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Final defendant pleads guilty in $20M pawn shop scheme

Justice SystemTheftPawnbrokersKohl'sAuction Service

The 16th and final defendant in a scheme to resell $20 million in stolen goods at Maryland pawn shops pleaded guilty Wednesday, prosecutors said.

William Cooper Jr., 38, admitted he took part in a conspiracy to transport goods — such as non-prescription drugs, toiletries, gift cards, DVDs and tools — that had been stolen in bulk from large retailers like Target, Safeway, Wal-Mart and Kohl's, according to a statement from Maryland's U.S. Attorney's Office.

From 2007 to 2010, Cooper, who is from Baltimore, coordinated purchases of stolen items for pawn shop owners who employed him, ignoring security labels and merchandise tags that should have raised suspicions about the origin of the goods, the statement said. He also maintained an online auction account where he could sell the stolen items.

The U.S. Attorney's Office estimates that the entire conspiracy involved about $20 million in stolen merchandise. Cooper, who will be sentenced in April, faces a maximum of five years in prison.

steve.kilar@baltsun.com

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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