Former pawn shop operator to be sentenced after guilty plea for transporting stolen property

Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 2:36 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - A former pawn shop operator will be sentenced after pleading guilty to a $3 million scheme to sell more than 100,000 stolen items.

J’s Pawn located near Brush Creek Blvd and The Paseo closed in January of this year. Investigators believe the operator 58-year-old Frank Santa Maria bought stolen items from shoplifters over a four-and-a-half-year period from January 2017-July 2021.

Santa Maria pleaded guilty this week to transporting stolen property across state lines.

Investigators say he knowingly purchased more than 100,000 items that had been stolen from various retailers in Kansas City including Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, CVS, and Walgreens.

Federal court records indicate four unidentified “boosters,” or shoplifters would steal items including ink cartridges, Crest Whitestrips, Rogaine products, Nicorette products, over-the-counter supplements, and medications, Spypoint cameras, Nikon rangefinders, and electric fence systems to then sell them to Santa Maria.

Court records state Santa Maria then sold the stolen items on multiple eBay pages then shipped them to purchasers across the country.

During the execution of a search warrant in October of 2021, officers seized 4,749 items from J’s Pawn that Santa Maria does not contest were stolen property. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Santa Maria must forfeit to the government all property derived from the proceeds of the offense, including a money judgment of $2,752,352. Santa Maria must also forfeit $302,172 that was seized from his bank account in a pending civil asset forfeiture proceeding.

Investigators say the scheme resulted in gross proceeds of more than $3 million. According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, shoplifting results in nearly $50 billion in retail crime each year.

A sentencing date has not yet been set for Santa Maria. He faces up to 10 years in prison without parole. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.