Fencing rings that netted $18 million in L.A. railroad thefts are taken down, authorities say — but they don’t think the case will do much to slow other rail thefts.
Authorities were hoping to crack down on the theft of thousands of rail cars by putting on one of the toughest sentences for rail theft cases in California.
But the thief was caught, and that’s all the authorities cared about.
Eugene Kelly had planned to sell the stolen trucks and get rich.
When one of his fence-swapping friends called to tell him about the massive haul of stolen rail cars, Kelly said he wasn’t happy.
He thought he might face more serious charges in court. He’d been charged with federal crimes in Los Angeles, but the case was dismissed.
But then his fence-swapping buddy called again, and said someone had pulled a caper in Orange County, and asked Kelly for a share.
The caper took a different route. Kelly told the authorities he was the one who had arranged the rail car heist in Orange County.
Kelly eventually pleaded guilty to the theft of thousands of rail cars in Los Angeles.
As he had predicted, his sentence was relatively short and easy. He was sentenced to just three years in prison.
The judge noted that Kelly was also charged with a federal crime in Los Angeles, which he had pleaded guilty to before the judge handed down the Orange County sentence.
On Saturday, Kelly will be released from federal prison. He will be free on parole after serving four years and will be able to apply for work release and electronic monitoring.
Kelly’s theft in Los Angeles made him one of the country’s top offenders of U.S. rail cars in California. L.A. authorities said he stole rail cars in the Los Angeles Union Station, as well as the rail yards and intermodal terminals along the Westside.
He was also arrested at