FedEx worker stole 146 guns to sell on the street, authorities say by Jeff Whelan/The Star-Ledger Wednesday August 13, 2008, 12:05 AM http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/topstories/index.ssf/2008/08/fedex_staffer_held_in_theft_of.html A FedEx cargo handler stole 146 handguns from the Monmouth County facility where he worked and enlisted a friend to help sell the weapons at public housing projects in Jersey City and on the streets of Newark and East Orange, federal investigators said Tuesday. The scheme began to fall apart when frustrated residents complained to Jersey City police, who then used a sting operation to capture the suspects, authorities said. Federal agents are now trying to trace dozens of the stolen weapons, many of which they said were sold for between $300 and $500 each or traded for drugs. "This is a huge number of guns. Our primary goal is to find out where the remaining guns are. We want them in our custody. We don't want them in the hands of criminals or gang members," said special agent Joseph Green, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The two suspects, Patrick Dolan, 28, of Keyport and John Sozomenou, 32, of Aberdeen, surrendered at federal district court in Newark Tuesday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Patty Shwartz ordered them both released on $200,000 bond. They were charged with conspiracy to possess and sell stolen firearms and face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Gribko, who is prosecuting the case. The conspiracy began in October when Dolan stole a single handgun from the Federal Express facility in Eatontown, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday. In May, he allegedly stole a shipment of 75 guns from a conveyor belt. The weapons were manufactured by Bersa in Argentina and destined for a southern New Jersey importer, authorities said. Days later, the complaint stated, he stole another shipment of 70 guns from Argentina. But as Dolan grew bolder, authorities said, he and Sozomenou began raising eyebrows on the streets. Jersey City residents complained to police in May that two white males were selling handguns at three different public housing complexes, the complaint stated. Tipsters said the guns, new and in their original boxes, were being sold out of a white Ford Bronco and a blue BMW, authorities said. One tipster caught the license plate of the BMW, which police traced to Dolan's girlfriend, according to the complaint. Authorities used a confidential informant to set up a sting. The informant contacted Dolan and Sozomenou, who agreed to sell about a dozen handguns for approximately $300 apiece. On May 29, the two suspects showed up at the buy in the Ford Bronco and were arrested. Police found a green army bag in the vehicle with eight Bersa .380-caliber handguns and one Comanche .22-caliber nine-shot revolver, according to the complaint. Authorities said all of the weapons had been stolen from the FedEx facility. Police also recovered two loaded weapons hidden inside the steering wheel: a Bersa .380-caliber handgun, and a Bersa .40-caliber handgun, both also stolen from FedEx, authorities said. Both suspects confessed, according to the complaint. They first were charged at the local level, but federal authorities, who can seek stiffer penalties, took over the case. Greg Tomczak, who represents Dolan, and Peter Willis, who represents Sozomenou, both declined to comment Tuesday. Jim McCluskey, a spokesman for FedEx, said Dolan was fired after his initial arrest in May. He said the company cooperated with investigators. "It appears to be an isolated issue. We have very tight security procedures in place. We don't tolerate any type of illegal activity in our company," McCluskey said. He said that in order to ship guns through the U.S. with FedEx, either the shipper or recipient must be a licensed manufacturer, importer, dealer or collector and the shipment must be in compliance with federal, state and local laws.