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Justice News

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

Friday, March 18, 2016

Two Former FedEx Hub Employees, New York Co-Conspirator Plead Guilty in Million-Dollar Shipping Theft Scheme

Memphis, TN – Two former FedEx employees and a New York co-conspirator who partook in a shipping theft scheme that defrauded FedEx and wireless carriers of more than $1.7 million have pleaded guilty. Edward L. Stanton III, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, announced the pleas today.

The three defendants are Akeem Gowdy, 23; and Tavaris Mickens, 23; both of Memphis, Tennessee; and Juan Royal, 24, of New York City, New York.

In October 2015, the three defendants, along with two other co-conspirators — Christopher T. Crawford, 31, of Memphis; and Jordan West, 27, of New York City — were indicted for engaging in a conspiracy to commit interstate shipping theft of wireless mobile devices from both Verizon and AT&T. The mobile devices were being shipped throughout the United States by FedEx.

Gowdy, Mickens and Crawford were employed with FedEx during the scheme’s duration. They used fraudulent FedEx corporate shipping labels to over-label boxes of wireless devices. These boxes were diverted to other known and unknown co-conspirators in New York City and other cities through interstate commerce. Each box of merchandise contained thousands of dollars worth of Verizon and/or AT&T wireless mobile devices.

As part of the fraud, Crawford and West sent $10,000 in U.S. currency via FedEx to one another. In mid-2013, Crawford also contacted a FedEx vendor call center in Tucson, Arizona to set up a fraudulent corporate shipping meter account via his wireless mobile telephone.

Each of the defendants knew the wireless devices were stolen when they engaged in acts to perpetrate the crime. Ultimately, the interstate shipping theft scheme defrauded FedEx and the wireless carriers of more than $1.7 million.

On Thursday, March 17, 2016, Royal, Gowdy and Mickens each pled guilty before U.S. District Judge John T. Fowlkes Jr. to one count of interstate shipping theft.

All three defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on Friday, July 8, 2016. Each defendant faces up to 10 years when sentenced. They also face individual fines of up to $250,000.

The case is being investigated by the United States Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigations, and Memphis Cargo Theft Task Force.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Damon K. Griffin is prosecuting this case on the government’s behalf.

Updated March 18, 2016