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Post date: July 28 2005

Auto Theft And Insurance Fraud Investigation Leads To Indictment Of Eleven

Attorney General Spitzer and State Superintendent of Police Wayne Bennett today announced the indictment of eleven individuals in connection with an investigation into auto theft and insurance fraud in Orange County. Thus far, the investigation has resulted in 22 defendants being indicted; and 25 arrested.

"When individuals commit insurance fraud, honest consumers are forced to bear the burden of higher premiums" said Spitzer. "My office will continue to collaborate with law enforcement officials to help combat this problem."

The arrests were a result of a joint investigation conducted by the New York Attorney General’s Office and the New York State Police’s Special Investigations and Automobile Theft Unit.

"These indictments are the result of a collaborative and thorough investigation by our Special Investigations Unit and the State Attorney General’s Office," said Bennett. "This case has brought to justice individuals who, through an elaborate criminal scheme, defrauded insurance companies by lying about vehicle thefts to gain financial benefits. Ultimately, this is an expense the general public would bear through increased premiums."

The defendants were charged in three separate indictments, which cover conduct that allegedly took place between June 2004 and April 2005, and involve ten vehicles. Of the ten vehicles, six were allegedly stolen from automobile dealerships.

The other four vehicles were falsely reported stolen to insurance carriers and police to avoid remaining loan or lease payments. Three of the individuals who were arraigned on July 25, 2005 acted as middlemen between the vehicle owners and Rudolph Turner, 24, of Newburgh, who stands at the center of this investigation. Turner, who was previously indicted last June on related charges, also finds himself named in this most recent group of indictments.

Turner and several of his alleged accomplices also switched the Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) from some of the stolen cars, with VINs from wrecked vehicles purchased from auto dealers and an internet auction site.

The first indictment alleges that Richard Bremer, 24, of Newburgh, Sephen Pekar, 30, of Wallkill, and Gregory Perri, 25, of Middletown, served as middlemen for Turner. Bremer, Pekar, and Perri are charged with Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and Insurance Fraud in the Third Degree, both class "D" felonies; and Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a class "E" felony. In addition, Perri is charged with Attempted Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class "E" Felony.

The second indictment charges Rudolph Tuner, his brother, James Turner Jr., 24, Joseph Nichols, 24, Jason Alisandrella, 25, all of Newburgh; Aleksander Kalici, 24, and Jessica Zito, 24, both of unknown addresses; Stephen Pekar, 30, of Wallkill; and Dina Napolitano, 20, of Chester; with Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree. Nichols, and Rudolph Turner, are also charged in the indictment with Forgery of a VIN, a class "E" felony. Turner and Nichols, in addition to Napolitano and Edward Pekar, Jr., 58, of Newburgh, were charged with Illegal Possession of a VIN, a class "E" felony.

While executing a search warrant at Rudolph Turner’s home, police seized a Cobray 9mm luger pistol. He was charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree, a class "D" felony.

Class "D" felonies carry a sentence of up to seven years in prison. The maximum penalty for a class "E" felony is four years in prison.

The defendants were arraigned in Orange County Court before the Honorable Judge Jeffrey B. Berry.

This is the second group of indictments handed down in connection with this auto theft and insurance fraud investigation. Thus far, 25 individuals have been charged with crimes relating to their roles in the theft of vehicles, switching of vehicle VIN’s, or falsely reporting that their vehicles had been stolen.

In late June, twelve individuals (including Rudolph Turner) were arraigned in two separate indictments, and variously charged with crimes ranging from Insurance Fraud in the Third Degree to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree.

Additionally, last week in the Orange County Court, three other individuals waived indictment and pleaded guilty to crimes related to this investigation. Patrick Scotto, 34, of Greenwood Lake, pleaded guilty to Insurance Fraud in the Fourth Degree, a class "E" felony, and Christopher Scotto, 29, of Warwick, to Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree, a class "A" misdemeanor, based upon their fraudulently reporting that their vehicles had been stolen. In addition, Jason Campo, 25, of Walkill, pleaded guilty to Forgery of a VIN.

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

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Richard Ernst, under the supervision of Steven N. Nachman, Chief of the Attorney General’s Automobile Insurance Fraud Unit; and Assistant Deputy Attorney General John W. Dormin of the Organized Crime Task Force. The case was investigated by Senior Investigators Peter T. Kontos and Mark J. Yanitelli, under the supervision of Lieutenant George K. Nohai and Major Frank H. Koehler, of the New York State Police, and Investigator Royal Remington, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator David Adams of the Attorney General’s Investigation Bureau.