ATLANTA — A Clayton County man has been sentenced to serve four years in federal prison and to pay nearly a half million dollars in restitution for his involvement in stealing household goods that he and another person were hired to move.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 41-year-old Tasheen Raphael Pickett of College Park was sentenced Jan. 6 to four years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release. He is also ordered to pay $427,809 in restitution to the victims.
Shedrick Giles, 43, of Brentwood, N.Y., was also sentenced to federal prison. Giles is to serve one year and two days followed by three years of supervised release. He has been ordered to pay $144,007 in restitution and complete 40 hours of community service.
“The defendants took advantage of trusting citizens who sought help with moving to a new home,” U.S. Attorney John Horn stated in a press release. “Who could conceive of movers taking all of their possessions and then simply disappearing? Others that would consider following in their footsteps and attempt such brazen thefts can expect the same outcome; prosecution.”
According to information presented in court, Pickett and Giles have been traveling the U.S. since at least November 2013 picking up shipments of victims’ personal property and promising to deliver those shipments to agreed-upon locations.
Instead of delivering the property, Pickett and Giles would take control of the property, keeping some of it for themselves and disposing of the rest.
The federal Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General was notified after a criminal complaint was filed in July 2014 against Pickett in Amarillo, Texas. In September of that year, DOT-OIG agents searched storage units at a Public Storage Facility in East Point and discovered that the units were stacked full with approximately 14 individuals’ personal property — property that had been taken by Pickett months before and never delivered.
Other property taken by Giles was discovered in January 2014 in a second Public Storage Facility in Decatur.
Although both Pickett and Giles have worked as movers for several years, neither is authorized to transport household goods by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the federal agency tasked with providing oversight over household goods movers.
Pickett, the primary perpetrator of the scheme, intended to cause over $600,000 in losses to 36 people, the U.S. Attorney’s Office stated.
Giles assisted Pickett in three of the moves.
“The sentencing of Tasheen Raphael Pickett and Shedrick Giles for conspiring to fraudulently obtain household goods is a strong signal to those that would defraud customers seeking to transport their household goods,” said Marlies T. Gonzalez, regional Special Agent-In-Charge, U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General. “We will continue working with our prosecutorial, law enforcement and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration colleagues to prevent, detect and prosecute violations of Federal law and regulation designed to protect the public.”
More than 5,800 household goods moving companies are registered with the FMCSA. In 2014, FMCSA received more than 2,800 consumer complaints about household goods movers, down from more than 3,100 in 2013. Among the most common complaints are shipments being held hostage, loss and damaged goods, delay of shipments, unauthorized movers, and deceptive practices such as unwarranted overcharges.
Consumers can report unsafe and unlawful moving companies by calling FMCSA’s nationwide complaint hotline at 1-888-368-7238 (1-888 DOT-SAFT) or by visiting the database at http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov. Consumers can visit www.protectyourmove.gov to find out more about the “red flags” of moving fraud.