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The Woman Who Led an Organization That Committed Retail Theft and Made $4.5 Million in Profits Has Pleaded Guilty

According to U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson, a woman from Tulsa who was the leader of a retail theft network that was responsible for more than $10 million in losses to shops entered a guilty plea on Thursday.

In a blind plea, Linda Ann Been, who is 49 years old, admitted to leading the operations. She entered a guilty plea to conspiracy (Count 1), wire fraud (Counts 2-166), conspiracy to commit wire fraud (Count 167), and conspiracy to engage money laundering (Counts 168-169), all of which relate to her engaging in monetary transactions in property generated from specified illegal activities (Counts 170-214).

After the completion of a combined investigation by law enforcement agencies in January of this year, Johnson and the Attorney General of Oklahoma, John O’Connor, have announced the filing of charges against 29 members of the organization who have been detained. During the investigation, we referred to it as “Operation Booster Buster.” There have been 16 federal defendants who have pleaded guilty so far.

A “booster” is a person who steals products and merchandise from retail businesses, particularly but not exclusively over-the-counter (OTC) items.

Thefts committed by members of organized retail crime rings have skyrocketed in recent years in cities across the United States, including Tulsa. The losses cause an increase in prices for the shops, which are subsequently passed on to the customers, said Johnson.

According to court filings from both state and federal jurisdictions, Been was the leader of the ring of “boosters” that made $4.5 million through the sale of stolen commodities and over-the-counter stolen products through online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon.


The operations were staged in the northern part of Oklahoma, and they occasionally crossed state lines. According to the court records, some of the stores that were targeted were Reasor’s, Sprouts, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Costco, CVS, GNC, and Walgreens. Other stores were also targeted.

At a Reasor’s in Jenks, Oklahoma, on September 14, 2019, three of the alleged boosters took over-the-counter medicines totaling $1,329 worth, including Flonase, Nexium, Muncinex, Zegerid, and Allegra. The incident occurred.

In a typical transaction, fences pay Been fifty percent of the item’s market worth. Been, in turn, paid her boosters half of the anticipated profit she would get off of each item that one of them brought to her. The monetary transactions for the stolen goods were typically conducted through the use of PayPal, Venmo, and CashApp.

A “fence” or “fencing enterprise” is a person, organization, or group that buys or acquires stolen goods and merchandise from boosters. Another term for this is “fence.” After that, the fence or the fencing business will resell the stolen products and merchandise to various third parties.

Been gave her boosters a full list of objects to steal, along with the prices she was willing to pay for each one of them. She went on to teach her ring in a variety of boosting techniques, such as box stuffing. Box stuffing is a type of theft in which criminals try to conceal products with a higher value inside boxes with a lesser value. After they have covered it up, they will only pay for the less valuable stuff. Been and her team of boosters were responsible for the theft of merchandise from retailers in the states of Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Colorado.

According to the court records, Been covered her boosters’ expenses whenever they traveled outside of the state. In the event that boosters were arrested, she would also post bond for them so that they could continue boosting.

After that, boosters would transport the products to preset places in Tulsa, Sand Springs, and Cleveland, Oklahoma respectively. The defendants Billy Osborne and Juston Osborne are accused of helping to manage the operation by storing stolen inventory at their residences and businesses, as stated in the federal indictment. They also helped Been by preparing the item to be shipped in bulk to fencing located outside of the state. Additionally, Been was responsible for coordinating payments, preparing inventories, and shipping the pallets of stolen things. She also stored stolen goods at her homes.

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Billy Osborne, age 49, has entered a guilty plea for his role in a conspiracy to commit money laundering. Juston Osborne, who is 37 years old, has entered a guilty plea to the charge of conspiracy to conduct wire fraud.

Investigations conducted by Homeland Security Investigations of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service, the Tulsa Police Department, and the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office

l’s Office and the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office were the ones in charge of conducting the inquiry. The prosecution of the case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Richard M. Cella and Reagan V. Reininger, with support from the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office.

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