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  • The Coshocton Tribune

    Chinese immigrant pleads guilty in gift card scam Wednesday in Coshocton court

    By Leonard L. Hayhurst, Coshocton Tribune,

    29 days ago

    COSHOCTON − A Chinese immigrant charged with stealing and altering hundreds of gift cards changed his plea Wednesday afternoon in Coshocton County Common Pleas Cour t.

    Ming Xue, 35, of Hunan, Fujian, was indicted in January on 308 counts of counterfeiting, all fourth-degree felonies. Plus one charge engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a second-degree felony.

    The Coshocton County Prosecutor's Office, as part of plea negotiations, agreed to drop counts 300 to 308 of the indictment in exchange for guilty pleas to 299 of the counterfeiting charges and the pattern of corrupt activity charge. The state agreed to not oppose a pre-sentence investigation and to take no position on sentencing or judicial release.

    A pre-sentence investigation has been ordered by Judge Robert Batchelor and a sentencing date is yet to be scheduled.

    Xue faces a maximum penalty of 8 to 12 years in prison and a $15,000 fine for the pattern of corrupt activity charge. Batchelor said he most likely would not consider a term of more than 4 to 6 years in prison. The time would not be mandatory and Xue would be eligible for early judicial release. Xue would serve mandatory post release control of 18 months to 3 years.

    Each one the counterfeiting charges can be punishable with up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. A prison sentence is not mandatory for those charges and any time could run concurrently with the prison term for the second-degree felony.

    Batchelor advised Xue that a guilty conviction on the charges could result in deportation, exclusion from admission to the U.S. or denial of naturalization as Xue is not a U.S. citizen.

    Xue wore headphones in court in order to listen to interpreter Kate Hong. Hong translated some of Xue's answers to questions, but he answered a majority in English with "yes, "no" or "I understand."

    Xue was apprehended by the Coshocton County Sheriff's Office on Dec. 5 at the Coshocton Walmart. Deputies were at the store participating in Shop with a Cop through the Salvation Army Christmas Castle program at the time.

    Xue was observed hiding unloaded gift cards on his body and was detained by the store's loss prevention employees. Xue handed over several gift cards from his pockets to officers. Deputies later found Xue's vehicle in the parking lot with the engine running. Deputies noticed several open boxes full of gift cards. Each of the counterfeiting charges related to an individual gift card found on Xue's person or in his vehicle.

    Xue is suspected of participating in a scheme with others in which they stole unloaded gift cards, altered them and placed them back into display racks. When consumers purchased the altered gift cards, they then allegedly stole the cash placed on the cards.

    Authorities believe Xue entered the country in September in California and does not have required documentation to be in the U.S.

    This article originally appeared on Coshocton Tribune: Chinese immigrant pleads guilty in gift card scam Wednesday in Coshocton court

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