Six defendants charged in high-end car theft ring
ATLANTA - Six defendants have been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of stealing expensive cars from dealerships in three states, altering their Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN), and fraudulently obtaining new titles for the cars.
“These defendants were brazen in stealing expensive vehicles from car dealerships,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “They are alleged to have altered the Vehicle Identification Numbers of the stolen cars to cover their tracks and to allow them to sell the cars as legitimate.”
“The FBI Atlanta’s Organized Crime Task Force, working in coordination with the Alpharetta Public Safety Department and others, were able to bring a stop to the illicit business this crime ring is alleged to have been conducting,” said J.C. Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The combined effort is another example of how law enforcement will go to every length to protect our citizens and bring those who violate the law to justice.”
“When a civil servant is associated with criminal activity, it undermines the public’s trust in government,” said Special Agent in Charge Floyd Martinez. “The General Services Administration Office of Inspector General will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to aggressively investigate and hold accountable individuals who abuse this trust for personal gain.”
“This is another great example of what happens when we combine federal and local resources in an effort to combat expansive criminal activity,” said Alpharetta Police Chief John Robison. “We are grateful for our strong partnership with the FBI, and we look forward to continuing to work with them in the future.”
According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges, and other information presented in court: The defendants allegedly worked together to steal high-end vehicles, mainly from car dealerships in Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina. After stealing the cars, the defendants researched vehicles that were similar to the ones they had stolen, and when a similar car was found, they used that vehicle’s VIN to create a new VIN for the stolen car. They then affixed the new VIN to the dashboard to thwart detection that the vehicle was actually stolen.
At that point, defendants submitted fraudulent powers of attorney to state motor vehicle departments to obtain copies of the titles of the similar cars. With the fake title in hand, the defendants allegedly sold the stolen car with its new VIN. The defendants allegedly stole eight Bentleys, three Audis, two Mercedes-Benz, two GMC Yukons, two Chevrolet Corvettes, as well as other expensive cars.
The following defendants were indicted by a federal grand jury on June 26, 2018 and charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, and altering a VIN:
●Everett Tripodis, 42, of Atlanta, Georgia;
●Janell Payne, 39, of Atlanta, Georgia;
●Mark Wilson, 31, of Toledo, Ohio;
●Kakawana Tate, 42, of Atlanta, Georgia;
●Antonio Tyler, 42, of Augusta, Georgia; and
●Quentin Berry, 45, of Atlanta, Georgia.
Tripodis and Payne were arraigned on July 10, 2018, on federal charges of stealing expensive cars, altering their Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN), and fraudulently obtaining new titles for the cars. Tripodis was also ordered detained on July 13, 2018, pending trial by U.S. Magistrate Judge Russel G. Vineyard. Tripodis has two previous federal convictions for tampering with and altering VINs. Payne is trained as a lawyer.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Alpharetta Police Department, the Atlanta Police Department, and the General Services Administration – Office of Inspector General also provided assistance on the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Phyllis Clerk and Paul R. Jones are prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.