Man charged in $7 million shoplifting case jailed

2014-03-11T00:00:00Z 2014-03-19T21:55:17Z Man charged in $7 million shoplifting case jailedMichael Tarm Associate Press nwitimes.com
March 11, 2014 12:00 am  • 

CHICAGO | The head of a suburban Chicago family accused of stealing $7 million in goods in a decadelong, multistate shoplifting spree will stay in jail because he is a flight risk, a federal judge ruled Monday.

Branko Bogdanov, his wife and his daughter allegedly operated in tandem to pilfer merchandise, then have it sold on eBay. They were arrested last week at their spacious home in a wealthy Northbrook neighborhood.

Bogdanov, 58, emigrated in 1973 from the former Yugoslavia and is in the U.S. illegally. He's been arrested 16 times and convicted six times, including for shoplifting, prosecutor Renato Mariotti said at a detention hearing.

If convicted of the one count of interstate transportation of stolen property, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

"This defendant has nothing to lose," Mariotti said. "I think if you let him go ... he'll disappear."

The government attorney also accused Bogdanov of misleading court officials by claiming he is $28,500 in debt. In fact, Mariotti said, he owns his $1.3 million house and 12 vehicles, including a Lexus and Corvette.

Defense lawyer Forrest Tatel argued for his client's release, saying the elder Bogdanov has five U.S.-born children and maintains close ties to the Chicago area, where he has spent most of his life.

Bogdanov, his 52-year-old wife, Lela Bogdanov and their 34-year-old daughter, Julia Bogdanov, all are charged with the same stolen-property count. None has entered a plea.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Mason did not immediately rule on whether the mother and daughter should also remain behind bars.

The prosecutor told the court he would ask that Lela Bogdanov be kept in jail. The federal complaint alleged she frequently stole items — everything from toys to cosmetics — by tucking them under a skirt.

Prosecutors said they were open to letting Julia Bogdanov live at the Northbrook home. When the judge asked if there were any guns at the house, her lawyer that there was just one — an antique musket that may not fire.

"They should get it out of there," Mason said.

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