Whoever burglarized a Clifton home in May is still at large. But the man who got the stolen goods from the thief — and then pawned them for his own financial gain — pleaded guilty in court Tuesday to receiving stolen merchandise.
As a result, when he is sentenced in January, Rasheed Yusuf Ali, 29, of 1624 Purple Sage Drive in Reston, could be spending the next two decades in prison. Ali had been scheduled for a trial, Tuesday, but decided instead to plead guilty.
Before accepting his plea, Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge M. Langhorne Keith made sure the defendant fully realized the ramifications of this action. When Keith asked him if he's presently on parole or probation for any other crime, Ali said he's on probation.
"Do you understand that, by pleading guilty to this charge, your probation may be revoked?" asked the judge. "Yes, your Honor," replied Ali. Keith also asked him if he was entering a guilty plea "freely and voluntarily ... and because you are, in fact, guilty," and again Ali said yes.
His attorney, Greg Beckwith, said the Commonwealth Attorney's Office has agreed not to pursue any other charges against Ali stemming from the sale of the jewelry. He also said it will try to intercede on Ali's behalf regarding a similar charge he faces in Loudoun County.
"Do you understand that you could get a maximum of 20 years in prison [for this offense]?" Judge Keith asked Ali. "I understand," he said. Keith then accepted his plea and listened while Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney John Murray presented details of the prosecution's case against Ali.
On May 26, a couple in the 12300 block of Henderson Road in Clifton called police to report a burglary. "Investigation revealed the individual entered the home by kicking in a back door," said Murray. "He took a Colt 45 handgun from a bedroom closet and jewelry [belonging to the wife]."
In an affidavit in support of a search warrant to seek possible criminal evidence in Ali's home and car, police Det. Nancy Reynolds wrote that "several pieces of jewelry valued in excess of $50,000 were taken from the master bedroom closet" on the second floor of the house.
Among the jewelry reported missing were pearl, diamond, sapphire, ruby, onyx and emerald rings. One ring, alone, had six blue sapphires and six diamonds, and another sported 12 rubies and 13 diamonds. The earrings included ones made of topaz, diamonds, pearls, tanzanite and rubies. The victim listed a pilfered pair of diamond stud earrings as being worth $13,208.
The stolen bracelets were of sapphires, diamonds, pearls, onyx, garnet and jade. One diamond and white-gold tennis bracelet was valued at $17,500. The necklaces were pearl, diamond and gold. Also taken were several precious stones — a ruby, diamond, emerald and sapphire. The thief swiped a Canon camera with portrait lens, too.
Police provided the woman of the house with a list of local pawn shops, and she searched them for her missing jewelry. On June 24, she called Reynolds and reported finding several of her items at Tysons Art and Jewelry Exchange at 8150 Leesburg Pike in Vienna.
The next day, she and her husband identified 10 pieces of jewelry there as belonging to them. The store manager then told Reynolds that Ali was the person who'd sold the jewelry to the store. Employees there also recognized Ali as being a regular customer since February 2002. Furthermore, wrote Reynolds, they said "he has been known to bring in large quantities of fine jewelry."
When Ali returned to the store a week later, July 1, trying to sell a loose diamond, police were called and they took him into custody. They charged him with receiving stolen property.
"The defendant admitted to Det. Reynolds that he bought the pieces of jewelry off someone at a street corner in Herndon and that he knew they were stolen," said Murray. "He said he'd had those pieces in his possession."
Judge Keith then found Ali guilty as charged and set his sentencing for Jan. 10. He's free until then on $5,000 bond. Afterward, Beckwith said his client was on probation for 1990-92 "larceny-related offenses" also committed in Fairfax County.
Regarding the Clifton offense, he said the actual thief may never be caught because he hadn't let his real identity be known. Said Beckwith: "These guys usually just go by street names."