Man who stole dozens of golf carts sentenced to 2 years in prison

A man who admitted stealing or attempting to steal 84 golf carts across multiple states in an effort to solve his financial problems was sentenced to two years in prison on Tuesday, authorities in North Dakota said.

According to a sentencing brief filed by his attorney this month, the man, Nathan Rodney Nelson, 46, came up with the idea of ​​stealing and selling golf carts as he struggled to maintain his golf business. home inspection.

From there, authorities say, Mr. Nelson acted mostly at night, traveling to golf courses and stealing carts in pairs. According to an agreement under which he pleaded guilty last December in federal court in North Dakota to one count of interstate transportation of stolen property, he would use “common ignition keys to drive golf carts around courses on a trailer”. The agreement did not explain how he got the keys.

Mr Nelson ran the flight operation for about four years, from 2017 to 2021, selling golf carts he had taken from golf courses in states including Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota , North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, according to the plea agreement and a June 2021 affidavit filed by an FBI agent, who wrote that Mr. Nelson stole at least 70 carts.

Mr. Nelson often sold the golf carts under a pseudonym, Mason Weber, on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, according to court records. He sometimes crossed state lines to make a sale.

Mr. Nelson typically sold the carts for $2,500, although they were often worth at least $5,000, according to the plea deal. The robberies cost his victims a total of approximately $222,000.

The FBI had been investigating him since July 2019 after a North Dakota sheriff’s office asked for help when he realized the series of robberies might be linked, the affidavit said.

Credit…Nathan Rodney Nelson

Mr Nelson’s scheme fell apart in August 2020 when his phone number leaked, according to the affidavit.

According to the affidavit, he had kept eight stolen golf carts from an Illinois self-service storage center under his pseudonym. A sheriff’s office discovered that the phone number associated with the pseudonym was the same number as Mr Nelson’s.

Authorities linked him to several interstate golf cart sales before his arrest at a Florida gym in March 2021, according to the affidavit.

His two-year sentence includes credit for the time he has already served in prison. A federal judge ordered him on Tuesday to “forfeit” about $222,000 in cash.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of North Dakota did not immediately respond to emails or phone calls Tuesday.

After Mr Nelson’s guilty plea in United States District Court in North Dakota in December, seven other counts he faced – one count of transporting a motor vehicle and six counts of selling or possessing stolen motor vehicles – were dismissed, according to the sentencing brief.

It was unclear why Mr. Nelson was trafficking golf carts, but his attorney, Lorelle A. Moeckel, wrote in the sentencing memorandum that his client “was attracted to the idea of ​​easy and quick money and made a very bad choice, which he deeply regrets.”

Ms Moeckel declined to comment on Tuesday.

Once he proposed the golf cart program, Ms. Moeckel wrote in the memorandum, “it became increasingly easy for him to stray from his longstanding moral compass.”

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