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Press Release

Memphis Truck Driver Pleads Guilty to Stealing Cargo in West Plains

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Memphis, Tenn., truck driver pleaded guilty in federal court today to his role in a cargo theft scheme that included a theft in West Plains, Mo.

Michael Lee Sherley, 49, of Memphis, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to theft of an interstate shipment.

According to today’s plea agreement, Sherley was employed by Nu World Trucking, LLC, a Memphis company in the business of transporting goods in interstate commerce, from July 2012 until his arrest on May 12, 2013.

Sherley was part of a cargo theft ring that used the resources of Nu World Trucking to steal cargo in various states. They did so by “bob-tailing” (meaning they traveled in a road tractor truck, without a semi-trailer attached) through truck stops and service stations located on or near interstate highways, looking for semi-trailers that had been left parked and unattended, and were not coupled to road tractors. When they located a semi-trailer that appeared to be unattended, they would steal the semi-trailer and the goods it contained by coupling their road tractor truck to it and driving off. After having stolen a semi-trailer and its contents, they usually transported the stolen goods to the Chicago, Ill., and Detroit, Mich., areas to be “fenced” or sold.

The specific charge to which Sherley pleaded guilty today involves a theft that occurred on May 11, 2013, at the Snappy Mart Truck Stop in West Plains. Sherley and another person stole a 2000 Wabash trailer (valued at $7,500), which contained a load of Green Giant canned corn (valued at $73,008). The trailer, owned by Bryant Freight, LLC, was in transit from Minnesota to a food bank in Arkansas. Sherley admitted that they traveled through Missouri and Indiana with the stolen cargo before being apprehended in Michigan.

Under federal statutes, Sherley is subject to a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Mohlhenrich. It was investigated by the FBI’s Memphis Cargo Theft Task Force, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, the West Plains, Mo., Police Department and the Michigan State Highway Patrol.
Updated January 15, 2015