Memphis trucker pleads guilty to his role in cargo theft ring

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | 3/20/2014

A Memphis trucker is facing up to 10 years in federal prison without parole and a fine of up to $250,000 after admitting his role in a cargo theft scheme.

Michael Lee Sherley, 49, entered a guilty plea Wednesday, March 19, to one count of theft of an interstate shipment, according to court records in the U.S. District Court of Western Missouri.

Sherley and an alleged co-conspirator, Earl Stanley Nunn, 59, also of Memphis, were indicted by a grand jury on August 27, 2013 on three felony counts each of conspiracy to defraud the United States, theft of interstate or foreign shipment by carrier and scheming to defraud money or state tax stamps. Nunn’s case has been continued to June 9.

According to the indictment, Nunn and his wife owned and operated Nu World Trucking LLC, in Memphis, where Sherley was employed. Beginning in at least as early as February 2009, Nunn “knowingly combined, conspired, confederated and agreed with others known and unknown” to commit thefts from interstate shipments and interstate transportation of stolen property.

Sherley pleaded guilty to his role in a May 11, 2013 theft of a shipment of canned corn from a the Snappy Mart Truck Stop in West Plains, Mo. The shipment, valued at $73,000, was bound for a food bank in Little Rock, Ark.

According to the plea agreement, Nunn and Sherley left Memphis in a 2000 white Freightliner tractor with no trailer. The pair cruised through at least four truck stops in Arkansas before making their way to West Plains at approximately 5:37 p.m., where they hooked the tractor to the unattended trailer loaded with canned corn.

After stealing the trailer and its contents, Nunn and Sherley traveled north, stopping at a truck stop in Miner, Mo., at approximately 8:43 p.m., traveling through the Chicago area at approximately 3:00 a.m. on May 12, 2013, and stopping at a truck stop in Lake Station, Ind., at approximately 3:34 a.m., according to the documents.

They were apprehended by Michigan State Police at approximately 7 a.m. on May 12, 2013, on Interstate 94 in Jackson County, Mich., at or near mile markers 141 and 142.

Upon their arrest, Nunn reportedly told officers that the two men picked up the trailer near Gary, Ind., pursuant to directions from an individual named “Charlie.”

The plea agreement also states that Nunn ran a cargo theft ring in which he used the resources of Nu World Trucking to steal cargo in various states.

“They did so by bobtailing through truck stops and service stations located on or near interstate highways, looking for semi-trailers that had been left parked and unattended and were not coupled to road tractors,” the plea agreement stated. “When Nunn and his co-conspirators located a semi-trailer that appeared to be unattended, they would steal the semi-trailer and the goods it contained by coupling their road tractor truck to it and driving off.”

The agreement states that the stolen cargo was then transported to Chicago or Detroit to be “fenced” or sold. The defendants and their co-conspirators committed thefts in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

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