Owner of criminal trucking operation buried money, flees country

A lavish lifestyle attracts the attention of neighbors - and the federal government.

Now the owner of a highland township trucking company and his family, are on the run.

Viorel Pricop was actually caught in the act last February and admitted to the criminal operation that led to the raid.  But he had a plan B, the feds believe he had buried money and stolen goods which he used to flee the country.

"I just thought it was very suspicious that a truck driver putting all this money into this (house) it's amazing how it's changed in the last seven or eight years," said neighbor Bob Hochstein.

Neighbors' suspicions became a reality last February. Fox 2 was there as Homeland Security, Michigan State Police and imigrations and customs agents raided the sprawling property at 2800 Rowe Road in Highland Township.

The feds had uncovered a bogus trucking operation under the name Good Time LLC and Viorel Pricop was the mastermind behind it.

Bob Hochstein's family would visit with his wife Mihaela and their children who also lived at this lavish home.

"It's quite a mansion," he said. "They've carved eagles into the oak trees. Things like that. it's amazing the money they spent."

"(We would see) trucks coming going all hours of the night,"  said neighbor Colleen Katarcynski. "Different trucks. Just what was here for somebody who was a truck driver, was not right."

Neighbors had complained of the noise for years. The pole barns which stored the trucks, semi trailers and some of the stolen goods still stand on the property.

Court documents say Pricop made hundreds of thousands of dollars from transporting stolen cargo from semi trailers in several southwest states.

Because of the theft trend in New Mexico, GPS tracking devices were put in some electronic equipment that was eventually stolen and tracked to one of Pricop's storage units in Lyon Township last February.

Documents say Pricop was there at the time and admitted to transporting the merchandise and selling pallets of stolen goods. With the hundreds of thousands of dollars he made through the years, Pricop bought expensive cars like a Ferari and Mercedes.

The February day the feds seized  it all including bundles of marijuana, two pistols and dozens of high end clothing and electronics believed to stolen or bought with the money.

Police believe the day after the raid Pricop dug up money and stolen goods he buried in homemade storage tubes and used that to flee the country.

"I have to say the neighborhood feels a lot more peaceful now that they're gone," said Katarcynski.

Intially, the feds learned the family fled to Canada. Pricop is still on the run, Mihaela and her children returned to the United States, but according to the neighbors who watched her pack up the rest of their belongings - not for long.

"She's heading back to Romania to meet up with her husband again," said Hochstein. "He's already there."

The family is originally from Romania. Federal investigators do not know where any of them are based on court records - including Pricop facing federal charges and is a fugitive.
 

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