Business Owner Pleads Guilty in Money Laundering Scheme
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. - A resident of Portage, Pa. pleaded guilty in federal court in Johnstown to a charge of conspiring to commit money laundering, Acting United States Attorney Soo C. Song announced today.
Tonia Vaughn, 41, of Portage, Pa., pleaded guilty to the indictment before United States District Judge Kim R. Gibson.
Gary and Tonia Vaughn were the owners and operators of Gary’s Steals and Deals, a business located in Portage, PA, that dealt in new and used merchandise. The way the business operated was for “customers” to come to the store with new stolen items of merchandise (the great majority of which were still in the package from local stores) and present it for purchase by Gary’s. The store clerks, knowing the merchandise was stolen, would then give a percentage of the value for the new stolen items to the “customer.” The great majority of this business involved the same “customers” bringing in dozens of identical, “new in package” stolen items (i.e., razor blades, pet products, teeth whitening strips, ink cartridges, jackets, Lego sets, etc.) on the same day or subsequent days, which were purchased by Gary’s Steals and Deals. The stolen new merchandise was then listed for sale on Ebay or Amazon. Once purchased, the stolen merchandise was then shipped to the purchaser via use of the mail. The money received from the sale of the stolen merchandise over the internet was used to either purchase new stolen items from “customers” coming into the store, or was received by the employees as proceeds of this conduct.
Judge Gibson scheduled sentencing for August 9, 2017, at 1:00 p.m. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $500,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history of the defendant.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie L. Haines is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Laurel Highlands Resident Agency, conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Seymore.