Former Hoboken, New Jersey, City Council President Found Guilty After Trial For His Participation In A $7 Million Dollar Car Loan Scheme
Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that a federal jury today found former Hoboken, New Jersey, City Council President and attorney CHRISTOPHER CAMPOS guilty of bank and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud. CAMPOS and his co-conspirators fraudulently obtained millions of dollars in car loans by using at least 20 straw buyers to acquire more than 200 new automobiles based on false representations that, among other things, the straw buyers would use the cars for their personal use when, in truth and in fact, CAMPOS and his co-conspirators obtained the vehicles in order to lease as livery cabs. The week-long trial took place before U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni, who is scheduled to sentence CAMPOS on September 20, 2017.
CAMPOS’s co-defendant, Julio Alvarez, pled guilty to bank and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud on June 9, 2017. Alvarez is scheduled to be sentenced on September 8, 2017, before Judge Caproni.
Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim stated: “As a unanimous jury found, Christopher Campos, an attorney and former Hoboken City Council President, defrauded lenders out of millions of dollars. He recruited straw buyers to obtain loans for cars supposedly for ‘personal use,’ when in fact they made up a fleet of over 200 vehicles Campos and his co-conspirators leased to livery drivers. Campos now awaits sentencing for this massive fraud.”
According to the allegations contained in the Complaint, Indictment, and the evidence presented in Court during the trial:
Between approximately October 2012 and September 2013, CAMPOS and Alvarez, among others, orchestrated a scheme to fraudulently obtain new automobiles that they intended to lease to livery cab drivers. In order to secure financing in connection with the purchase of these new cars, CAMPOS and other co-conspirators enlisted and aided individuals with good credit histories (“straw buyers”) to submit fraudulent car loan applications to numerous lenders. In order to obtain the new vehicles, CAMPOS and other co-conspirators sent straw buyers to several car dealerships located throughout the New York City area, where dealership employees helped straw buyers submit fraudulent loan applications.
The auto loan applications submitted by the straw buyers falsely represented that the vehicles would be used for the buyers’ personal use, rather than as part of the defendants’ leasing business. In addition, in many cases, the car loan applications misrepresented personal information about the straw buyers, including their incomes and assets. CAMPOS also caused financing applications to be sent to multiple financial institutions at the same time so that the lenders would not know that the straw buyers were incurring obligations to other lenders in connection with the purchase of multiple new automobiles.
In total, the scheme carried out by CAMPOS, Alvarez, and others involved at least approximately 20 straw buyers, the purchase of more than approximately 200 new vehicles, and more than $7 million in fraudulently obtained loans from a variety of financial institutions. Most of the loans ultimately went into default.
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CAMPOS, 40, of Palisades Park, New Jersey, was convicted of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, bank fraud, and wire fraud. The conspiracy and bank fraud charges each carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and the wire fraud charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI. Mr. Kim also thanked the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the New York Automobile Insurance Plan, and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles for their substantial assistance in the investigation and trial.
The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Dina McLeod, Sagar K. Ravi, and Niketh Velamoor are in charge of the prosecution.