A theft of computer equipment from a Chantilly company — and its resale over the Internet — has led Fairfax County police to charge a Centreville couple with embezzlement.
They are Tracie M. and Lawrence Kelley of 14905 Rydell Road in Centreville's Lee Overlook community. She is scheduled to appear in court Monday afternoon, but he's currently in Iowa, being held by authorities there on other charges.
Det. Deborah Manes explained the case against them in an Oct. 26 affidavit to obtain a search warrant for their apartment. It all began Sept. 19, when she began investigating a theft from American Systems Corp. (ASC), at 13390 Parkeast Circle in Chantilly.
ASC's manager of corporate facilities, Bill Rice, told her that 31 Cisco ethernet routers were stolen between Aug. 31 and Sept. 20 from ASC's warehouse there. He also told her their model and serial numbers.
Routers organize and handle the flow of data in a computer network to keep it running smoothly. Rice said the Cisco routers are purchased by other companies, such as AT&T, G.E. and Marriott Corp., and sent directly from the manufacturer to ASC to have software installed.
ASC then installs these routers wherever the customer requests. The routers are under ASC's control until they're installed, and employees are not permitted to take, sell or possess them outside company premises unless they're doing the actual installation.
Manes wrote that, on Oct. 15, an ASC supervisor, Debbie Baldwin, contacted Rice because she received a call on a cell phone that had been assigned to an employee, Lawrence Kelley, who'd quit Oct. 5. The call was from "David," who allegedly said he'd bought a Cisco router from Kelley and was trying to contact him to get a part for it because it was defective.
Baldwin told him Kelley no longer worked there, and she asked for David's phone number to contact him later. Manes then called David — who said his real name is Chau Phan and he lives in San Diego, Calif. He also reportedly told her he purchased two routers from Kelley. When he told Manes their model and serial numbers, she discovered they matched two of ASC's stolen routers.
"He stated that he had bid on a Cisco Ethernet router on E-Bay, but did not meet the reserve price [the price at which the seller is willing to sell the item]," wrote the detective. "On Sept. 17, Phan contacted the seller, 'eeyore0512,' and asked if he could buy the router that was on the auction on E-Bay and another one for $12,000."
Manes wrote that he received a reply from Tracie Kelley, reportedly agreeing to sell both routers to him. Phan told police he received the routers, Sept. 24, via Federal Express and paid with a cashier's check. But when he installed his router and realized it wasn't working properly, he contacted Kelley. He'd gotten her phone number earlier when she allegedly e-mailed him about buying the routers.
According to Manes, Tracie told Phan that she was Lawrence Kelley's wife and she'd have Lawrence contact him about the router. Lawrence reportedly did so and told Phan he'd send the part. He also gave Phan his old ASC cell-phone number.
But when Lawrence quit his job there, he'd returned the phone to Baldwin, his supervisor. Manes also learned that, while at ASC, he had "24-hour access to the building where the routers were located."
On Oct. 23, Manes contacted E-Bay's Fraud Investigation Team and told senior investigator Sheree Jones that stolen property had been sold on E-Bay by "eeyore0512." Manes then asked for information about that account holder, and it allegedly turned out to be Tracie Kelley.
The detective then requested a warrant to search for other stolen routers, as well as records of their sale — either in paper or electronic form — in the Kelleys' Centreville apartment. She also hoped to find records of the Internet sale through E-Bay, perhaps stored on a personal computer in their home. And she wanted to search any computer hardware and software there, plus paper records, documents, address books, etc.
The search was executed Oct. 26, and police seized a Compaq computer, and IBM Thinkpad, two cameras, five CDs, bank records, a Mail Boxes, Etc. shipping order and two FedEx airbills. On Nov. 13, police charged Tracie Kelley with two counts of embezzlement.
A warrant charging Lawrence Kelley with one count of embezzlement was issued Oct. 29, but hasn't yet been served. According to court records, he's been detained by authorities in Iowa since Dec. 30, and it is not known when he will return to Fairfax County.