Police bust auto loan fraud ring with link to murder

December 1, 2011 9:46:50 AM PST
Dozens of luxury cars were fraudulently purchased as part of two auto loan fraud schemes busted this week.

Police say the ring's leader, 31-year-old Andre Dickenson, was charged earlier this year with a 2009 double murder at the Woodbury condo of former New York Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma.

In all, 19 suspects were arrested, mostly in Queens and Brooklyn. They were arraigned on charges that include grand larceny and possession of stolen property in Queens Criminal Court.

The suspects allegedly purchased 50 luxury cars, such as Maseratis, BMWs, Porsches, Lexus, Cadillac Escalades and Mercedes-Benzes, and used "straw borrowers" -- people with good credit to front for them -- to take out $1.9 million in loans in exchange for a $2,000 kickback.

Once the vehicles were turned over to the suspects, prosecutors say they were sold or rented out to other criminals in Queens and Brooklyn. The cars were then later sold to dealers at auction, leaving people with good credit stuck with the bill.

"Unfortunately, [the straw buyers] wound up with ruined credit, multiple banks suing them for money and suspended driver's licenses for unpaid parking tickets on vehicles they allegedly own," Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Police say one of the vehicles, a 2008 Porsche Cayenne, were used in the double homicide of two Nigerian nationals who had a dispute with Dickenson.

One of the men was reportedly put in the back of the Porsche and driven to Brooklyn, where the suspects planned to dump his body.

"And in a scene reminiscent of 'Goodfellas,' the victim was still alive when they popped open the hatch of the Porsche," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said. "He was shot again and finally killed."

Vilma's cousin is a co-defendant in the Nassau County murder case, but Vilma himself was not linked to the crimes.

Also arrested was 30-year-old Alexander Ndaula, a South African national, and his 49-year-old wife, Ronda Richardson, who works for the U.S. Treasury's inspector general's office.