A vehicle theft and title washing ring has been charged with multiple felonies by the Attorney General’s Office.
PENNSYLVANIA STATE | On Oct.5, The Office of the Attorney General announced criminal charges against 19 individuals and 13 businesses for title washing. According to the AG, the group coordinated the purchase of totaled and stolen vehicles, falsified inspection information, then submitted fraudulent title applications to PennDOT designed to bypass reconstructed title requirements in other states. In multiple instances, the group allegedly replaced the original Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), allowing the vehicles to appear legitimate and preventing the actual owners from reclaiming them.
“These defendants used their positions and knowledge of PennDOT requirements to defraud state and federal authorities, hide stolen vehicles, and put unsuspecting drivers at risk,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “Vehicles that have been totaled must not only be repaired but also undergo an enhanced safety inspection to make sure they are safe. These defendants instead allowed hundreds of heavily-damaged vehicles onto roadways in Pennsylvania and around the country without even looking at them.”
One defendant, George Frietto, claimed to have completed over 240 “inspections” during a ten-day period in December 2020. However, investigators discovered that was untrue while conducting surveillance on George’s Garage. The investigation uncovered that the vehicles were never actually in Pennsylvania on multiple occasions. As part of each reconstructed title application, inspection stations must submit vehicle photographs. Frietto is accused of sending stock photographs, often using different vehicle makes and models.
“The arrest and search warrants executed today by the Pennsylvania State Police Auto Theft Task Force, the Lackawanna County District Attorney’s office, and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office emphasize our commitment to investigate any type of fraud associated with motor vehicles, titling, and affiliated records,” said Captain James Cuttitta with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Special Investigations Division. “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.”
According to the AG’s office, 19 individual defendants have been charged in varying degrees with Corrupt Organizations, Forgery, Washing Vehicle Titles, Deceptive Business Practices, Tampering with Public Records, False Application for Certificate of Title, Altered, Forged, or Counterfeit Documents, Insurance Fraud, and Commercial Bribery, and other charges.
The individual defendants include:
- 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
13 businesses were also charged in varying degrees with Washing Vehicle Titles, Deceptive Business Practices, Tampering with Public Records, Altered, Forged, or Counterfeit Documents, and False Application for Certificate of Title.
The businesses charged include:
- 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
Chief Deputy Attorney General Robert LaBar, Senior Deputy Attorney General John Dickinson, and Deputy Attorney General Richard Bradbury are prosecuting this case. All charges discussed are accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of the practices of any of the above dealerships, vehicle inspectors, or tag agents, or have information about vehicle or title fraud should contact the Office of Attorney General Insurance Fraud Section at email@example.com.