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10 Years In Prison For Leader Of Cell Phone Theft Ring

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(credit: Tarrant Co. District Attorney's Office)

(credit: Tarrant Co. District Attorney’s Office)

TARRANT COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – The former AT&T employee found guilty of acquiring hundreds of stolen cell phones, to sell on Craigslist and Ebay, is heading to prison.

It took about an hour for a jury to convict Rashad Azmi Elqutob. A jury agreed the Arlington man sold more than 800 stolen cell phones and took home some $450,000 in a single year.

During the trial prosecutors explained how Elqutob built a huge inventory of cell phones stolen from AT&T, RadioShack and Verizon.

The criminal enterprise was very detailed and usually involved employees of the cell phone companies, who would steal the phones and then sell them to Elqutob for about 10-percent of their value. Elqutob would then sell the phones online through business he created. From 2009 to January of 2013 the business grossed more than $1.5 million.

“This case is about American greed,” said Prosecutor Lori Burks. “Elqutob came to this country with nothing, got a great education, and had a great job, but it wasn’t enough.

Elqutob’s businesses began to fall apart when RadioShack and AT&T notified the Secret Service, independently, that hundreds of phones missing from their inventory were activated.

A 2009 joint investigation between the Secret Service and Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office led authorities to Elqutob and his father, Azmi. Azmi Elqutob was killed in 2011 during a robbery at a Fort Worth food store that his son owned. He was never charged in connection with the cell phone theft ring.

Rashad Elqutob, 37, was arrested in March 2012 and had been free on bail until his conviction.

In addition to having to pay $280,000 in restitution, Elqutob was convicted of engaging in organized crime and theft. The 10-year sentence for organized crime and five-year sentence for theft will run concurrently.

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