Michael Gonzalez Indicted for Stealing Five Tesla Vehicles Worth Over $600,000 – Including a Tesla that Burned on Lake Champlain
The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Michael A. Gonzalez, 32, of Colchester, Vermont appeared today in federal court after being charged with five counts of possessing and selling stolen motor vehicles. Gonzalez was ordered detained by United States Magistrate Judge Kevin J. Doyle pending a detention hearing next week.
According to the indictment filed in the case, between September 2018 and January 2021, Gonzalez obtained five Tesla vehicles worth a total of approximately $607,000 from dealerships in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Florida. For each vehicle, Gonzalez made an initial payment of approximately $2,500, and then arranged for electronic funds transfers to cover the balance of the vehicle’s price from accounts with insufficient funds or from fictitious accounts. Gonzalez took delivery of the vehicles from Tesla before Tesla discovered his failure to complete the final payments. Gonzalez resold or attempted to resell four of the five vehicles. Gonzalez was never issued the necessary paperwork to resell the fifth vehicle, which subsequently burned on a frozen portion of Shelburne Bay on February 24, 2019. Gonzalez attempted to claim insurance funds for the value of this burned Tesla, but the insurance claim was denied.
On August 26, 2021, a federal Grand Jury sitting in Burlington, Vermont returned a five-count indictment against Gonzalez for the sale and possession of stolen motor vehicles. If convicted, Gonzalez faces up to ten years in custody on each count. The actual sentence would be determined in relation to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines with consideration of the nature and circumstances of the offense and Gonzalez’s personal history. The Acting United States Attorney noted that the charges in the indictment are merely accusations, and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan A. Ophardt credited the United States Secret Service and the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles – Enforcement and Safety Division for their work investigating the matter.
The United States is represented in this matter by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey W. Davis. Chandler Matson, Esq. represents the defendant.