Undercover Sting Leads to Bust

Three individuals in connection with a violent statewide criminal group that targeted jewelry stores in a $1 million gold coin scam were arrested Sunday, according to Morris County prosecutor Robert A. Bianchi, Esq., Chief of Investigations William Schievella, and Kinnelon Borough Chief of Police John G. Finkle.

The individuals were identified as David Bell, William Gary, and Hakim Shaheed.

A search uncovered over 200 counterfeit gold coins, along with other items related to the scam. Also found during the search were items indicating the group has traveled to jewelry stores throughout New Jersey, New York, and Maryland.

All subjects were charged with theft by deception and conspiracy. They were processed at the Kinnelon Police Department and transported to the Morris County Correctional Facility in lieu of bail, $100,000 for Bell, $75,000 for Shaheed, and $25,000 for Gary.

In April, The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Intelligence Crime Task Force initiated an investigation that determined that an organized criminal group was traveling throughout New Jersey perpetrating what was described as a "confidence scam," which involved counterfeit Canadian Maple Leaf gold coins.

The investigation determined that members of this organized criminal group would travel to jewelry stores throughout New Jersey. An individual from the group would approach the jewelry store owner/employee and inform them that they wanted to sell a quantity of 1 oz. Canadian Maple Leaf gold coins.

The task force said that the individual who was engaged in dialogue with the jewelry store owner/employee would present a real gold coin. In several instances the coin would be left with the jewelry store overnight in an effort to allow the jewelry store owner/employee to determine the authenticity of the coin.

According to the task force investigation, the group member would inform the jewelry store owner/employee that they had access to a large quantity of these coins should the store owner/employee be interested in the purchase. A general conversation would take place with regard to price, and an offer would be given that was generally below the fair market value for gold in order to encourage the sale. When the cash deal was arranged, members of the group would arrive at the jewelry store with counterfeit coins and attempt to defraud the buyer by exchanging the counterfeit coins for cash.

In some cases the group would commit an armed robbery, the task force said.