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Press Release

Pawn Shop Owner Pleads Guilty to $744,000 Scheme to Sell Over 14,000 Stolen Items Online

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri
National Pawn Enters Deferred Prosecution Agreement

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The owner of a Kansas City, Mo., pawn shop pleaded guilty in federal court today to engaging in a $744,000 scheme to fence more than 14,000 stolen items and sell them on eBay.

Dennis G. Russell, 65, waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs to a federal information that charges him with one count of conspiracy to transport stolen property across state lines.

During the scheme, Russell was one of two members of the board of directors of Rison of KC, Inc., which does business as National Pawn at 6223 E. Truman Road in Kansas City, Mo. Rison of KC is also charged with the same offense but has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

By pleading guilty today, Russell admitted that he participated in a conspiracy from Jan. 1, 2017, to July 27, 2021, to purchase items he knew had been stolen from various retail locations in the Kansas City metropolitan area, then sell those items on eBay. Russell shipped approximately 14,672 stolen items across state lines, resulting in gross proceeds of approximately $744,222.

Multiple individuals, known as “boosters,” stole items from Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, CVS, Walgreens, and other retail locations. They sold such stolen items as robot vacuum cleaners, textbooks, Roku and Google Chromecast television streaming devices, and Crest Whitestrips to Russell at a fraction of their retail price. Russell then posted the stolen items for sale on eBay, using one of two accounts, and shipped them to purchasers in numerous other states.

On Oct. 21, 2021, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at National Pawn and seized 3,400 items, which Russell and National Pawn do not contest were stolen property.

Rison of KC has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Under the terms of that agreement, the business admits to the criminal conspiracy and accepts responsibility for the acts of its officers and employees. The government will defer prosecution of Rison of KC for that conduct during the three-year term of the agreement and will not continue with prosecution if the business fully complies with its obligations under the agreement, which include:

  • National Pawn must keep a current list of all employees, all financial accounts, and all auction websites it utilizes;
  • National Pawn must obtain and retain a verifiable third-party receipt for any new product purchased;
  • Russell must not work at or profit from National Pawn.

Russell must forfeit to the government any property obtained from the proceeds of this offense, including a money judgment of $744,222. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Russell will not work at National Pawn, direct the operations of National Pawn, or profit from National Pawn or any other pawn shop while serving any term of probation or supervised release.

Under federal statutes, Russell is subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. 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. Attorneys Nicholas Heberle, Matthew Wolesky, and Anthony Brown. It was investigated by the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Updated March 24, 2023