Union County Man Admits Role in Interstate Car Theft Ring
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey
NEWARK, N.J. – A Union County, New Jersey, man today admitted his role in a conspiracy to steal and transport across state lines luxury cars stolen from towns in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger announced.
Malik Baker, 29, of Vauxhall, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of conspiring to transport stolen vehicles in interstate commerce and one count of receiving a stolen vehicle that had crossed state lines after being stolen.
Baker’s conspirators – Hakeem Smith, Nafique Goodwyn, and Bilal Cureton – previously pleaded guilty to related charges. Smith was sentenced on April 25, 2023, to 41 months in prison. Sentencing is pending for Goodwyn and Cureton.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Since as early as July 2019, the defendants and others stole and conspired to steal at least 10 luxury cars from towns in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, and hid those cars at a location in Irvington, New Jersey. The cars include a 2019 BMW X4 M40i, stolen from Greenwich, Connecticut, on July 19, 2019; a 2017 BMW Alpina, stolen from Hewlett Bay Park, New York, on July 22, 2019; a 2017 Maserati GranTurismo, stolen from Manalapan, New Jersey, on Aug. 5, 2019; a 2018 Range Rover and a 2019 Porsche Cayenne, stolen from New City, New York, on Aug. 6, 2019; a 2017 Mercedes S550 and a 2019 Rolls Royce, stolen from Hewlett Bay Park, New York, on Aug. 13, 2019; a 2019 Land Rover, stolen from Kensington, New York, on Aug. 22, 2019; a 2019 Mercedes Maybach, stolen from Quogue, New York, on Aug. 29, 2019; a 2014 Lexus GS, stolen from West Long Branch, New Jersey, on Aug. 29, 2019; a 2017 BMW M4, stolen from Marlton, New Jersey, on Sept. 7, 2019; and a 2017 Mercedes AMG S63, stolen from Orangeburg, New York, in September 2019.
The defendants often used the stolen cars to steal more cars, and, in one instance, they used a Maserati GranTurisimo they stole from Manalapan to steal a Range Rover and a Porsche Cayenne. When law enforcement attempted to conduct a stop of the Maserati, the Maserati accelerated and crashed head-on into a police vehicle before the suspects fled the scene in another stolen vehicle. Law enforcement recovered one of the stolen cars in a shipping container at the port in Newark en route to Ghana, Africa.
The charge of conspiracy to transport stolen vehicles is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison. The charge of receiving stolen vehicles is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison. Both charges are punishable by a fine up to $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offenses, whichever is greatest. Sentencing is scheduled for March 7, 2024.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark, and the Newark Police Department, under the direction of Public Safety Director Fritz G. Fragé. He also thanked officers with the Irvington Township Police Department, under the direction of Director Tracy Bowers; the Clarkstown Police Department, under the direction of Chief Jeffrey Wanamaker; the Wall Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief Sean O’Halloran; the Marlboro Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief Peter Pezzullo; the Tewksbury Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief Tim Barlow; the Port Authority Police Department, under the direction of Superintendent Edward Cetnar; the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Colonel Patrick J. Callahan; the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Renée M. Robeson. He also thanked officers with Customs and Border Protection, New York Field Office, under the direction of Director of Field Operations Francis J. Russo; special agents of Homeland Security Investigations Newark, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Kurtz; and the Department of Commerce-Office of Export Enforcement, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Carson in New York, with the investigation leading to the charges.
This investigation is part of the Violent Crime Initiative (VCI) in Newark. The VCI was formed in August 2017 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, and the City of Newark’s Department of Public Safety to combat violent crime in and around Newark. As part of this partnership, federal, state, county, and city agencies collaborate and pool resources to prosecute violent offenders who endanger the safety of the community. The VCI is composed of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the ATF, the DEA New Jersey Division, the U.S. Marshals, the Newark Department of Public Safety, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, N.J. State Board of Parole, Union County Jail, N.J. State Police Regional Operations and Intelligence Center/Real Time Crime Center, N.J. Department of Corrections, the East Orange Police Department, and the Irvington Police Department.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Amore, Chief of the General Crimes Unit.
Updated October 19, 2023
Press Release Number: 23-307