Three people have pleaded guilty in connection with a scheme to accept and sell stolen goods from the Chesapeake Pawn Brokers in Edgewood, according to the Baltimore office of the U.S. Secret Service.
David Gutman, 55, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty Friday to wire fraud conspiracy, while co-defendants, Marina Gelfen, 55, of Reisterstown, and Dmitry Babich, 48, of Owings Mills, previously pleaded guilty to the same charge.
Gelfen and Babich owned and managed Chesapeake Pawn, located at 2010 Pulaski Highway, where Gutman was an employee, according to a news release from the secret service.
As part of their plea agreements, Gelfen, Gutman and Babich are required to forfeit any proceeds or property obtained as a result of the scheme, and to pay restitution totaling $132,605.30.
They each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the wire fraud conspiracy.
The guilty pleas were announced by U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge, Sung “Jimmy” Yi of the U.S. Secret Service Baltimore field office; and Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey R. Gahler.
“Some may say that pawning of stolen goods is a victimless crime. That could not be further from the truth. Pawnshops that knowingly take stolen goods are not only creating higher costs to consumers, like our citizens, but also are playing an integral part in the opioid epidemic,” Gahler said. “I am proud of our detectives that spend countless hours investigating these cases and of our partnerships at the local, state and federal level who help hold these pawnshop owners accountable.”
According to their plea agreements, between Jan. 1, 2015, and July 8, 2018, Gelfen, Babich and Gutman paid cash to “boosters,” a common term for shoplifters, in exchange for merchandise stolen from Home Depot. The products include exclusive brands sold only through the Home Depot, such as Makita, Ryobi, Ridgid and other brand power tools, the release said.
The products were frequently new and still in the original box. The conspirators sold the items on eBay, with payments made through PayPal, the secret service said.
As detailed in their plea agreements, the conspirators bought these items from boosters at Chesapeake Pawn, at far less than their retail value, knowing that they were stolen from Home Depot.
Gelfen and Gutman admitted they paid boosters more than $70,000 for stolen products, while Babich paid boosters more than $11,000 during the year that he was part of the conspiracy, the release said.
The secret service said between July 2015 and July 14, 2018, an undercover officer from the Harford County Sheriff’s Office posed as a booster, and on at least five occasions brought items purportedly stolen from Home Depot to Chesapeake Pawn to sell. The defendants purchased items from the undercover officer and later sold those items on eBay.
As a licensed pawn broker business, Chesapeake Pawn is required to enter all items that are sold to Chesapeake Pawn into the Regional Automated Property Information Database (RAPID) within 24 hours of the purchase date.
RAPID is used to track transactions by pawn brokers to guard against the sale of — and to aid in the recovery of — stolen merchandise. The conspirators entered many of the stolen items into the system, even though they knew the items were stolen, the release said.
Sentencing for Gelfen is scheduled for June 3, for Babich on June 5 and for Gutman on June 19, all at 3 p.m.