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Press Release

Third and Final Defendant Pleads Guilty in Pawn Shop Scheme to Sell Stolen Goods

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland
Recorded Over $1.5 Million in Sales Through eBay Accounts Associated with the Scheme

Baltimore, Maryland – On Friday, March 15, 2019, David Gutman, age 55, of Baltimore, Maryland, pleaded guilty to a wire fraud conspiracy in connection with a scheme to accept and sell stolen goods from the Chesapeake Pawn Brokers, in Edgewood, Maryland.  Two co-defendants, Marina Gelfen, age 55 of Reisterstown, Maryland and Dmitry Babich, age 48, of Owings Mills, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to the same charge.  Gelfen and Babich owned and managed Chesapeake Pawn, where Gutman was an employee.

The guilty pleas were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Sung “Jimmy” Yi of the United States Secret Service - Baltimore Field Office; and Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey R. Gahler.

According to their plea agreements, between January 1, 2015, and July 8, 2018, Gelfen, Babich, and Gutman paid cash to “boosters,” a common term for shoplifters, in exchange for merchandise stolen from Home Depot.  The products include exclusive brands sold only through the Home Depot, such as Makita, Ryobi, Ridgid, and other brand power tools, to include drills, wrenches, saws, and lithium batteries.  The products were frequently new and still in the original store box. The conspirators sold the items on eBay, with the payments being made through PayPal.

As detailed in their plea agreements, the conspirators bought these items from boosters at Chesapeake Pawn, at far less than their retail value, knowing that the boosters stole them directly from Home Depot.  Gelfen and Gutman admitted that they paid boosters over $70,000 for stolen products, while Babich paid boosters over $11,000 during the year that he was part of the conspiracy.  The conspirators listed and sold the stolen items on eBay under at least eleven different eBay user names, including the names of relatives and associates, in an effort to conceal the high volume of transactions.  From January of 2015 through May 2018, those eBay accounts recorded over $1.5 million in sales.  The conspirators would advertise much of the merchandise that they bought from boosters on eBay as “NEW,” “Brand New,” and “Sealed.”

Between July 2015 and July 14, 2018, an undercover officer from the Harford County Sheriff’s Office posed as a booster, and on at least five occasions brought items purportedly stolen from Home Depot to Chesapeake Pawn to sell.  The defendants all purchased items from the undercover, knowing they were stolen, and later sold those items on eBay.

As a licensed pawn broker business, Chesapeake Pawn is required to enter all items that are sold to Chesapeake Pawn into the Regional Automated Property Information Database (RAPID) within 24 hours of the purchase date.  RAPID is a law enforcement tool used for tracking transactions conducted by pawn brokers in an effort to guard against the sale of, and to aid in the recovery of, stolen merchandise.  The conspirators entered many of the stolen items into the RAPID system, even though they knew the items were stolen. 

As part of their plea agreements, Gelfen, Gutman, and Babich are all required to forfeit any proceeds or property obtained as a result of the scheme, and to pay restitution totaling $132,605.30.

The defendants each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the wire fraud conspiracy.  U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett has scheduled sentencing for Gelfen on June 3, 2019, for Babich on June 5, 2019, and for Gutman on June 19, 2019, all at 3:00 p.m.

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the Secret Service and the Harford County Sheriff’s Office for their work in the investigation and thanked investigators from Home Depot for their assistance.  Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Judson T. Mihok, who is prosecuting the case.

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Marcia Murphy
(410) 209-4854

Updated March 18, 2019