A Westminster man who attempted to use an alias to list a $2 million container ship he did not own with a Florida ship broker was found guilty of attempted theft of $10,000 to $100,000 Wednesday. He received a five year suspended sentence and five years probation.
"The state is happy with the resolution in this case. I think it was fair," said Senior Assistant State's Attorney Melissa Hockensmith.
Marquest Lateef Robinson, 20, of the 600 block of Wyndswept Way in Westminster, contacted Bill Russell, owner of Maritime Sales Inc. in Tampa, Fla., in 2012 to broker the sale of the National Glory for $900,000, according to Hockensmith.
Robinson used the alias Vittorio Ditroia in his dealings with Russell and was very knowledgeable about the ship itself as well as the industry, Hockensmith said.
Russell became suspicious because the price was less than half of what the ship was worth and, after further research, contacted the actual owner, who informed him that the National Glory was not for sale. According to Hockensmith, Russell contacted the Carroll County State's Attorney's office after tracing the computer IP address and cellphone number used to contact him to a Westminster address.
The State's Attorney called in the Westminster City Police, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Coast Guard to assist in the investigation, Hockensmith said. An Ocean City police officer operating on a Homeland Security task force then posed as a buyer for the ship and contacted Robinson. The officer and Robinson worked out a deal where the undercover officer would make a $15,000 down payment into a bank account. A $100 test transfer was made successfully, and account information gave investigators another link to the Westminster address.
A subsequent search of the home revealed drugs, cash and a gun, which was registered to Robinson's father, Hockensmith said. Investigators also seized a cellphone and a computer which contained damaging information including ship registry documents which had been fraudulently altered.
Robinson was charged with intent to distribute a fake controlled dangerous substance, attempted theft of less than $1,000 and attempted theft of more than $100,000, according to electronic court files. He was found guilty of attempted theft of $10,000 to $100,000 based on the down payment of $15,000 solicited, according to Hockensmith.
Robinson had no previous criminal record, but because investigators uncovered evidence of drug use three years of his five year probation will be supervised with drug evaluation treatment.