Two defendants pleaded guilty on Tuesday in Federal court in Kansas for their role in a scheme to steal a load of processed beef from a meatpacker in southwest Kansas.
Oganes Nagapetian, 53, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit interstate shipment fraud. His brother, Tigran Nagapetian, 50, pleaded guilty to one count of knowing about the crime and attempting to conceal it from authorities. Both are from North Hollywood, Calif.
In his plea Oganes Nagapetian admitted that in November 2011 he and other conspirators began planning to steal a load of packaged beef valued at $87,500 from the Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Holcomb, Kan.
First, an unidentified co-conspirator faxed documents from California to a freight broker in Ohio to bid on a contract to haul the load from Holcomb to Vernon, Calif., according to U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Kansas. The conspirators pretended to represent Alan J. Doyle Trucking. On Nov. 3, 2011, Oganes Nagapetian posed as a driver for the company and dropped off a refrigerated trailer at the Tyson plant to be loaded with beef and shipped to a meat wholesaler in Vernon, Calif.
Oganes Nagapetian was accompanied by his brother, Tigran. Prosecutors says what the defendants did not know was that the freight broker had become suspicious and notified the FBI, which was monitoring the attempt to pick up the load.
On Nov. 4, 2011, while waiting for the trailer to be loaded, the defendants became suspicious that they were under surveillance by law enforcement and fled the area in a tractor they had used to drop of the trailer. A Kansas Highway Patrol officer stopped the tractor about an hour later on U.S. 83.
In the truck, investigators found documents used in the crime. Tigran Nagapetian told troopers that he and his brother were headed to Oklahoma to purchase a trailer. He did not make known to law enforcement that Oganes had attempted to steal a trailer of packaged meat.
Sentencing is set for Jan. 27. Oganes Nagapetian faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 while Tigran Nagapetian faces a maximum penalty of three years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.
"This case implicates a relatively new and bold modus operandi of theft in which the perpetrators steal the identity of a legitimate trucking company, usually a smaller independent hauler, to obtain freight hauling contracts," wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson in one court filing. "They then show up with their own tractor and trailer at the businesses 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."