Pawn Shop Owner in Missouri Sentenced for Selling Over 14,000 Stolen Items Online in a $744,000 Scheme

A pawn shop owner from Kansas City, Mo. was recently convicted in federal court for his involvement in a massive scheme to fence over 14,500 stolen items, with a total value of $744,000, by selling them on eBay. The sentence for the crime was handed down today.

In a recent court ruling, Dennis G. Russell, aged 66, has been sentenced to 20 months in federal prison without parole by U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs. In addition to the prison term, Russell has been ordered to pay a hefty fine of $100,000 and forfeit $744,222, which represents the proceeds obtained from the conspiracy to the government.

Russell, a former member of the board of directors of Rison of KC, Inc., which operates as National Pawn at 6223 E. Truman Road in Kansas City, Mo., pleaded guilty on March 24, 2023, to one count of conspiracy to transport stolen property across state lines. As part of the scheme, Russell and another member of the board of directors were involved in the transportation of stolen property. The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged Rison of KC with the same offense, but the company has since entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the authorities.

In a recent admission, Russell has confessed that he was involved in a conspiracy for almost five years, starting from January 1, 2017, to July 27, 2021. He purchased stolen items from various retail locations in the Kansas City metropolitan area, knowing they were stolen, and then sold them on eBay. Shockingly, Russell shipped a whopping 14,672 stolen items across state lines, resulting in gross proceeds of around $744,222. This is a serious offense that cannot be overlooked, and it’s good that he has admitted to his wrongdoing.

A group of individuals, commonly referred to as “boosters,” conducted robberies at retail giants such as Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, CVS, and Walgreens. The stolen items, including robot vacuum cleaners, textbooks, Roku and Google Chromecast television streaming devices, and Crest Whitestrips, were later sold to Russell at a discounted price. Russell then listed the stolen goods on eBay using one of two accounts and shipped them to buyers located in different states.

As per the court records, Russell didn’t stop his fraudulent activities even during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the year 2020 turned out to be his most successful year, where he managed to sell 7,089 stolen items on eBay and earned a massive $324,842 in gross proceeds. During this period, he even got hold of 641 stolen items from two boosters working in coordination between February 20 and April 2, 2020.

After a federal search warrant was carried out at National Pawn and Russell was handed a target letter, he finally put an end to his unlawful activities. Subsequently, on October 21, 2021, law enforcement officials conducted a search at National Pawn and confiscated around 3,400 items. Both Russell and National Pawn have not disputed the fact that these items were stolen property, and as a result, they have been forfeited to the government.

Kansas City-based Rison has reached a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in which it acknowledges involvement in a criminal conspiracy and takes responsibility for the actions of its officers and employees. The three-year agreement allows for the deferral of prosecution for the admitted conduct, provided that Rison fulfills all of its obligations under the agreement.

The prosecution of this case was handled by skilled Assistant U.S. Attorneys including Nicholas Heberle, Matthew Wolesky, and Anthony Brown. The investigation was carried out by both the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

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