Chop shop trial ends in two convictions, one acquittal

Publish Date: 
Mar 25, 2013

LONDON, Ky. - A federal jury has convicted two Ashland, Ky., men and acquitted a third of being part of a motorcycle theft and chop shop ring.

Richard Meade, 65, and Mark Justice, 53, were convicted of a conspiracy to engage in money laundering by illegally transferring the ownership of stolen motorcycles and one count each of possession of motorcycles with altered vehicle identification (VIN) numbers. Justice was also convicted of one count of illegally transferring ownership titles of stolen motorcycles, while Meade was convicted on one count and acquitted on another count of the same charge. A third defendant, George Ferguson, 64, on trial for the conspiracy charge, was acquitted.

The jury reached the verdict March 19 after about three hours of deliberation that followed more than three weeks of trial, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

According to trial testimony, the two defendants sold about 30 motorcycles out of car lots in Ashland. They sold the motorcycles for between $13,000 and $15,000 apiece.

Justice and Meade participated in a conspiracy in which co-defendant Robert Jason Chapman of Cincinnati coordinated trips with others to motorcycle rallies in South Carolina, South Dakota and Florida. At these events, Chapman and others stole motorcycles and brought them to Kentucky to sell.

Chapman previously admitted that he and a co-defendant removed parts of the stolen motorcycles and replaced them with aftermarket parts bearing different VINs. He registered the stolen motorcycles with the new VIN numbers in Kentucky. Meade and Justice took some of the newly registered motorcycles and sold them.

Six other defendants previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the case.

The FBI and Kentucky State Police identified nearly 200 victims in the case, which include the original motorcycle owners and insurance companies.

The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the FBI, Kentucky State Police, the Boyd County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio Bureau of Investigations, Ohio Attorney General’s Office, and Ohio State Patrol. The U.S. Attorney’s Office was represented in the case by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kenneth R. Taylor and Erin J. Roth.

The trial started Feb. 25. Meade and Justice are scheduled for sentencing July 24. They face up to 20 years in prison on the illegal transfer of ownership titles charge and the conspiracy charge. Possessing motorcycles with altered VIN numbers carries a maximum 10-year penalty.

Posted by Holly Wagner