Jackson, Miss. – Mark Longgrear, 53, of Jackson, Mississippi was arrested yesterday and charged in a federal criminal complaint with rolling back the odometers of multiple high mileage vehicles and selling such fraudulently altered vehicles with doctored titles, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Supervisory Special Agent David W. Sparks with the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation.
Longgrear appeared in court today for an initial appearance on the criminal complaint before U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda R. Anderson.
According to the criminal complaint and affidavit, for at least the last four years, Mark Longgrear, operating individually and through his company Southern Auto Buyers LLC, bought more than 50 late model, high mileage vehicles from auctions, dealerships, and/or individuals, thereafter illegally altered the odometers of such vehicles to show lower mileage, forged and fraudulently created paperwork to secure new titles showing false lower mileage for these vehicles, and then sold said vehicles directly to individuals and automobile dealerships at much higher prices. He used internet websites to sell some of these vehicles directly to consumers, and also used employment and wholesale relationships with large Mississippi automobile dealerships in Jackson and Vicksburg to sell these fraudulently altered odometer vehicles to these dealerships, who in turn unknowingly sold them to consumers with this false information.
"Vehicle odometer fraud affects us all, whether directly as consumers purchasing vehicles and being defrauded out of thousands of dollars or as the general public who can be endangered by these potentially unsafe vehicles. I commend the agents and prosecutor for rooting out this far-reaching scheme. In order to protect consumers and safeguard the general public, our office will relentlessly pursue and vigorously prosecute those whom break federal law by rolling back vehicle odometers," said U.S. Attorney Hurst.
Each violation of Sections 32703(2) and 32705(a)(2) of Title 49 carries a penalty of three years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine. The conspiracy charge, 18 U.S.C. § 371, is punishable by 5 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine.
The case was investigated by United States Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation, with assistance from the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the U.S. Marshals Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Keesha Middleton.
The public is reminded that a criminal complaint is a formal charge against a defendant. It is merely an accusation and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
NHTSA has established a special hotline to handle odometer fraud complaints. Individuals who have information relating to odometer tampering should call (800) 424-9393 or (720) 963-3127.