Man steals $500,000 worth of construction equipment from prison cell

©GCR, illustration by Denis Carrier
A man serving a 20-year prison sentence in the US state of Georgia has received an additional sentence of seven years after being found guilty of stealing construction equipment using a contraband mobile phone.

Damon Thomas Young, 39, tried to steal equipment worth nearly $3m from dealers in a number of states, and succeeded in stealing around $500,000 worth before the scam was discovered.

Young, who is 11 years into a 20-year sentence imposed for racketeering and aggravated assault on a police officer, was incarcerated at Hays State Prison in Trion, Georgia at the time. He had numerous prior convictions including for impersonating a public officer, arson, forgery, burglary and arson, and theft by deception.

Before delving into heavy-machinery theft, his earliest possible release date was June 2030.

In 2019, Young adopted the alias “Morgan Sylvia” and posed as a purchasing officer with AbbVie, a real biopharmaceutical company. He ordered heavy construction equipment to be delivered in and around Ranger, Georgia, where he and his family lived, telling dealers AbbVie was building a new facility there. He would then put the equipment up for sale on Craigslist.

Among the equipment ordered were wheel loaders, skid steer loaders, an excavator, a horizontal grinder, and dump trucks. Young used his phone to communicate with equipment dealers by voice, text and email. He fraudulently completed credit applications, purchase orders, sales contracts and insurance documents and emailed them to the dealers as part of the scheme. He also emailed a fraudulent AbbVie corporate resolution document, purportedly signed by actual corporate officers of the company.

Most of the dealers caught the fraud before shipment, but Young was successful in acquiring four pieces of equipment worth over $500,000. He sold some of the stolen equipment and used the proceeds to purchase two Chevrolet work trucks. The Gordon County Sheriff’s Office has since recovered all of the stolen equipment.

US Attorney Kurt Erskine commented: “Young schemed to steal millions of dollars’ worth of heavy equipment while serving a sentence for assaulting a police officer. Inmates should not think that the crimes they commit from prison will go unpunished just because they are already incarcerated.  As in this case, inmates who commit crimes from behind bars face additional federal prison time to be served after their state sentences end.”

As well as the federal prison time, Young has been sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $30,000 to the online purchaser of the stolen equipment. The court ordered that five years of the federal sentence will run consecutively to the state sentence that Young is currently serving. 

Young pleaded guilty to the charges.

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