Thirteen Area People Indicted On Fraud Charges Involving Motor Vehicle Titles


November 17, 2014

St. Louis, MO – RANDALL HINTON was indicted in August on multiple fraud charges involving his scheme to alter and counterfeit documents in order to obtain state issued motor vehicle titles for himself and others.  Last week, twelve additional individuals were indicted in two separate indictments for their part in the use of the altered and counterfeited documents to obtain motor vehicle titles and motor vehicle title loans.

According to the indictments, the schemes involving the defendants resulted in financial losses to the State of Missouri, financial institutions, title loan companies and individuals.  As the documents were often altered to decrease the value of the vehicles or to change the state of residence of the vehicle owners to addresses in Illinois, the owners of the vehicles were able to evade paying the appropriate taxes and license fees to the Department of Revenue for the State of Missouri.  When Hinton removed the names of financial institutions which had financed the purchases of the vehicles from legitimate titles, Hinton, Arronda Williams and others were able to sell the vehicles to innocent purchasers who were then unable to register the vehicles due to existing liens.  The final aspect of the scheme enabled individuals to use the altered documents to obtain motor vehicle title loans from companies located throughout the United States.  As a result of existing liens or the fact that the value of the vehicles was less than the defendants represented, the title loan companies experienced large financial losses.

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Odometer Fraud Case May Lead to Stiffer Penalties for Some Offenders

An NBC 5 Consumer Investigation on odometer fraud prompts one division of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles to recommend consumer-friendly changes to state law governing salvage dealers.

These changes would protect consumers by giving the state tougher tools of enforcement against would-be violators.

This potential change stems from a case against a DFW-area salvage dealer which wound up in small claims court then in the hands of the DMV.

It started last year when Kristin and Ferron Young turned to Craig’s List when they needed a car on a tight budget.

“We needed something that we felt like would be good for the family,” Kristin Young, mother of a kindergartener and a newborn, said.

They found an ad for a 2000 Honda Accord, which described the car as very clean with 101,000 miles.  After seeing the car, they bought it for $3,200.

“We ended up choosing the one that we bought because it had lower mileage,” said Young.
The seller, salvage dealer Michael Eke, also had assurances. He said the car had been cared for and had only been in a little crash. But on the drive home they said they noticed problems immediately.

The next day, the Youngs bought a CARFAX report, which revealed at the car’s last state inspection it had 160,000 miles.

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Lebanon Car Dealer Indicted For Fraudulent Titles, Falsified Mileage On Dozens Of Vehicles

September 5, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Lebanon, Mo., automobile dealer has been indicted by a federal grand jury for a mail fraud scheme in which he sold dozens of vehicles with fraudulent titles that greatly underreported the actual mileage of the vehicles.

Kenneth W. Smith, 60, of Lebanon, was charged in a seven-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Mo., on Aug. 26, 2014. That indictment has been unsealed and made public upon Smith’s arrest and initial court appearance.

Smith operates Cars Unlimited in Lebanon. According to today’s indictment, Smith obtained fraudulent replacement titles for dozens of vehicles that were sold by Cars Unlimited between February 2010 and Nov. 7, 2011. Smith (operating through Cars Unlimited) allegedly applied for and received 54 replacement titles from the state of Missouri, each of which underreported the vehicle’s actual mileage between 95,000 and 209,000 miles. Smith allegedly resold these 54 vehicles at auto auctions using the fraudulent replacement titles. These 54 vehicles were sold for an aggregate total of approximately $346,450.

Beginning in February 2010, when Smith purchased vehicles (through Cars Unlimited) at auto auctions, the vehicle titles he received showed each vehicle’s actual mileage. After purchasing a vehicle, Smith allegedly submitted an “Application for Missouri Title and License” seeking a replacement title for the vehicle. Although he sought a replacement title, the indictment says, he in fact possessed the original title for the vehicle.

In each of those instances, Smith allegedly forged the signatures of the previous owner of the vehicle. The state of Missouri prepared a replacement title that was mailed to Smith at Cars Unlimited.

The federal indictment charges Smith with seven counts of mail fraud.

Dickinson cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Milligan. It was investigated by the FBI and the Missouri Department of Revenue.

Patrick Wayne Davis booked in Knox County on odometer fraud and identity theft charges

Patrick Wayne Davis

Patrick Wayne Davis

CHATTANOOGA, TN — Following an investigation by the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) Patrick Wayne Davis was arrested for odometer fraud, identity theft, and felony theft on Tuesday, March 11 in Knoxville. Davis allegedly altered the odometer of a 2004 Honda Accord over 120,000 miles. He then fraudulently advertised the vehicle on “Craigslist “as a low mileage vehicle and subsequently sold it at a much higher price.

This case stemmed from a complaint taken by the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office in Cleveland, Tenn. Bradley County then requested the assistance of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

THP Sergeant Thomas Clower, working with the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, was able to identify Davis as a suspect in their initial investigation. They discovered that Davis illegally acted as the original owner of the Honda by taking the name of a man from Michigan. Agents with the Highway Patrol’s CID also located physical evidence in the Honda Accord.

On Thursday, March 13, Sergeant Clower and THP Interdiction Plus Sergeant Greg Roberts located Mr. Davis in Knoxville. Davis was arrested on odometer fraud, theft between $1,000 to $10,000 and identity theft. He was booked in the Knox County Jail. A court date will be set for the Knox County Criminal Court.

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s (www.TN.Gov/safety) mission is to ensure that our state is a safe, secure place in which to live, work and travel; enforce the law with integrity; and provide customer-focused services professionally and efficiently.

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Woman says Milton Motor wasn’t honest about vehicle’s condition

CHARLESTON – Milton Motor Used Auto Sales LLC is being sued after a woman claims it was not honest with her about the condition of a vehicle she purchased.

On May 2, 2012, Patricia Davis entered into a motor vehicle purchase contract with the defendant for the purchase of a 2001 Ford Explorer, according to a complaint filed June 21 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Davis claims she specifically asked the defendant about the quality, durability and value of the vehicle and was assured the vehicle was a good, dependable car.

The defendant represented the vehicle had no history or prior problems or damage when in fact, the vehicle had been previously extensively damaged, including apparent damage resulting from submersion in flood waters or other waters and the dealer had actual knowledge of the damage or should have discovered the damage upon reasonable inspection, according to the suit.

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Fort Bragg Soldier Arrested and Faces Identity Theft Charges in Court on Monday

William Anthony Morrone Jr. AKA: Gerald Morrone credit: Mugshots

How does a soldier in the U.S. Army for over 20 years get away with stealing someone’s identity? Though his security clearances are now revoked and he is in jail – how did he get this far along in the Army?

Known to peers at Fort Bragg by Gerald Morrone, his actual identity is William Anthony Morrone, Jr. and his past has finally caught up with him. The soldier is now in jail and is facing charges in other states.

Marrone was arrested on May 2, 2013. The soldier was recently flown back from Montana for his trial and will be return for his sentencing after Monday’s court-martial. Morrone also faces charges in Indiana regarding obtaining a license under his brother’s name and other fraudulent charges according to a local source who knows the family.

Acting on a complaint from U.S. Army Military Police Investigations, the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles’ License and Theft Bureau on April 9 arrested a soldier formerly performing the duties of Garrison Operations Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Bragg, and charged him with 21 felonies in connection with vehicle purchases using his brother’s identity according to a NC DOT news release.

DMV License and Theft Bureau inspectors determined that William Anthony Morrone Jr. used his brother’s name and identity documents to trade and purchase vehicles in 2009 and in 2012 at dealerships in Catawba and Cumberland counties. Morrone, believed to be about 53 years old, is a resident of Fayetteville. He also faces pending court martial charges at Fort Bragg.

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Raleigh man pleads guilty to odometer fraud

Francis Marimo

Francis Tendayi Marimo, 39, was arrested in February 2012 and charged with change of mileage violations, obtaining property by false pretenses and acting as a dealer without a license. He will be sentenced some time in September.

Federal agents started investigating Marimo after local car buyers realized the mileage on their vehicles wasn’t right. He pleaded guilty to two instances, one in which he rolled back the odometer by 100,000 miles.

Investigators have said they believe he was involved in many more cases between 2008 and 2012.

The U.S. Department of Transportation recommends these tips for buyers of used cars:

·         Ask to see the title and compare the mileage on it with the vehicle’s odometer. Examine the title closely if the mileage notation seems obscured or is not easy to read.

·         Compare the mileage on the odometer with the mileage on the vehicle’s maintenance or inspection records. Search for oil change and maintenance stickers on windows or door frames, in the glove box or under the hood.

·         Examine the tires. If the odometer on the car shows 20,000 or less, it should have the original tires.

·         Look at the wear and tear on the vehicle – especially the gas, brake and clutch pedals – to be sure it seems consistent with and appropriate for the number of miles displayed on the odometer.

·         Request a Carfax Vehicle History Report to check for odometer discrepancies in the vehicle’s history. If the seller does not have a vehicle history report, use the car’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) to order a Carfax vehicle history report online.

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Car buyer cries fraud after discovering odometer has been rolled back

Keisy Fernandez poses with her 2006 Chrysler 300C outside her home on Friday, April 5, 2013. Fernandez purchased the vehicle at Affordable Motors in Miami. The odometer read 56,447 miles at the time of purchase, but was found to actually have 186,000 miles according to a vehicle summary report made by the Chevy dealership this past February.

A few months later, she wanted to upgrade and another dealership offered to buy the car from her.
But when that company ran a check on the car’s history, there was a problem.

Fernandez’s odometer had been rolled back. When she purchased the car in April 2012 from Affordable Motors, the odometer showed 56,447 miles. That turned out to be untrue. The actual mileage was 187,677, miles at the time Fernandez purchased it.

Affordable Motors said it has nothing to do with the mileage discrepancy.

“There was a problem before us,” said Affordable Motors owner Felisberto “Felix” Sanchez. “The problem was not us. She’s probably right, but the problem was with a previous out of town dealer.”

Sanchez said he runs checks on all his vehicles and nothing seemed out of the ordinary with the Chrysler he sold to Fernandez.

Odometer fraud is a national problem, but consumers can take steps to protect themselves.

In Fernandez’s case, she did not see her vehicle’s Carfax. The Carfax would have provided a history report for her Chrysler including any possible odometer discrepancies.

“If I could do it again, I would absolutely make sure I see the Carfax first.”

Federal law requires the vehicle seller to certify to the best or his or her knowledge that the odometer reflects the actual mileage, or that the seller knows there is an odometer discrepancy, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Springfield cops say they’ve busted national crime ring involving stolen trailers

SPRINGFIELD, Mo — A national crime ring – busted.

Investigators say a trailer theft operation here in the Ozarks reached far across the USA.

Detectives say South Valley Trailer, LLC, located at 1219 E. Division Street, would steal trailers, change the vin numbers, and then sell them out of state – as far away as North Dakota.

The bust dates back to December 2012, when several trailers were reported stolen in Springfield; security cameras captured some of them.

Someone spotted a missing trailer at South Valley a few days later, prompting a police investigation. Sales records showed transports to a company in North Dakota, who posted pictures of trailers of sale.

The pictures matched the descriptions of the stolen property.

Officers say details helped crack the case.

“People need to make sure they know serial numbers and the info of the trailers and keep them secure,” Lt. Kevin Grizzell tells KSPR News. “Keep them locked up and chain them. The harder you make it to steal, the less likely it is to be stolen.”

Detectives went back to the company’s offices last month and took several hard drives and computers. Officers think files saved on those drives will reveal the whole extent of the ring.

Grizzell says he expects prosecutors to file charges against South Valley’s owners later this month.

One owner already has a  long criminal record, including two convictions involving burglary and stealing.

Springfield police officers served a second search warrant last month on a company called South Valley Trailers.

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