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California truck driver pleads guilty to meat theft scam

A truck driver from Sherman Oaks, CA, pled guilty to conspiring with others to attempt to steal $163,000 worth of beef products from a Nebraska Beef facility in Omaha, NE, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Artak Medjbarian, 33, was charged in May 2012 by a federal grand jury in a scheme with others to steal loads of meat cargo by pretending to be the legitimate freight hauler to whom authority to transport the loads had been given.  The indictment specifically charged a conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to engage in the interstate transportation of stolen property. 

The indictment alleged that Medjbarian used the identity of a legitimate trucking company — Lopez Trucking based in Arizona — to bid on hauling a load of meat from Nebraska Beef to California. 

Due to discrepancies with respect to the documentation forwarded by unknown co-conspirators on Medjbarian’s behalf, the freight brokers contacted the owners of the true Lopez Trucking, and determined that Lopez Trucking did not have trucks operating under their authority in the state of Nebraska on Jan. 27, 2012, the day Medjbarian showed up at Nebraska Beef pretending to have the transport authority of Lopez Trucking. 

The Omaha Police were contacted and Medjbarian was initially arrested on local charges.

The guilty plea was entered before judge Laurie Smith Camp. Camp set the sentencing of the matter for Oct. 7.  Medjbarian is detained pending sentencing. Medjbarian faces a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison on the conspiracy conviction. 

In addition to the Omaha Police Department, the case was investigated by the Nebraska State Patrol and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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