For awhile, Sultan Mohammed Ferozi had a pretty slick business going. In a case of swipe-and-sell, he'd obtain orders for items customers wanted to purchase. Then he'd fulfill them, mail the merchandise and receive payment.
TROUBLE WAS, he first stole the items and, eventually, he was caught red-handed. Shortly before the 2005 Christmas holidays, Fairfax County police nabbed him in the act at Fair Oaks Mall.
Tuesday morning, Ferozi, 29, of 6825 Ridgeway Drive in Springfield, pleaded guilty to grand larceny and possession of burglary tools. But before he did, head Circuit Court Judge Michael McWeeny asked him some questions.
"Do you fully understand the charges against you ... and what the commonwealth must prove in order to convict you?" asked McWeeny. "Yes," replied a barely audible Ferozi.
"And are you entering your pleas freely and voluntarily and because you are, in fact, guilty of these two crimes?" asked the judge. Again, Ferozi said yes. McWeeny then advised him he could receive as much 30 years in the state penitentiary.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Bob McClain described what the case against Ferozi would have been, had it gone to trial. He said that, on Dec. 14, Fairfax County police Det. Mike Deane — then working undercover on the Christmas Anti-Theft Team (CAT) — was alerted to a "possible shoplifter" in Fair Oaks Mall.
"[Deane] saw the defendant conceal a book in the Borders Express bookstore and walk out with it in his orange book bag, without paying," said McClain. He said police also observed Ferozi swipe books from the Family Christian Books store.
Master Police Officer William C. Woolf II, also on the CAT team, presented details in a Dec. 14 affidavit for a warrant to search Ferozi's home for possible stolen items. He wrote that he and Deane followed Ferozi into the Family Christian Books store and watched as he "left the store with his bag full of unpaid items."
THE PAIR then arrested him for stealing the book from Borders. "In plain view from the bulging bag, [I] could see numerous Christian type books," wrote Woolf. "A search incident to Ferozi's arrest revealed four books from the Family Christian Books store ... valued at $269."
In court, McClain noted that police also found two box cutters on Ferozi's person. Woolf wrote that shoplifters use them to remove price tags from merchandise. "Ferozi also had numerous mailing labels on his person with names and addresses of people all over the United States," wrote the officer. "These mailing labels also had the titles of books on them."
Woolf noted that these titles "matched the books [Ferozi] was stealing at Fair Oaks Mall. It appeared [he] was using these mailing labels to indicate which books he needed to steal to fulfill his orders." The officer then concluded that Ferozi was "mailing the stolen property to others throughout the United States."
McClain told Judge McWeeny a search of Ferozi's home yielded 112 books, 93 religious videos and 78 religious CDs. "He was selling them over the Internet," said McClain.
McWeeny set sentencing for June 2. Then, provided Ferozi helps with the preparation of his pre-sentencing report, the judge let him stay out on bail until that date.