Evanston coin dealer accused of buying stolen goods
|Published: Wednesday, 17 October 2012 08:13|
By Brian L. Cox
Arrested on Tuesday, James Coello, 47, of Chicago, today was ordered held in lieu of $250,000 bail following a joint investigation by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office and Evanston police, said authorities.
Coello, who owns and operates North Shore Coins at 1501 Chicago Avenue in Evanston, has been charged with one felony count each of theft, organizing a financial crimes enterprise and continuing a financial crimes enterprise, authorities said.
During the investigation, Coello allegedly was recorded buying thousands of dollars worth of purportedly stolen merchandise that included watches, gold and silver rings, coins, necklaces, and other valuables, authorities said.
James Coello, 47, of Chicago is charged with one felony count each of theft, organizing a financial crimes enterprise and continuing a financial crimes enterprise.
On Tuesday, Evanston police and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office executed a search warrant on North Shore Coin and recovered property that had been reported stolen in recent area burglaries, according to authorities.
Evanston police initiated their investigation approximately six months ago, when investigators learned that merchandise stolen in residential home burglaries was being purchased at Coello’s store, authorities said.
Undercover officers, posing as burglars, began bringing items into North Shore Coin to sell, according to authorities. Officers mentioned to Coello that the merchandise was stolen, according to authorities. Investigators say that Coello was not recording the sales or requesting identification from the sellers.
According to investigators, Coello assured the undercover officers that he would not reveal the source of the goods and further assured them that he quickly melted the valuables.
During one meeting, an undercover officer told Coello that he had purchased the items he was offering from another burglar, but that he also sometimes stole things himself, authorities said.
Coello advised him that it was "better to be a middleman than a burglar because they typically faced less serious charges when caught," according to a press release from the Cook County state's attorney's office.
On another occasion, Coello advised undercover officers not to steal near Evanston and not to tell anyone else about his business, authorities said.
Coello could not be reached for comment. But according to the North Shore Coins website, the business opened in 1973.
"North Shore Coins opened its doors in the coin-rich suburb of Evanston, on the northern border of Chicago, Illinois," the website says. "Over the years, our store has accumulated a massive inventory of coin & collector treasures. Our constantly revolving stock includes investment grade silver & gold, thousands of collector coins, proof and mint sets, rolls, currency, tokens, ancient coins, etc. From the common to the esoteric, you would not believe what comes through our doors sometimes! Be sure to visit often, as new stuff come in everyday," according to the website.
"Coin/Bullion dealers are not all created equal and we have always strived to be the kind of dealer who is enjoyable to do business with. The customers that walk into our store are given honest and courteous service, and our internet customers can count on the same," the website says.
But in a written statement, Cook County State's Atty. Anita Alvarez said Coello's business was less than honest.
“Today’s arrest should serve as a warning to those who believe that buying stolen property is an acceptable business practice,” Alvarez said.
Coello is scheduled for an Oct. 18 preliminary hearing at the Skokie courthouse, and faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 6 years if convicted, authorities said.