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Warehouse owners plead guilty in metal theft plot

Two Baltimore men who owned a warehouse have pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiring to transport stolen nickel, which had been imported through the Port of Baltimore, the U.S. attorney's office announced Monday.

Gregg Lee Purbaugh, 50, and Kenneth Trainum, 44, were charged after Homeland Security agents caught them in November 2011 removing unmarked sacks of nickel briquettes from a shipping container next to their Bear Creek warehouse and loading them in a truck.

According to their plea agreements, Purbaugh and Trainum began removing nickel from their warehouse in 2006 that belonged to an international mining company for which they were storing it. Over the next five years, working through another co-conspirator, Purbaugh sold 80,000 pounds of nickel worth about $1 million to a Pittsburgh scrap metal company, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Purbaugh and Trainum each face up to five years in prison. Sentencing before U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles, Jr. is set for Aug. 9

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