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Pawn shop employees accused of buying stolen merchandise, gift cards

SHARE Pawn shop employees accused of buying stolen merchandise, gift cards

SANDY — Employees of a Salt Lake County pawn shop have been charged with racketeering.

Noel Hicks, 58, Sacha Hicks, 20, Nikkiah Loeser, 20, and Randall Ninow, 52, were charged in 3rd District Court with engaging in a pattern of unlawful activity, a first-degree felony, and money laundering, a second-degree felony.

According to court records, the group worked at Fast Cash Pawn, 6905 S. State. They would buy items from the public that they knew were stolen and either re-sell them in the pawn shop or put them up for sale on eBay, said Sandy Police Sgt. John Arnold.

In some cases, the group took stolen merchandise in exchange for gift cards that were also stolen, Arnold said.

On several occasions in 2011, Sandy police detectives came across suspects who were accused of stealing from retail stores "and either exchanging the stolen merchandise for store gift cards, which they subsequently pawned, or pawning the merchandise directly," the charges state.

Through Nov. 21, 2011, investigators determined that Fast Cash had purchased 2,567 gift cards, but only 22 of those purchases were recorded in a statewide database as required by law, according to court records.

One couple alone sold nearly $35,000 in gift cards to the pawn shop. They were paid about $19,000 by Fast Cash for those cards, the charges state.

Another person sold 87 gift cards to Fast Cash in seven months, worth nearly $12,000. He was paid about $6,300, according to the charges.

The pawn shop also bought "thousands of dollars worth of stolen tools" from people, prosecutors said. One individual sold 38 new chainsaws, all still in their original packaging, to Fast Cash.

Between March 2010 and January 2012, "hundreds of thousands of dollars in gift cards were sold" on eBay using the accounts of Hicks and Loeser, the charges state.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam