Leader of theft ring sentenced to six years in federal prison

Auburn man operated storefront businesses in Kent and Renton that fronted as legitimate pawn shops.

An Auburn man was sentenced to six years in federal prison and 15 years of supervised release on Feb. 1 for trafficking in stolen goods and possession of child pornography, according to the U.S. Department of Justice for Western Washington.

Between 2013 and 2019, Alexsandr Pavlovskiy, 54, master-minded a theft ring in South King County that relied on shoplifters, drug addicts, drug users and even Amazon delivery drivers for its inventory.

Pavlovskiy pleaded guilty in October 2021, following a long investigation by the FBI and the Auburn Police Department. According to a DOJ release, at the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour said the sentence was driven in part by “the stunning amount of stolen material.”

“This case highlights the tremendous value we place in state and federal law enforcement teamwork,” U.S. Attorney Nick Brown said in the release. “The investigation began through the patient, dedicated work of an Auburn Police detective, who reached out to the FBI. It is through this sort of teamwork that we can root out all manner of crimes.

“While the stolen property case is what brought us here, the possession of child pornography demonstrates the damage Mr. Pavlovskiy inflicted on the larger community,” Brown said.

From 2013 to 2016, according to the DOJ, Pavlovskiy operated two storefront businesses that fronted as legitimate pawn shops — Innovation Best in Kent, and Thrift Electro in Renton, the latter also known as Buy Trade and By-Trade — where he directed his employees to buy stolen retail items from shoplifters and others.

In 2017, Pavlovskiy bought a warehouse, and from there until 2019, he and his employees sold hundreds of thousands of stolen items to purchasers across the United States or to Amazon warehouses outside the state of Washington for sale in interstate commerce on Amazon’s web. They used the U.S. Postal Service, United Parcel Service and other mail carriers to unwittingly transport the stolen goods to local warehouses or to Amazon warehouses.

According to the report, Amazon disbursed funds back to bank accounts under the control of the Auburn man, and he and others then used these accounts to promote the criminal operation.

The business generated between $1.5 million and $3.5 million on the sale of stolen goods, according to the DOJ.

In July 2019, state and federal law enforcement served search warrants on Pavlovskiy’s home, cars and business locations. At the warehouse, they documented racks of stolen goods being processed for resale, and took a number of electronic devices for analysis. On Pavlovskiy’s devices, forensic analysis revealed more than 20,000 images or videos of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Pavlovskiy used file sharing software to obtain and share the images.

“These funds also appear to be used to conceal the nature of the unlawful activity by making the pawn shops appear like a legitimate business, when in fact the pawn shops are front enterprises for the conspiracy, and are permeated with fraud and … virtually no legitimate business beyond buying and reselling stolen property,” according to the FBI.

According to the FBI, Pavlovskiy entered the United States as a refugee from Ukraine in November 2000 with his wife and their children and became a naturalized citizen in September 2011.