PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY CHARGES 32 INDIVIDUALS AND 3 CORPORATIONS IN MASSIVE AUTO THEFT AND INSURANCE FRAUD RING

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PHILADELPHIA (Aug. 10, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced that after a review by an Investigating Grand Jury, he is charging 32 people and three corporations for participating in an auto theft ring that stole, replated, relisted and resold 45 vehicles. A list of the defendants, corporations and their charges is attached.

“Faked inspections, replaced vehicle identification numbers and more than one hundred fraudulent insurance cards made it possible for this criminal organization to steal and resell 45 cars. This scheme cost local rental-car companies more than $500,000 and more than $60,000 in fraudulent insurance claims were paid out,” said Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. “This was a methodical, time consuming investigation, so I’d like to thank the men and women of the Investigating Grand Jury, the Major Crimes Auto Squad at the Philadelphia Police Department, state police and agents at the National Insurance Crime Bureau, and my Insurance Fraud Unit for working so hard to bring these 32 defendants to justice.”

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office’s (DAO) investigation found that these 32 defendants resold 45 replated vehicles that were disguised with repurposed vehicle identification numbers (VINs) from salvaged vehicles. All but eight of the stolen vehicles were owned by Philadelphia area Hertz, Enterprise, Alamo, National, Avis, Budget and Dollar/Thrifty car rental branches. The remainder came from owners who fraudulently reported their vehicles stolen to collect insurance money. After being replated and relisted, the stolen vehicles were often sold to unsuspecting buyers.

“Insurance fraud impacts all of us. The Philadelphia Police Auto Squad in conjunction with our state and local partners, have done an excellent job at identifying these crimes. I am very proud of the collaboration and how it has dramatically reduced auto theft and fraud related crimes,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross.

“The sellers of these stolen cars paid anywhere from $500 to $2000 for the salvaged VINs and then turned around and sold the cars from anywhere between $5,000 to $20,000; sometimes tripling their investment,” added Williams.

The unlawful enterprise centered on a business known as Cheap Auto, which was operated by Jihad Miller and Preston Thomas, both of whom were registered buyers at Copart, which is an online auction distributor of salvaged vehicles. The pair would purchase salvaged vehicles for the sole purpose of taking their VIN plates and illegally replacing them with the stolen cars’ VIN plate. Jihad and Preston would then sell the replated vehicles themselves or in conjunction with other sellers: Tyrell Butler, Melvin Hicks, Frederick Miller and Keith Mills.

The defendants who conspired with the organization by renting cars for the purpose of stealing or by giving up their own cars up to make fraudulent insurance claims were: Shawntia Barnes, James Harris, Jeanine Herring, Shaderah McFarland, Larnessha Richmond, Jamilah Seward, Patrice Thomas, Karriem Upshur, Brandon Wesley, Marcel Chase White, Jay Johnson, Lisa Layne and Nasir Sadat Robertson.

The fraudulent insurance claims were paid by Allstate, Nationwide, Geico, Capitol Insurance and Infinity. The DAO also found that the group created more than 100 fake insurance cards. Some of the people who used them were: Tyrell Butler, Shintay Davis, Clayton Ferris, Brittney Glass, Rekia Glass, Melvin Hicks, Jay Johnson, Jihad Miller, Manez Ricketts, Michelle Sallas-Mensah, Nakia Simpson, Naeema Thomas, Patrice Thomas, Preston Thomas, Shawynna Tucker, Eric Washington and Karriem Upshur.

In order to sell the vehicles, the conspirators needed to create new titles and registrations. A reconstructed title can only be obtained after a car is inspected by an enhanced vehicle inspector. So, the group enlisted enhanced inspectors to overlook the fact that the illegally replated vehicles were brand new cars, not in need of an enhanced inspection. The enhanced inspectors also falsely certified that various repairs were completed and parts were replaced, when in fact no such repairs were ever made. Fake repair bills were used by the inspectors and a fraudulently obtained reconstructed title was issued. One such enhanced inspector was also a certified tag agent who notarized the necessary documentation, and sent it to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to facilitate the issuing of the reconstructed title.

The inspectors who were working in conjunction with the replaters and sellers to falsify the enhanced inspections were Derrick Hook through his business Top of the Line Auto. Alimamy Kamara and Abu Kamara were both enhanced inspectors through Kamara Automotive and Bimco Tag Agency.

All defendants have been arrested except for Karriem Upshur who fraudulently registered 17 vehicles with fake insurance policies. If anyone has information about the whereabouts of Karriem Upshur please call Detective Patrick Gleason at 215-686-8737 or Detective Jack Logan at 215-685-9137. He can also surrender to any local police district.

 

Charges Listed by Defendant

Jihad Miller

Corrupt organization (F1) 1 count

Theft by deception (F3) 45 counts

Altering or destruction of vehicle identification number (F3) 45 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 45 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 45 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

Insurance fraud (F3) 5 counts

Forgery (F3) 5 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities 5 counts

Tampering with public records or information (M2) 5 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 3 counts

False reports (M2) 3 counts

 

Preston Thomas

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 45 counts

Altering or destruction of vehicle identification number (F3) 45 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 45 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 45 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

Insurance fraud (F3)

Forgery (F3)

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2)

Tampering with public records or information (M2)

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 3 counts

False reports (M2) 3 counts

 

Tyrell Butler    

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 3 counts

Altering or destruction of vehicle identification number (F3) 3 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 3 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 3 counts

False reports (M3)

Conspiracy (F1)

Insurance fraud (F3) 3 counts

Forgery (F3) 3 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 3 counts

Tampering with public records or information (M2) 3 counts

 

Melvin Hicks  

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 5 counts

Altering or destruction of vehicle identification number (F3) 5 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 5 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 5 counts

Conspiracy (F)

Insurance fraud (F3)

Forgery (F3)

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2)

Tampering with public records or information (M2)

 

Frederick Miller          

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 5 counts

Altering or destruction of vehicle identification number (F3) 5 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 5 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 5 counts

Conspiracy (F)

 

Keith Mills       

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 2 counts

Altering or destruction of vehicle identification number (F3) 2 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 2 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 2 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

Receiving stolen property (F3) 2 counts

Chop shop (F2)

 

Derrick Hook 

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 16 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 16 counts

Insurance fraud (F3) 16 counts

Forgery (F3) 16 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 16 counts

Conspiracy 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 903 (F1)

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 16 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 16 counts

Insurance fraud (F3) 16 counts

Forgery (F3) 16 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 16 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Top of the Line Auto (Incorporated by Derrick Hook)

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 16 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 16 counts

Insurance fraud (F3) 6 counts

Forgery (F3) 16 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 16 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Abu Kamara

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 6 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 6 counts

Insurance fraud (F3) 6 counts

Forgery (F3) 6 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 6 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Alimamy Kamara

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 6 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 6 counts

Insurance fraud 4117 (F3) 6 counts

Forgery (F3) 6 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 6 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Kamara Automotive (Incorporated by Alimamy Kamara)

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 6 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 6 counts

Insurance fraud (F3) 6 counts

Forgery (F3) 6 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 6 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Bimco Tag Agency (Incorporated by Alimamy Kamara)

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 6 counts

Disposition of vehicle with altered vehicle identification number (F3) 6 counts

Insurance fraud (F3) 6 counts

Forgery (F3) 6 counts

Tampering with public records or information (F3) 6 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Marcel Chase White              

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 2 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 2 counts

False reports (M2) 2 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Larnessha Richmond             

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 3 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 3 counts

False reports (M2) 3 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Jamilah Seward         

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 4 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 4 counts

False reports (M2) 4 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Patrice Thomas         

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 3 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2)

False reports (M2)

Conspiracy (F)

Insurance fraud (F3) 2 counts

Forgery (F3) 2 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 2 counts

Tampering with public records or information (M2) 2 counts

 

Shaderah McFarland                         

Corrupt organization  (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 3 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 3 counts

False reports (M2) 3 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Karriem Upshur         

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3)

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2)

False reports (M2)

Conspiracy (F1)

Insurance fraud (F3) 17 counts

Forgery (F3) 17 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 17 counts

Tampering with public records or information (M2) 17 counts

 

Jeanine Herring         

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 2 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 2 counts

False reports (M2) 2 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Brandon Wesley        

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3) 3 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 3 counts

False reports (M2) 3 counts

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Shawntia Barnes        

Theft by deception (F3)

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2)

False reports (M2)

Conspiracy (F1)

 

James Harris 

Theft by deception (F3)

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2)

False reports (M2)

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Jay Johnson  

Corrupt organization (F1)

Theft by deception (F3)

Insurance fraud (F3) 3 counts

Forgery (F3) 2 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 3 counts

False reports (M2)

Conspiracy (F)

Tampering with public records or information (M2) 2 counts

 

Lisa Layne      

Theft by deception (F3)

Insurance fraud (F3)

Forgery (F3)

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2)

False reports (M2)

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Nasir Sadat Robertson          

VUFA: Persons Not to Possess (F2)

Theft by deception (F3)

Insurance fraud (F3)

Forgery (F3)

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2)

False reports (M2)

Conspiracy (F1)

 

Shintay Davis

Insurance fraud (F3)

Forgery (F3)

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2)

Tampering with public records or information (M2)

 

Clayton Ferris

Insurance fraud (F3) 2 counts

Forgery (F3) 2 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 2 counts

Tampering with public records or information (M2) 2 counts

 

Brittney Glass

Insurance fraud (F3) 2 counts

Forgery (F3) 2 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 2 counts

Tampering with public records or information (M2) 2 counts

 

Rekia Glass

Insurance fraud (F3) 6 counts

Forgery (F3) 6 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 6 counts

Tampering with public records or information (M2) 6 counts

 

Manez Ricketts

Insurance fraud (F3) 3 counts

Forgery (F3) 3 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 3 counts

Tampering with public records or information (M2) 3 counts

 

Michelle Sallas-Mensah

Insurance fraud (F3)

Forgery (F3)

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2)

Tampering with public records or information (M2)

 

Nakia Simpson

Insurance fraud (F3)

Forgery (F3)

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2)

Tampering with public records or information (M2)

 

Naeema Thomas

Insurance fraud (F3) 2 counts

Forgery (F3) 2 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 2 counts

Tampering with public records or information (M2) 2 counts

 

Shawynna Tucker 

Insurance fraud (F3) 2 counts

Forgery (F3) 2 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 2 counts

Tampering with public records or information (M2) 2 counts

 

Eric Washington

Insurance fraud (F3) 3 counts

Forgery 3 counts

Unsworn falsifications to authorities (M2) 3 counts

Tampering with public records or information (M2) 3 counts


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