Warrick County Man sentenced in federal court for his role in fencing stolen property
Enabled theft ring of high-end purses, vacuum cleaners, electronics, gift cards and power tools
Evansville – United States Attorney Josh Minkler today announced the sentencing of a Warrick County man for his role in a large-scale theft conspiracy. Michael J. Rupert, 42, Newburgh, Indiana, was sentenced to 30 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Richard L. Young for conspiracy to commit interstate transport of stolen property and two counts of interstate transportation of stolen property.
“Michael Rupert is a thief who used drug addicts to do his dirty work for him,” said Minkler. “Rupert not only stole from Evansville businesses, he used the proceeds from those thefts to help fuel the demand for drugs in this community.”
Rupert managed and operated a Newburgh, Indiana, company called Deal Makers, which bought and sold valuable goods. From July 2013, until June 2014, he was part of a conspiracy that would steal high-end items from stores in the Evansville-area then sell them on eBay.
On several occasions, members of the conspiracy would go to department stores such as Macy’s, Dillards, and Steinmart and steal high-end purses and wallets. They would then sell the stolen items to Rupert who would sell the items on eBay to various buyers around the country. On other occasions, Rupert would buy stolen items taken from local home improvement stores and sell them in the same fashion. Items stolen in those incidents included power tools, hand tools and battery chargers.
In other scenarios, co-conspirators would buy electronic items such as televisions and headphones as well as vacuum cleaners purchased with stolen credit cards. The thieves would return the items to the store with a receipt and obtain a gift card. Rupert would buy the gift card from the co-conspirators at approximately half the face value and again use his eBay account to sell the items sending them by U.S. Mail or other commercial carriers.
In open court, Rupert admitted to Judge Young that his criminal activity helped many Evansville-area residents support their drug habit by paying them for stolen goods and enabled others to commit criminal acts.
One of his co-conspirators, Kyle N. Hudson, was found guilty in federal court in February 2016. The other conspirators were prosecuted by the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office.
The case was the result of a joint state and federal investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Evansville Police Department and the Vanderburgh County Prosecuting Attorney.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd S. Shellenbarger, who prosecuted the case for the government, Judge Young also imposed 2 years of supervised release following Rupert’s release from prison. Rupert must also pay restitution in the total amount of $136,246 and forfeit funds seized in a bank account and a PayPal account Rupert controlled.