Ring Leader, Co-Conspirator of N.J. Stolen Car & ‘Give-Up’ Scam Sentenced for $118,000 Theft

November 4, 2003

New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey announced that the owner/operator of a Passaic County junk yard and his car thief co-defendant have been sentenced to jail for reportedly operating a stolen car and auto insurance fraud “give-up” scam which obtained and “disposed” of more than $118,000 in stolen vehicles.

Harvey noted that the investigation by the New Jersey State Police Auto Theft Unit and the Division of Criminal Justice – Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor, revealed that many of the stolen cars were actually owner initiated automobile “give ups” whereby owners of the cars reportedly arranged to have the vehicles “stolen” in order to file fraudulent automobile insurance theft claims.

“The Attorney General’s Office through the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor continues to target ‘give-up’ schemes were the owners of luxury or leased automobiles seek to have their cars ‘stolen’ or ‘disappear’ in order to collect insurance money. As significantly, the middlemen who traffic in both ‘give-up’ and stolen vehicles are the targets of state and local police,” Harvey said. “Fraudulent auto theft schemes to claim insurance money is nothing less than corruption and organized crime. The Division of Criminal Justice and the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor is taking direct aim at such corrupt schemes and will investigate, arrest and prosecute anyone involved in insurance fraud and stolen automobiles.”

According to Vaughn McKoy, Director, Division of Criminal Justice and Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden-Brown, Frank Thomas Holgate, 62, of Essex County and Thomas Robinson, 77, of Passaic County, were sentenced to separate prison terms in the Passaic County jail for reportedly masterminding and operating an automobile “give-up” scheme.

Holgate, the reported ring-leader of the illicit operation, was sentenced to 275 days in jail, four years probation and ordered to pay restitution to be determined by the court. Robinson was sentenced to 364 days in jail, five years probation and to pay $24,000 in restitution. Both defendants were sentenced on Oct. 31 by Passaic County Superior Court Judge Randolph Subryan.

Gooden Brown noted that Holgate, the owner of Best Buys Used Auto Parts and Cars, in Passaic County, pleaded guilty to a charge of receiving stolen property on June 24, 2002, before Judge Subryan. Holgate reportedly admitted that over a two-year period from January, 1997 through January, 1999, he illicitly obtained at least 48 stolen vehicles, or the “chopped” parts of stolen vehicles. A number of the stolen vehicles were later identified by state investigators assigned to the Division of Criminal Justice- Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor as actually “give-up” vehicles. Holgate paid approximately $100 to $500 per vehicle. The vehicles were dismantled and the parts sold on the underground black market to “customers” throughout the east coast.

On June 9, Robinson pleaded guilty before Judge Subryan to charges of conspiracy and receiving stolen property, reportedly admitting that for the same two-year period he provided stolen cars to Holgate. Among the vehicles Robinson reportedly stole and supplied to Holgate 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.

Several other defendants were arrested and charged with participating in the auto theft scheme.

On June 9, David Levine, 39, of Essex County, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and was placed in the Pre-Trial Intervention Program conditioned upon serving 75 hours of community service. On May 19, Robert VonSee, 38, of Bergen County, pleaded guilty to theft by deception, tampering with public records and falsifying records. VonSee was ordered to pay $27,600 in restitution and sentenced to perform 75 hours of community service. Both Levine and VonSee were charged via a Passaic County Grand Jury indictment returned on April 9.

The indictment charged that from Aug. 11 through Oct. 14, 1998, Levine reportedly assisted VonSee by falsely reporting to the Wayne Police Department that his (VonSee) 1990 Mercedes Benz had been stolen. VonSee is reported to have filed a false auto insurance claim to the First Trenton Indemnity Insurance Company. First Trenton.

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