Pawn shop owner sold $3.2M in stolen goods, encouraged stealing from Walmart, feds say
A former pawn shop owner is headed to prison after making millions off of items shoplifted from stores in western New York, federal officials said.
The man, 39, who formerly owned Royal Crown Pawn & Jewelry in Rochester, regularly encouraged individuals to steal goods from Walmart, Target, Lowes and Home Depot, according to prosecutors.
Then, he’d buy the items for a fraction of their actual value from the shoplifters to resell them as “new” on eBay, prosecutors said.
He made more than $3.2 million with this scheme between 2017 and 2019, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York.
Now the Rochester man has been sentenced to four years in prison after he was found guilty of transporting stolen goods in interstate commerce, the office announced in a March 22 news release.
He was ordered to forfeit his luxury cars, including a Lamborghini, Mercedes Benz, a Rolls Royce and a Porsche, as well as more than $150,000, prosecutors said.
The man has already given up these items that were a part of his lavish lifestyle, according to his sentencing memo submitted on behalf of him by his attorney James D. Doyle.
“All those possessions which defined (his) notoriety and image are thus essentially gone,” Doyle wrote.
Doyle told McClatchy News in a statement that he and his client are glad the court imposed a lesser sentence than what was initially recommended on March 23.
“We are pleased that the Court credited (him) substantially in finding a downward departure and sentencing significantly below the applicable guidelines range,” Doyle said.
‘As long as it sells we buy it. You know what I mean.’
The case relates to how authorities in western New York began noticing a shoplifting trend involving people addicted to opioids, according to an affidavit.
Generally, authorities observed how these people would get money to fuel their drug addiction by selling stolen items to pawn shops, the affidavit says.
The former pawn shop owner is accused of buying the stolen items from these individuals, according to the affidavit. Investigators noted that people brought him a wide variety of stolen goods, from home medical supplies and hair salon products to thermostats and leaf blowers.
In 2019, a police sergeant arrived at the man’s pawn shop to learn more about how his business worked and what the shop buys, the affidavit says.
The man is accused of telling the sergeant that “as long as it sells we buy it. You know what I mean,” according to the affidavit.
He continued telling the sergeant that he doesn’t question where the items come from because it “steers (sellers) away,” the affidavit says.
Prior to the man’s sentencing, he became a figure of mysterious intrigue in the Rochester area when he crashed his Lamborghini into a fire hydrant, according to his sentencing memo. The crash flooded the city streets.
Following the 2018 crash, the man abandoned his vehicle, the Democrat & Chronicle reported.
In the sentencing memo, Doyle wrote that his client’s forfeiture of luxury items has shown how he’s accepted responsibility for his actions in connection with the case.
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