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$7 million shoplifting: Parents, daughter accused in multi-state spree

A Northbrook man, his wife and adult daughter are accused of selling $7.1 million worth of stolen goods over eBay.
March 6, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
A father, mother and daughter from a posh Chicago suburb are accused of stealing $7 million in merchandise during a decadelong shoplifting spree - traveling to stores nationwide and targeting dolls, toys, cosmetics and other valuables.

Branko Bogdanov, 58, Lela Bogdanov, 52, and their daughter Julia Bogdanov, 34, were arrested by Secret Service agents at their $1.3 million Northbrook home on Tuesday after returning from a three-day trip through Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana, where authorities say they shoplifted from stores. The three are accused of stealing mainly from Toys R Us and Barnes & Nobles stores across six states and selling the goods on eBay or to another seller to put on eBay.

Each faces a charge of interstate transportation of stolen property in a 20-page criminal complaint that was filed in U.S. District Court. They made initial appearances Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago, but did not enter pleas; they'll be held at least until a detention hearing next week.

The three allegedly sold stolen American Girls dolls, Furby toys, Legos and baby items over eBay for more than a decade. Officials said Lela Bogdanov would sometimes wear a long skirt with a specially-made lining with larges pouches in which she would place the stolen items. At times, the skirt "appeared larger and fuller when she exited various retail stores than when she entered" on surveillance video, officials said.

Agents say Barnes & Noble Inc. executives said their stores sustained a huge loss in merchandise that included American Girl dolls, Furby toys, Legos, baby monitors and baby carriers. The feds worked with eBay to find online retailers who sold large amounts of these items, which led to them to the Bogdanovs, officials said. According to a release, "the amount of merchandise sold often matched the quantities of the same item stolen from one of their stores."

Barnes & Noble, Toys R Us, and eBay helped in the investigation, according to the release.

A man who says he purchased items from the Bogdanovs is also cooperating in the case, officials said. He sold $3.4 million worth of items with an estimated retail value of $6 million in the past 10 years, officials said, for Bogdanov, who was using an alias "Franko Kalath."

Feds said they seized several items in their original packaging.

Michael Falconer, an attorney for Branko Bogdanov, told ABC News that despite federal allegations the family has been stealing for years, they are charged with crimes stemming from only two days in February. He said the defendants will plead not guilty on Monday.

They face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

WLS-TV Chicago, ABC News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.


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