Trucker’s Trailer Fire Leads to His Arrest… AGAIN
Berks County, PA – A 44-year-old Maryland truck driver watched his load of beer go up in flames along Interstate 78 last week, but things quickly became even hotter for him.
Last Thursday, at approximately 8:30 p.m., Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) say trucker Solomon O. Asare, of Laurel, MD, was operating a tractor-trailer loaded with beer along I-78 when a fire started in the brake compartment of the trailer.
Firefighters from the Strausstown Fire Company swiftly responded to the scene along the on-ramp from Route 183 in Upper Tulpehocken Township.
Within minutes firefighters had the fire out, but it was just beginning to get hot for Asare.
A PSP trooper who also responded to the scene ran the registration for the cab and the trailer.
He discovered the trailer was still quite hot, as in stolen.
In fact, the trailer was reported stolen about a week prior by Utility Trailer Interstate, a Colorado-based semi-trailer dealer.
Asare was arrested and charged with receiving stolen property and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
He was booked into Berks County Prison in lieu of $100,000 bail.
Not Asare’s First Rodeo
Last Thursday’s arrest is not the first time Asare has been in trouble with the law for theft.
Further investigation by Transportation Nation Network (TNN) uncovered a litany of offenses dating back to 2012 when he was was sentenced to six years in prison for his involvement in a conspiracy to ship stolen vehicles from the United States to West Africa for resale.
According to a plea agreement entered in U.S. District Court, between 2007 and April 2011, Asare was an active participant in a conspiracy to steal late model vehicles – with the keys – so that the vehicles could be more easily sold.
Court documents reveal the vehicles were obtained in a number of ways, including: stealing new cars from dealerships, either by breaking in and stealing the keys, or by paying employees of the dealership to leave the keys; stealing cars from victims who left their keys inside the vehicle; renting cars, then filing false police reports claiming the vehicle had been stolen; and by carjacking victims at gunpoint.
Asare admitted that he took orders from “buyers” in Africa, purchased the stolen vehicles from the thieves or an intermediary, and then stored the vehicles at a parking lot or other location, known as “cooling spots.”
After three or four vehicles were accumulated, Asare and other conspirators arranged for the vehicles to be towed or driven to a location to be loaded into a shipping container.
Members of the conspiracy, including Asare, hired international shipping companies to arrange for the containers to be shipped overseas.
A tractor-trailer would transport the container to various ports including Baltimore, MD, Newark, NJ, and Norfolk, VA, for shipment to West Africa.
Asare paid the participants along the way, including the intermediaries, drivers of the stolen vehicles, tow truck drivers, tractor-trailer drivers and shipping companies.
All payments were in cash.
GOTTA READ IT TO BELIEVE IT
The conspiracy was disrupted on April 13, 2011, when law enforcement stopped a tractor-trailer transporting a shipping container in Baltimore.
The container was searched and four stolen vehicles were discovered.
Identity Fraud & Fake Marriage
Asare fled Maryland to avoid state charges related to this case.
He then fraudulently applied for and obtained a United States passport in another person’s name to attempt to conceal his identity and to avoid law enforcement, court documents show.
Asare also admitted that he had previously engaged in a fraudulent marriage in order to obtain Lawful Permanent Resident status in the United States.
As part of his sentence in these cases, Asare was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release.
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