Two men who worked for a cargo handling firm at Los Angeles International Airport were arrested Tuesday morning to face charges that they stole $224,000 worth of gold bars being shipped to New York, prosecutors said.
South L.A. residents Marlon Moody, 38, and Brian Benson, 35, have been indicted by a grand jury on one count each of conspiracy and theft of foreign shipment, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles said in a news release.
They were taken into custody without incident by special agents with the FBI and were expected to make their initial appearances in federal court in downtown L.A. Tuesday afternoon.
The four gold bars stolen were part of a larger shipment from Australia, and Moody is accused of taking them after part of the cargo got separated from the rest when it arrived at LAX on April 22, 2020.
Both men worked for Alliance Ground International, which provides ground handling services at the airport.
A Canadian bank had shipped 2,000 gold bars, each weighing a kilogram and valued at around $56,000, via Singapore Airlines. During a layover at LAX, the gold was removed from the plane and secured, but an inventory check that evening showed one box of 25 bars had gone missing, prosecutors said.
The following morning, Moody allegedly discovered the missing box near the Singapore Airlines cargo warehouse and subsequently took four of the bars.
Benson picked Moody up in a company van, and the two exchanged texts about Moody’s stash of gold because others were in the van, officials said.
When they left work, the defendants met up at a nearby parking lot and Moody gave Benson one of the bars, according to the indictment.
Moody had allegedly left the box with the rest of the gold on a conveyor belt, and other cargo handlers found it later that day, prompting an investigation into the four missing bars.
Moody is accused of giving one of the bars he stole to a family member a few weeks later, asking them to exchange it for a car or money. Prosecutors say he buried the other two in his possession in his backyard.
The FBI was able to recover all four of the stolen gold bars within about two weeks, authorities said.
The defendants could each face up to 15 years in federal prison if convicted on both counts.