A pawn shop owner who purchased items stolen by a drug ring that used the money to purchase illlegal drugs for sale entered a guilty plea in Carbon County court on Monday.
Waheeb Girgis, 56, of Lehighton, pleaded guilty to one count of receiving stolen property, a felony three, before Senior Judge Richard W. Webb.
Girgis was one of 12 suspects arrested by agents of the state Attorney's Office, and county police and drug task members, who were charged as being part of a four county drug ring that burglarized homes and businesses, sold the items at pawn shops, such as the one operated by Girgis in Lehighton, and used the money to buy drugs. The drugs were then sold on the streets. The ring operated in Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton and Schuylkill counties, authorities said.
At the time of the arrests county District Attorney Gary F. Dobias said it was, "Operation Golden Dope." The operation began in 2007 and continued through 2009 until the arrests were made.
Girgis is one of several who have entered guilty pleas in the case while other defendants are awaiting trial.
Items sold to Girgis included jewelry and electronic devices.
He admitted he knew, or should have known, the items being sold to him did not belong to the person selling it. An interpreter was needed as Girgis can only speak Arabic.
Webb accepted the plea but deferred sentencing to a later date. He ordered the adult probation office to prepare a presentence investigation (PSI) report centered on Girgis being placed in the county's Intermediate Punishment Program (IPP), or house arrest.