Kansas City, Mo. Federal prosecutors have charged a Kansas City man and six associates with a scheme to steal items from local retailers and sell them through online auctioneer eBay.
The Stairway-to-the-Stars Web store on the popular Internet site sold $1.2 million in stolen goods, prosecutors alleged in an indictment unsealed Monday.
Law enforcement officers on Monday raided the home of John Charles Chass, 40, the alleged ringleader of the scheme, and seized goods believed to be stolen, said FBI spokesman Jeff Lanza.
Besides Chass, the others named in the indictment were Joshua L. Zimmerman, 22, of Kansas City; Stacie M. Emmerich, 33, of Independence; Barbara J. Sharp, 52, and Michael Dale Ivester Jr., 27, both of Gladstone; Daniel G. Moody, 39, and Tina Deann Cox, 38, both of Gower.
All seven were charged with participating in conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to engage in the interstate transportation of stolen property.
Chass was also charged with one count of interstate transportation of stolen property and six counts of wire fraud.
The defendants, if convicted, also would have to forfeit property purchased with the $1.2 million the scheme allegedly received through sales of stolen merchandise.
Attorneys for Ivester, Emmerich and Zimmerman said Tuesday that they had just been appointed to the case and had no comment. It was unclear if the other defendants had attorneys.
Lanza said the investigation began in 2005 with the Kansas City Police Department's career criminal investigators teaming up with the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Court records allege Chass recruited the other defendants as "boosters" who would steal and shoplift items from area stores.
Chass would then sell the items through eBay, where he developed a good reputation among buyers.
About 98 percent of 17,000 customers have given him positive feedback on the Web site.