(CBS4) – A 36-year-old man from Aurora was sentenced Thursday by Baltimore District Court to 66 months in federal prison following a ten-year operation to sell stolen goods through marketplaces in line. Saurabh Chawla has pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy, interstate transportation of stolen goods and tax evasion.
According to court documents, Chawla bought stolen goods worth $ 3.5 million between 2009 and 2019 with the help of three main co-conspirators: James Bender, Kristy Stock and Joseph Kukta.
In A press release, federal prosecutors said Bender controlled and operated several eBay and Amazon online accounts, including “HiddenGemFurniture” (“HGF”), “EddiesAffensibleGear” (“EAG”) and “AffordableGoodies4You” (“AG”). The 36-year-old Baltimore resident offered to use his accounts in exchange for reduced sales of the Chawla. With Bender’s help, Chawla offered and sold a large amount of stolen goods and merchandise for sale through HGF, other eBay stores, and other online marketplaces. At one point, Chawla had 400 active listings for goods and products on eBay.
Stock, prosecutors said, was a New Mexico public school employee overseeing an Apple iPod supply program for underprivileged Native American children in New Mexico. Stock, 46, stole more than 3,000 iPods purchased by the school district valued at over $ 1 million and sold them to Chawla. Stock admitted that she received more than $ 800,000 in illegal proceeds from the sale of the stolen iPods.
Kukta, 45, was a FedEx employee at a Delaware facility. He got most of the items he sold to Chawla from wholesale purchases shipped through FedEx and marked for delivery to FedEx customers, including a Walmart distribution center in Smyrna, Delaware. Kukta quietly avoided detection by the delivery company and shipped stolen items to a relative in Chawla in Maryland.
In addition, Chawla also filed fraudulent tax returns for eight of the years the property theft program was in effect. It was done, prosecutors said, but falsely inflating the costs of goods sold and underreporting its adjusted gross income. Chawla was also found partly responsible for his Delaware parent’s tax evasion.
Chawla was ordered to immediately pay $ 713,619 in restitution to the IRS. The judge’s decision on whether to return the stolen goods has been delayed until December 3.
Chawla must report to the Prison Office to serve his sentence by December 6.
Chawla was at the center of a 2015 dispute with her neighbors Aurora over her AirBnB rental business because reported by Aurora Sentinel.