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Press Release

Wife sentenced to prison in chop shop conspiracy involving the theft of more than 35 vehicles

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

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A Columbus woman was sentenced in U.S. District Court today for conspiring with her husband and others to steal at least 35 vehicles, earning more than half a million dollars by selling their parts.


Tina Imes, 41, was sentenced to 36 months in prison. In July 2019, her husband James A. Imes, 51, was sentenced to 120 months in prison.


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


For example, one vehicle – a truck stolen from Buckeye Ford in London, Ohio – was registered in the name of the couple’s minor son and had a fraudulent VIN and title assigned to it after the theft.


Most of the vehicles 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.


As part of this investigation, agents spoke with Imes in October and November 2018 about a felony arrest warrant for her husband. Imes told U.S. Marshals that the couple planned to divorce, and that her husband had fled to Kentucky. In reality, Imes was delivering food and other supplies to her husband at an apartment on Plumway Drive in Columbus.


Imes pleaded guilty in February 2019.


Congress sets the maximum statutory sentence. Sentencing of the defendant is determined by the Court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.


David M. DeVillers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Laurie A. Stevenson announced the sentence handed down today by Senior U.S. District Judge James L. Graham. Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan J.C. Grey and J. Michael Marous are representing the United States in this case. 


The case was investigated 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.


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Updated September 11, 2020