A federal grand jury found two Ashland men guilty Wednesday of selling motorcycles that had been stolen from motorcycle rallies as part of a massive theft ring.
Jurors in U.S. District Court in London found Richard Meade, 65, and Mark Justice, 53, guilty of conspiracy to engage in money laundering, possession of motorcycles with altered vehicle identification numbers and illegally transferring ownership titles, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
A third defendant, George Ferguson, 64, on trial for conspiracy, was acquitted.
Court records describe the conspiracy to steal motorcycles as a massive interstate operation. Members of the conspiracy stole expensive motorcycles — most of them made by Harley-Davidson — at bike rallies in Florida, South Carolina and South Dakota, then brought them to Kentucky and Ohio, where they were disassembled and put back together with different parts to hide the thefts, according to court records.
Members of the theft ring registered the motorcycles in Kentucky and Ohio as "kit bikes" or "assemble bikes" to get a title and hide the fact they were stolen, then sold them to unsuspecting buyers, court records say.
Meade and Justice took some of the motorcycles and sold them at car lots in Ashland, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office. The bikes were sold for between $13,000 and $15,000 each, it said.
The theft ring generated a lot of money.
One of the ringleaders who pleaded guilty, Robert Jason Chapman, admitted being involved in the theft of 86 motorcycles, causing a loss of $1.7 million to owners and insurance companies, according to his plea deal.
John C. Slusher, a Pineville pawn shop owner who pleaded guilty in the case, said he received 20 of the stolen motorcycles and, after they were reassembled, sold 16 for a total of $188,423, according to a court document.
The 20 motorcycles were valued at $386,000, the document said.
Meade and Justice are scheduled to be sentenced July 24. They could face up to 30 years in prison.
Several other defendants previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the case and are also awaiting sentencing.
The scheme caused a monetary loss to about 200 victims including the bikes' rightful owners and insurance companies, the release said.