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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of North Carolina

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Woman Sentenced To 33 Months For Selling Stolen Merchandise On The Internet

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Chief U.S. District Judge Frank D. Whitney sentenced Maria Steele Vera, 60, of Dallas, Texas to 33 months in prison and to one year of supervised release for selling stolen merchandise on the Internet, announced Jill Westmoreland Rose, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.   In April 2014, Vera pleaded guilty to wire fraud in connection with her scheme.  Judge Conrad also ordered Vera to pay more than $70,000 in restitution.

Acting U.S. Attorney Rose is joined in making today’s announcement by Russell F. Nelson, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Charlotte Field Division.

According to filed court documents and court proceedings, from 2009 to 2013, Vera shoplifted items from numerous hobby and craft retail stores in Mecklenburg County and elsewhere, which she then listed for sale on E-bay.  Court records indicate that Vera created various E-bay seller accounts and sold the stolen items below retail value.  Court records also show that this scheme netted Vera between $400,000 and $1,000,000. According to court records, when law enforcement executed a search warrant at Vera’s residence, they recovered 70 plastic crates full of stolen craft and scrapbooking products, as well as 50 flat rate mailing boxes.

Following the sentencing hearing Vera was released on bond. She will be ordered to report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.

Acting U.S. Attorney Rose credited the U.S. Secret Service for the investigation leading to today’s sentence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Zolot of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte prosecuted the case.

Updated May 14, 2015