Government seeks to forfeit fraudulently obtained items from pawn shop owner

 

Date: April 17, 2020

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A civil forfeiture complaint has been filed in United States District Court for the Western District of New York seeking to forfeit assets which the government alleges that Devin Tribunella, 36, of Rochester, NY, obtained through fraud.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Grace M. Carducci, who is handling the civil case, the complaint seeks the forfeiture of:

  • A 2014 Rolls Royce;
  • A 2014 Mercedes Benz;
  • A 2008 Lamborghini;
  • A 2015 Porsche 911;
  • $148,025 seized from two PayPal accounts;
  • $7,157.87 seized from Canandaigua National Bank;
  • A men's Rolex watch;
  • A men's Patek Phillipe diamond encrusted watch;
  • A 14k 21ct. diamond tennis chain;
  • A 14k 2ct. diamond tennis bracelet;
  • A 14k diamond cross;
  • A 14k 41.5ct. diamond necklace; and
  • A gold Cartier bracelet

On November 19, 2019, Tribunella was charged by criminal complaint with: wire fraud; conspiracy to commit wire fraud; selling and conspiring to sell stolen goods across state lines; engaging in financial transactions involving the proceeds of this unlawful activity; and aggravated identity theft. Tribunella owns and operates Royal Crown Pawn & Jewelry (Royal Crown) located at 3635 Dewey Avenue in Rochester. Royal Crown has one of the highest volumes of purchases and sales of any pawnshop in Monroe County.

The complaint against Tribunella states that individuals struggling with opiate addiction had been stealing merchandise from Rochester area retail stores, including CVS, Wegmans, Walmart, Kohl's, Lowe's, Circuit City, Target, Walmart, and Home Depot, and selling the stolen merchandise to pawnshops, including Royal Crown. Those stealing the property would then use the proceeds of their "sales" to Royal Crown in order to purchase illegal drugs. The defendant allegedly knowingly purchased stolen, new-in-box goods from these individuals for a fraction of the retail value. In order to perpetuate this scheme, Tribunella made false and fraudulent representations in an online database known as LeadsOnline as well as in his User Agreements with eBay and Amazon. The defendant would subsequently re-sell the stolen goods on eBay and Amazon and ship them to buyers, including to buyers located outside of New York State.

Between January 1, 2017, and September 16, 2019, Tribunella and a co-defendant are accused of purchasing and re-selling $3,248,426.79 in stolen goods on eBay. According to the civil complaint, Tribunella used $2,995,949.55 of these illegal proceeds to purchase the above-referenced vehicles and jewelry, and to fund financial accounts and cash withdrawals.

This cycle of theft and re-sale has also resulted in Monroe County having some of the highest incidents of retail theft in the country, according to statistics maintained by nationwide retailers.

The criminal and civil complaints are the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations Division, under the direction of Jonathan D. Larsen, Special Agent-in-Charge, New York Field Office; the Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Chief La'Ron D. Singletary; the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, under the direction of Sheriff Todd Baxter; the Greece Police Department, under the direction of Chief Patrick Phelan; and the Monroe County District Attorney's Office, under the direction of District Attorney Sandra Doorley.

If convicted of the criminal charges, Tribunella faces 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.