N.J. Man Pulled Over in Auto Theft Ring

August 20, 2004

New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey announced that a Hudson County man has been charged by the Division of Criminal Justice – Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor with being the leader of an auto theft trafficking network operating out of Jersey City and allegedly responsible for stealing dozens of high-end luxury automobiles.

According to Vaughn McKoy, director, Division of Criminal Justice and Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden-Brown, Antonio Rodriguez-Baez, 29, of Jersey City, Hudson County, was charged via a State Grand Jury indictment as a leader of an automobile theft trafficking network (2nd degree), conspiracy (2nd degree), receiving stolen property (2nd degree), four counts of (3rd degree) receiving stolen property, and making alterations to motor vehicle trademarks and/or identification numbers (3rd degree).

Crimes of the second degree carry a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third degree crimes are punishable by up to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Additionally, Rodriguez-Baez faces possible civil insurance fraud fines pursuant to the Insurance Fraud Prevention Act.

Gooden-Brown said the indictment alleges that Rodriguez-Baez, a/k/a “Tony,” Eladio Reyes, and/or Jaime Rodriguez, was in the business of buying and selling stolen automobiles and that he conspired with others to organize, supervise, finance, and manage the stolen automobile ring which operated out of the Jersey City area. The investigation remains active and ongoing.

The indictment charges that from Aug. 30, 2002 through Jan. 9, 2004, Rodriguez-Baez possessed numerous stolen vehicles, including a 2000 Mercedes-Benz, a 2001 Mercedes-Benz, a 2004 Cadillac Escalade, and two 2002 Mercedes-Benz. It is charged that Rodriguez-Baez also ran an automobile re-tagging operation which removed and/or replaced Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) in order to re-sell or transport the vehicles out of state. VIN numbers identify automobiles and major automobile parts so that the identity and ownership of the automobile can be traced by law enforcement.

Gooden-Brown noted that on April 16, Elias Retamar, 32, of North Bergen, Hudson County, a co-conspirator previously identified as part of the stolen auto ring, pled guilty before Hudson County Superior Court Judge Elaine Davis to attempted theft by deception and three counts of receiving stolen property. On June 18, Retamar was sentenced by Judge Davis to three years probation.

The indictment was handed up to Mercer County Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg, the Assignment Judge in charge of the State Grand Jury. The case is assigned to the Hudson County Superior Court for trial.

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