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Moraine City Pawn owners sentenced in theft scheme

Published: Tuesday, August 09, 2016 @ 2:48 PM
Updated: Thursday, November 03, 2016 @ 4:16 PM

UPDATE @ 12:01 p.m. (Nov. 3):

A Dayton couple were sentenced to prison today for selling stolen items in a theft scheme they ran out of their Moraine pawn shop business.

Prosecutors and police said drug users, mainly heroin addicts, would steal merchandise from local stores and then sell the stolen goods to Jeff and Lisa Rich, who would sell it at Moraine City Pawn or on eBay. The scheme lasted from between Dec. 1 2012, and April 19, 2013, and involved hundreds of thousands of dollars in stolen merchandise, prosecutors said.

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Jeff Rich was sentenced to five years in prison following his Aug. 16 conviction for engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity; money laundering; and seven counts of receiving stolen property. He was also fined $30,000.

Lisa Rich was sentenced to five years of probation plus 180 days in the Montgomery County Jail, to be served on weekends, following her convictions for engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity; money laundering; and five counts of receiving stolen property. She also was fined $10,000 and ordered to serve 200 hours of community service. She will begin serving her weekend jail Nov. 11.

and had a bond set at $50,000. Jeff Rich is currently out of jail on his initial $20,000 bond, and the judge has given him a week to submit the additional $30,000 to cover the new bond set in court this morning. If Jeff Rich does not submit the additional $30,000, he will be ordered to report to the Montgomery County Jail.

Lisa Rich was sentenced to 180 days in jail that she will begin serving the weekend of Nov. 11.

UPDATE @ 2:17 p.m. (Aug. 9):

The prosecutor on the case said the Rich’s, the couple that owned the Moraine pawn shop where drug addicts could sell stolen goods and get cash for their next fix, were running a business that was a menace to the community.

“I hope it sends a very strong message to people involved in this kind of activity,” said Assistant Montgomery County Prosecutor Kimberly Melnick. “With them taking in this kind of property and turning around and selling it, they were feeding drug addicts. They were bringing more drug addicts into the city, and they were fostering retail theft all over central Ohio.”

Melnick said having drug addicts testify about what they were doing was critical to getting a conviction.

“They had to explain to this jury the gravity of how often they were coming in, the amounts of products they were bringing in at one time in order to prove the Rich’s knew exactly what they were involved with. Some even testified the Rich’s were fronting money to them in the mornings for them to go out and steal the rest of the day. It was imperative to have them come in to testify,” said Melnick.

UPDATE @ 1:06pm:

Jeff Rich has been found guilty of receiving stolen property, money laundering and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

Lisa Rich has been found guilty of receiving stolen property, money laundering and engaging in corrupt activity.

Each could face from 3 to 11 years in prison on the felony conviction of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and up to 3 years on the money laundering conviction.

The pair will be sentenced in the coming weeks.

UPDATE@12:30 p.m. (Aug. 16)

The jury has reached a verdict has in the case, we are told. Our reporters are in the courtroom and we will bring you the verdict as soon as it’s announced.

UPDATE @ 1:34 p.m. (Aug. 15)

The trial of two owners of Moraine City Pawn continues today.

Closing arguments are expected by the prosecution today after a motion to dismiss the case was denied.

UPDATE @ 11:40 a.m. (Aug. 11)

The trial of two owners of Moraine City Pawn continues today.

Two witnesses have been questioned so far today, including a former Moraine City Pawn employee who admits she was concerned the store was selling stolen property.

The second witness is a man who admitted a heroin addiction and said he would sell stolen items to the pawn shop to support his drug habit.

UPDATE @ 6:46 p.m. (Aug. 9)

A Montgomery County jury heard opening statements Tuesday in the trial of the owners of the Moraine City Pawn shop, who are accused of accepting stolen merchandise from drug addicts at the shop.

Jeff Rich and his wife Lisa, who own the shop at 4725 N. Springboro Pike, are charged with receiving stolen property, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and money laundering.

At their shop was stolen property from “CVS, Bass Pro Shops and other places throughout southwest Ohio,” Franklin Gehris, a Montgomery County assistant prosecutor, told the Common Pleas Court jury.

Police investigated the shop for 18 months before raiding it in July 2014 and arresting Jeff Rich. Police traced much of the stolen property to Franklin and Middletown.

Gehris told the jury that Jeff Rich attempted to buy from undercover police officers items that still had [store] security stickers on them.

“He (the officer) was given the instructions to pop those security stickers off of those products and bring them back before Mr. Rich would buy them,” Gehris said.

Defense attorney Louis Sirkin asked Judge Michael Krumholz to declare a mistrial, saying the items Jeff Rich bought from the undercover officer were never actually stolen.

Sirkin said the property “was given to the police by particular stores.”

Krumholtz denied the request.

Sirkin told the jury the prosecution witnesses are not trustworthy.

“They learned how to get caught time after time and make what ever kind of deals that will get them out of trouble,” he said.

Prosecution witnesses are expected to begin testifying Wednesday.

FIRST REPORT

Opening arguments in the trial of two Moraine pawn shop owners accused of receiving stolen property started Tuesday.

Jeff and Lisa Rich are charged with receiving stolen property, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and money laundering. The charges came after police raided the couple’s business, Moraine City Pawn, in 2014.

Moraine police said at the time they believe the theft-sell-buy operation at the couple’s business involves hundreds of thousands of dollars. The raid was part of an 18-month-long investigation involving the receipt of stolen property at the pawn shop, police said. Property has been traced to a large number of individuals from Franklin, Middletown and other areas south, officers said.