The former owner of a collision repair and salvage shop in Chesapeake, Va., has pleaded guilty to orchestrating an odometer-fraud scheme involving more than 100 vehicles.
Paul Robinson, 37, of Lawrenceville, Ga., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Va., to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and odometer tampering.
When he owned and operated Affordable Auto Body Repair, a repair shop and licensed salvage dealer in Chesapeake, Va., Robinson purchased older vehicles, many of which had been involved in accidents, from an auction specializing in vehicles from insurance companies.
On more than 100 of these vehicles, Robinson altered or replaced the odometer to reflect a false, lower mileage, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. He then obtained fraudulent Virginia motor vehicle titles with mileage readings matching the false, lower mileage on the new odometer, and passed these falsified title documents on to the auto purchasers, according to the Justice Department.
Robinson obtained many of these fraudulent titles from a former DMV Select clerk named Steven Bazemore, according to the Justice Department. In many instances, Robinson asked Bazemore to return the documents used to procure the fraudulent titles rather than retaining the documents in the DMV file system – making it more difficult for the DMV to detect the fraud.
For his role in the conspiracy, Bazemore previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year of home confinement and ordered to pay restitution to the ultimate purchasers of the vehicles.
Robinson’s sentencing is scheduled for June 8.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that odometer fraud in the United States results in consumer losses of more than $1 billion annually.