Shore Used Car Dealer, Workers Charged with Sandy Fraud
The operator of an Old Bridge used car dealership and three of his workers face a battery of counts tied to the alleged selling of Superstorm-damaged vehicles to unwitting customers.
Jonathan Olin, 41, of Manalapan; Jesse Dinome, 29, of Jackson; Christina Farese, 32, of Old Bridge; and Jacob Douek, 40, of Staten Island are accused of taking roles in peddling bad cars with false titles between February and July of this year, according to information from the office of acting New Jersey Attorney General John J. Hoffman.
Investigators contend that they acquired eight vehicles designated for parts only at an insurance company auction, produced fresh titles and sold seven of them without telling buyers about flood damages.
According to authorities, the same insurance company paid claims on all eight as total losses after the storm and auctioned them without titles as salvage vehicles for parts use, not for resale. They believe that Olin directed the issuance of "clean" titles in order to sell them.
Investigators accuse Farese and Dinome of using MVC's computer system to create the titles, forging signatures of previous owners. Dinome is suspended from her job at the agency.
They assert that Douek misled customers about the cars, and about adverse CarFax information.
Prosecutors say that the seven vehicles in the transactions brought in $86, 903. One vehicle, a Ford F-350, was bought for $19,999 by an ABC News producer working undercover for "The Lookout." Details of that transaction were included in an installment of the program that aired in July. The dealership's license was suspended by MVC at that point.
Olin faces second-degree counts of theft by deception and conspiracy to commit computer theft. Both are punishable on conviction by up to 10 years in prison and fines as high as $150,000. He is also charged with a third-degree count of tampering with public records or information, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and $15,000 in fines.
Dinome, a technician at the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission's Freehold agency, was charged on October 28 with computer theft and tampering with public records and information.
Farese, employed as a clerk by Olin, faces counts of computer theft and tampering with public records and information, and a third-degree forgery charge.
Douek is charged with comspiracy to commit theft by deception, theft by deception and conspiracy to tamper with public records and information.
"While this is an obvious consumer issue, the sale of flood cars is also a matter of public safety," said Motor Vehicle Commission Chairman and Chief Administrator Raymond Martinez in a prepared release. "Vehicles damaged by flood waters are not only dangerous for the people who drive them but...a threat to the other cars sharing the road with them."