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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 7, 2017

Cambria County Store Owner to Spend 18 Months in Prison for Money Laundering Scheme

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. - A resident of Portage, Pa. has been sentenced in federal court in Johnstown to 18 months in prison, and three years’ supervised release, on her conviction of conspiring to commit money laundering, Acting United States Attorney Soo C. Song announced today.

United States District Judge Kim R. Gibson imposed the sentence on Tonia Vaughn, 41, of Portage, Pa.

Tonia Vaughn, along with her husband, Gary Vaughn, were the owners and operators of Gary’s Steals and Deals, a business located in Portage, 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. Tonia Vaughn and 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.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie L. Haines prosecuted 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 Vaughn.

Updated September 7, 2017