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Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.

District Attorney, New York County

For Immediate Release
July 26, 2012

DA VANCE AND COMMISSIONER KELLY ANNOUNCE INDICTMENT OF MAJOR MOTORCYCLE AND FIREARMS TRAFFICKING RING

33 Charged; Criminal Enterprise Accused of Stealing and Selling Dozens of Motorcycles, Buying and Selling Illegal Firearms, Including Assault Rifles

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., and New York City Police Department Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly announced the indictment of 33 defendants following an investigation into a criminal enterprise that stole and sold motorcycles to local and international dealers, and trafficked in illegal firearms in the underground market. Twenty-eight defendants are charged with Enterprise Corruption, under New York State’s Organized Crime Control Act, for their roles in the theft and resale of 63 motorcycles with an estimated value of close to $500,000, and the possession and sale of 15 firearms.

The charges are the result of a 17-month investigation that used a variety of law enforcement techniques, including undercover purchases by NYPD undercover officers, visual surveillance, and court-ordered electronic eavesdropping.

Members of the alleged criminal enterprise include TIWANE PAUL, 30, PETER MINORS, 34, STEVE DOW, 30, DWAYNE WHYTE, 31, SELWYN MILLS, 22, CHRISTOPHER SMITH, 24, ODEL DAWSON, 23, CARLTON CORNEAL, 36, and others. They are charged with Enterprise Corruption, Criminal Sale of Firearms, Grand Larceny, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, and related crimes.

Additionally, five defendants, including TIWANE PAUL, have been indicted for participating in a luxury automobile insurance fraud scam in which car owners sold their cars to dealers in New York for a fraction of their value, believing that the cars would be shipped overseas. The owners then reported the cars as stolen to collect the insurance proceeds.  

“This investigation shows the importance of targeting organized groups of criminals,” said District Attorney Vance. “Because illegal guns lead to an increase in violence in the City, we are targeting gun traffickers for prosecution. We will not tolerate the use of our streets as a market for illegal guns trafficked from other states. And as vehicle theft and insurance scams force New Yorkers to pay higher insurance rates than drivers in almost any other state, we are targeting the thieves and scam artists. Our prosecutors worked closely with detectives from the NYPD and our other law enforcement partners to put this case together, and I thank all of them for their diligence and commitment.”

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said: “This crime ring made motorcycles disappear and illegal guns appear on the streets of New York. The magic act was brought to an end today by NYPD detectives and prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, supported by ATF and US Customs agents.”

The Criminal Enterprise

According to the indictment, the defendants are accused of engaging in an extensive criminal scheme to steal, dismantle, and sell motorcycles, both domestically and internationally. They are also charged with trafficking in illegal firearms, including semi-automatic assault rifles, many of them fully loaded with ammunition. The defendants are accused of each performing a specific role within the criminal enterprise; some as members of “steal teams” with expertise in stealing motorcycles and cars on our city streets, others as dismantlers of stolen bikes, others as packaging and shipping agents for the dismantled merchandise, and still others who acted as retail distributors, providing stolen motorcycles to black market customers in New York and abroad.  Like any good business, this criminal organization diversified its operations, with other members using an expertise in firearms trafficking to procure illegal firearms from other states, smuggle them into New York City, and then sell them to buyers who wanted illegal guns with no questions asked.   

In addition, one defendant, TIWANE PAUL, is accused of offering his particular expertise in disposing of stolen vehicles to customers who wanted to defraud their insurance companies, pretending to steal cars from owners who wanted to collect the insurance proceeds, and then selling the “stolen” cars overseas.

The investigation into this case is ongoing. This week, as part of the arrest efforts, NYPD officers executing search warrants recovered an additional two guns and several stolen motorcycles.

Motorcycles

Within the Criminal Enterprise, the retail dealers generally placed “orders” for stolen motorcycles by telling the distributors that they wanted a specific make and model, or by simply requesting a certain brand of motorcycle. The distributors then passed this information on to members of “steal teams,” who scoured New York City to locate and steal the requested merchandise. In other circumstances, the steal teams, or “procurers,” operated more proactively and stole any attractive motorcycle they saw on the street that they knew would be desired by a dealer.  

During the course of this investigation, the steal teams are charged with the theft of at least 63 motorcycles throughout New York City as part of the criminal enterprise. Generally, to steal the motorcycles, the steal teams used stolen mini-vans to remove targeted motorcycles from the streets in seconds. After the thefts, the procurers sent photographs, descriptions, and prices to the distributors, who relayed that information to the dealers.  Once the deals were confirmed, the distributors dismantled, packaged, and shipped the motorcycles on cargo ships to international dealers, many of whom were located in the Caribbean. If the dealer was domestic, then the motorcycles were sold in whole. During this investigation, undercover police officers posing as prospective buyers were generally charged approximately $2,000 by the defendants for motorcycles valued at $7,000 or more.

The main defendants charged as procurers are WHYTE, MILLS, DAWSON, and SMITH; the main defendants charged as distributors are PAUL, MINORS, and DOW; and the main defendant charged as a dealer is CORNEAL.

Firearms

As part of the criminal enterprise, defendants DOW, PAUL, MILLS, and MAXIE LEAKE, 21, are accused of trafficking in illegal firearms. Some of the defendants traveled to southern states, where they bought many types of firearms, including handguns, semi-automatic assault rifles, and ammunition. They then transported the firearms back to New York City, where they sold the weapons for three times their actual values to an undercover detective posing as a firearms dealer. As charged in the indictment, the undercover detective purchased 15 firearms during the investigation, including 3 semi-automatic assault rifles, 1 semi-automatic assault pistol, and 11 other handguns.   

Insurance Fraud

Defendant PAUL is also accused of using his expertise in shipping stolen vehicles to run an insurance fraud scam with ALROY BETHELMIE, 36. PAUL and BETHELMIE provided a specialized service to high-end car owners who wanted to dispose of their cars. They arranged for the purchase of luxury cars, including a 7-series BMW and a Cadillac Escalade, for a fraction of their value, with the understanding that the dealer would ship the cars overseas. The owners then reported the cars stolen to collect the insurance proceeds. Defendant KENDALE RICHARDSON, 43, was a car owner charged with participating in the scam.

Assistant District Attorney Diana Florence, Senior Investigative Counsel, and Assistant District Attorney David Stuart are handling the prosecution of this case, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Daniel Cort, Deputy Chief of the Rackets Bureau, Assistant District Attorney Daniel D. Brownell, Chief of the Rackets Bureau, and Executive Assistant District Attorney Adam Kaufmann, Chief of the Investigation Division. Paralegals Katherine Munyan, Gerard Quinn, Michael Taddei, and Catherine Chong provided crucial assistance on the investigation.  

District Attorney Vance thanked NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, Detective Orville Reid, Detective Christopher McGuire, Detective Kathy Martinez, Detective Richard Quinones, Detective Steven Thau, Inspector Joseph Kenny, Captain Michael Vanchieri, Lieutenant Nicholai Trivigno, Sgt Lawrence D’Angelico, and Sgt. Martin Toczek for their assistance in the investigation of this case.

District Attorney Vance also thanked investigators from the Joint Firearms Task Force which is a joint task force comprised of investigators from the New York City Police Department and the United States Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives including: Detective Michael Henrique, Special Agent Andrew Vasaka, Sgt, Charles Giglio, Lieutenant Daniel Davin, and Group Supervisor Richard Checo.  

DA Vance also thanked Frank Pinto, senior investigator from the New York State Department of Financial Services, Criminal Investigations Unit; Lenny Loizzo of the New York Anti-Car Theft and Fraud Association; and Anthony Perez of the LoJack Corporation for their assistance in the investigation of this case.  

Defendant Information:

ALROY BETHELMIE, D.O.B. 7/11/1976
Queens, NY

Charges:
•    Insurance Fraud in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 1 count
•    Insurance Fraud in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 2 counts

ROGER BLOOMFIELD, A.K.A. “YARDY”, D.O.B. 11/08/1986
Brooklyn, NY

Charges:
•    Enterprise Corruption, a class B felony, 1 count
•    Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 6 counts
•    Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 3 counts

MAURIN CADET, A.K.A. “MORON”, D.O.B. 8/5/1988
Brooklyn, NY

Charges:
•    Enterprise Corruption, a class B felony, 1 count
•    Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 8 counts
•    Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 6 counts

CARLTON CORNEAL, A.K.A. “JAY”, D.O.B. 7/6/1976
Trinidad

Charges:
•    Enterprise Corruption, a class B felony, 1 count

JAMES DARGAN, A.K.A. “JAY” D.O.B. 9/27/1982
Brooklyn, NY

Charges:
•    Enterprise Corruption, a class B felony, 1 count

ODEL DAWSON, D.O.B. 5/17/1989
Queens, NY

Charges:
•    Enterprise Corruption, a class B felony, 1 count
•    Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 4 counts

STEVE DOW, A.K.A. “JERSEY DRED”, D.O.B. 3/31/1982
Elmont, NY

Charges:
•    Enterprise Corruption, a class B felony, 1 count
•    Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the First Degree, a class B felony, 2 counts
•    Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the First Degree, a class B felony, 1 count
•    Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 9 counts
•    Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count
•    Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 3 counts
•    Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 3 counts
•    Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count

EMANUEL ERNEST, D.O.B. 12/26/1965
Saint Lucia

Charges:
•    Enterprise Corruption, a class B felony, 1 count

OBA FITZGERALD, D.O.B. 11/14/1977
Brooklyn, NY

Charges:
•    Enterprise Corruption, a class B felony, 1 count
•    Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 2 counts
•    Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 2 counts

RYAN FORRESTER, A.K.A. “SCRAP”, D.O.B. 3/11/1990
Brooklyn, NY

Charges:
•    Enterprise Corruption, a class B felony, 1 count
•    Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 6 counts
•    Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 4 counts

COREY FOX, D.O.B. 3/23/1985
Brooklyn, NY

Charges:
•    Enterprise Corruption, a class B felony, 1 count
•    Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count

TRUMAINE FRANCIS, A.K.A. “MAN”, D.O.B. 8/24/1984
Brooklyn, NY

Charges:
•    Enterprise Corruption, a class B felony, 1 count
•    Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 8 counts
•    Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 6 counts

TAYQUAN HOLLAND, A.K.A. “TAY”, D.O.B. 1/19/1992
Brooklyn, NY

Charges:
•    Enterprise Corruption, a class B felony, 1 count
•    Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 3 counts
•    Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 3 counts

SHAWN JACKMAN-STRAKER, D.O.B. 4/19/1987
Brooklyn, NY

Charges:
•    Enterprise Corruption, a class B felony, 1 count
•    Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 2 counts

DAMIAN JONES, D.O.B. 6/1/1981
Brooklyn, NY

Charges:
•    Enterprise Corruption, a class B felony, 1 count

MAXIE LEAKE, A.K.A. “MALIKE”, D.O.B. 5/24/1991
Brooklyn, NY

Charges:
•    Enterprise Corruption, a class B felony, 1 count
•    Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 2 counts
•    Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count

SELWYN MILLS, A.K.A. “SELO”, D.O.B. 6/18/1990
Brooklyn, NY

Charges:
•    Enterprise Corruption, a class B felony, 1 count
•    Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count
•    Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 11 counts
•    Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 8 counts

PETER MINORS, A.K.A. “THE DRED”, D.O.B. 4/5/1978
Brooklyn, NY

Charges:
•    Enterprise Corruption, a class B felony, 1 count
•    Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count

VANETTA MITCHELL, D.O.B. 11/16/1974
Brooklyn, NY

Charges:
•    Enterprise Corruption, a class B felony, 1 count
•    Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count

CHARLES NATHAN, D.O.B. 8/18/1984
Brooklyn, NY

Charges:
•    Enterprise Corruption, a class B felony, 1 count
•    Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count

TIWANE PAUL D.O.B. 9/10/1981
Jamaica, NY

Charges:
•    Enterprise Corruption, a class B felony, 1 count
•    Criminal Sale of Firearm in the First Degree, a class B felony, 2 counts
•    Criminal Possession of Weapon in the First Degree, a class B felony, 1 count
•    Criminal Possession of Weapon in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 9 counts
•    Insurance Fraud in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 1 count
•    Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 5 counts
•    Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 2 counts
•    Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 12 counts
•    Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 3 counts
•    Insurance Fraud in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 2 counts

OMAR SHERMAN, A.K.A. “JACKIE LEGS”, D.O.B. 6/4/1983
Brooklyn, NY

Charges:
•    Enterprise Corruption, a class B felony, 1 count

MALACHI SIMS, D.O.B. 9/28/1977
Brooklyn, NY

Charges:
•    Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 2 counts

CHRISTOPHER SMITH, A.K.A. “OKIE”, D.O.B. 7/27/1988
Queens, NY

Charges:
•    Enterprise Corruption, a class B felony, 1 count

OMAR THOMAS, D.O.B. 6/7/1987
Brooklyn, NY

Charges:
•    Enterprise Corruption, a class B felony, 1 count

DWAYNE WHYTE, A.K.A. “RUCKER”, D.O.B. 4/26/1981
Brooklyn, NY

Charges:
•    Enterprise Corruption, a class B felony, 1 count
•    Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 7 counts
•    Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 2 counts

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