HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — 19 people have been charged and 13 garages, used car dealerships, and towing companies have been cited in a fraudulent “car title washing ring,” according to the PA Attorney General’s Office.
Officials say individuals involved in the plot would purchase totaled vehicles, falsify inspection information, and submit fake title applications to PennDOT.
As part of the scheme, investigators said Luis Salazar, Geroge Frietto, and other participants would replace paperwork and Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) for totaled and stolen vehicles.
By doing this, officials say the new title would allow for these vehicles to appear legitimate in the eyes of police and prevent the actual owner of the stolen car from reclaiming their property. It also bypasses the state’s safety requirements which investigators say leads to the possibility of dangerous cars being on the road.
During interviews with the defendants, police said Frietto claimed to have completed over 240 inspections in ten days; however, surveillance on his shop showed Frietto’s own car was the only one to enter the garage during that period.
Investigators said one of Frietto’s employees told interviewers they never did a single “enhanced vehicle safety inspection” and Frietto told employees they didn’t need to see a car to complete the paperwork.
During the same interview, officials said they learned the employees’ hands would cramp up from filing so many title applications.
As a part of these applications, you need to include a photograph of the vehicle he inspected. According to the AG’s office, Frietto would attach stock images of the vehicles which frequently didn’t match the car he claimed to have inspected.
Investigators claim Frietto used the same stock image for multiple vehicles.
“These crimes not only victimize the Commonwealth but also place all drivers at risk from heavily-damaged vehicles that never underwent the required safety inspection.”
CAPTAIN JAMES CUTTITTA WITH THE BUREAU OF CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION, SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS DIVISION
The 19 people facing charges are listed below:
- George Frietto
- John Mulea
- Kara Cosgrove
- Angel Rios
- Peter Tayoun
- Sandra Klassner
- Alivia Auriemma
- Armando De La Paz
- Jorge Santos-Hernandez
- Pawel Bryla
- Eva Contrares
- Alvaro Rodriguez
- Luis Leyva
- Anibelkis Garcia
- Sherif Helmy
The 13 businesses that have been cited are listed below:
- George’s Garage in Scranton
- PA Tag & Title in Scranton
- Luci’s Auto Sales, LLC in Old Forge
- Newroad Motors in Lebanon
- Best Value Auto Outlet/Oli’s Auto Sales in Scranton
- PBJ Motors in Taylor
- ALZ Auto Sales in Mount Pocono
- Aquino Auto Mall in Lehighton
- EOS Auto Sales in Taylor
- Alliance Auto/Alliance Auto Sport, Inc. in Exeter
- Salazar Auto Sales in York
- N & G Towing, Body Shop and Sales, LLC in Dover
- Beltin Auto Sales, LLC in York
The 19 individual defendants were charged, in varying degrees, with corrupt organizations, forgery, washing vehicle titles, and various other related charges.
Consumers who believe that they may have been a victim of the practices of any of the above dealerships, vehicle inspectors, or tag agents, or have information about this or other forms of vehicle or title fraud should reach out to the Office of Attorney General by emailing the Insurance Fraud Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.