New Jersey Theft Ring Preyed on People Selling Cars on Craigslist
Two New Jersey residents and a Florida man are facing charges they were the ringleaders of a vehicle-theft scheme that focused on people selling cars on Craigslist.
The state Attorney General’s Office said Wednesday that 38-year-old Luther Lewis of Piscataway, 36-year-old Tyisha Brantley of Scott Plains and 39-year-old Justinas Vaitoska of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, have been indicted on charges including promotion of organized street crime and leader of an auto-theft network.
Prosecutors say the defendants enlisted the aid of others in the case to use fake bank checks to purchase cars from private sellers and then sell them to dealerships around the state. Authorities say they would troll the internet to look for cars they could steal.
It’s not known if they have lawyers.
South Carolina Restaurant Owner Gets 6 Months for Arson
A Spartanburg, S.C., restaurant owner has been sentenced to six months in jail after he said he was assaulted and robbed in his business.
The Herald-Journal of Spartanburg reported that 35-year-old Marion Edward Haynes entered an Alford plea on Thursday. An Alford plea does not admit guilt, but concedes there is enough evidence for a conviction.
Haynes was the co-owner of Roots Deep South Eats in Spartanburg. Police responded to a reported break-in at the restaurant Feb. 17, 2015. Officers say four days later, Haynes reported he had been attacked by robbers who tried to set the restaurant on fire.
Prosecutor Timi Poulos said Haynes later admitted he had staged the assault and was responsible for the fire. He also must serve two years of probation after the jail sentence.
New York System for Driver’s License Photos Help Fight Fraud
New York authorities say that the new, enhanced computer program for recognizing faces at the state Department of Motor Vehicles has led to more than 100 arrests since January and 900 open cases.
The system is used against identity theft and fraud and to keep high-risk drivers off the road by helping identify people applying for driver’s licenses under false names.
According to the DMV, it doubles the number of measurement points mapped to each digitized driver photograph to 128, better enabling it to match existing photos in the department’s database.
Since the technology was first implemented in 2010, the department says more than 3,800 individuals have been arrested for possessing multiple licenses.
Former Washington Corrections Officer Charged With Workers’ Comp Scam
A former corrections officer who was injured on the job is accused of scamming the state workers’ compensation system out of more than $100,000 by working three security jobs in another state while telling Washington officials he was unable to work.
Officials said Thursday that a Washington state Department of Labor & Industries investigation caught 43-year-old John J. Gruden on video jogging on a treadmill and sidewalk and driving to work at the Phoenix Police Department.
The investigation found that Gruden, who was injured while working as a corrections officer at Monroe Correctional Complex, worked in Arizona the entire time he was receiving workers’ compensation disability payments totaling more than $100,000 over five years.
Gruden injured his right ankle and foot when someone fell on him during training at the Monroe state prison in May 2011.
That August, he moved to Arizona, where he regularly declared on official forms and told L&I vocational counselors that he could not work, and wasn’t working, due to his on-the-job injury, charging papers said. His declarations, coupled with physician confirmations, allowed Gruden to receive L&I payments to replace part of his wages.
Officials say that Gruden is now believed to be living in Michigan, and that the Washington Attorney General’s office has charged him with felony first-degree theft in Snohomish County Superior Court.
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