– Yakov Babchinetskiy, 43, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., was sentenced today in Philadelphia by U.S. District Court Judge Legrome D. Davis to 100 months in prison plus three years of supervised release for his role in a conspiracy to alter odometers on used motor vehicles, provide false odometer statements, and commit wire and securities fraud, the Justice Department announced. He was also ordered to pay restitution of more than $4,098,165
to the victims of the fraud, which include consumers, retail automobile dealers and insurance companies.
From 2002 to 2005, Babchinetksiy conspired with other individuals to purchase high-mileage used motor vehicles, alter the mileage on the titles, roll back the odometers, and sell the vehicles at a false low-mileage to dealers and consumers. Co-defendants Mikhail Gokhman and Yan Hershman previously pleaded guilty to similar charges and were also sentenced by Judge Davis.
Mikhail Gokhman was sentenced in October 2008 to 10 years in prison; and Yan Hershman was sentenced in July 2008 to 48 months in prison. Hershman, who was an illegal alien, was deported to Israel after serving his sentence. Another co-defendant, Edvard Khakhan, remains a fugitive.
In a related case brought in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, James Russell Bradbury, a former Pennsylvania Department of Transportation title clerk, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in November 2006 by U.S. District Court Judge Yvette Kane to 21 months in prison for bribery concerning a program receiving federal funds.
"This type of financial fraud harms consumers making one of the biggest investments they will make: their automobile. Dishonest dealers who roll back odometers cheat customers out of their hard-earned money, impede informed buying choices, and raise safety concerns by misrepresenting the actual condition of the vehicles they sell," said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. "The Justice Department will seek appropriately tough sentences for those engaging in these illegal practices."
"Consumers are entitled to know exactly what they are buying," said Zane Memeger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. "The type of fraud committed by this defendant deprives the car buying public of the right-to-know how many miles a car has been driven prior to purchase. Such mileage could ultimately affect car safety and the costs of future repairs to the consumer."
This case was investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation and the Pennsylvania State Police. It was prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Linda I. Marks and Trial Attorney Mary Murphy of the Civil Division’s Office of Consumer Litigation, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia.