Two men from Ashland, Ky. have been found guilty of participating in a motorcycle theft ring.
A jury in U.S. District Court in London, Ky. convicted Richard Meade, 65, and Mark Justice, 53, of conspiracy to engage in money laundering by illegally transferring the ownership of stolen motorcycles, possession of motorcycles with altered vehicle identification (VIN) numbers, and illegally transferring ownership titles of stolen motorcycles.
A third defendant, George Ferguson, 64, on trial for the conspiracy charge, was acquitted. Prosecutors said Meade and Justice sold approximately 30 motorcycles out of car lots in Ashland. They sold the motorcycles for between $13,000 and $15,000 apiece. Justice and Meade participated in a conspiracy in which co-defendant Robert Jason Chapman of Cincinnati coordinated trips with others to motorcycle rallies in South Carolina, South Dakota and Florida. At these events, Chapman and others stole motorcycles and brought them to Kentucky to sell.
Chapman previously admitted that he and a co-defendant removed parts of the stolen motorcycles and replaced them with aftermarket parts bearing different vehicle identification numbers (VIN). He then registered the stolen motorcycles with the new VIN numbers in Kentucky. Meade and Justice then took some of the newly registered motorcycles and sold them.
The FBI and Kentucky State Police identified nearly 200 victims in this case including the original motorcycle owners and insurance companies. Six other people previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the case. Meade and Justice are scheduled to be sentenced July 24, 2013. They face up to 20 years in prison on the illegal transfer of ownership titles charge and the conspiracy charge. Possessing motorcycles with altered VIN numbers carries a maximum 10 year penalty. The jury reached the verdict Tuesday night after approximately 3 hours of deliberations following more than three weeks of trial.