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Press Release

Columbus Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Stealing More Than 35 Vehicles and Selling Their Parts

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A Columbus man was sentenced in U.S. District Court today to 120 months in prison for stealing at least 35 vehicles and earning more than half a million dollars by selling their parts.


James A. Imes, 50, was sentenced today for operating a chop shop, trafficking in motor vehicle parts, removing or altering vehicle identification numbers and releasing refrigerant chemicals into the environment.


Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Laurie A. Stevenson and Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien announced the sentence handed down today by Senior U.S. District Judge James L. Graham.


According to court documents, from January 2013 until April 2014, Imes stole at least 35 vehicles to dismantle them and sell their parts throughout the Midwest, earning $10,000 to $15,000 per week. He and his associates operated chop shops in three locations on the West side of Columbus to traffic the car parts.


Imes told investigators he was renting three separate garage spaces and running a business “disguised as a diesel mechanic shop, but it’s obviously not.” He said the true purpose of the business was to “cut up stolen trucks.”


Two of the vehicles were kept for personal use, and the rest were sold as parts or scrap to salvage yards. More valuable parts were sold on Craigslist through posts advertised in cities across Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Michigan and West Virginia.


During the destruction of the vehicles, HCFC refrigerant chemicals were released into the atmosphere when vehicle air conditioning tubes were cut.


U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the cooperative investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) and Ohio EPA Special Investigations Unit, as well as the assistance from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Columbus Division of Police Auto Theft Unit and Ohio State Highway Patrol Theft and Fraud Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan J.C. Grey and J. Michael Marous and Special Assistant United States Attorney Heather Robinson are representing the United States in this case. 



Updated September 30, 2019