a fine up to $250,000 on the conspiracy charge, and up to 10 years and a fine up to $250,000 on the theft charge. The U.S. Postal Service – Office of Inspector General investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Kenney is prosecuting.

Cole H. Castens, 23, Wamego, Kan., is charged with one count of theft by a postal employee. The indictment alleges he stole gift cards. The crime is alleged to have occurred in January and February 2016 in Wamego, Kan.

If convicted, he faces a penalty of up to five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000. The U.S. Postal Service – Office of Inspector General investigated. Assistant U. S. Attorney Christine Kenney is prosecuting.

Monty Owston Quiring, 19, Wichita, Kan., is charged with one count of unlawful possession of ammunition following a felony conviction and one count of theft of government property. The crimes are alleged to have occurred Aug. 18, 2016, in Sedgwick County, Kan.

If convicted, he faces a penalty of up to 10 years on each count and a fine up to $250,000. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch is prosecuting.

Brandon Anthony Best, 26, who is in custody in the Shawnee County Jail, is charged with one count of unlawful possession of a firearm following a felony conviction. The crime is alleged to have occurred Aug. 16, 2016, in Topeka, Kan.

If convicted, he faces a penalty of up to 10 years on each count and a fine up to $250,000. The FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive and the Topeka Police Department investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared Maag is prosecuting.

Trevon Donzell Praylow, 28, who is in custody in the Shawnee County Jail, is charged with (count one and count four) unlawful possession of a firearm following a felony conviction, (count two) possession with intent to distribute marijuana, (count three).

Upon conviction, the crimes carry the following penalties:

Counts one and four: Up to 10 years on each count and a fine up to $250,000.

Count two: Up to five years and a fine up to $250,000.

Count three: Not less than five years and a fine up to $250,000.

The FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive and the Topeka Police Department investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared Maag is prosecuting. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared Maag is prosecuting.

In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.

 

Updated August 24, 2016