UPDATE: Two Ashland Men Convicted in Motorcycle Chop Shop Probe

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE 3/20/13 @ 6 p.m.
LONDON, Ky. (WSAZ) -- 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.



UPDATE 2/25/13 @ 12 p.m.
LONDON, Ky. (WSAZ) -- The federal court trial for three men from Ashland charged in connection with an alleged motorcycle chop shop and theft ring that federal prosecutors say made nearly $2.5 million got underway in London, Ky. Monday morning.

Mark Justice, 52, George Ferguson, 63, and Richard Meade, 64, all of Ashland, were indicted along with 5 other people in August 2011.

Federal prosecutors say a total of 10 people participated in a money laundering conspiracy related to the interstate shipment of stolen vehicles. The indictment also charges some of the defendants with money laundering and possessing stolen vehicle parts with the intent to sell them.

According to the indictment, the defendants altered or obliterated the vehicle identification numbers (VIN) from the stolen motorcycles. They then allegedly transferred the title of the motorcycles to others, before selling them, to conceal the fact that they were stolen.

The indictment alleges that the conspiracy took place between January 2000 and February 2008, with most of the alleged criminal activity taking place in Boyd and Bell Counties. The Boyd County Sheriff says the chop shop was located along Meade Springer Road in Boyd County.

Published reports indicate that defendants, Robert Chapman, 31 of Cleves, Ohio, Christina Bannigan, 31, of Cleves, Oh, Shon Field, 33 of Cincinnati, Joshua Slusher, 58, of Pineville, Robert Harris, 61,of Newport, and Matthew Harris, 38, of Newport agreed to plea deals.

No word on the status of the case against Margaret Harris, 60, of Newport.

Court officials say the trial should last several weeks. The trial is taking place in U.S. District Court in London, Ky.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 8/18/11 @ 10:39 a.m.
LONDON, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Eight people, three from Ashland, now face federal charges connected to an alleged motorcycle chop shop and theft ring that federal prosecutors say made nearly $2.5 million.

Late Wednesday, the U.S Attorney’s Office in Eastern Kentucky unsealed the indictment against the eight people charged in the case.

The indictment charges the following people:

  • Mark Justice, 52, of Ashland
  • George Ferguson, 63, of Ashland
  • Richard D. Meade, 64, of Ashland
  • John C. Slusher, 58, of Pineville, Ky.
  • Robert Jason Chapman, 31, of Cleves, Ohio
  • Robert W. Harris, 60, of Newport, Ky.
  • Shon Fields, 33, of Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Christina Bannigan, 31, of Cleves, Ohio

    All of the people named in the indictment are charged in connection with a money laundering conspiracy related to the interstate shipment of stolen vehicles.

    The indictment also charges some of the defendants with money laundering and possessing stolen vehicle parts with the intent to sell them.

    According to the indictment, the defendants altered or obliterated the vehicle identification numbers (VIN) from the stolen motorcycles. They then allegedly transferred the title of the motorcycles to others, before selling them, to conceal the fact that they were stolen.

    The indictment alleges that the conspiracy took place between January 2000 and February 2008, with most of the alleged criminal activity taking place in Boyd and Bell Counties. The Boyd County Sheriff says the chop shop was located along Meade Springer Road in Boyd County.

    The U.S Attorney’s Office says the defendants made $2.5 million during the conspiracy.

    Ferguson and Meade were arraigned on money laundering charges in U.S. District Court in London, Ky. on Monday. Both men pleaded not guilty to the charges. Their trials are set for October. Both men were arrested Friday in Ashland.

    Justice was arraigned in U.S. District Court in London Thursday afternoon. He also pleaded not guilty to several money laundering charges. His trial is also set for October 17.

    Each of the eight people could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Prosecutors also want the eight to forfeit all monies made from the stolen motorcycles if they are convicted.

    Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for updated information.



    UPDATE 8/17/11 @ 11:15 a.m.
    LONDON , Ky. (WSAZ) -- Two men arrested and charged in connection with a four year investigation that allegedly involved stolen motorcycles and money laundering have made their initial court appearances.

    George Ferguson and Richard Meade were in U.S District Court in London, Ky. on Monday.

    The men were arrested last Friday on a federal indictment charging them with money laundering and conspiracy, according to the U.S Attorney’s Office.

    During their arraignment, Ferguson and Meade pleaded not guilty to the charges. Both men were then released on bond. Their trials are set for October 17 in London, Ky.

    Details of the investigation have not been released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

    The Boyd County Sheriff’s Office says it participated in the investigation. According to their press release, Meade and Ferguson were involved with stolen motorcycles and stolen motorcycle parts.

    The Sheriff says his office got involved in the investigation after receiving information about a chop shop on Meade Springer Road. They say the information involved motorcycles being stolen from Kentucky and other states, and then taken to the shop. The motorcycles were then taken apart, assembled on new frames and then titled with the new frame number so they could be sold.

    Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for updated information



    UPDATE 8/12/11 @ 2:32 p.m.
    BOYD COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Two arrests were made Friday morning after a four-year investigation.

    Back in 2007, police say Jason Daniels shot and killed Robert Chapman after he broke into his home on Route 5 in Boyd County. The Boyd County Sheriff says the investigation of that case helped lead to the discovery of a chop shop on Meade Springer Road.

    "That brought the FBI in because they had been looking for that chop shop," said Sheriff Terry Keelin.

    The sheriff says the FBIhas been investigating a case of stolen motorcycles that stems from Kentucky to as far south as Florida.

    "The group involved is stealing motorcycles from all over the eastern United States,” said Sheriff Keelin. “They were chopping and putting them back together. At least one of the locations was here in Boyd County."

    Sheriff Keelin says about 8 a.m. Monday, Deputies along with the FBI and Kentucky State Police arrested Dicke Meade and George Ferguson. They are accused of being involved with the chop shop, taking apart the stolen motorcycles, reassembling and selling them.

    "A few years ago there were a multitude of motorcycles seized from all over and in this area from individuals who'd purchased those motorcycles without knowing anything was wrong with them," said Sheriff Keelin.

    The Sheriff says the motorcycles were titled with new frame numbers -- so customers wouldn't suspect they were illegal -- or how large the scope of the crime was.



    ORIGINAL STORY 8/12/11 @ 2:32 p.m.
    BOYD COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Two men have been arrested in connection with a four year investigation that allegedly involved stolen motorcycles and money laundering, according to the Boyd County Sheriff’s Office.

    They say deputies along with the FBI and Kentucky State Police arrested Dick Meade and George Ferguson on federal warrants Friday morning in Ashland.

    Meade was arrested at his business on Winchester Avenue; Ferguson was arrested at this home on Central Avenue.

    Both men were taken to the Laurel County Detention Center. They are expected to arraigned Monday in U.S. District Court in London..

    According to the press release, Meade and Ferguson were involved with stolen motorcycles and stolen motorcycle parts. The investigation involved the FBI out of West Virginia and Kentucky State Police out of the London post.

    The Boyd County Sheriff says his office got involved in the investigation after receiving information about a chop shop on Meade Springer Road. They say the information involved motorcycles being stolen from Kentucky and other states, and then taken to the shop. The motorcycles were then taken apart, assembled on new frames and then titled with the new frame number so they could be sold. The Sheriff’s Office contacted the FBI and the Kentucky State Police and gave the names of several suspects in the case.

    The Sheriff says that when Meade was arrested he was carrying two loaded firearms but that he has a permit to carry a concealed weapon and was arrested without incident. They also found loaded guns behind a counter at his business.

    Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for updated information.


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