CINCINNATI — The first of 12 people charged in a nationwide moving scam in July of 2018 has pleaded guilty.
WMAR-2 News’ Mallory Sofastaii reported on this ring of rogue movers for months.
The movers were accused of defrauding, extorting, and stealing from around 900 customers.
In total, federal prosecutors say the operation was valued between $1.5 million and $3.5 million.
On Friday, Vladimir Pestereanu, 30, of Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to participating in the racketeering conspiracy.
As part of his plea, Pestereanu admitted that beginning in May of 2015, he participated in the racketeering activity as a foreman in West Chester, Ohio.
He knew customers were being overcharged, and some members of the enterprise were refusing to deliver customer's items based on fraudulent charges. He also participated directly in mail fraud and extortion.
Pestereanu could face up to 20 years in prison.
The moving enterprise has been linked to over a dozen companies in 10 states and dates back to 2013.
Four of the 12 defendants remain in jail. According to online court records, the government is in active plea negotiations with several co-defendants.
A status conference is scheduled for March 13th.
WMAR-2 News reached out to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio. This story will be updated with their response.