Two North Hollywood, Calif. brothers pleaded guilty to trying to steal $87,500 of packaged beef, according to the Kansas district of the Justice Department.
Oganes Nagapetian, 53, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit interstate shipment fraud, and Tigran Nagapetian, 50, pleaded guilty to knowing of the crime and attempting to conceal it from authorities.
An unidentified conspirator pretended to represent Alan J. Doyle Trucking and faxed a bid in November 2011 to an Ohio freight broker to transport a load of packaged beef from a Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. plant in Holcomb, Kan. to Vernon, Calif, according to the DOJ. The broker became suspicious and notified the FBI.
“This case implicates a relatively new and bold modus operandi of theft in which the perpetrators steal the identity of a legitimate trucking company,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson wrote in a court filing.
“They then show up with their own tractor and trailer at the business wanting to ship a trailer-load of goods to a buyer, receive the load of whatever is being shipped, then simply drive off with the goods, often worth $100,000 or more.”
When Nagapetian, posing as a driver and joined by his brother, dropped off a refrigerated trailer at the plant on November 3, 2011, to be loaded with $87,500 worth of beef, the FBI was monitoring the attempt.
The defendants became suspicious of surveillance and fled, but a Kansas Highway Patrol officer stopped their vehicle.
Investigators found documents used in the crime in their vehicle. Tigran Nagapetian lied to the troopers to cover up the attempted beef-jacking, telling them he and his brother were headed to Oklahoma to purchase a trailer.
The brothers are scheduled for sentencing on January 27. Oganes Nagapetian and Tigran Nagapetian face fines up to $250,000 and up to five and three years in prison, respectively.