A Lawrenceville, Georgia man was sentenced in Norfolk, Virginia for his role in an odometer tampering and title fraud scheme, the Justice Department announced today.
Paul Robinson, 38, was sentenced to serve 37 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release by Judge Robert G. Doumar in the Eastern District of Virginia. Judge Doumar also ordered Robinson to pay $320,797.82 in restitution to victims who purchased vehicles with rolled back odometers.
In February, Robinson pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit odometer tamping and securities fraud. Robinson, who formerly owned Affordable Auto Body Repair in Chesapeake, Virginia, admitted that he purchased high mileage vehicles, and that he, or someone acting at his direction, altered the vehicles’ odometers to reflect a fraudulent low mileage reading. Robinson and his co-conspirators then acquired Virginia motor vehicle titles with false, low mileage odometer readings. Those titles were used to sell the vehicles to unsuspecting purchasers.
“Not only does odometer fraud result in consumers paying more for their vehicles and having higher repair costs, there are significant safety risks in unknowingly driving high mileage vehicles,” said Acting Assistant Attorney Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “We are committed to protecting consumers by prosecuting individuals who engage in these schemes.”
From 2012 to 2014, Robinson and his co-conspirators tampered with odometers and secured fraudulent motor vehicle titles for more than 100 vehicles. At times, the mileage readings on the altered odometers and fraudulent titles were 150,000 miles less than the vehicles’ actual mileage.
One of Robinson’s co-conspirators, Steven Bazemore, a former title clerk who assisted Robinson with securing fraudulent motor vehicles, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud. On Sept. 22, 2016, Bazemore was sentenced to five years of probation, with the first year as home detention, and ordered to pay $219,552.82 in restitution to the victims.
This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys John W. Burke and Jacqueline Blaesi-Freed of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch with assistance from Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Salsbury of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. The investigation was handled by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation (NHTSA).
NHTSA estimates that odometer fraud in the United States results in consumer losses of more than $1 billion annually and has established a special hotline to handle odometer fraud complaints. Individuals having information relating to odometer tampering should call (800) 424-9393 or (202) 366-4761.
More information on odometer fraud is available on the NHTSA website https://one.nhtsa.gov/Vehicle-Safety/Odometer-Fraud and tips on detecting and avoiding odometer fraud are available at this page: www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/nvs/pdf/811284.pdf
For more information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts, visit its website at http://www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch.
For more information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-edva.
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