Multi-agency Investigation Results In Fraud And Larceny Convictions In Fraudulent Auto Sales Scheme

Attorney General Spitzer, State Inspector General Roslynn R. Mauskopf, State Police Superintendent James McMahon, Tax Commissioner Arthur Roth, Motor Vehicles Commissioner Richard E. Jackson, Jr., and Bethlehem Police Chief Richard LaChappelle announced that three Albany County residents pled guilty today in connection with a massive scheme to fraudulently sell vehicles with altered odometers to unsuspecting consumers in the Capital District. In addition, a fourth defendant has been arrested and charged in connection with the scheme.

The defendants are members of the same local family. Defendants Kimberly Shaffer, 30, and her husband, Timothy Shaffer, 32, of Delmar, were arrested and pled guilty to felony charges arising out of this criminal scheme. As part of their plea, they admitted that between 1996 and February 2000, they sold approximately 200 cars with odometers that had been altered to understate the true mileage of the vehicles. The Shaffers obtained the vehicles from local dealerships owned by other family members, paid local mechanics to have the odometers rolled back and then lied to customers about the ownership history of the cars, often claiming that the vehicles had been owned by elderly family members who had died. The Shaffers sold the vehicles from their homes at 11 Henderson Road in Glenmont; and 190 Elsmere Avenue in Delmar.

According to documents filed by law enforcement agencies and the Attorney General's office, the vehicles were provided to the Shaffers by William Saleh, 48, of Glenmont, and by defendant Christine Saleh, 48, of East Greenbush. Christine Saleh, who also pled guilty today, is the stepmother of Kimberly Shaffer, and William Saleh is her uncle. It is alleged that both Salehs, who operated licensed automobile dealerships in the Capital District, transferred vehicles to Shaffer, often allowing her to take title to the vehicles under false names, and that they participated in the preparation and filing with the Department of Motor Vehicles of false paperwork relating to those transactions.

Kimberly Shaffer and Timothy Shaffer both pled guilty before Judge Lawrence Rosen to one count of Scheme to Defraud (a class E felony), one count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a class D felony), and one count of Failure to File an Income Tax Return (a class A misdemeanor). Under the terms of their plea, they agreed to pay more than $200,000 in restitution and to cooperate with the continuing investigation. In addition, Judge Rosen indicated in court that, subject to the probation report, both defendants would be sentenced to six months in jail and five years probation.

Christine Saleh pled guilty to a reduced count of Scheme to Defraud in the Second Degree (a class A misdemeanor). She agreed to cooperate with the continuing investigation and to contribute $75,000 toward the restitution owed to those who purchased altered vehicles. Ms. Saleh will also surrender her automobile retail dealers license under the plea agreement.

William Saleh is scheduled to appear in court on August 15.

Sentencing for Kimberly and Timothy Shaffer and Christine Saleh is scheduled for September 22. The defendants were released on their own recognizance.

Consumers who believe that they purchased a vehicle from the Shaffers with an altered odometer should contact Assistant Attorney General Nancy Snyder of the Attorney General's Criminal Prosecutions Bureau at (518) 474-4096.

It is estimated that those who purchased vehicles from the Shaffer's paid more than twice the true value of the vehicles. Total losses are estimated to exceed $200,000. In addition to falsely representing the value and condition of the vehicles they were selling, another consequence of this scheme was that Kimberly and Timothy Shaffer avoided the regulatory scrutiny that the Department of Motor Vehicles devotes to those who are licensed to sell cars. New York State Law requires individuals selling more than five cars per year to be registered with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles as licensed dealers. In appropriate cases, dealers are required to provide warranties for the cars they sell and they are subject to additional regulations to insure the fairness of their transactions with consumers.

In addition to the Attorney General's office, the multi-agency investigation involved investigators, prosecutors, and officers, from the New York State Police Special Investigations Unit (Albany Office), the State Office of the Inspector General, the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Tax and Finance, and the Bethlehem Police Department.

NOTE: Among the various false identities used by Kimberly Shaffer to sell vehicles during this scheme were the following names:

Kim or Kimberly WilliamsAlice CarrollMarcus Resciniti
Robert LivingstonAlicia DiNovoAnthony Resciniti
Falon WilliamsMichael DiNovo
Gabriella WilliamsBrian Livingston
Gabriella ShafferKim Hughes
Alice or Alicia RyderLaurel Hughes
Savannah WilliamsJane Ryder
Savannah ShafferJoanne Shaffer
Davina RescinitiTina Snyder
Davina RyderKim Castine