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Indictment charges 2 Baltimore men with theft of metal worth over $2.6 million

BALTIMORE - A federal grand jury has returned a superseding indictment charging Alan Verschleisser, 66, and Thomas Jefferson, 49, both of Baltimore, with conspiracy and possession of stolen nickel briquettes and ferrochrome stolen from foreign shipments. The indictment is the result of an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Baltimore Police Department.

The indictment was returned late yesterday. Thomas Jefferson was arrested yesterday afternoon and is expected to have his initial appearance later today.

The indictment was announced by U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein, Special Agent in Charge William Winter of ICE HSI in Baltimore and Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld, III.

"Legitimate businesses in Maryland shouldn't fear that their products are going to be stolen by individuals who are driven by greed," said Winter. "Thanks to the efforts of our special agents, working collaboratively with the Baltimore Police Department, the stolen metals were recovered. ICE HSI will continue to work tirelessly to investigate those who engage in this criminal activity."

According to the two count indictment and other court documents, nickel briquettes are a raw form of nickel and ferrochrome is an alloy of chromium and iron containing between 50% and 70% chromium, which are used in steel production. The indictment alleges that early on the morning of Sept. 6, 2011, Jefferson and others traveled to S H Bell, a metal and mineral import brokerage company with a warehouse located in the 3500 block of East Biddle Street in Baltimore, to steal shipping freight containers containing nickel briquettes and ferrochrome, with an approximate value of $2.5 million and $103,000, respectively.

According to the indictment, after speaking to Verschleisser several times by phone, Jefferson unloaded the stolen shipments at Alan Verschleisser's business and storage yard located at the intersection of 2501 Baker Street and the 1500 block of North Warrick Streets in Baltimore.

The indictment alleges that from Sept. 7 to 10, 2010, Alan Verschleisser attempted to sell the stolen nickel by contacting various buyers, including representatives in Australia and New York, and on Sept. 8, 2010, had his administrative assistant send an email, using her personal Google "gmail" account, to an individual in an effort to sell approximately 20 tons of the stolen nickel.

According to the indictment, on Sept. 14, 2010, law enforcement questioned Verschleisser about his efforts to sell the stolen nickel, which he claimed to know nothing about. Later that evening, law enforcement stopped Jefferson and others as they attempted to move some of the stolen nickel from Verschleisser's property. Jefferson had several containers of stolen nickel in his possession at that time. According to the indictment, Verschleisser had several tons of stolen nickel on his property, as well as, black paint, a paint brush, and roller used to obscure the lot numbers on the bags of nickel.

The defendants face a maximum sentence of five years in prison for conspiracy and 10 years in prison for possession of stolen goods from foreign shipments. No court appearance is currently scheduled for Alan Verschleisser.

U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised ICE HSI and the Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation.

Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kwame J. Manley, Martin J. Clarke and Gregory Bockin, who are prosecuting the case.