A Miami resident has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from his participation in the theft of more than $1.5 million in cigarettes from the Leitchfield Core-Mark in 2011, United States Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr. announced Thursday, Jan. 28.
42-year-old Ivan Romero, AKA El Negro, pleaded guilty to the two-count federal indictment before Chief Judge Joseph H. McKinley, Jr. this week, and, in doing so, admitted that he and others stole more than $1.5 million in cigarettes from Core-Mark in March 2011, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Kentucky.
According to Romero’s plea agreement, he and his co-defendants, Amed Villa, Amuary Villa, and Camilo Rodriguez-Hernandez agreed to burglarize Core-Mark in Leitchfield “in order to possess, steal, unlawfully take, carry away, conceal transport, and sell stolen cigarettes, valued at $1,515,517 for profit and share the proceeds.”
During the theft, Romero and his co-conspirators allegedly gained entry into the Core-Mark warehouse through the roof, disabled the alarm system, and loaded the stolen goods into a stolen tractor trailer, the release states.
Between March 18, 2011 and March 20, 2011, Rodriguez-Hernandez rented three hotel rooms in Elizabethtown, KY where the co-conspirators, who had travelled to Kentucky from Miami, FL, would reside during the burglary and theft, the plea agreement states.
Between March 19 and March 20, 2011, Romero, Amuary Villa, Amed Villa, and other co-conspirators unloaded a stolen tractor trailer and loaded it with cigarettes, according to the release.
Romero admitted to providing transportation for the stolen cigarettes and driving them to the New Jersey/New York area, the release states.
A legal permanent resident from Cuba who last resided in Miami, Romero has been serving a state sentence from Florida before being transferred to federal custody, according to the release.
The charges to which Romero is pleading guilty carry a combined maximum term of imprisonment of 15 years, a combined maximum fine of $500,000, and a three-year term of supervised release, court documents state.
Also, an additional term of imprisonment may be ordered if Romero violates the terms of his supervised release.
Romero’s plea agreement also states that he will be required to pay restitution, in an amount to be determined on the date of his sentencing, either to or on behalf of Core-Mark.
Romero is scheduled for sentencing before McKinley on April 19 in Owensboro, KY.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Joshua Judd, and the investigation is being led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, with assistance from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Leitchfield and Elizabethtown Police Departments, and New Jersey and Kentucky State Police.
Reach Matt Lasley at 270-259-9622, ext. 2015.