Archive for Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Local man indicted in FBI probe

August 22, 2007

Federal authorities Tuesday arrested two of three men wanted in an investigation into suspected stolen heavy equipment and vehicle ring.

Three men, Michael L. Goss, Jason K. Smith and Tonganoxie resident Sheldon M. Trieb, were all indicted last week on multiple counts related to a federal investigation into the 2005 reports of stolen property, according to court records.

Authorities weren't saying Tuesday night who was arrested. FBI Special Agent Ganpat Wagh said agents were negotiating a surrender with a third suspect through an attorney or family member.

According to the indictment, federal investigators accuse the three men of conspiring to steal various pieces of heavy equipment and vehicles in Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri and taking them to Kansas and Missouri where they were sold to other individuals or businesses.

All three men face one count of conspiracy. Federal prosecutors accuse Trieb and Smith of stealing an excavator in April 2005 from Berry Tractor and Equipment Co. in Topeka and taking it to Leavenworth, where it was used by someone for construction jobs in the Kansas City area until it was recovered by police on April 25, 2006.

Authorities also allege in February 2005 that Trieb and Smith stole a John Deere Gator in Gladstone, Mo., and took to Caribbean Pools Inc. in Claycomo, Mo., which was owned by Goss. Goss and someone else who was not indicted then took the vehicle to a business in Tracy, Mo., where it was sold. It was later recovered by law enforcement. Goss faces 16 more counts of transporting stolen property across state lines, and Trieb and Smith face 18 more similar charges.

In two counts, prosecutors allege that in February 2005 the three men transported two stolen John Deere lawnmowers from Lawrence to Claycomo, Mo.

Tonganoxie Mayor Mike Vestal, who is also a police dispatcher, said Trieb, who is in his 20s, is from Tonganoxie. Vestal said he believed Smith is from Philadelphia.

Wagh, the FBI special agent, said federal court appearances in Kansas City, Kan., would follow this week.

According to the indictment filed by U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren, a conspiracy conviction carries maximum penalties of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Transportation of stolen property carries maximum penalties of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

- Staff writer George Diepenbrock can be reached at 832-7144.

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