- Associated Press - Thursday, June 21, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) - The mastermind of a crime ring that crafted phony credit credits to go on a million-dollar shopping spree at Apple stores around the country is headed to a New York prison for 4 1/2 to nine years.

Shaheed Bilal was sentenced Thursday. Prosecutors say his scheme involved 27 people and victimized Apple stores from Orlando, Fla., to Portland, Ore. The 29-year-old Bilal pleaded guilty in April to grand larceny.

Defense lawyer Matthew Myers calls Bilal’s plea deal reasonable for the sweeping case.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office says the so-called “S3” group bought stolen credit-card numbers online, made bogus cards and scooped up iPads and other electronics.

Prosecutors say Bilal enlisted his brothers in the scam and trained his girlfriend to run it while he was jailed in another case.

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