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Federal indictment targets pawn shop owners

Investigators raided several pawn shops in city and Baltimore County on Thursday, as part of a crackdown on a money-laundering scheme involving the transportation of more than $20 million in stolen goods, according to WBAL and the US Attorney's Office.

Police raided a shop in the 3500 block of South Hanover Street in Brooklyn. Two blocks away, Easy Money Pawn Shop on West Patapso Street was also raided, as well as Shawn's Quik Cash at Fifth Street and East Patapsco Street, and Instant Cash, located at 10th and East Patapsco Street.

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WBAL said investigators carried out bags containing possible evidence, and a gun. The lead defendant in the case is Jerome Stal, 40, of Baltimore, who was convicted in 2002 of transportation of stolen property and sentenced to two years in prison, and the indictment calls for the forfeiture of $20 million, 58 bank accounts and 10 businesses.

Coincidentally, in today's paper Peter Hermann profiled law enforcement and legislative efforts to crack down on pawn shops

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Here's more from the US Attorney's Office's press release on the indictment from yesterday:

15 INDICTED IN $20 MILLION MONEY LAUNDERING CONSPIRACY

Allegedly Laundered the Proceeds from the Transportation of

Stolen Property Worth Over $20 Million

Baltimore, Maryland - A federal grand jury has indicted 15 individuals in a money laundering conspiracy involving the proceeds from the transportation of stolen property worth over $20 million. The indictment was returned on March 23, 2010 and unsealed today upon the arrest of the defendants.  The following defendants have been charged:

Jerome Ira Stal, age 40, of Baltimore;

Spencer Michael Garonzik, age 43, of Baltimore;

Jared Baraloto, age 36, of Monkton;

Jason Logue, age 37, of Middle River;

Louis Leitch, Sr., age 61, of Sparrows Point;

Michael Brian Levy, age 51, of Baltimore;

Jared Lee Ezra, age 41, of Reisterstown;

Warren Allen Culver II, age 31, of Dundalk;

Daniel Filip Mimer, age 28, of Baltimore;

Robert Anthony Reed, age 27, of Baltimore;

Michael Paul Ender, age 32, of Glen Burnie;

Justin Noel Mayhew, age 29, of Baltimore;

Scott Bradford, age 48, of Glen Burnie;

William Cooper, Jr., age 36, of Baltimore; and

Nick Acosta, age 22, of Baltimore.

The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland  Rod J. Rosenstein; Postal Inspector in Charge Daniel S. Cortez of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division; Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III; and Special Agent in Charge C. André Martin of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation.

According to the indictment, the defendants conspired to launder the proceeds derived

from the transportation of stolen property worth over $20 million.  The indictment seeks forfeiture of $20 million, and the assets of 10 businesses and 58 bank accounts associated with the defendants, which were allegedly involved in the offense.

As part of the ongoing investigation, over 100 law enforcement officers from six agencies executed search warrants at 30 locations today.  All the defendants were arrested today.  Other than the indictment, there are no other public documents available at this time.

The defendants face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for the money laundering conspiracy.   The defendants are each expected to have an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Baltimore beginning at 2:00 p.m. today.

Mr. Rosenstein expressed appreciation to Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger,  Special Agent in Charge Thomas P. Doyle of the Food and Drug Administration - Office of Criminal Investigations and their offices, for their assistance in this investigation and prosecution.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt.  An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Kwame J. Manley and Mark W. Crooks, who are prosecuting the case.

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