Pawn shop owner sentenced in conspiracy

Laundered up to $7 million worth of stolen items

March 08, 2011|By Tricia Bishop, The Baltimore Sun

A 44-year-old Baltimore pawn shop owner was sentenced Tuesday to nearly four years in federal prison followed by six months of home detention for conspiring to commit money laundering in a lengthy scheme that involved more than a dozen defendants, who used pawn shops and online auction sites to sell stolen goods, the Maryland U.S. Attorney's Office announced.

Michael Garonzik, who owned the We Buy pawn shop, bought stolen goods from "boosters," who shoplifted cosmetics, gift cards, DVDs, tools and other items from stores including Target, Safeway, Wal-Mart and Kohl's, according to his plea agreement. At least one of his employees was in charge of "cleaning" the goods, by removing security and price tags, according to federal prosecutors, and Garonzik then sold or helped transport the merchandise to other retailers, including TS Liquidators.

The conspiracy involved roughly $20 million in stolen goods, as much as 35 percent of which is attributable to Garonzik. Thirteen other defendants have also pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme.

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