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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Arraignment in Scheme to Sell Stolen Electronic Goods Online

Friday, August 31, 2012
Contact: (415) 703-5837

SACRAMENTO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced the arraignment of two men who burglarized high-end electronics retailers in five Bay Area counties and then sold the merchandise on an online auction website.

Justin Mahlet, 37, of Sacramento and Jason Tate, 41, of Rocklin were arraigned today in Placer County Superior Court on 17 felony counts of burglary that resulted in losses of $400,000 in stolen goods and property damage. Mahlet and Tate, who pled not guilty, turned themselves in on July 13 and July 19 and were released on bail set at $105,000 and $50,000, respectively.

“The defendants used the anonymity of the Internet to sell stolen goods from high-end electronic retailers,” said Attorney General Harris. “This case is a prime example of state and local law enforcement collaboration to bring those who commit crimes online to justice.”

The Attorney General’s eCrime Unit will prosecute the case because the defendants allegedly committed the commercial burglaries in multiple jurisdictions, and used eBay to fence the stolen goods. The investigation was conducted by the Palo Alto Police Department and the Sunnyvale Police Department.

Between December 2010 and September 2011, Mahlet and Tate burglarized more than a dozen electronic retailers in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Solano counties. Among the items stolen were a $40,000 GPS device for land surveying, amplifiers valued at $10,000, cameras valued at $4,000 each, and other expensive goods.

In September 2011, officers from the Sunnyvale Police Department responded to a commercial alarm and saw the defendants exiting the building with items. Mahlet and Tate attempted to flee but were arrested. Detectives later obtained search warrants for their residences and a storage rental unit in Rocklin, CA, where there were numerous electronic items from the businesses that had been burglarized.

Detectives also uncovered eBay accounts associated with the defendants and found high-end electronic items listed for sale that matched items missing from the burglaries.

Last year, Attorney General Harris created the eCrime Unit to identify and prosecute identity theft crimes, cybercrimes and other crimes involving the use of technology. More information is available here: http://oag.ca.gov/cybersafety.

A copy of the complaint and arrest warrant is attached to the online version of this release at www.oag.ca.gov.

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