Courts & Crime

Cheap Xerox ink on eBay: Police say it was stolen, arrest seller

TACOMA, Wash. — Authorities say a Tacoma man financed a high-flying lifestyle — vacations to the tropics, Seattle Seahawks tickets, investments with venture capitalists, an Infiniti M35X — through a novel crime: selling stolen ink on eBay.

Pierce County prosecutors think Terry Gaines, 57, might have sold more than $491,000 in ill-gotten Xerox ink sticks through the online auction site between 2002 and 2009.

A warrant was issued for Gaines' arrest Tuesday, and Tacoma police raided his home in the 3800 block of South Eighth Street on Friday. There were reports Gaines was arrested, but there was no record of his being booked into the Pierce County Jail late Friday.

The warrant charges Gaines with 42 crimes, including multiple counts of money laundering and trafficking in stolen property.

Police began investigating Gaines in March after being alerted about his alleged fraudulent dealings by a Xerox corporate investigator, according to court documents.

That investigator was looking into claims that a Xerox employee was stealing ink from the company’s factory in Wilsonville, Ore., the documents state.

As part of the investigation, undercover Xerox employees bought ink sticks on eBay from someone later identified as Gaines, according to charging papers. The ink was drastically discounted from retail prices. In one case, Gaines allegedly sold four three-strip packs of Xerox Phaser 8400 ink for $233.25. The market value is $425.96, according to court records.

Investigators later discovered that Gaines used the online service PayPal to pay an employee at the Wilsonville plant more than $115,000 between March 2005 and March 2009, the documents state.

That man, later fired by Xerox, told investigators he had borrowed the money from Gaines and denied supplying him with stolen ink.

In April, a police detective went to Gaines’ house to question him. The detective found hundreds of ink sticks of different colors in the house, according to court records.

Gaines told the detective he couldn’t remember where he got the ink, saying he might have bought it on Craigslist or eBay.

“Gaines told police that he is out of work and this is how he partially supports himself,” prosecutors wrote in charging documents.

Police continued working with Xerox investigators to make a case, which culminated this week with the issuance of the arrest warrant for Gaines.