Orange County Automobile Dealer Files False Documents With Dmv In Order To Get "clean" Titles

Attorney General Spitzer, New York State Motor Vehicles Commissioner Nancy A. Naples, and New York State Police Superintendent Wayne E. Bennett today announced the indictment of an Orange County automobile dealer who filed false documents with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). These documents resulted in the improper issuance of titles for 19 vehicles that had been previously salvaged or abandoned.

James Turner, 48, of Newburgh, was arraigned in Albany County Court before the Honorable Thomas Breslin on an indictment charging him with 19 counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree and Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, both class "E" felonies. Bail was set in the amount of $50,000. Turner is the owner of Donation Vehicle Program, Inc., which has locations on Wisner Avenue in Newburgh and Route 52 in Walden. Donation Vehicle acted as a clearinghouse for vehicles that individuals wished to donate to charity. The business also repaired and inspected vehicles, and sold used automobiles. Turner is accused of filing false documents with DMV so that he could obtain titles that concealed the fact that the vehicles had been previously salvaged or abandoned. Previously salvaged vehicles are less valuable; previously abandoned vehicles may not be issued new titles at all.

It is alleged that, between April 30, 2002 and August 6, 2004, Turner bought 15 vehicles that had been salvaged due to substantial damage or theft, and was given four vehicles that had been abandoned. He then submitted vehicle title applications to DMV which misrepresented the true condition of the vehicles. As a result, DMV issued titles for the vehicles which omitted the fact that they had been salvaged or abandoned.

This indictment is part of an investigation conducted by the Office of the Attorney General, DMV and the State Police in which 24 individuals pleaded guilty last year, including Turner's sons, Rudy Turner and James Turner, Jr., to crimes involving falsely reported stolen vehicles, the possession of stolen vehicles, and the switching of Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs). Forty-two vehicles were recovered, and total restitution ordered paid to victims was $118,496.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Richard Ernst under the supervision of Criminal Prosecutions Deputy Bureau Chief Viola I. Abbitt. The case was investigated by the New York State Police Special Investigation Unit (Auto Theft) under the direction of Major Frank H. Koehler of the New York State Police. Assisting with the investigation were Senior Inspector Ian Hay of DMV and the Attorney General's Investigation Bureau.