Archive for Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Former Lawrence police officer pleads guilty to selling stolen video games

A former Lawrence Police officer pleaded guilty to 14 counts of wire fraud for selling stolen video games online. He worked for the department for eight years before being fired.

August 18, 2009


A former Lawrence police officer has pleaded guilty to 14 counts of federal wire fraud for selling stolen video games on eBay last year while he was a member of the police department.

Robert Ryan Sayler, 32, who was once honored as a hero for his action in the deadly Boardwalk Apartments fire, entered the pleas Monday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan.

Federal prosecutors had accused Sayler of executing a scheme in which he purchased video games from Target, removed the game discs from their original packaging, and returned the empty boxes to Target for a refund between Aug. 9 and Sept. 17, 2008.

Sayler then sold the games, Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’09, Soul Caliber IV and Battlefield Bad Company, on eBay, an Internet auction site, according to U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch’s office. The games were priced from $30 to $46.

According to the indictment in the case, computer servers in Washington, California, Texas and Arizona are used to process eBay transactions. The U.S. Secret Service investigated the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Oakley was the prosecutor.

Sayler worked more than eight years for the police department until Dec. 23, 2008. He was being paid a $58,333 annual salary when his employment was terminated, according to the city.

U.S. District Judge Monti Belot is scheduled to sentence Sayler on Nov. 2. The maximum penalty for wire fraud is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Along with four other officers, Sayler received the department’s highest award, the Lawrence Police Medal of Valor, for his rescue efforts during the Boardwalk Apartments fire in October 2005.


Mike Blur 8 years, 8 months ago

Let's see, 14 x 46 (max value) = $644 at the most.

Was it worth risking his career and reputation over? Was 5K/month in salary (which most Lawrencians would die for) not enough?

Alexander Neighbors 8 years, 8 months ago

U.S. Secret Service....................

I wonder if the U.S. Secret Service Is/Was involved in the Yellow House case ?

WHY 8 years, 8 months ago

So much for police officers being underpaid. Close to 60 K annual salary for city cop, a job that actually only requires a high school education.

ksjayhawk74 8 years, 8 months ago

eBay is the worst possible place to sell stolen items. The records are easily searched. Item information is accessible to just about anyone for several weeks and with a court order, eBay can retrieve information from even farther back.

Matthew Herbert 8 years, 8 months ago

It's hard to pay your bills with a pitiful $58k annual check. GEEEESH! I'm guessing you can count on one hand the number of Lawrence public school teachers who make $58k+

justthefacts 8 years, 8 months ago

Most LPD officers have a college degree. It's not required,but it's how it's turned out. And they are paid well compared to smaller communities, so we can get people with more training or maturity. This guy....was major stupid. Just goes to show that IQ college sense does not always equate to common sense!

Steve Jacob 8 years, 8 months ago

What KSJayhawk74? Ebay is the largest fencing operation in the world.

belkin 8 years, 8 months ago

I feel bad for his poor family with all the humiliation they have to face, aside from the possibility losing everything over a few hundred dollars. Obviously, they were not even a thought in his mind.

misslawrence 8 years, 8 months ago

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Evan Ridenour 8 years, 8 months ago

You have to love the wire fraud charge. It is like tax evasion, it is a catch-all that allows the government to own people when they don't have enough evidence to successfully prosecute them for the crime they committed.

Not that I actually disagree with this guy going to jail, I mean he was a cop and was stupid enough to put it all on the line for several hundred dollars who knows what he really did or would have done if he hadn't have been nailed on the wire fraud counts but seriously... this stuff always seems like a perversion of justice to me. His real crime was theft... wire fraud wasn't ever intended to provide "justice" to someone like him. Prosecute him with a felony, give him some jail time, make him pay restitution then throw his ass back on the street like we do everyone else. Seriously... W. T. F. the wire fraud charge in this case.

And yes, I know technically he did commit wire fraud... that doesn't matter in my opinion (for the reasons I just discussed above).

OutlawJHawk 8 years, 8 months ago

Eride--You are right on.

This guy did wrong and certainly should no longer work in law enforcement, but utilization of the Secret Service and up to 20 years in prison and a felony!!! Ridiculous! The punishment does not fit the crime. Misdemeanor, restitution and loss of his job should be more than enough for this guy...but the feds would never have that.

How much was spent to investigate and prosecute this $600 terrible "crime"? The federal government and its agencies waste our money at a ridiculous rate. Mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy ARE catch-alls that allow the fed's to circumvent local or state prosecution of crimes, which may result in less severe sentences. Fed;s need to go after the big fish and let state and local's deal with these minor crimes.

I feel for this guy and continue to have little use for the DOJ, FBI, and SS in their ultimate pursuit of publicity for these types of catch-all minor offenses and to justify their fat agency budgets..

Amy Heeter 8 years, 8 months ago

I don't believe it matters that the guy was a cop. Many professional criminals know the law as well as any uniformed officer. I wonder if he would have been charged with wire fraud for this crime had he not been on the force. I doubt it would have made the local paper if he were a local con instead of a cop.

Cindy Flippo 8 years, 8 months ago

One would have to think that THIS is what he got caught doing. Makes ya wonder what he did that he didnt get caught at. No one in their right mind would put thier job on the line for just a couple hundred dollars, but then again, who would think they can outsmart the system in the first place. I would suspect there is more to it that most of us dont know. I hope he gets what he deserves.

WHY 8 years, 8 months ago

It would have been hilarious if he had sold the games to yellow house.

Tim Quest 8 years, 8 months ago

It's kind of amusing watching the rabble here freak the heck out at the oh-so-princely sum of $58k/year.

wifemotherslave 8 years, 8 months ago

How can they have needed the money? Maybe if they cut back a little, Ryan would not have needed to do this. He did have a lot of "expenses" though. Child support to his ex for 2 children, 2 very new and large SUV's, a new giant flat screen, leather couches, a motorcycle, a new wife and child to support, a new house. Maybe he needs a lesson money management.

shortone 8 years, 8 months ago

Money management lesson, yes. I think the answer here is if he was in debt because of the expensive toys he had then maybe he should have taken on another honest job like the rest of the world when they get in debt. Because he is held to a higher standard then the regular civilian he should be punished and held accountable for his actions. Let's hope he doesn't land a job managing anyone's assets.

blahhhh 8 years, 8 months ago

wifemotherslave- You sure do think you know a lot about Ryan and his personal life. Too bad most of it is wrong. I just love how people ramble on about what they think they know. You all are so quick to judge someone you hardly know.

This would have never made the news if Ryan wasn't an officer. It would have never even made it to the Federal Court if he wasn't an officer.

Practicality 8 years, 8 months ago

LOL @ FarneyMac, it is rather amusing. It appears in Lawrence $58k/year is Warren Buffett money.

lawthing 8 years, 8 months ago

THe biggest twist here is had he sold to a local business instead of on the internet, THe business would have taken the heat for fencing his stolen property and he would have walked away as a witness scott free!

Zachary Stoltenberg 8 years, 8 months ago

This doesn't have anything to do with money. My guess is that this Yahoo is probably like most LPD Officers and believes he is "above the law." It's not about profits or video games, or any of the other theories being discussed here. It's about power, seems to be an undercurrent of most all law enforcement. This guy probably got off on the fact that he was getting away with something because he was a cop. I'm glad he got caught, hope it brings him down a couple of pegs. It is beyond belief that he would be retained. He should never be allowed to work in law enforcement again, not even private security. His actions show his character and his character makes him unfit to be a police officer.

jafs 8 years, 8 months ago

Does Target not check to make sure returned items are actually in their cases?

I'll bet they do now, if they didn't before.

chargdup 8 years, 8 months ago

"Renaissance (Anonymous) says… It's hard to pay your bills with a pitiful $58k annual check. geeeesh! i'm guessing you can count on one hand the number of Lawrence public school teachers who make $58k+"

My household makes less than $60k and raises a family of four just fine.

Chris Ogle 8 years, 8 months ago

I am not a cop, and usually don't have any sympathy for them when they break the laws. However, even though he (the cop) screwed up, and should be held accountable, because he is /was a cop, a higher threshold is set for him than Joe the plumber (for example). What seems odd to me is that Joe the plumber probably earns twice what a cop does, and Joe would still have his job............. Go figure

Cooky_the_Cook 8 years, 8 months ago

Eride, wire fraud is the appropriate charge. A huge company like eBay has to protect itself from criminals like this, and the federal authorities are the people they go to. You can't just "prosecute him with a felony" at the state or local level. It was just petty theft at Target. Using the internet to market the stolen goods to the whole world is a federal offense, and for a good reason. Local and state authorities cannot be expected to regulate interstate commerce. You really think eBay should have gone to the Douglas County Police Department with their concerns about these transactions?

fjd 8 years, 8 months ago

I thought Video games could not be returned once they are opened. My grandson bought a computer game for $50 and opened it without realizing that it would not work on his computer. He was told that video games could not be returned once they are opened. They can only be returned with the shrink wrap around them.

domino 8 years, 8 months ago

In response to "Why" - even though a high school diploma is all that is needed to get a job in law enforcement, many officers do have a degree in Criminal Justice. Once an officer is hired, degree or not, they have to attend Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center (at beautiful Yoder, KS!) and complete a 14 week (approx) program to continue in law enforcement.

daddax98 8 years, 8 months ago

uh smitty i think the cop re-shrink wrapped the games. or he could have returned them at virtual gun point as u suggest

oldtimer 8 years, 8 months ago

There seems to be quite a bit of confusion going on here for alot of you. This guy sold the games, he did not steal them. Hence no theft charge. I knew Ryan and he helped friends and family sell stuff all the time and from what I heard is that he sold the games for somebody else and he wasn't sure if they were stolen so he stopped selling stuff for people. Ryan didn't try to hide anything when he was questioned. He made a statement saying he suspected they were stolen but he contnued to sell some of them before stopping. Ryan is one of the most giving people any of you would have the pleasure to meet. He's they guy who helps complete strangers with a flat tire or drops what he's doing to lend someone a hand. It's really too bad the ljworld doesn't report the whole story. Like how he plead guilty to all counts rather than taking a plea for less from the prosocution.

WHY 8 years, 8 months ago

oldtimer If you take a game from a store and return the packaging and then sell the disk online it is stealing. He plead guilty on all counts because he is guilty as sin and knows there is no way to beat it.

shortone 8 years, 8 months ago

Oldtimer, I think you need to watch the news video of the story. It's reported he bought the games, removed them from the packaging, sealed the packages, returned them for a refund and sold them on Ebay. This doesn't sound like he was "helping" anyone but himself. Maybe the actual paperwork on the indictments might give a clue to this mess.

monkeywrench1969 8 years, 8 months ago

Oldtimer you obviously need glasses. This guy was returning re-sealed game packages with no game in them. I am sure this is only what they could prove. He helped anyone he wanted to help and typically it was more likely a female. Our neighbor had his kids at his ex wife's daycare during the split and experienced first hand how kind and considerate he was to his family. Granted it was a divorce setting but it was clear he lived well above his means.

Matt Schwartz 8 years, 8 months ago

farney mac can eat my big mac ,..don't forget the rabble

blahhhh 8 years, 8 months ago

monkey- what your neighbor saw over there and what was really going on in their lives are 2 different things. There's 2 sides to every story.

monkeywrench1969 8 years, 8 months ago


I'm am sure you were the other side of the story and what he told you.

I should add they were my former neighbors and the husband worked worked with Ryan. It was related to me their first deal (one they had in place for two months on the contingent the buyers' home was sold and it was for asking price) on his house fell through as a result of Ryan winning a bidding war over the buyer's house and the in-laws refusing to cosign the home loan (Smart on their part). They ended up having to seek new buyers, pay double payments, losing money because the market was crashing.

The husband told me he had a bad feeling two days before the deadline when the original buyers were at his house taking pictures and measurements and their rep told him Ryan was buying their house so they could get into his and the contracts would be signed/cosigned the following day.

I think you need to understand there is really three sides to every story (Or even four). His, hers, yours and the truth

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