Former Employee of Virginia DMV Contractor Pleads Guilty to Participating in Odometer Fraud Scheme
A Virginia Beach, Virginia, man pleaded guilty for his role in issuing dozens of fraudulent motor vehicle titles, the Department of Justice announced today.
Steven Bazemore, 33, of Virginia Beach, a former employee of the Norfolk Commissioner of Revenue, pleaded guilty on May 26, in U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Virginia, to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. The Norfolk Commissioner of Revenue’s office is a contractor of the Department of Motor Vehicles to conduct select DMV services included titling. Bazemore faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison at his sentencing on Aug. 31.
“This defendant abused his public position to assist a large odometer tampering scheme by issuing fraudulent vehicle titles,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “We will continue to prosecute individuals who commit and assist others in committing odometer fraud.”
Bazemore admitted that, while employed as a clerk at a DMV Select facility in Norfolk, he knowingly created at least 76 Virginia motor vehicle titles with false, low mileage readings for a co-conspirator who was a licensed salvage dealer. Bazemore issued titles with any false, low mileage reading requested by his co-conspirator, even when the reading was inconsistent with a higher mileage reading on a prior title or in the DMV computer system. Bazemore’s co-conspirator then used the fraudulent titles to sell many of the vehicles for inflated prices.
In exchange for issuing the fraudulent titles, Bazemore received cash payments from his co-conspirator. Bazemore also took steps to hide the odometer fraud scheme. In many instances, Bazemore returned the documents used to procure the fraudulent titles to his co-conspirator rather than retaining the documents in the DMV file system.
This case was investigated by special agents of the Virginia DMV and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation (NHTSA). NHTSA estimates that odometer fraud in the United States results in consumer losses of more than $1 billion annually and has established a special hotline to handle odometer fraud complaints. Individuals having information relating to odometer tampering should call (800) 424-9393 or (202) 366-4761.
This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys John W. Burke and Jacqueline Blaesi-Freed of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch with assistance from Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Salsbury of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
More information on odometer fraud is available on the NHTSA’s website and tips on detecting and avoiding odometer fraud are available at this page. For more information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts, visit its website at http://www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch.