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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Attorney And Fiance Sentenced For Aiding And Abetting Custom’s Violation

CONTACT:      Barbara Burns
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX:            (716) 551-3051 

BUFFALO, N.Y.--U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Benjamin Natter, 32, an attorney, and his fiancé Ruth Martinez, 37, both of New York, who were convicted of aiding and abetting the failure to present a vehicle for inspection to customs officers, were each sentenced to pay a $5,000 fine by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy. Martinez also forfeited a Land Rover Defender.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Carol Bridge, who handled the case, stated that in May 2013, defendant Natter purchased an alleged 1985 Land Rover Defender from a seller in England. Natter then paid a friend to import the car into Canada.

On October 19, 2013, the friend who imported the car into Canada attempted to drive the Land Rover into the United States at the Rainbow Bridge Port of Entry. The plates used on the car were provided to the friend by Natter and Ruth Martinez.

The  friend  was  pulled  over  by  Custom  and  Border  Protection  Officers  for  a secondary inspection. During a search of the vehicle, officers found the vehicle’s actual license  plates  from  England.  Although  the  friend  claimed  that  the  Land  Rover  was produced in 1985, further inspection revealed the vehicle was in fact produced after 1985. The age of the vehicle prevented it from legally entering the United States due to the fact that the National Highway Safety Traffic Association does not allow the importation of any vehicle less than 25 years old without a safety inspection. The Land Rover was then seized by officers.

During the course of the investigation, both defendants provided false information to CBP officers regarding ownership and origin of the vehicle. After further investigation, it was learned that Natter was a collector of Land Rover Defender vehicles and orchestrated the smuggling attempt.

The sentencings are the result of an investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James C. Spero.

Updated June 2, 2016