These five defendants were indicted by a state grand jury on Monday, June 26, on charges of conspiracy (1st degree), money laundering (1st degree), identity theft (2nd degree), theft by deception (four counts 2nd degree, one count 3rd degree), tampering with public records (3rd degree), and forgery (4th degree):
Dunaway faces an additional count of third-degree theft by deception.
The charges are the result of an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau. The investigation began with a referral from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) Division of Security, Investigations and Internal Audit. The investigation revealed that the five defendants allegedly purchased or had others purchase vehicles on credit. They then allegedly forged letters purporting to be from the creditor stating that the loan had been satisfied, and used those letters to obtain new titles from the MVC without liens. The vehicles were subsequently sold without disclosing the liens. The alleged criminal conduct occurred between June 2012 and March 2016 and involved at least 25 vehicles.
“The five lead defendants in this case allegedly were prolific con artists who managed to steal loan proceeds and cars worth well over half a million dollars in the span of just a few years,” said Attorney General Porrino. “We’ll aggressively prosecute anyone who engages in this type of white collar crime, which hurts commerce and honest borrowers, who must pay higher rates because of such fraud.”
“Those who fraudulently obtain titles and other official documents from the MVC frequently are involved in identity theft and other criminal activity, such as the elaborate conspiracy charged in this case,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “When the MVC identifies suspicious activity through its audits, we stand ready to investigate and charge those responsible.”
“This investigation reaffirms the value of motor vehicle documents and the need for the MVC to maintain the security and integrity of its operations,” said Motor Vehicle Commission Chairman and Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez. “Complacency is not an option, which is why we continue to invest in technology, training and internal controls that help us to identify and crack down on criminal activity.”
The defendants allegedly used three methods to purchase vehicles: (1) A member of the conspiracy – either Dunaway, Hunt or David Terry – allegedly purchased the vehicle with a car loan that was fraudulently obtained using false employment and salary information, resulting in theft of the loan amount. (2) The defendants allegedly used a stolen identity to obtain a car loan and purchase the vehicle, resulting in theft of the loan amount. (3) Several innocent women were allegedly duped by Dunaway into purchasing vehicles on credit in their own names, with an agreement that Dunaway – who feigned romantic interest in the women – would make the loan payments. The women were then deceived into believing Dunaway had paid off the loans, leading them to apply for and obtain duplicate vehicle titles without liens. Convinced the vehicles were entirely paid for by Dunaway, the women either signed the vehicle over to one of the defendants or the vehicle was sold with the proceeds going to one of the defendants. In this scenario, the vehicle was effectively stolen from the woman, who remained responsible for the loan. A number of the vehicles were purchased from a now-defunct car dealership in Rahway that employed Tutt as a salesman.
The indictment charges three additional defendants with third-degree crimes. Caprice L. Simmons, 27, of Rahway, N.J., and Rahmeen A. Reason, 30, of Newark, N.J., allegedly provided false employment and income information to obtain a loan to purchase a 2013 BMW 650 from Tutt at the dealership where he worked. After the couple had trouble making the loan payments, they allegedly assisted Tutt in submitting false documents to the MVC to remove the lien, so Tutt could sell the car again. Simmons and Reason face third-degree charges of theft by deception and tampering with public records. Robert Rivera, 22, of Newark, N.J., is charged with third-degree theft by deception. Dunaway allegedly had one of the women he deceived in connection with car purchases sign the vehicle over to Rivera. Dunaway and Rivera then allegedly sold the vehicle without disclosing that there was a lien on it.
Deputy Attorneys General Phillip Leahy and Michael King presented the indictment to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crime Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Jacqueline Smith. The case was investigated by Detective Laura Catizone and other members for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau, MVC Unit, under the supervision of Lt. William Newsome.
Attorney General Porrino thanked the MVC Division of Security, Investigations and Internal Audit and MVC Investigator Uku Mannikus for their referral and valuable assistance.
First-degree crimes carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and fine of up to $200,000. The charge first-degree money laundering carries a fine of up to $500,000, and an additional anti-money laundering profiteering penalty of up to $500,000 or three times the value of any property involved. Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Fourth-degree crimes carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Union County, where the defendants will be ordered to appear in court at a later date for arraignment.
No notice of representation to date.
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