Florida Auto Lease Ring Scams Credit Unions Out of $500,000
Several credit unions were the alleged victims of an auto lease theft ring that involved a Miami Beach, Fla., police officer and nine other persons.
According to local media reports, the individuals involved in the ring sought out supposed buyers to secure financing from credit unions for cars that had already been bought and moved out of the country or to lease vehicles that were illegally subleased.
Two individuals, Tomas Manrique, 51, owner of Wachovia Auto Sales, and Todd Javon Smith Jr., 29, owner of Parelelas Motors, allegedly were the leaders of the auto lease ring, law enforcement officials said. The buyers would turn the vehicles in to Manrique and Smith who would then lease them to a third party.
According to local media reports, Marion Mayoli was allegedly told to submit a false credit application at a Lexus dealership. While Miami Beach police officer George Robert Navarro never took possession of the car, he allegedly handed it over to Todd Smith, who eventually sold it. Even though the car was recovered, the lender lost more than $31,000.
Several area credit unions were allegedly defrauded out of $500,000, police officials said. The $3 billion Space Coast Credit Union in Melbourne, Fla., was the only one named in media reports.
Nine of the 10 suspects have been arrested, according to law enforcement officials. Navarro entered a not guilty plea to a number of charges including illegal subleasing, organized fraud, racketeering and making false statements.
According to the Miami Herald and NBCMiami.com, the following persons were charged in the auto lease theft ring:
- Francis Elizabeth Hannan, 49, of Lauderhill, Fla.
- Tomas Manrique, 51, owner of Wachovia Auto Sale
- George Robert Navarro, Miami Beach police officer
- Alexandra Olivera, a clerk at a private tag agency
- James M. Paul, 35, Sunrise, Fla.
- Shannon A. Reid, 56, Boca Raton, Fla. Reid is still at large
- Nicholi O'Neil Smith, 37, Miramar, Fla.
- Shanovia Maria Smith, 26, Pembroke Pines, Fla.
- Todd Javon Smith Jr., 29, owner of Parelelas Motors
- Dennis Esther Matos Torres, 42, Miami