Defendants in Elite Motors racketeering scheme sentenced in federal court
Charged with Conspiracy to Commit Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO)
Indianapolis – United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced today that four of the lead defendants in a racketing scheme have been sentenced in federal court by U.S. District Judge William T. Lawrence.
Mohamed Noshi Mahmoud, a/k/a Noshi 41, Fishers, 70 months’ imprisonment
Mahdi Khelifi, 26, Indianapolis, 75 months’ imprisonment
Hamzi Dridi, a/k/a Alex, 28, Indianapolis, 72 months’ imprisonment
Issa Kayyali, 30, Indianapolis, 35 months’ imprisonment
“Elite Imports was used as a sanctuary to perpetrate three separate, but interrelated fraud schemes causing financial and untold loss to corporate America and individual victims,” said Minkler. “These defendants abused processes in place that would allow citizens with largely subprime credit to get back on their feet through legitimate vehicle sales.”
Mohamed Noshi Mahmoud (Noshi) was the principal leader and manager of Elite Enterprise which operated two used car dealerships and several “shell” companies in Indianapolis. Noshi directed other members and associates of the enterprise to engage in activity that assisted him in carrying out unlawful acts. Khelifi was a managing sales associate involved in the day-to-day operations of the dealership, Kayyali was a sales associate and Dridi was the service manager and mechanic in charge of the chop shop the dealership used to disassemble vehicles that were oftentimes reported stolen.
According to court documents, Noshi and the other Elite managers engaged in three separate but interlocking fraud schemes on behalf of the business enterprise. The first was to procure fraudulent documents and submit them to lending and financial institutions to underwrite the purchase of cars, trucks and motorcycles on behalf of Elite’s customers. The documents included social security numbers, dates of birth and paystubs from the shell companies Elite employees or associates created.
The second scheme was a conspiracy to defraud insurance carriers by submitting false claims of stolen vehicles. The defendants allegedly claimed that certain vehicles were damaged or stolen, thereby causing the insurance carriers to release claim money to the policy and lien holder benefitting Elite. In many cases stolen vehicles and/or parts were located in the chop shop storage unit leased by Noshi.
The third scheme involved theft from specialty financing companies who gave Elite short-term financing and lines of credit for vehicles in inventory. These specialty financing companies were defrauded through a series of steps including false representations made by Elite management.
The case was investigated through a collaborative partnership between federal, state, and local officials. The investigation was led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Social Security, OIG, the Lawrence Police Department (Indiana), and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, with assistance provided by the Indiana Secretary of State, Auto Division and the Indiana Attorney General Consumer Fraud Division.
“These sentences send a very clear message that illegal business practices won’t be tolerated,” said Grant Mendenhall, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis Division. “The FBI and our law enforcement partners will not look the other way when individuals attempt to defraud the hard working residents of Indiana.”
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Cynthia J. Ridgeway and Kristina M. Korobov.
In October 2017, United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced a Strategic Plan designed to shape and strengthen the District’s response to its most significant public safety challenges. This prosecution demonstrates the Office’s firm commitment to prosecuting those who commit large-scale fraud schemes that exploit vulnerable victims. See United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Indiana Strategic Plan 5.1