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Man Pleads Guilty to Stolen Construction Equipment Conspiracy

The US District Courthouse in Providence, RI.
The US District Courthouse in Providence, RI.
The US District Courthouse in Providence, RI.

PROVIDENCE, RI – A Providence man, one of nine indicted by a federal grand jury for participating in schemes in several states to steal and sell nearly $700,000 worth of excavators, sport boats, jet skis, all-terrain vehicles, and trailers, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy and interstate transportation of stolen goods.

Acting United States Attorney Richard B. Myrus announced the plea today. The indictment alleges that nine people conspired to steal, transport, and sell stolen excavators, boats, jet skis, ATVs, and trailers from businesses in South Kingstown and Tiverton, RI; Auburn, Rehoboth, and Easton, MA; Waterford, Vernon, and Stafford, CT; and Hampstead, NH. Many of the stolen items were stored in Providence, Johnston, Warwick, North Providence, Scituate, and Glocester, R.I. Several of the stolen items were hauled to Florida to be sold.

Jared J. Santiago, 28, of Providence, appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Mary S. McElroy, admitted that as a participant in the conspiracy, in December 2019, he and others stole two boats, a 24-foot boat valued at $102,065, and a 22-foot boat valued at $90,914, from Don’s Marina in Tiverton, RI, and transported one of the boats to Sarasota, Florida.

Santiago pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property and interstate transportation of stolen property, and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 17, 2021.

On December 21, 2020, Luis M. Morales, 37, of Providence, admitted that on July 17, 2020, he drove his pick-up truck to a Stafford, CT, dealership where he and others stole a 2020 Yamaha watercraft, a 2019 Can-Am Maverick Sport off-road vehicle, and two trailers; and that on July 20, 2020, he drove his pick-up truck to a dealership an Easton, MA, dealership and stole three jet skis. Morales admitted that the stolen items were transported into Rhode Island.

Morales pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property and two counts of interstate transportation of stolen property. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 21, 2020.

Donut Driver Arrested for Reckless Driving

Seven other defendants, including the alleged leader of the conspiracy, Jose A. Montes, aka Jose Rivera, aka “Tuto”, 36, of Cranston, are awaiting trial.

The investigation, launched by the Johnston and North Providence Police Departments, and joined by the FBI Safe Streets Task Force and merged with a parallel investigation by Rhode Island and Connecticut State Police, and the Easton, MA, and the Hampstead, NH, Police Departments, determined that between November 2019 and July 2020, three Bobcat excavators, ten jet skis, four boats, eight all-terrain vehicles, and ten trailers valued at over $700,000 were stolen.

Two Bobcat excavators each valued at $60,000 and one valued at $75,000, were allegedly stolen from an Auburn, Mass., dealer between late Friday, April 10, 2020, and late Saturday April 11, 2020. Using GPS built into the equipment, the excavators were located on April 13, 2020, and recovered by law enforcement. Two of the excavators were discovered in Johnston. The third was found in North Providence. GPS data showed that two of the stolen machines were stored on a farm in North Scituate before being moved to Johnston. One of the excavators was brought briefly to a residence in Warwick.

GPS data showed that the third excavator was first taken to a location in Glocester then moved to North Providence, where it was located and seized by law enforcement.

An ATV stolen from a dealership in Hampstead, New Hampshire in July 2020 was discovered on Gallup Street in Providence and towed by police to an impound facility. The ATV was subsequently stolen again from the impound.