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Press Release

Farmington Hills Man Convicted of Conspiring to Steal Automobiles

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Michigan

DETROIT – A Farmington Hills man was convicted yesterday by a federal jury for conspiring to steal Volkswagen and Audi vehicles from a lot in Pontiac, announced United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison. The charges stem from an investigation initiated by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Auto Theft Unit.

Ison was joined in the announcement by Cheyvoryea Gibson, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Sheriff Michael Bouchard of Oakland County.

Romane Porter, 47, was convicted after a 13-day trial before United States District Judge Denise Page Hood in Detroit. The jurors returned guilty verdicts on all four charges: one count of conspiracy to transport stolen vehicles, and three counts of transportation of stolen vehicles.

According to the evidence presented during the trial, beginning in March 2017 and continuing through September 2017, Porter and co-defendant Daniel Onorati, conspired with each other and others to steal approximately 61 recalled Volkswagen and Audi cars that were parked at the site of the former Pontiac Silverdome.

The court has scheduled Porter’s sentencing hearing for August 8, 2024. The defendant’s convictions on three counts of interstate transportation of stolen vehicles each carries up to 10 years in prison, and his conviction on one count of conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen vehicles carries a maximum penalty up to 5 years in prison.

Co-defendant Daniel Onorati pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme and received a sentence of 20 months on April 26, 2022.

“Our office salutes the combined efforts of federal, state, and local law enforcement to break up this car theft conspiracy and bring its ringleader to justice,” said U.S. Attorney Ison. “This defendant and his co-conspirators stole dozens of vehicles and transported them across state lines for sale, and the jury has now held him accountable for his crimes.”

"Today's sentencing would not have been possible without the collaborative work of the FBI's Detroit Fraud & Financial Crimes Task Force and the Oakland County Sheriff Office's Auto-Theft Unit," said Cheyvoryea Gibson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan. "Our office will continue to focus our investigative efforts on thwarting elaborate theft schemes and holding those accountable for their thievery."

“I am grateful for the partnership between our Auto Theft Unit, the FBI, and the US Attorney’s Office who brought this organized auto theft activity to a close,” said Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard. “These individuals were bold in their behavior in stealing such a large volume of vehicles from a well-known location. These criminals deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

The case was investigated by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Auto Theft Unit. The team was also assisted by the Special Investigations Section, Office of Investigative Services of the Michigan Department of State, as well as the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office and the Kentucky State Police. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Trevor Broad and Louis Meizlish.

Updated April 5, 2024