15 area men indicted in money-laundering scheme

March 27, 2010|By Nick Madigan | nick.madigan@baltsun.com

Fifteen men, ages 22 to 51, have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Baltimore on charges that they laundered $20 million in proceeds from stolen goods, many of them shoplifted from pharmacies and stores such as Walmart and Target.

More than 100 officers from six agencies raided 32 locations in Baltimore and elsewhere in Maryland this week to arrest the defendants and seize evidence.

The indictment demands the forfeiture of $20 million in cash and the assets of 10 businesses in Baltimore, Brooklyn, Catonsville and Annapolis, along with 58 bank accounts. Each defendant faces a maximum of 10 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to launder money.

The indictment, returned Tuesday, was unsealed Thursday after the defendants were arrested, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein in Baltimore. It accuses the men of operating a ring over three years. "The crime ring used pawn and buy-and-sell shops to fence the goods stolen," Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. said Friday at a news conference in Towson.

The alleged activities of the defendants first came to light in Baltimore County, Smith said. The county Police Department became the lead investigative agency in the probe that, with the help of Baltimore City police, the U.S. Postal Service and other agencies, culminated in this week's arrests.

Baltimore County police Chief James W. Johnson declined to describe the kinds of items that were being shoplifted for resale, except to say the case involved "massive quantities of items from retail stores."

However, a law enforcement source said the stolen items, including cold remedies and teeth-whitening strips, were regularly amassed at a "central distribution place" and then taken to businesses to be resold. The source said there probably would be more arrests in the case soon.

The indictment says that beginning in 2007, the defendants conspired to "engage in monetary transactions" of "criminally derived property," some of which involved "interstate transportation of stolen property."

The Baltimore businesses whose assets were targeted include TS Liquidators on Menlo Drive; Shine Corner on South Hilton Street; Harford Exchange on Harford Road; and Eastern Trade Center on Eastern Avenue. The two Brooklyn companies are Fast Money on South Hanover Street and E-Z Money on West Patapsco Avenue. In Catonsville, the business at issue is We Buy on North Rolling Road.

The bank accounts used by the defendants were at branches of, among other institutions, the Bank of America, M&T Bank, Provident Bank and Wells Fargo.

Named as defendants in the indictments are Jerome I. Stal, 40; Spencer M. Garonzik, 43; Michael B. Levy, 51; Daniel F. Mimer, 28; Robert A. Reed, 27; Justin N. Mayhew, 29; William Cooper Jr., 36; and Nick Acosta, 22, all of Baltimore; Jared Baraloto, 36, of Monkton; Jason Logue, 37, of Middle River; Louis Leitch Sr., 61, of Sparrows Point; Jared L. Ezra, 41, of Reisterstown; Warren A. Culver II, 31, of Dundalk; and Michael P. Ender, 32; and Scott Bradford, 48, both of Glen Burnie.

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