– Attorney General Anne Milgram and
Criminal Justice Director Deborah L. Gramiccioni
announced that a former clerk for the New
Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission was indicted
today on charges he sold hundreds of fraudulent
motor vehicle titles to various brokers and
purchasers, including 13 people who were charged
today in separate indictments.
to Director Gramiccioni, Wesley Starr, 35,
of Trenton, the former Motor Vehicle Commission
clerk, was charged in a 20-count state grand
jury indictment with conspiracy and multiple
counts of official misconduct and bribery,
all in the second degree, as well as multiple
third-degree counts of forgery and tampering
with public records or information.
who formerly worked in the Special Titles
Unit of the Motor Vehicle Commission in Trenton,
allegedly circumvented the regular titling
procedures using a special procedure by which
public agencies obtain an application for
certificate of ownership for abandoned vehicles
that will be sold at public auction. It is
alleged that between January 2006 and November
2007, Starr used the special procedure to
issue approximately 378 fraudulent vehicle
titles that were sold, primarily through middlemen
or “brokers,” to numerous
charge that this clerk used the authority
of his public position to engage in fraud
and sell official documents for personal profit,”
said Attorney General Milgram. “That
is a serious crime with the potential to contribute
to other criminal activity and compromise
charges resulted from an ongoing investigation
by the State Police, Division of Criminal
Justice and Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor,
conducted with assistance from the Motor Vehicle
Commission Division of Security & Investigations.
MVC does not tolerate any type of criminal
activity whatsoever, either from customers
or employees,” said Sharon A. Harrington,
Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Motor
Vehicle Commission. “Working together
with our partners in law enforcement, we continue
to make great strides in weeding out fraud
and abuse, while enhancing security throughout
our entire organization.”
purchasers typically paid anywhere from a
few hundred dollars to more than $1,000 for
the fraudulent title. The purchasers usually
were owners, employees or customers of auto
businesses, including used car dealerships
and towing companies. In some cases, the cars
were obtained by the business without a title,
while in others the intent was to remove a
lien from the title or generate a regular
title to replace a salvage title on a vehicle
damaged in an accident. In some cases, the
business owners or employees acted as brokers
for the fraudulent titles.
Division of Criminal Justice will continue
to work in partnership with the State Police
Auto Unit and the Motor Vehicle Commission
to aggressively investigate and prosecute
those who attempt to issue or obtain official
motor vehicle documents by fraud,”
said Director Gramiccioni.
Sgt. Mark Wilhelm and Detective Scott C. Newkirk
of the State Police Auto Unit’s Document
Fraud Squad led the investigation. Detectives
Kelly Howard and Darrell Washington of OIFP
assisted and are continuing the investigation.
Investigators Debra Armitage, Paul Callen,
Edwin Czelatko, Uku Mannikus and Daniel Pilla
investigated for the Motor Vehicle Commission.
Attorney General Jacqueline D. Smith, deputy
chief of the Division of Criminal Justice
Major Crimes Bureau, and Deputy Attorney General
Jacqueline Cistaro coordinated the investigation
for the Division of Criminal Justice and presented
the indictments to the state grand jury. They
were assisted by Analysts Terri Drumm and
Amy Patterson, and Administrative Assistants
Joanne Kivlen, Janet Duffield and Terry Worthington.
Attorney General Milgram thanked all of the
other members of the participating agencies
who assisted in the case.
was responsible for processing applications
for a certificate of ownership (CO). A CO
is issued to a public agency auctioning a
car and transferred to the purchaser at auction.
To obtain a motor vehicle title, the purchaser
returns the completed application for CO,
signed by an official at the public agency,
to the Special Titles Unit. Starr allegedly
used the application for CO procedure to fraudulently
generate titles for vehicles not auctioned
by a public agency.
employment with the Motor Vehicle Commission
was terminated after he was arrested in November
2007 as a result of this investigation.
following 13 defendants were charged today
in seven separate indictments. Each defendant
was charged with conspiracy, official misconduct
and bribery, all in the second degree, and
third-degree tampering with public records
Rafael Gomez, 51, of Trenton,
an employee of Hawk’s Towing Recovery
Carmine Meola, 33, of East
Hanover, an employee of Harrison Auto Body
Thaer Abuhamood, 29, of
Lawrence, whose family owns Kaars, Inc.
John Delcorpo, 22, of Stanhope,
who owns Specialized Recovery in Rockaway.
Thomas Sonnenberg, 41,
of Lake Hopcatong, who owns Motorcycle Madness
James Campbell, 30, of
Manuel Rivera, 42, of Belleville,
owner of Manny’s Auto Sales in Newark.
John McElroy, 51, of Livingston,
owner of Select Towing in West Orange.
Maryleigh Barbusin, 50,
of Little Silver, McElroy’s girlfriend
and an employee of Select Towing.
Raymond A. Sobers, 48,
of Montclair, owner of Roach’s Towing
Hognjan Yuan, 52, of North
Brunswick, owner of John’s Auto in
Damon Stinson Jr., 67,
Waldemar Kos, 58, of Montclair,
owner of KOS Motor Cars Inc in Montclair.
defendants but Damon Stinson Jr. were also
charged with third-degree forgery.
crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years
in state prison and a $150,000 criminal fine,
while third-degree crimes carry a maximum
sentence of five years in prison and a $15,000
indictments are merely accusations and the
defendants are presumed innocent until proven
guilty. Copies of the indictments are linked
to this release at www.njpublicsafety.com.
indictments were handed up to Superior Court
Judge Maria Marinari Sypek in Mercer County.
The case was assigned to Mercer County, where
the defendants will be ordered to appear in
court at a later date to answer the charges.
defendants previously pleaded guilty in the
case to obtaining fraudulent titles:
Tucker, 34, of Trenton, pleaded
guilty to second-degree conspiracy to commit
official misconduct. The state will recommend
that he be ordered to serve four years in
state prison when he is sentenced by Superior
Court Judge Gerald J. Council in Mercer
J. Barron Jr., 37, of Sicklerville,
owner of Barron Motors in Monroe Township,
Gloucester County, pleaded guilty to third-degree
conspiracy to tamper with public records
or information and two counts of passing
bad checks over $500. The state will also
recommend that he be ordered to serve four
years in state prison when he is sentenced
on May 8 by Superior Court Judge M. Christine
Allen-Jackson in Gloucester County.
following five defendants each pleaded guilty
to third-degree conspiracy to tamper with
public records or information. The state will
recommend that each be sentenced to probation,
community service and fines when they are
sentenced by Superior Court Judge Robert C.
Billmeier in Mercer County on June 11.
Christopher Barone, 46,
of Hewitt, owner of Chris’ Collision,
Inc. in West Orange.
Filipe J. Correia, 33,
Robert Sewall, 50, of East
Hanover, owner of Park Auto & Performance
Cory English, 30, of Trenton.
Anthony Norelli, 34, of