highway patrol officer, owners of two carrollton auto repair shops indicted for $245,000 conspiracy to sell salvaged vehicles
with altered vINs
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Missouri State Highway Patrol officer and the owners of two Carrollton, Mo., auto repair shops were among four Carrollton men indicted by a federal grand jury today for their roles in a $245,000 conspiracy to sell salvaged vehicles with altered Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) plates and stickers.
Darrin L. Potter, 34, Michael H. Carter, 24, Anthony J. Riley, 30, all of Carrollton, and Dusty Berry, 26, formerly of Carrollton, were charged in a 19-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo.
Potter and Carter each own their own automobile repair businesses in Carrollton. Potter owns Potter Construction at 204 S. Main, and Carter owns Midwest Customs at 706 S. Main. Riley was employed by Carter at Midwest Customs. Berry, who is a Missouri State Highway Patrol officer, was employed at another Carrollton automobile repair business, Potter’s Collision at 1201 S. Main. Potter’s Collision is owned by Darrin Potter’s cousin, Brice Potter, who is named as an unindicted co-conspirator.
Today’s indictment alleges that Darrin Potter, Carter, Riley, Berry and Brice Potter participated in a conspiracy from January 2006 to April 22, 2010, to purchase salvaged vehicles, rebuild them with parts with altered VINs, and sell them. They allegedly removed or altered the VIN plates and stickers from the damaged parts and reattached them onto the new parts. Conspirators evaded disclosing to the Missouri Department of Revenue that major component parts had been replaced, the indictment says, and thereby avoided vehicle inspections. They were able to obtain Missouri vehicle titles that did not reflect the salvaged or reconstructed history of the vehicles.
Under federal law, it is illegal to remove or alter a vehicle identification number, and to sell a vehicle with an altered identification number. In addition to the conspiracy, the federal indictment charges Darrin Potter in five counts, Darrin Potter and Carter together in six counts, Carter and Berry together in four counts, Carter and Riley together in one count, Carter in one count and Berry in one count.
The federal indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, which would require the defendants to forfeit to the government any property obtained from the proceeds of the alleged offenses and any property that was used to commit the alleged offenses, including a money judgment of $245,730 and 11 vehicles that were involved in the alleged offenses.
Phillips cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Roseann A. Ketchmark. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.