Moving company foreman enters guilty plea for racketeering conspiracy
February 5, 2020
•Land Line Staff
A Florida man who authorities say is one of a dozen criminal conspirators in a wide-ranging moving company scam has pleaded guilty to one count of participating in a racketeering conspiracy.
Vladimir Pestereanu, 30, of Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., admitted in federal court to acting as foreman of a warehouse in West Chester, Ohio, kept on behalf of the criminal enterprise, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.
Members of the racketeering conspiracy defrauded, extorted, and stole from customers who hired companies controlled by the moving enterprise to move customers’ household goods, authorities claim. The conspiracy’s estimated value is between $1.5 million and $3.5 million.
Pestereanu’s plea agreement states that he participated directly in mail fraud and extortion by demanding additional payment from customers based on fraudulently inflated cubic footage. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Pestereanu was one of a dozen individuals charged in July 2018 with the conspiracy, which authorities allege involved a series of household goods movers operating in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas.
Federal prosecutors allege the conspiracy lasted from April 2013 through July 2018. The defendants are accused of giving lowball estimates in order to secure customers’ goods and then raising the rates to complete the job. The defendants and the moving companies would allegedly refuse to give back the household goods until customers paid the inflated prices. In cases where customers refused to do so, prosecutors say the defendants would, in some cases, steal the customers’ household goods, never delivering them.
The conspiracy also is alleged to have involved lying to customers about how long the companies had been in business, as well as creating fake online reviews for the companies.
In March 2018, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued an out-of-service order against one of the companies, Presidential Moving, after investigators discovered 256 violations during a compliance review, including contracting to unauthorized shippers and demanding more money than originally agreed to in the binding estimate. More than 80 complaints were filed within the first five months of operation.
Beginning operations in August 2017, Presidential Moving accumulated 83 complaints in 2017 and 64 complaints in 2018 before placed out of service on March 19 after failing to submit to a new entrant audit. Of the nearly 150 complaints, 109 were in regards to pick-up/delivery, 96 were about estimates/final charges and 77 over shipment documents.
At the time, investigators suspected Presidential Moving was a reincarnation of at least nine other motor carriers, including National Moving and Storage, Family Logistics, National Relocation Van Lines, Spartan Moving and Storage, Public Moving Services, U.S. Relocation Systems, Prestige Van Lines and Satellite Logistics.