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Burglary ring leader gets eight years

The ring forged, stole and coordinated after-hours break-ins along the West Coast.

September 15, 2010|By Joseph Serna, joseph.serna@latimes.com

The leader of a burglary ring that targeted businesses in Newport Beach and others on the West Coast received an eight-year federal prison sentence this week.

Antione Lamont Lawrence, 37, formerly of Portland, Ore., was sentenced following a May guilty plea to one count of bank fraud as part of a deal made with federal prosecutors.

Between 2001 and 2007, Lawrence led a ring of expert forgers and burglars along the West Coast, where they would scout out business complexes and break in after hours.

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In most cases, Lawrence and an accomplice would monitor a business complex to watch its workers' routines of arriving and leaving. Afterward, they would call in burglars to break in by picking the locks and raid offices of documents with financial and credit information.

According to the federal grand jury indictment, Lawrence stopped in Newport Beach in July 2003 for one of his burglaries. Soon after, he was hitting businesses in Beverly Hills, court documents show.

Another group of accomplices would take a victim company's business checks and cash them, or make copies of the building's keys so they can go in repeatedly.

The group made off with hundreds of thousands of dollars in all, prosecutors said.

Much of the money went to lavish trips to Las Vegas, jewelry and business suits.

Lawrence was sentenced to 97 months in prison and ordered to pay $688,000 in restitution. He will be on parole for five years after he's released.

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