Two employees who worked at Los Angeles International Airport for a cargo handling company were arrested Tuesday and charged with stealing four gold bars that were part of a larger shipment going from Australia to New York.
Marlon Moody, 38, and Brian Benson, 35, both of South Los Angeles, were arrested without incident by special agents with the FBI, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
A two-count indictment charges Moody and Benson with conspiracy and theft of interstate and foreign shipment. If convicted of the two charges, the men would each face up to 15 years in federal prison.
The defendants were expected to make their initial appearances Tuesday afternoon in federal court in downtown Los Angeles.
The indictment alleges that 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 valued at $56,000, were being shipped 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 allegedly 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. Soon after, Benson arrived to pick up Moody in a company van, where they allegedly 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, the indictment alleges.
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, according to the indictment.
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 alleges. Around this time, Moody allegedly buried the remaining two gold bars in his back yard.
The FBI recovered all four gold bars about two weeks after they went missing from LAX, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.