DELRAY BEACH, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) (Source: USDOJ) — Eight defendants have been charged in a multi-count indictment, for their participation in an elaborate automobile fraud scheme that netted over $1.67 million.
Benjamin G. Greenberg, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Brian Swain, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service (USSS), Miami Field Division; and Rick Maglione, Chief, Fort Lauderdale Police Department, made the announcement.
Mark David Johnson, 41, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, David William Wheat, 66, of Fort Pierce, Florida, Michael Kennedy Brown, 53, of Delray Beach, Florida, James Carrington, 37, of Aurora, Missouri, Jana Kabelova, 41, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Michael Munday, a/k/a “Mickey,” 71, of North Miami, Florida, Juan Ottavianelli, 71, of North Miami, Florida, and Edwin Fernandes, 50, of North Miami, Florida are charged in a fourteen count indictment with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, and mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341. If convicted, the defendants face up to twenty years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and restitution, as to each count.
The initial hearings are scheduled for May 5, 2017 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Judge Alicia Otazo-Reyes.
According to the indictment, between September 2008 and February 2015, defendants Johnson, Wheat, Brown, Carrington, Kabelova, Munday, Ottavianelli and Fernandes engaged in a scheme to unjustly enrich themselves by, among other things, (1) obtaining mortgaged automobiles through various fraudulent methods, including, among other things, the use of straw buyers; (2) preparing and mailing, via U.S. mail, false and fraudulent lien notices to all interested parties, including the lender, as required by Florida law; (3) hiding the automobiles at various locations in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, in Florida, to avoid repossession by the rightful lienholders; (4) falsely and fraudulently removing the automobile’s lawful owner from its title; and (5) selling the automobiles to co-conspirators at prices below market value, so that the co-conspirators could re-sell the automobiles at a profit.
The indictment alleges that Johnson, Kabelova, and their co-conspirators fraudulently obtained automobiles by (1) recruiting straw buyers to purchase automobiles from dealerships in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties; (2) identifying distressed automobiles loans in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties and offering to buy those automobiles at a discounted rate; and (3) enlisting Carrington to steal automobiles. Munday, Fernandes, and other co-conspirators transported automobiles, provided by Carrington, from Missouri to Florida. Brown, Johnson, Munday, Ottavianelli, and other co-conspirators stored the fraudulently obtained automobiles at various locations in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. Wheat prepared and mailed false and fraudulent documents falsely claiming that the lienholders incurred costs to tow and store the automobiles. Johnson sold the fraudulently obtained automobiles to Brown, among others. Wheat prepared and filed applications for a Certificate of New Title from the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles.
Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of the USSS and Fort Lauderdale Police Department in this matter. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Joshua S. Rothstein and Nalina Sombuntham.
An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.