Sunday, May 26, 2024

Indicted: Alleged ring targeted luxury cars resold in Charlotte

An indictment accuses five men – four from the Charlotte area and another from South Carolina – with stealing dozens of high-end vehicles from dealerships across the nation and then selling them in Charlotte far below market value.

The indictment was unsealed Wednesday in a federal court in Charlotte, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. From 2021 to 2023, the five men conspired to steal luxury vehicles worth millions of dollars from dealerships in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Arizona, according to the indictment.

The men stole vehicles made by Bentley, BMW, Cadillac, Land Rover, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, and other expensive models from Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford and other manufacturers, according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges the men transported the stolen vehicles back to Charlotte and sold them locally at prices well below market value.

According to the indictment, in some cases the men visited dealerships posing as customers interested in purchasing the vehicles. After pretending to test drive or inspect the vehicles, the men would allegedly swap the vehicles’ key fobs with similar ones, and later use the stolen key fobs to steal the vehicles.

Other times, the indictment alleges that the co-conspirators employed methods like “smash and grab” thefts, where they would break into dealerships and locate keys to the high-end models, or break open lockboxes containing keys to luxury vehicles, and then drive the vehicles off the lot.

“Stopping schemes like this is critical as it not only protects businesses, but also it helps protect our economy,” Special Agent in Charge Ronnie Martinez stated in a release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte. Martinez is with Homeland Security Investigations in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Those charged are:

  • Dewanne Lamar White, 43, of Sumter, South Carolina;
  • Garyka Vaughn Bost, 24, of Denver, North Carolina;
  • Kevin Ja’Coryen James Fields, 27, of Charlotte;
  • Hosea Fernandez Hampton Jr., 25, of Charlotte; and
  • Reginald Eugene Hill, 23, of Charlotte, with conspiracy to transport, possess, and sell stolen vehicles in interstate commerce, and interstate transportation of a stolen motor vehicle.

White, Fields, and Hampton are also charged with possession of a stolen motor vehicle. The indictment alleges that Bost, Fields, and Hill often served as drivers in the conspiracy, and White and Hampton frequently paid them and other drivers for their work in the scheme.

Once the stolen vehicles were taken off the dealership lots, the defendants avoided law enforcement detection by removing the GPS navigation and tracking systems from the stolen vehicles, attaching fictitious dealer tags or stolen license plates on the vehicles, and replacing the vehicles’ authentic Vehicle Identification Numbers, among other things, according to the indictment.

The charge of conspiracy to transport, possess, and sell stolen vehicles in interstate commerce carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The charge of interstate transportation of a stolen motor vehicle and possession of a stolen vehicle each carry a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Hill has been released on bond while awaiting trial. The other four men are all in custody awaiting hearings before a judge, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Hill could not be reached for comment.

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