Georgia Man Pleads Guilty in Odometer Fraud Scheme
A Georgia man pleaded guilty today to operating an odometer fraud scheme involving over 100 vehicles, the Department of Justice announced today.
Paul Robinson, 37, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Virginia, to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and odometer tampering.
“We buy vehicles to help assist us in many aspects of our lives,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “No consumer makes such a significant purchase lightly and we have to be able to trust that a dealer is not selling one car and actually supplying a vastly inferior automobile paired with falsified title documents. We are committed to prosecuting individuals who break that trust by rolling back odometers and passing off phony title.”
Robinson owned and operated Affordable Auto Body Repair, a repair shop and licensed salvage vehicle dealer located in Chesapeake, Virginia. Robinson purchased older vehicles, many of which had been involved in accidents, from an automobile auction specializing in vehicles from insurance companies. On over 100 of these vehicles, Robinson altered or replaced the odometer to reflect a false, lower mileage. He then obtained fraudulent Virginia motor vehicle titles with mileage readings matching the false, lower mileage on the new odometer, and passed these falsified title documents on to the auto purchasers.
Robinson obtained many of these fraudulent titles from a former DMV Select clerk named Steven Bazemore. In many instances, Robinson asked Bazemore to return the documents used to procure the fraudulent titles rather than retaining the documents in the DMV file system. This made it more difficult for the DMV to detect the fraud. Bazemore previously pleaded guilty relating to his role in the conspiracy. On Sept. 22, 2016, Bazemore was sentenced to one year of home confinement and ordered to pay restitution to the ultimate purchasers of the vehicles. Robinson’s sentencing is scheduled for June 8.
This case was investigated by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation (NHTSA) and the Virginia DMV. 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.
For more information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts, visit its website at http://www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch.