Trio of N.J. Residents Charged with Receiving Stolen Cars, Fraud

New Jersey’s Acting Attorney General Peter Harvey announced that three North Jersey men have been charged via separate Passaic County Grand Jury indictments with conspiracy, receiving stolen property and theft by deception. The charges are related to allegations that the three men were involved in a stolen car and auto insurance fraud ring operating from a West Milford junk yard.

According to Vaughn McKoy, Acting Director, Division of Criminal Justice, and Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden Brown, the indictments charge the following individuals:

• Thomas Robinson, Wayne, Passaic County. Charged with conspiracy and receiving stolen property (2nd degree),

• David Levine, West Caldwell, Essex County. Charged with conspiracy (3rd degree), and

• Robert VonSee, Fair Lawn, Bergen County. Charged with theft by deception, tampering with public records or information, conspiracy (3rd degree), and falsifying records (4th degree). A crime of the second degree carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in state prison and a fine of $150,000. A third degree crime carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Additionally, all three defendants face the possibility of the imposition of civil insurance fraud fines pursuant to the Insurance Fraud Prevention Act.

According to Brown, the indictment alleges that from June, 1997 to January, 1999, Robinson provided stolen cars to Frank Thomas Holgate who owned and operated Best Buys Auto Parts and Cars located on Bergen Drive in Cedar Grove. It is alleged that some of the stolen cars were dismantled and the parts sold, while false insurance claims were submitted with respect to other stolen cars.

Among the stolen vehicles allegedly supplied by Robinson were:

• 1992 Ford valued at approximately $10,000;
• 1995 Dodge valued at approximately $14,425;
• 1995 Honda valued at approximately $13,775;
• 1990 Mazda valued at approximately $6,500;
• 1990 Toyota valued at approximately $9,725;
• 1991 Toyota valued at approximately $7,825;
• 1994 Toyota valued at $15,750;
• 1995 Toyota valued at approximately $22,725; and
• 1997 Volkswagen valued at approximately $18,000.

On Jan. 13, 1999, Robinson was arrested by Det. Kenneth Johnson of the New Jersey State Police Auto Unit and charged with receiving stolen property. Holgate was also arrested by the State Police on Jan. 6, 1999. Following his arrest, Holgate pled guilty to receiving stolen property on June 24, 2002; he is scheduled to be sentenced before Passaic County Superior Court Judge Randolph Subryan on May 30.

A second indictment charging Levine and VonSee returned by the Passaic County Grand Jury alleges that from Aug. 11 through Oct. 14, 1998, Levine assisted VonSee by falsely reporting to the Wayne Police Department that his (VonSee) 1990 Mercedes Benz had been stolen. VonSee caused a false auto insurance claim and submitted the fraudulent claim to the First Trenton Indemnity Insurance Company. First Trenton paid $31,518 to settle what was later determined to be a phony auto insurance theft claim.

The cases will be assigned to the Passaic County Superior Court for trial. Robinson, Levine and VonSee will be ordered to appear at a later date for arraignment.