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US v. James Seligh


NHTSA/Odometer Fraud (CLOSED)

United States v. James Seligh, Criminal No. 03-CR-750 (ED PA)

Most Recent Update: 7/21/06(see end of document)

Update: 12/03

The United States Department of Justice and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Office of Odometer Fraud Investigations with assistance from the Wyoming Department of Transportation recently concluded an investigation involving the sale of used motor vehicles with rolled back odometers. The investigation disclosed that numerous vehicles had been subject to odometer tampering.

The Federal odometer law, Title 49, United States Code, sections 32701-32711 (formerly the Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act, Title 15, United States Code, sections 1981-1991) prohibits disconnecting, resetting, or altering a motor vehicle's odometer with intent to change the number of miles on the odometer. The law requires that a written disclosure of the mileage registered on an odometer be provided by the seller to the purchaser at the time ownership of a vehicle is transferred. If the odometer mileage is incorrect, the Act requires a statement to that effect to be furnished in written form to the buyer.

As a result of the investigation, in November 2003, a federal grand jury sitting in Philadelphia indicted James Seligh on 9 counts of interstate transportation of altered securities and 9 counts of giving false odometer statements. The securities were certificates of title relating to certain motor vehicles which contained false information regarding the mileages of the vehicles. The indictment alleged a plan to purchase used cars with high mileages in Maryland and elsewhere, title them in Wyoming and Maryland, and sell them with misrepresentations as to their true mileages at an auto auction in Pennsylvania.

Charges contained in the indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty it is to determine guilt or innocence.

A trial is scheduled for January 12, 2004, before the Hon. Mary A. McLaughlin in the United States District Court, United States Courthouse, 601 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. If you believe that you are a victim of odometer fraud, please refer to the following document: Odometer Fraud – Civil Remedies for Victims.

Update: 1/8/04

During a conference call with the Court on January 7, 2004, the trial of this matter was moved back two days. Thus, trial is now scheduled to begin on Wednesday, January 14, 2004. The delay was caused by another trial before the Court which is ongoing. The place of trial remains the same.

Update: 1/27/04

Trial commenced on January 14, 2004, and continued through January 23, 2004. The government presented testimony of 20 witnesses and introduced approximately 200 exhibits. The defense presented the testimony of two witnesses and introduced 2 exhibits. The jury returned a verdict of guilty on all 18 counts. Sentencing is scheduled for April 14, 2004, at 3:00 p.m. before Judge McLaughlin.

Update: 2/04

No change in status.

Update: 4/04

A sentencing hearing was held on April 14, 2004, before Judge McLaughlin. The matter was continued until April 21, 2004, at 11:00 AM to allow the defendant additional time to review the Presentence Investigation Report.

Update: 6/04

On April 21, 2004, U.S. District Judge Mary A. McLaughlin sentenced James Seligh to 51 months in prison in connection with his conviction on January 23, 2004. At sentencing, the Court found that the defendant was responsible for the sale of 70 cars with rolled-back odometers which caused losses to consumers of roughly $280,000. The Court also found that the offenses involved sophisticated means. The Court ordered restitution in the amount of $140,000 to those victims of the defendant's fraud the Probation Office was able to identify.

Update: 11/22/05

On June 29, 2005, the Court denied Mr. Seligh’s motion to vacate/set aside/correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The Court further denied his request for a certificate of appealability, finding that there was no substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.

Update: 7/21/06

There is no more information available at this time.