Mullins man pleads guilty to trafficking stolen equipment

Columbia, SC - COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) – A Mullins man pled guilty on Thursday in federal court to Conspiracy to Buy and Sell Stolen Motor Vehicles.

US Attorney Bill Nettles said that Ernest L. Cook, 60, pled guilty to the charge in federal court in Florence. Evidence at the hearing established that Cook, the owner of a construction company, purchased stolen motor vehicles such as tarckhoes, bulldozers, graders, dump trucks, excavators, wheel loaders, and tractors from two co-conspirators, who had stolen the equipment primarily in North and South Carolina.

Cook purchased the equipment at below market value and then sold it at discount. The total amount loss caused by the fraud is approximately $400,000.

US District Judge R. Bryan Harwell of Florence accepted Cook's plea and will impose a sentence after reviewing a pretense report by the US Probation Office.

The maximum penalty Cook can receive is a fine of $250,000 and/or five years in prison, plus a special assessment of $100.

Copyright 2010 WMBF News. All rights reserved.