Prosecutors have charged the owner of a Midvale pawn shop and three of his employees with buying and selling thousands of dollars in stolen gift cards and tools.
Owner Noel W. Hicks, 48, and Nikkiah R. Loeser, 20, were charged Wednesday in 3rd District Court with felony counts of pattern of unlawful activity, and money laundering. Sacha N. Hicks, 20, and Randall S. Ninow, 52, were charged with felony pattern of unlawful activity.
Investigators in 2011 discovered a group of employees and the owner of Fast Cash Pawn Inc. located at 6905 S. State St. in Midvale had allegedly purchased stolen property and gift cards from a small number of sellers but had not recorded the transactions in the required statewide pawn database, according to charging documents.
A Sandy police detective allegedly learned thieves stole items from Salt Lake City retailers, then pawned the items or exchanged them for store gift cards at the same store, the documents state. Most of the stolen items and gift cards were allegedly pawned at Fast Cash Pawn, but the detective only saw a few of the pawned items recorded by the shop, charging documents state.
In all, Fast Cash purchased 2,567 gift cards from March to November 2011, authorities allege. Only 22 of these sales were reported in the state's database, according to charging documents. In a four-month period, 127 gift cards totaling about $34,800 were sold to the shop by a husband and wife, but only one of those transactions was reported, authorities allege. The couple were paid about $19,140, charging documents show.
In another case, court records state a person sold 87 gift cards worth about $11,800 to the pawn shop over seven months and was paid roughly $6,340.
Along with gift cards, Fast Cash Pawn allegedly also bought thousands of dollars worth of stolen tools but only reported one of them. Between May and November 2011 the shop allegedly bought 38 chain saws from one person. Each new saw believed stolen from local home improvement stores ranged in value from $300 to $390, according to documents.
Hicks and Loeser sold "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in gift cards and power tools on eBay from March 2010 to January 2012, court records state. The items were sold on the eBay accounts, and payment was received through PayPal. The money was regularly transferred to Hicks' bank account, where he withdrew cash in amounts under $10,000, investigators allege. It wasn't immediately clear if the pawn shop remained open for business Friday. A call to the shop went straight to voice mail, and a message seeking comment went unreturned