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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Portage Man Pleads Guilty in Money Laundering Scheme

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. - A resident of Portage, Pa. pleaded guilty in federal court in Johnstown on a charge of conspiring to commit money laundering, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

Gary E. Vaughn, 41, pleaded guilty to the indictment before United States District Judge Kim R. Gibson.

In connection with the guilty plea, from Jan. 1, 2012, to Jan. 22, 2014, Vaughn, along with co-defendants, conspired with one another, and with others, to commit certain offenses against the United States, that is, to knowingly conduct and attempt to conduct financial transactions affecting interstate and foreign commerce, which involved property representing the proceeds of a specified unlawful activity, that is, mail fraud, with the intent to promote the carrying on of the specified unlawful activity, and that while conducting and attempting to conduct such financial transaction knew that that property involved in the financial transaction represented the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity.

It was part of the conspiracy that the direction of and business decisions at Gary’s Steals and Deals were made by Tonia Vaughn and/or Gary E. Vaughn. It was further part of the conspiracy that, on a daily basis, customers would bring stolen new merchandise [aka “new in package (NIP)” or “new in box (NIB)”] to Gary’s Steals and Deals for purchase by Gary’s Steals and Deals. It was further part of the conspiracy that, on a daily basis, employees of Gary’s Steals and Deals would purchase the stolen new merchandise, knowing it had been stolen. It was further part of the conspiracy that employees at Gary’s Steals and Deals would tender a monetary percentage of the retail value of the stolen new merchandise back to the customer. It was further part of the conspiracy that on frequent occasions, the same customer(s) would bring numerous identical stolen new items of merchandise to Gary’s Steals and Deals (including but not limited to razor blades, pet products, teeth whitening strips, ink cartridges, jackets, Lego sets), which were repetitively purchased from the customer(s) by employees at Gary’s Steals and Deals. It was further part of the conspiracy that the stolen merchandise that had been purchased from the customers by Gary’s Steals and Deals was thereafter sold by Gary’s Steals and Deals over the Internet on websites such as Ebay and Amazon. It was further part of the conspiracy that Gary’s Steals and Deals utilized the mail to deliver the stolen merchandise to persons who had purchased such merchandise over the Internet. It was further part of the conspiracy that Gary’s Steals and Deals would receive monetary payments for the stolen merchandise that had been sold over the Internet. It was further part of the conspiracy that, in connection with the above-described offense (mail fraud) the named defendants obtained proceeds of such conduct.

Judge Gibson scheduled sentencing for June 9, 2016, at 11 a.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 Vaughn.

Topic: 
Financial Fraud
Updated February 24, 2016