September 19, 2001
Re: Criminal Case No. 99-CR 996 (E.D.N.Y.)
Dear Victim: The United States Department of Justice, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the New York City Police Department have concluded an investigation in the New York area involving the sale of used motor vehicles with altered odometers. As a result of the investigation, in September 2000, Daniel Menake pled guilty in federal district court in Brooklyn, New York, to a five-count Information charging him with conspiracy to commit odometer fraud and various related offenses, giving false odometer statements, and interstate transportation of falsely made, forged, altered and counterfeit securities – namely, certificates of title relating to certain motor vehicles. The defendant also pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The defendant's convictions were based on his role in a fraudulent scheme to misrepresent the mileage of vehicles to consumers. On January 14, 2001, Daniel Menake was sentenced by the Honorable Sterling Johnson, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of New York. The judge sentenced the defendant to twelve months and one day imprisonment. He also sentenced him to a three-year period of supervised release. Mr. Menake was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $24,000 to the owners of six specific rolled-back vehicles. The judge found that 477 vehicles had been subjected to odometer tampering as a result of the defendant's criminal course of conduct.
The case was under seal until August 24, 2001. According to our records, you are the owner of the vehicle identified above. Federal law requires us to notify you that you may have been a victim of odometer fraud involving that vehicle. The investigation revealed that the vehicle had at least [high mileage] miles prior to the date you became the owner. If you purchased this vehicle without knowledge that the odometer had been altered, you may be entitled to certain legal remedies. 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 the disconnection, resetting, or alteration of a motor vehicle's odometer with intent to change the number of miles indicated thereon. 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. At the defendant's sentencing, the judge ordered the defendant to forfeit $75,000 to the United States. The criminal forfeiture awarded by the Court may be available as restitution for victims in this case. You may file a petition to recover some or all of your financial losses out of the forfeiture. If you wish to be considered for restitution, please complete the enclosed form and return it to the address noted. Please ensure that the completed petition contains all pertinent information and return it as soon as possible, but no later than October 22, 2001. Please be advised that it is unlikely that you will be compensated in full for your losses. The amount that you receive will depend on the number of victims who submit claims and other factors. This office cannot guarantee that any particular amount of restitution, or any restitution at all, will be awarded to you. Violations of any of federal odometer laws may also subject the violator to civil liability if it is determined that the violator's actions were intended to defraud the purchaser.
The law makes available to the buyer a remedy in the amount of $1,500 or treble damages, whichever is greater, together with attorney's fees. To obtain this remedy, 49 U.S.C. Â§ 32710 permits the buyer to bring a civil action in State or Federal court. You may do this by contacting your own attorney or the State Attorney General. Your State Attorney General has the authority under the federal law to bring an action on your behalf and can also advise you regarding applicable state laws. The Federal Government has the authority to bring actions for civil and criminal penalties; however, it cannot bring actions on behalf of consumers. You may wish to consult your own private attorney to determine what your legal rights are and what steps you may take if you wish to seek recourse for any losses you may have sustained. You will find enclosed a document titled "Odometer Fraud - Civil Remedies for Victims" which may assist you. In addition, you should be aware that should you sell this vehicle without notifying the purchaser that the odometer does not reflect the actual mileage, you may incur liability.
Further information on this case may be accessed under "Cases" on the Consumer Protection Branch portion of the United States Department of Justice website, http://www.justice.gov/civil/cpb/cpb_home.html. If you need any additional information, please write to: Paralegal Specialist, Consumer Protection Branch, United States Department of Justice, P.O. Box 386, Washington, D.C. 20044, Attention: Bayside Auto Sales. You should include a copy of this letter or the vehicle identification number of your vehicle in your correspondence.
We hope this information will be of use to you.
Enclosures: Odometer Fraud -- Civil Remedies for Victims Petition for Remission