California man faces jail for buying 1,000 stolen MacBooks

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What you need to know

  • A man has pleaded guilty to buying nearly 1,000 MacBooks he knew were stolen, as a fence for employees who were stealing the computers.
  • Philip James bought 1,000 stolen laptops and resold them.
  • His suppliers included employees at Stanford, U.C. Berkeley, and Tesla.

A man who pleaded guilty to buying 1,000 MacBooks he knew were stolen as a fence for employees who were taking them from their companies could face 10 years in prison when he is sentenced in July.

MarketWatch reports that Philip James of California admitted to buying nearly 1,000 from employees who had stolen them, reselling them to out of state buyers for profit.

Philip James, 35, of Folsom, Calif., admitted he took nearly 1,000 pilfered laptops from employees at the schools and the electric car manufacturer, and resold them to out-of-state buyers, knowing full well that they had been stolen.

Between October 2015 and June 2020, James paid between $1,600 and $2,250 for almost 1,000 computers. Around 100 were stolen by Cory Beck, who worked in Tesla's IT department in Palo Alto. Another 100 were bought from Jonas Jarut who worked at U.C. Berkeley. The motherload came from Eric Castenada, whose sister worked at Stanford's school of humanities and sciences "in a role that allowed her to procure computer equipment." The pair stole more than 800 MacBooks to the tune of $2 million. Castenadas and Jarut have previously pleaded guilty in their own cases.

James must pay back some $$2.3 million to Stanford, $256,000 to Tesla and $209,000 to U.C. Berkeley, and faces up to 10 years in prison. He is to be sentenced in July.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9