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Dad Accused of Stealing Millions in Toys Held Without Bail

Judge called Branko Bogdanov a serious flight risk

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Three members of a suburban Chicago family are accused of stealing millions of dollars in merchandise during a decade-long “shopping odyssey” and later selling the items on eBay. Phil Rogers reports. (Published Wednesday, Mar 5, 2014)

    The north suburban Northbrook father accused of shoplifting millions of dollars in toys and other merchandise with his family and then selling the goods on eBay was ordered detained Monday after prosecutors said he is a serious flight risk.

    Before U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mason ordered Branko Bogdanov, 58, detained, prosecutors also said Bogdanov lied about the true value of his wealth, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

    “It’s clear that Mr. Bogdanov has every reason to flee,” said Renato Mariotti, the federal prosecutor handling the case.

    Bogdanov, his wife, Lela Bogdanov, 52, and daughter Julia Bogdanov, 34, are accused of stealing from the shelves of stores in at least six states in the last five months, according to a federal complaint announced last week.

    The trio is accused in a recent string of thefts that began on Feb. 17 in Oklahoma, continued two days later at malls in Texas and wound through Louisiana Feb. 20. But officials allege the three are connected to similar instances that have occurred over the last 10 years, and have sold stolen property on eBay for a combined total of $4.2 million.

    According to the complaint, loss prevention executives at Barnes and Noble, Inc. and Toys R Us, Inc. recently told Secret Service agents that their stores were experiencing a huge loss in merchandise, including American Girl dolls, Furby robotic toys, Lego blocks, baby monitors and baby carriers.

    Mariotti noted Bogdanov has an extensive criminal history that includes 16 arrests and six criminal convictions in various states.

    Mariotti also said federal officials detained Bogdanov in 1994, with the intention of deporting him — but at the time, his apparent home country, the former Yugoslavia, was in turmoil.

    Mariotti said Bogdanov’s assertion he is worth negative $28,500 is nonsense, noting the accused owns a home worth approximately $1.4 million.

    Bogdanov’s attorney, Forrest Tatel, said his client was never deported because he has “no country of origin” and has no passport. Tatel also said his client has strong ties the community, having lived in Northbrook for 17 years and 18 years in Skokie.

    On Monday, Mason also postponed the detention hearing for Lela Bogdanov until March 19 so she can hire a private attorney. It’s clear, the judge said, that she has enough money to hire one herself.