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Illinois Man Sentenced to 15 Years for Operating $20 Million Nationwide Retail Crime Ring

An Illinois man was sentenced today to 15 years in federal prison for running a multi-million dollar retail crime scheme, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad E. Meacham.

A federal jury found Artur Gilowski, 48, of Barrington, IL, guilty of conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property and conspiracy to commit mail fraud at a trial in March. He was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn, who ordered him to forfeit several pieces of real property in Illinois and hundreds of dollars seized from various bank accounts.

According to evidence presented at trial, Mr. Gilowski's coconspirators stole tens of thousands of products - valued at over $20 million - from brick-and-mortar retail stores across the United States, then shipped them to Mr. Gilowski, who sold the stolen goods on various e-commerce websites, generating more than $11 million in profits.

The thieves traveled across the country in vehicles registered under false names and used "booster skirts" (garments with concealment pouches for stolen goods) and electronic transmitters designed to disrupt retailers' anti-theft and loss-prevention measures. Using aliases, they rented storage lockers where they kept the stolen items until they could be shipped to interstate and foreign customers via the U.S. Postal Service, UPS, and FedEx.

Mr. Gilowski created a network of numerous online seller profiles, multiple bank accounts, and various companies registered in other people's names to conduct the unlawful online sale scheme and funnel the proceeds of his illicit operation to himself.

The evidence also showed that Mr. Gilowski received over a million dollars in cash from his crime ring - including $97,000 that was found in the center console of Mr. Gilowski's truck - which led one of Mr. Gilowski's coconspirators to testify at trial that Mr. Gilowski "treated money like trash."

"Mr. Gilowski and his coconspirators swiped thousands of products from retail shelves, then resold stolen goods online," U.S. Attorney Chad Meacham said after the verdict. "We are proud to hold these defendants accountable for their crimes, and are grateful to the jury for their careful consideration of our case."

"Organized retail crime leads to consumers having to pay higher prices for goods, fewer job openings, and a decrease in consumer spending on legitimate goods that small-business owners and other retailers depend on for survival," said Deputy Special Agent in Charge Christopher Miller, HSI Dallas. "Working alongside the U. S. Attorney's Office, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Arlington Heights (Illinois) Police Department, we were able to secure today's conviction, and take another step in our ongoing fight against organized retail crime so consumers and retailers don't have to bear the brunt of those impacts."

Five of Mr. Gilowski's coconspirators pleaded guilty prior to trial.

At this week's sentencing hearing, the judge ruled that a sentencing enhancement was warranted because Mr. Gilowski lied on the stand. At trial, the defendant falsely told the jury that the phone found in his own vehicle -which contained highly inculpatory text messages- didn't belong to him, but to a coconspirator, who Mr. Gilowski said left the phone in his car to register GPS coordinates to conceal a purported extramarital affair.

The Arlington Heights Police Department in Illinois conducted the investigation with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations' Dallas Field Office and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Fabio Leonardi and Camille Sparks prosecuted the case.