Two men who worked at Los Angeles International Airport for a cargo-handling company pleaded guilty Friday to a federal charge for stealing gold bars that were part of an international shipment.
Marlon Moody, 38, and Brian Benson, 35, both of South Los Angeles, are scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 1 on the charge of conspiracy to commit theft of an interstate or foreign shipment, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Both men worked for Alliance Ground International, a company that provided ground handling services at LAX. On the evening of April 22, a shipment of gold bars arrived at LAX on Singapore Airlines. A total of 2,000 gold bars, each weighing 2.2 pounds and each valued at $56,000, were being shipped from Australia to New York at the direction of a Canadian bank.
During a stopover at LAX, the gold was offloaded and secured, but an inventory that evening showed one box containing 25 gold bars was missing, federal prosecutors said.
Moody found the missing box of gold bars near the Singapore Airlines cargo warehouse on the morning of April 23, placed the box on a belt loader and drove that vehicle to a nearby location, where he removed four of the bars, prosecutors said.
Soon after, Benson arrived to pick up Moody in a company van, where they exchanged text messages about the gold bars because other employees were in the van. The two defendants later left the airport and went to a nearby parking lot, where Moody gave Benson one of the four gold bars, according to the indictment.
The lost box with the 21 remaining gold bars was discovered by other cargo handlers later on April 23, and authorities began an investigation that ultimately led to Moody and Benson.
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Moody gave one gold bar to a relative on May 4 -- and directed the family member to exchange the gold bar for a vehicle and/or money, the indictment states. Around that time, Moody buried the remaining two gold bars in his backyard.
The FBI recovered all four gold bars about two weeks after they went missing from LAX, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.