Man faces charges for allegedly stealing $9.5 million in freight

Updated Jun 17, 2024
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A suburban Chicago man has been charged in federal court with stealing more than $9.5 million in goods, including liquor and commercial-grade copper, from interstate shipments.

According to a recently unsealed indictment in U.S. District Court in Chicago, between March of 2020 and September of 2023 Aivaras Zigmantas used various aliases to falsely pose as a representative of real and fictitious carriers and brokers involved in transporting shipments across state lines.  After fraudulently inducing individuals and entities to release shipments of goods to him, Zigmantas and others diverted the shipments from their intended destinations and stole the goods, the indictment states. 

As part of the fraud scheme, Zigmantas used numerous aliases to open bank accounts and UPS Store mailboxes, and he created email addresses and websites in the names of fake individuals and entities, the indictment states.

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The indictment alleges that Zigmantas and others intended to steal at least $13.5 million in goods, and successfully stole more than $9.5 million.

Zigmantas, 39, a Lithuanian national living in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, is charged with six counts of wire fraud, five counts of bank fraud, and two counts of theft of interstate shipments.  He was arrested on Wednesday, June 5, and pleaded not guilty during his arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keri L. Holleb Hotaling.  

The indictment was announced by Morris Pasqual, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Sean Fitzgerald, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of Homeland Security Investigations, and LaFonda Sutton-Burke, Director of the Chicago Field Office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Enforcement and Removal Operations participated in the investigation.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Misty N. Wright. 

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 Each count of bank fraud is punishable by up to 30 years in federal prison. Each count of wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years, while each theft count is punishable by up to 10 years.

Zigmantas' arrest comes at a time of an unprecedented spike in cargo theft nationwide. Theft in the first quarter of this year increased 46% over the same time in 2023, and was a 10% increase over the fourth quarter of last year.

The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt, said the U.S. Attorney's office.