Keith L. Hutcheson Jr., 27, of Newark, who formerly lived in Paulsboro, N.J., was sentenced to seven years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Christine Allen-Jackson in Gloucester County. He pleaded guilty on April 21 to second-degree theft by deception and third-degree forgery. Hutcheson was required to enter a civil consent judgment to pay $212,000 in restitution to the auto auction company, Copart Inc. The company previously recovered a number of the vehicles, which reduced the amount of restitution owed.
Deputy Attorney General Peter Gallagher prosecuted the case and handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau.
The case was referred to the Attorney General’s Office by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, which received a complaint from Copart Inc., which is based in Dallas, Texas. Copart has locations throughout the U.S., including in Robbinsville and Glassboro, N.J. The state’s investigation revealed that from September through December 2013, Hutcheson used the aliases of “Mark Hooper” and “Bassem Wallace” to purchase 19 cars online from Copart.com, including seven Mercedes Benz vehicles, a Porsche and a BMW. He paid for the cars with counterfeit or bad checks totaling $339,782, including a check for $199,023 for multiple vehicles that purportedly was issued by a car dealership. Many of the cars were salvage or storm-damaged vehicles. Hutcheson arranged for the vehicles to be transported to New Jersey, where he resold a number of them in cash sales to unsuspecting buyers.
“This con artist sold storm-damaged vehicles to unsuspecting buyers and financed his crooked venture entirely with bad checks,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “We’ve put him in prison where he no longer can steal from legitimate car dealers or put consumers at risk by selling potentially dangerous cars.”
“Hutcheson audaciously wrote hundreds of thousands of dollars in bad checks to this online auction company and sold car purchasers some high-end lemons, but his greed ultimately caught up with him,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “By cracking down on white collar crime, we protect both businesses and consumers.”
Hutcheson was arrested by detectives of the Division of Criminal Justice on May 13, 2014, on charges of theft by deception and identity theft.
The lead detective for the investigation was Detective Richard Loufik of the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau. Special Deputy Attorney General William Conlow assisted in the investigation. Acting Attorney General Hoffman thanked the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission for its referral.