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Pawn Shop Owners Enter Plea Agreements to Felony Charges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 5, 2019


BIG DOG PAWN & JEWELRY OWNERS ENTER PLEA AGREEMENTS TO FELONY CHARGES


SALT LAKE CITY – Today, the Utah Attorney General’s Office announced that the principal owners of Big Dog Pawn & Jewelry of Murray, Inc., have entered plea agreements to felony charges after investigations into the pawn shop revealed unlawful activity, including money laundering and receiving stolen property.

On June 19, 2018, Special Agents from the Utah Attorney General’s Office served search warrants on seven different pawn shops, one being Big Dog Pawn & Jewelry, and seized several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of new-in-the-box merchandise alleged to be stolen from various local retailers.

Monte McKee, 68, and Kelli Carpenter, 43, were charged with felony Pattern of Unlawful Activity, Money Laundering, and several Misdemeanor counts of Receiving Stolen Property. On February 8th, both defendants entered a Plea in Abeyance to the felony Pattern of Unlawful Activity charge and the remaining counts were dismissed. No judgment of convictions will be entered pending good behavior probation.

Pursuant to the plea agreement, both defendants agree not to be involved in the pawn industry in the future, and Big Dog Pawn & Jewelry, Inc., which is no longer in business, will be dissolved.

Additionally, the defendants waived any claim to the seized property. Retailers who believe they were victims of retail theft and whose merchandise may have been pawned at that location are encouraged to file claims with the court in Third District Court case no. 180906356.

In response to this investigation, Representative Eric K. Hutchings introduced HB 394 Pawnshop and Secondhand Merchandise Amendments in the 2019 Legislative Session on February 21, 2019. This bill clarifies definitions regarding pawn shops, clarifies that a pawn or secondhand merchandise dealer may not accept certain property, improves the central database, limits the amount of transactions between a pawnbroker and an individual, and provides online training of shops and law enforcement.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office would like to thank all the law enforcement agencies and local officers who assisted in serving the warrants and evidence seizures. Special thanks are offered to Supervisory Special Agents Chris Walden and James Russell of the Utah Attorney General’s Office and to Detective Parsons Metzkow of the Unified Police Department.

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Notes:

  1. More background and information on HB 394 Pawnshop and Secondhand Merchandise Amendments: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/HB-394-Pawnshop-Amendments.pdf
  2. Monte McKee’s case number is 181911855 in the Third District Court.
  3. Kelli Carpenter’s case number is 181911857 in the Third District Court.

ICYMI: Law Enforcement Give Back

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, AG Investigators, and the Unified Police Department teamed up just before Christmas to spread some holiday spirit and to give back to the community. Over two dozen Utahns were pulled over for real traffic violations, but instead of receiving a ticket, they received cash, gift certificates, and other prizes, much to the delight and relief of the drivers.

Attorney General Reyes came up with the idea after he’d seen similar pranks done by other agencies on YouTube.  “We’ve got law enforcement men and women who really care beyond just being great professionals, they’re human beings and they want to lift people,” said Attorney General Reyes.

This is the second year the Attorney General’s Office and the Unified Police Department have joined together for what is now becoming their favorite tradition.

Check out the coverage below:

KUTV: Orem police give out gifts instead of tickets

ABC 4: Operation Giveback

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Photo by Lester Rojas

Utah AG Seeks to Seize Over $1 Million in Assets

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 17, 2018

 

UTAH AG FILES FORFEITURE COMPLAINTS FOR OVER $1 MILLION IN ASSETS
Complaints part of an ongoing pawn shop investigation by multiple Utah agencies

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes announced the filing of three civil forfeiture complaints for merchandise and currency seized on June 19th from seven pawn shop locations by the Attorney General’s Justice Division. The complaints come as part of an ongoing, multi-agency investigation into local pawn shops.

The pawn shops allegedly engaged in a pattern of purchasing new-in-the-box items under circumstances that clearly should have alerted pawn shops that the merchandise was stolen. Included in the allegations is a pattern of purchasing stolen property from the same customers repeatedly, as well as a history of possession of stolen property.

“This investigation began when the Home Depot approached Unified Police Department and the Attorney General’s Office with concerns about the amount of losses it was suffering due to retail theft in Utah. According to Home Depot, it has lost around $60 million dollars to theft in Utah over the last five years,” said Dave Carlson, AG Justice Division Director. “The sale of stolen property to pawn shops also helps fuel Utah’s serious opioid problem as most of the offenders who commit retail theft and sell the stolen items to pawn shops are doing it to support a drug habit.”

The seizure of the merchandise and currency occurred during a multi-agency operation led by special agents from the AG’s Investigations Division and detectives from Unified Police Department. The complaints seek to forfeit hundreds of new-in-the-box-items that the Attorney General’s Office alleges were stolen from various local retailers and then sold to pawn shops. Agents and detectives also seized currency from the pawn shops which allegedly represent proceeds from the sale of stolen property.

The pawn shops from which the merchandise and currency were seized are: Sportsman Fastcash with locations in West Valley and Salt Lake City; Xtreme Pawn with locations in Kearns, West Jordan, Riverton, and Lindon; and Big Dog Pawn & Jewelry located in Murray.

Numerous local retail establishments whose stolen property is believed to have been seized from the possession of these pawn shops are included in the forfeiture action. The forfeiture action will allow retailers the opportunity to recover stolen property. Property and currency not claimed by the rightful owner and forfeited to the State by the court is paid over to the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice to be dispersed according to state law.

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NOTES:

  1. The case numbers for each filing are as follows: Sportsmans Fastcash – no. 180906371; Xtreme Pawn – no. 180906372; and Big Dog Pawn & Jewelry – no. 180906356.

Statewide Criminal Enterprise Succumbs to Multi-Agency Investigation

SALT LAKE CITY April 13, 2016 –The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) announced today that Jimmy Jack Olson (aka Olsen), has entered into a second degree felony plea deal for Criminal Enterprise and over $40,000 in restitution. The investigation and arrest were spearheaded by the Unified Police Department (UPD) and local law enforcement agencies. The criminal case and plea were handled by the OAG, halting Olson’s four-state crime spree involving sixty-two break-ins, vandalism and theft from vending machines in Utah, Nevada, Wyoming and Idaho.

“We welcome and enjoy working with our sister agencies, across state and county lines. That kind of effective cooperation and sharing of resources makes Utahns safer,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes.  “Thanks to the excellent coordination by UPD Detective Angie Hunter, our state and local law enforcement partners and the Utah Attorney General’s Justice Division and Special Investigations Unit, we were able to stop Olson’s serial crimes.”

“This case is one of many examples of our Law Enforcement Partners coming together to provide resources and expertise to solve a complex criminal problem,” said UPD Sheriff Jim Winder. “We would like to thank the OAG for their time and attention to this case making it possible to bring Mr. Olson to Justice. We are proud to have worked with so many brothers and sisters in Law Enforcement spanning across so many Law Enforcement Jurisdictions. This is a testament to the capabilities and dedication of our men and woman in blue coming together to make our communities safer.”

UPD Detective Angie Hunter stated “These cases could not have been solved and Olson would not have been stopped had it not been for the cooperation of so many different agencies. All law enforcement came together and it didn’t matter where the crimes took place or who the case manager was, we all wanted the same conclusion, and there were no boundaries between agencies. We all work together to improve the quality of life for our communities.”

The OAG prosecution team included Gregory Ferbrache and Janise Macanas of the Special Prosecutions Unit/Justice Division.  The investigation was spearheaded by UPD with collaboration from the following police departments:  American Fork, Cedar City, Centerville, Harrisville, Layton, Lehi, Lindon, Murray, North Ogden, Ogden, Orem, Price, Provo, Richfield, Riverdale, Roosevelt, Salt Lake City, Sandy, South Jordan, Spanish Fork, Springville, St. George, Sunset, Tooele, West Jordan, and West Valley

Utah Agencies Collaborate to Stop Retail Food Stamp Fraud

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Utah Agencies Collaborate to Stop Retail Food Stamp Fraud

SALT LAKE CITY March 31, 2016 – On Wednesday, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) served multiple search warrants in a collaborative investigation into suspected retail food stamp fraud. The OAG investigation was conducted in collaboration with the Office of the State Auditor (OSA), the Utah Department of Workforce Services (DWS), the United States Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) and Salt Lake County Unified Police Department.

The statewide effort is part of an ongoing effort to cut down on food stamp fraud and protect taxpayers’ dollars.

“Food stamp fraud is a difficult problem to track, but cooperation with the Office of the State Auditor, Department of Workforce Services, the Office of the Inspector General, and the Unified Police Department has helped to save the state millions of dollars and assure that tax dollars are used to help those who are most in need,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “We look forward to continued collaboration.”

“We’ve appreciated the opportunity to work with the Department of Workforce Services and the Office of the Attorney General to initiate a new level of collaboration for detecting and investigating food stamp fraud,” said State Auditor John Dougall. “Leveraging data analytics of high-risk activities can help guide investigative efforts. Protecting taxpayers’ money is a top priority for my office.”

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as “food stamps,” is a federal program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. DWS determines the eligibility of individuals who qualify for food stamps and investigates fraud cases at the individual level. When retail fraud is suspected, DWS contacts OIG to investigate. OIG determines whether cases should be investigated at the federal or state level. When investigated by the state, applicable state agencies collaborate to levy the necessary evidence to arrest and prosecute suspects.

“Our top priorities in eliminating any kind of food stamp fraud are education and prevention,” said Jon Pierpont, Executive Director of DWS. “However, when we suspect fraud, we aggressively take steps to stop the abuse and recover tax dollars that belong to the people.”

To learn more about offenses involving federal food stamps benefits, visit www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/foodstamp.PDF. If you suspect food stamp fraud is being committed, please call 1-800-955-2210 or email wsinv@utah.gov.

Please contact Nicole Toomey Davis with any questions for the Office of the State Auditor at ndavis@utah.gov or 801-678-4835 and Nate McDonald with any questions for the Department of Workforce Services at 801-694-0294.

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