Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Stuart F. Delery and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin James L. Santelle announced today that a federal grand jury indicted two men for odometer tampering and related crimes. Erick Sanchez-Pulido, 30, and his brother, Israel Sanchez-Pulido, 31, were charged with one count of conspiracy, 15 counts of odometer tampering, four counts of making false odometer statements and other charges. Both men are Mexican citizens who were allegedly in the U.S. illegally and, prior to their arrests, had been living in the Chicago area.
The indictment charges that the Sanchez brothers purchased high-mileage used motor vehicles at Wisconsin auto auctions, rolled back the vehicles’ odometers, altered the mileage readings on the vehicles’ titles and sold the vehicles to unsuspecting consumers. The indictment alleges that from late 2009 through February 2014, the defendants rolled back the odometers on at least 146 vehicles.
“Odometer fraud harms consumers making one of the biggest purchases in their lives: an automobile,” said Assistant Attorney General Delery. “Not only do purchasers end up paying more for used cars, but the rolling back of mileage on odometers could ultimately affect a car’s safety and the costs of future repairs to consumers."
“Today’s charges reflect the abiding focus of the Justice Department on identifying, investigating and prosecuting perpetrators of consumer fraud who victimize trusting, unsuspecting car buyers,” said U.S. Attorney Santelle. “I acknowledge and commend the excellent work of agents of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation that resulted in this important indictment—premised on conspiratorial conduct in altering mileage readings and rolling back odometers.”
“Tampering with odometers is a crime that puts consumers’ lives and wallets at risk,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman. “Safety is the Department of Transportation's top priority, and we will continue to work with our Department of Justice and state DOT partners to deter odometer fraud and inform consumers of the potential signs of and dangers associated with this crime.”
The case was investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Trial Attorney Patrick Jasperse, with the Consumer Protection Branch at the U.S. Department of Justice, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan H. Koenig are prosecuting the case. The Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation and the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department assisted in making the arrests.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until such time, if ever, that the government proves their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.