A 36-year-old Indian-American has been sentenced to 66 months in prison in the US for buying stolen Apple products meant for Native American school children in the US state of New Mexico and then selling them online.
In addition to the sentence, US District Judge Catherine C Blake also ordered Saurabh Chawla, who is from Aurora in Colorado, to pay USD 713,619 as restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.
He is also asked to sign an order of forfeiture requiring him to forfeit a 2013 Tesla Model S, USD 2,308,062.61 from accounts held in his name, and the sale of property in Aurora, Colorado, according to a statement by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Maryland on Wednesday.
As per the court documents, Chawla bought Apple products from Kristy Stock, who worked for the Central Consolidated School District in New Mexico from 2010 to 2019 and was responsible for overseeing a programme to provide Apple iPods to school children with the intent of benefitting Native American children living on tribal reservations in New Mexico.
The court also sentenced Stock, who admitted that she stole more than 3,000 iPods from 2013 to 2018 purchased by the school district, to 18 months in prison.
Chawla’s accomplice James Bender has also been sentenced to a year and a day in prison, the statement said.
According to the documents, from October 2015 to 2018, Stock and Chawla dealt directly with each other, in emails, texts, and phone calls. Stock repeatedly advised Chawla of the items she had obtained, providing details such as the model, colour and number of Apple products available.
Chawla and Stock then negotiated a price, and Stock shipped the items to Chawla’s relative on the Eastern Shore in Maryland. Chawla paid Stock through PayPal.
Stock admitted that she received more than USD 800,000 in illegal proceeds from selling stolen iPods worth more than USD 1 million. After his relative received the stolen goods from Stock, Chawla listed them for sale online through eBay at a substantial markup, the statement said.
Beginning in 2014, James Bender agreed to allow good friend Chawla, and a relative of Chawla’s, to sell goods and merchandise through Bender’s eBay accounts.
Chawla’s eBay account had previously been suspended due to security concerns. From May 2014 through August 2019, Bender and Chawla conspired so that the latter could use Bender’s eBay and PayPal accounts to sell stolen goods and merchandise, it said.