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Baltimore, Maryland – William Albert Engel, Jr., age 40, of Baltimore, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to interstate transportation of stolen goods in connection with a scheme to steal property from shopping mall kiosks and sell it online.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Colonel William M. Pallozzi, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police.
According to his plea agreement, from October 7, 2014 through March 29, 2016, Engel conspired with co-defendant Brian Halsey and others to steal property, including designer sunglasses, with a retail value of more than $500,000, and sell the items online. Engel stole the items and brought them to Halsey, who used online accounts opened in different names and identities to sell the stolen items, including designer sunglasses, and ship them nationwide from his home in Dundalk, Maryland.
Specifically, Engel broke into kiosks and stores in shopping malls in Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Fairview Heights, Illinois; Wilmington, North Carolina; and Myrtle Beach, Columbia, and Florence, South Carolina, and stole designer sunglasses and other merchandise which he brought to Halsey in Maryland. Halsey sold the property through an online market, and used the U.S. Postal Service and commercial carriers to ship the stolen property to the buyers. Halsey provided cash from the sale of the stolen property to Engel and also helped to finance Engel’s travel and travel expenses to other states to commit thefts in order to obtain more property for sale. Halsey maintained multiple online market accounts, online payment accounts, and bank accounts under different names and identities during the scheme.
On August 28, 2015, law enforcement searched Halsey’s residence and recovered over $200,000 worth of stolen designer sunglasses, as well as a printing and labeling system, and a large number of documents related to selling sunglasses through an online market. Law enforcement also recovered lock-pick kits and numerous atlases and street maps.
Engel admitted that more than five individuals participated in the scheme, helping to package and ship the stolen sunglasses, providing their identification information to Halsey to set up bank and online accounts, and/or assisting Engel in the thefts. The estimated loss from the scheme was approximately $500,000.
Engel faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. As part of his plea agreement, Engel will also be required to forfeit and pay a money judgment of $500,000. U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett has scheduled sentencing for January 24, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. Engel remains detained.
Brian Nelson Halsey, age 52, of Westminster, Maryland, formerly of Dundalk, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme and is scheduled to be sentenced on November 15, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. Halsey remains detained.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended FBI and Maryland State Police for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron S. J. Zelinsky, who is prosecuting the case.