Monday, August 2, 2021

Pawn Star

A guilty plea to federal conspiracy to transport goods in interstate commerce charges has led to an interim suspension by the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board.

The Virginian-Pilot reported on the charges

A Chesapeake attorney faces federal charges he used a pawn shop he owned in Portsmouth to buy shoplifted goods and then resell them for a profit online, according to recently unsealed court documents.

Morris Andrew Bander was indicted last week on one count of conspiracy. He was arrested Tuesday and released on a bond. The charge is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Bander could not be reached for comment Wednesday. No lawyer was listed for him in court records.

Bander has been a licensed attorney in Virginia since 2001, according to the Virginia State Bar. The website martindale.com, an information services company for the legal profession, lists him as a graduate of Regent University School of Law specializing in cases involving personal injury, medical malpractice, domestic relations, traffic violations and workman’s compensation.

While the website states that he works as an associate for a personal injury law firm in Virginia Beach, an attorney there said he hasn’t worked for the firm in years. State bar records had a Chesapeake address listed for him.

In addition to his legal practice, Bander also owned Portsmouth Pawn, a shop on County Street that shut down last year. The closing came shortly before the store’s manager and assistant manager were arrested and charged with similar crimes.

Bander’s indictment alleges that between January 2014 and May 2018 the two pawnshop managers used cash provided by Bander to buy goods they knew had been shoplifted from stores such as Walmart and Sam’s Club.

The items — which included things like power tools, pet supplies, printer cartridges, personal electronics, and computer routers and hard drives — were then resold for a profit on eBay. On multiple occasions, the store manager told the thieves what items he was interested in buying.

The shoplifters typically were paid half the retail price for each, according to court documents in the managers' cases.

The shop collected more than $1 million from the illegal transactions, the indictment said.

The store’s manager, Joseph Poling, and the assistant manager, Raisa Ison, both pleaded guilty last year to one count of conspiracy. Poling was sentenced to four years in prison and Ison to two years of home confinement. Both also were ordered to serve three years of probation and pay restitution.

Jane Harper, 757-222-5097, jane.harper@pilotonline.com

(Mike Frisch)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2021/08/a-guilty-plea-to-federal-charges-has-led-to-an-interim-suspension-by-the-virginia-state-bar-disciplinary-board-the-virginia.html

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