Trio Sentenced for Roles in Interstate Vehicle Theft Ring
DAYTON, Ohio – Three individuals were sentenced in U.S. District Court yesterday for their roles in an interstate vehicle theft ring.
Merle Jay Lunsford, 57, of Dayton was sentenced to 60 months in prison. Shane Lunsford, 34, of Dayton, was sentenced to 24 months in prison. Joshua Jenkins, 22, of Milan, Indiana, was sentenced to time served. All three defendants were ordered to pay nearly $55,000 in restitution jointly.
Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Angela L. Byers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division and Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer announced the sentence handed down today by U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Rose.
According to court documents, from at least June until December 2015, the trio would steal vehicles in Southern Ohio or Northern Kentucky and sell them across the state border for profit. The defendants possessed stolen vehicles, additional license plates from stolen vehicles, lock-picking tools, a firearm, heroin, methamphetamine and fentanyl.
All three defendants pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport stolen vehicles across state lines. Merle Jay Lunsford also pleaded guilty to one count of receipt, possession and sale of a stolen vehicle which had crossed a state boundary and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Lunsford possessed a firearm after having been convicted of five previous felonies ranging in date from 1983 until 2003 and including offenses such as aggravated robbery and aggravated drug trafficking.
U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the cooperative investigation by the FBI and Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, as well as Assistant United States Attorney Dwight Keller, who is representing the United States in this case.