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February 1, 2012 at 2:41 PM

Cousins convicted of stealing from Lowe's stores

Two cousins who led a scheme to steal $130,000 worth of items from Lowe’s home improvement stores in four Western states by smuggling them out in toilet or sink boxes were convicted today of 16 federal felonies following a six-day trial in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

Jurors deliberated for about four hours before convicting Leonard Hollingsworth and Larsell Hollingsworth of 15 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Sentencing is set for May 11.

A complaint unsealed in Seattle last May says that since late 2007, the men and several others have been going into the stores, emptying toilets or sinks out of their boxes, packing the boxes with high-end faucets or other items, and then checking out — paying the price of the toilet or sink when the box actually contained goods worth much more.

They were accused of then returning the items to different Lowe’s stores in Washington, Oregon, California and Arizona, as well as Oklahoma, for gift cards totaling about $130,000.

However, Lowe’s security detected the thefts and worked with the U.S. Secret Service and King County Sheriff’s Office to bust the ring.

Five other participants in the ring pleaded guilty prior to trial and most will be sentenced later this year, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: conspiracy, King County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Attorney's Office

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