A Norfolk man conspired to roll back the odometers of more than 50 vehicles before selling them to used-car dealerships and others, according to court documents.
Lawson W. Basnight, 47, pleaded guilty Thursday to the fraud – which resulted in $250,000 to $550,000 in losses.
“He’s accepted responsibility and knows what he did was wrong,” Moody “Sonny” Stallings Jr., Basnight’s attorney, said after the plea hearing. He said his client expects to serve some time in jail and was ready to start his sentence Thursday, “but the judge talked him out of it.”
A sentencing hearing is set for May 16 in U.S. District Court in Norfolk. Basnight faces a maximum of five years in prison.
Prosecutors Jacqueline Blaesi-Freed and Elizabeth Yusi declined to comment.
Two people were arrested on bribery charges last month in connection with a misconduct investigation into the Denton County Tax Office.
Former tax office employee Tramanski Johnson, who worked at the Lewisville branch, was booked into Denton County Jail on Sept. 12 after turning himself in on the bribery charge, police said. Juana Caballero, a notary public who allegedly notarized forged documents, was booked on the bribery charge Sept. 11.
The Denton County Sheriff's Office investigated the case. The affidavit in support of the suspects' arrest outlines a complex scheme involving bribes to process fraudulent vehicle title transfers.
The tax office collects property taxes, renews vehicle registrations and contracts with several car dealerships to issue titles on new vehicles. The office has six locations within the county, including Lewisville, Cross Roads, Frisco and Flower Mound. The main Denton office is at 1505 E. McKinney St. Continue reading
HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — At least two people have been arrested after an investigation revealed the suspects were conducting fraudulent vehicle inspections at two separate stations in Houston, the Harris County Pct. 4 Constable’s Office said.
Investigators received information that BI-LO Used Cars located at 2823 South Shaver Street was allegedly rolling back odometers on used cars and conducting fraudulent vehicle inspections using a procedure called clean scanning.
Clean scanning is when an inspector tricks the monitoring tool by entering in the vehicle identification number for an automobile that would fail an emissions test, but then connects the monitor to a vehicle that would pass. Meanwhile, odometer rollback is the illegal practice of changing or altering the mileage readings on vehicle to make it appear as though it has been driven less than it has.
Investigators report that over a 90 day period 54 percent of the vehicle inspections conducted were unlawful.
Another investigation concentrated on Hardy’s State Inspection located at 12965 W. Hardy Road was also using a “clean scanning” procedure. The shop is a state-licensed vehicle inspection station, deputies said.
The constable’s office reported over a 90 day period 76 percent of the vehicle inspections conducted were unlawful.
Deputies said arrest warrants were executed at both shops, resulting in the arrest of Adel Yacoub and Raymond Mentzel.
Yacoub and Mentzel are each facing two counts of tampering with a governmental record.
Original Article: http://cw39.com/2017/10/20/emissions-test-odometer-fraud-found-at-vehicle-inspection-stations-in-harris-county-deputies-say/
In April 2014, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) received several complaints from a county tax office regarding the use of fraudulent identification documents to transfer titles. The TxDMV opened an investigation and determined Damaris Sarai Martinez submitted over 40 title transactions listing fraudulent Texas driver licenses, fraudulent addresses, and fraudulent trade allowances. The TxDMV partnered with the Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigation Division to further investigate Martinez. A search warrant was obtained for a location where she operated and fraudulent documents were obtained. Martinez was charged for violation of Texas Transportation Code, Section 501.155, False Name, False Information, and Forgery, which is a third degree felony. On February 24, 2017, she entered into a plea agreement for ten years confinement in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and payment of a $2,000 fine. The sentence was suspended, and she was placed on probation for five years. Martinez was subsequently taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation.
Many victims of JD’s Auto Sales were reimbursed Thursday morning. Customers were victims of alleged odometer rollback and title fraud. The car lot was shutdown and the owners were arrested Nov. 13, 2014. (Staff Photo: Kayla Langmaid)
JONESBORO — Nearly two years after a Forest Park dealership was raided and the owners were arrested for multiple violations, the Clayton County District Attorney’s office is working to reimburse at least 90 victims who were affected by an alleged scam at the hands of the owners.
Customers who fell victims to a purported scheme by JD’s Auto Sales on Jonesboro Road were given the opportunity to get some of their money back Thursday, thanks to the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office.
District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson presented 68 victims with a check for $1,250 Thursday morning at the Harold R. Banke Justice Center. The remaining victims will be mailed a check.
Owner of JD’s Auto Sales, John Emumwen Egbe and his son, Sylvester Emumwen Egbe, were arrested during a raid Nov. 13, 2014. The two men face charges of certificate of title violations and false swearing due to a large number of odometer rollbacks and title fraud.
The 130-car lot was raided by officers with Georgia Department of Revenue, Clayton County District Attorney’s Office, Forest Park Police Department and Clayton County Sheriff’s Office.
Hardly anybody I know pays much attention to the odometer reading when buying a used car — unless, of course, it’s exceptionally high. After all, low mileage is usually the main qualifier when buying a pre-owned vehicle because it suggests the two of you will likely enjoy a few more good years before it gives you serious trouble.
But judging by an arrest for odometer fraud in South Hackensack a week ago, ignoring a low-mileage reading might mark the beginning of serious trouble. “Odometer fraud? How’d they do that?” said Sal, an otherwise astute car owner I know from Barnegat.
Like me, Sal thought rolling back odometers was the kind of crime that all but disappeared when computers were introduced in most cars around the end of the 20th century. Those of us who began driving when hood ornaments were still popular remember how amateur mechanics would break into the odometer housing behind the dashboard and roll back the miles by hand.
Those days are long gone. And so is the housing, said Robert Foster, an officer in a consortium of state investigators called the National Odometer and Title Fraud Enforcement Association.
“It’s easier to do now than it was before computerization,” said Foster. “With the right kind of knowledge and software, a mechanic can get into the onboard computer and reset the mileage to anything he wants.”
A North York man has been sentenced to 450 days in prison after being found guilty of odometer tampering.
Mehran Amini received the longest sentence ever handed out in Ontario for illegal vehicle sales, according to a statement from the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC).
The statement said Amini was charged after OMVIC investigators discovered he'd purchased 30 vehicles from Western Canada, and shipped them to Ontario.
A North York man has been sentenced to 450 days in prison after being found guilty of odometer tampering and 'curbsiding.'
Amini then rolled back the odometers on the vehicles, which were mostly late-model pick-up trucks with high mileage, investigators said.
"They are vehicles that could be near end-of-life, but they were paying huge dollars -- $30 to $40,000 -- for these vehicles," OMVIC Director of Communications Terry O'Keefe told CTV Toronto's Pat Foran.
HOUSTON - Texas is the second state in the nation for odometer fraud, according to data compiled by Carfax.
It occurs when an odometer’s mileage is rolled back, or lowered, to make the vehicle appear to have fewer miles.
“When you lower the mileage on a vehicle, you are artificially inflating the value of it and costing consumers thousands of dollars,” said Chris Basso, a spokesperson for Carfax.
The vehicle history report website estimates that over 150,000 vehicles in Texas are suspected to have an odometer rollback.
Chris Zimmerman and his wife are driving around in one of those vehicles.
When Zimmerman and his wife had a third child, it was time for a minivan, so they went to Craigslist to shop for a reliable vehicle with low miles.
n June, Zimmerman came across an ad from a man who claimed to be selling his wife’s van and only identified himself as Mike. He was selling a Honda Odyssey and advertising the vehicle had less than 80,000 miles.
ST. LOUIS • Eight St. Louis-area men and women have been sentenced for their involvement in a ring that altered vehicle documents to obtain loans, prosecutors said Thursday.
The ring altered documents to remove lienholders before selling the vehicles or to obtain new loans, prosecutors said. They also reduced the value of the vehicles on documents or changed the state of residence of owners to dodge taxes and license fees, they said.
Federal, state and local investigators were able to document $311,000 in losses due to the scheme, but estimate that the true loss amount approached $1 million.
The eight defendants received prison terms ranging from probation to more than 11 years in prison.
The final defendant in the case, Justin Carter, 22, of St. Louis, was sentenced Wednesday to five years in prison. The leader, Randall Hinton, 33, of St. Louis was sentenced Aug. 11 to 11 years, four months in prison, prosecutors said.
Original Article: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/from-st-louis-area-sentenced-for-vehicle-title-fraud-ring/article_caf48294-7e55-5095-9ab7-c77e17635956.html