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Evanston coin dealer gets probation for stolen goods

February 14, 2013 in Coins, Gold, Gold Coins, Silver, Silver Coins

February 08, 2013|By Brian L. Cox | Special to the Tribune (http://Articles.ChicagoTribune.com)

An Evanston rare coin dealer has pleaded guilty to buying thousands of dollars worth of purportedly stolen coins, jewelry, watches and other valuables from undercover police officers posing as burglars, according to court records.

James Coello, 47, of Chicago, pleaded guilty to “continuing a financial crimes enterprise” on Wednesday. Cook County Circuit Court Judge Garritt Howard sentenced him to 36 months of probation, 100 hours of community service, plus fees and fines, according to court records.

Coello originally had pleaded not guilty, but changed his mind on

“Basically it was a plea bargain,” Coello said when contacted by phone today. “They basically kept the property they seized from my safe, which was basically all coins.”

Coello declined to discuss further details of the charges or his plea bargain.

“You’d have to talk to my lawyer about that,” he said. “I don’t really know the many machinations of how this works. All I know is I paid a lawyer and he pretty much took care of everything.”

Coello, who owned and operated North Shore Coins at 1501 Chicago Avenue in Evanston, was arrested in September after he was recorded by undercover police buying thousands of dollars worth of purportedly stolen merchandise that included watches, gold and silver rings, coins, necklaces, and other valuables, authorities said.

They said that on Sept. 25, Evanston police and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office executed a search warrant on North Shore Coin and recovered property that had been reported stolen in recent area burglaries.

Evanston police initiated their investigation approximately six months before Coello’s arrest when information was developed that merchandise stolen in residential home burglaries was being purchased at Coello’s store, authorities said.

They said undercover officers, posing as burglars, brought items into North Shore Coin to sell, and that during their conversations the officers mentioned to Coello that the merchandise was stolen.

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