News and Press Releases

AUTO TITLE WASHING CONSPIRACY NETS 18 MONTH PRISON TERM
Consumers Will Get Restitution for Purchase of "Rebuilt Wrecks"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 18, 2005

IGOR IVANCHUK, 49, of Kent, Washington was sentenced today to 18 months in prison, three years of supervised release and $100,000 in restitution for his role in a conspiracy to sell rebuilt wrecked cars without telling the customers that the car had been totaled. IVANCHUK pleaded guilty July 22, 2005 to Conspiracy to Forge State Securities. In sentencing IVANCHUK to the prison term U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo S. Martinez noted the harm these forgeries and sales had done to consumers.

According to court records, IVANCHUK purchased vehicles that had been declared "totaled" by insurance companies at various auto auctions. IVANCHUK would have the vehicles rebuilt and then would sell them at a car lot he owned with co-defendant IGOR BRAGA, 55, of Edmonds, Washington. BRAGA operated "John's Auto" in Everett, Washington. IVANCHUK paid a Washington State Department of Licensing contractor employee, AMY HAECKL, to remove the "WA Rebuild" designation on the vehicles title. That brand is supposed to remain permanently on a vehicle title if the vehicle was previously declared "totaled," HAECKL, an employee at the Fairwood/Maple Valley licensing agency, removed the brand from as many as one-thousand vehicles in exchange for $18,000 to $27,000 in bribes. The cars were then sold to unsuspecting customers. The customers not only lost money by paying more than the vehicles are worth, they are now driving potentially unsafe cars, trucks and SUVs.

Some of those purchasers described the damage they suffered in statements sent to the court:

"Now I am stuck with a car that isn't even worth what I owe to my bank. I feel it is unsafe to drive in considering I don't know where this car came from or how it got totaled. I do not feel safe in my own car. I worry about my one year old son riding in the back seat most of all, and I also worry would we be safe if someone were to hit us?" Victim A.

"We were told that the car had been in a wreck before and rebuilt. Whomever rebuilt the car did not use the correct parts and did not install parts correctly." Victim B

"I am a single mother of one, who has a fixed income. I am not sure which is worse. Knowing that I am driving in a potentially unsafe car, or not being financially able to repair it." Victim C

Assistant United States Attorney Todd Greenberg told the court "the defendants' criminal conduct in this case was extensive, in terms of the time period over which the crimes occurred, the financial loss incurred by the numerous victims in the case, and the harm otherwise suffered by the victims and the State of Washington."

BRAGA was sentenced today to 364 days in prison and three years of supervised release. He and IVANCHUK are both responsible for the $100,000 in restitution. They paid the court that amount today. AMY HAECKL, 38, of Seattle will be sentenced on November 22, 2005.

The case was investigated by the Washington State Patrol and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Todd Greenberg and James Lord. For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington, at (206) 553-4110.

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