A man accused of using his Charleston pawnshop to sell stolen goods over the Internet pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to money laundering.
Toney Lee Corey admitted that he earned roughly $350,000 between May 2004 and June 2006 by selling stolen goods on the eBay Web site.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Forbes said that investigators from the Charleston Police Department, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation all contributed to the investigation into illegal activity at the Trading Post, Corey’s East End pawnshop.
Corey routinely paid 25 percent of the value of stolen merchandise, including electronics, from a loosely organized shoplifting ring that lifted goods in West Virginia, Ohio and Virginia, she said.
The items were unopened with retail price tags still on them, allowing him to market them online as in-the-box new, Forbes said.
Using his “tradingpost987″ eBay account, Corey sold the merchandise online, then transferred the proceeds into his bank account using PayPal, an online payment processor, according to court documents.
As part of his plea deal, Corey agreed to provide information about other individuals and make restitution of $350,000.
During the hearing, Forbes said Corey’s cooperation had been helpful. She declined to comment on whether any other people involved in funneling stolen goods through the pawnshop were facing additional charges
Last month, federal authorities moved to seize seven East End properties owned by Corey, including the pawnshop. The government alleged that Corey either conducted illegal activity in the properties or bought them with proceeds from his illegal activities.
In an agreement entered on Jan. 16, Corey agreed to forfeit more than $2,800 seized in his bank account in October 2006 and to pay $77,000 within 10 days.
The property at 600 Ruffner Ave. will be sold, and the proceeds will be put towards his court-ordered restitution, the order states.
In exchange, prosecutors released the six other properties from forfeiture.
Earlier this month, Corey testified as a prosecution witness in the murder trial of Michael Merrifield in Putnam County. Merrifield was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of 2-year-old Logan Goodall in 2005.
Corey faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced by U.S. District Judge David A. Faber on July 28.
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