SEATTLE - A Seattle businessman was convicted by a jury in federal court today for illegally removing a customized, luxury car from a secure customs warehouse at the Port of Seattle. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Eric Rangeloff, 47, was on trial for taking a 1983 Rolls Royce Silver Sedan from a locked storage area at the port in October 2004. The rightful owner of the car had purchased it from the Saudi Royal family. The Rolls had been customized for a Saudi princess.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspectors refused to allow the vehicle into the country because it did not meet U.S. safety and emission standards. The car remained in a secure location at the Port of Seattle while the owner pursued antique status for the vehicle, making it exempt from these standards.
During the trial, evidence gathered by ICE agents showed that Rangeloff, who owned three transportation import and export businesses near the Port of Seattle, broke into the secure warehouse and used a forklift to steal the Rolls Royce. He then hid the car at one of his businesses located adjacent to the warehouse. A few months later, Rangeloff attempted to sell the car to a third party.
"Theft of imported goods that have not cleared customs is a crime," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of ICE's office of investigations in Seattle that oversaw this investigation. "ICE is committed to investigating breeches in security at seaports to ensure that this type of vulnerability is not exploited by those who seek to harm the American public."
Sentencing of Rangeloff is scheduled for November 14, 2008. He faces up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
ICE was joined in this investigation by the Port of Seattle Police Department.