‘Ring leader’ of massive, multi-state car theft scheme charged in Hamilton County

Updated: Aug. 10, 2020 at 11:59 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Four more people were indicted late last week in an elaborate car theft scheme that stretches up and down the east coast.

Among them, according to Assistant Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney Andy Berghausen, is the scheme’s ring leader.

The indictments come a year after 17 other people were charged in the scam that involves thieves altering the vehicle identification numbers of stolen, high-priced cars — Range Rovers, Mercedes, Audis and the like.

The thieves then create a fraudulent vehicle title using stolen documents from Georgia.

“Somewhere along the way they obtained this stolen, this box of stolen Georgia titles,” Berghausen told FOX19 NOW when those charges were handed down. “Real Georgia titles, blank, stolen out of a real Georgia BMV or clerk of courts office.”

Those titles and cars then drive up to Hamilton County, where they’re taken to an Ohio BMV to get the titles transferred to Ohio, effectively “washing the history of the car away,” Berghausen explained.

“It’s incredibly well thought out,” he said, “it’s incredibly organized and it’s been going on for a number of years.

“(It’s) one of the most multi-layered, elaborate criminal schemes I’ve seen in the time that I’ve been doing this.”

The ring of thieves reportedly makes money by either selling the cars or by insuring the vehicles and staging accidents.

Berghausen explains his office’s investigation began after a man from Poland bought a Porsche Panamera online: “When he got the car, he took it apart to work on the car and he discovered the VIN numbers had been tampered with.”

The investigation led to a man named Armand Long.

Berghausen says on some of the new titles to the stolen cars, Long used his own name.

“Armand Long was and is the person we have charged now as the ring leader in all of this,” he explained.

Long and three others — Shayla Shackleford, Mary Bowman and Nathaniel Sanders — face 67 counts of forgery, tampering with records and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

Nathaniel Sanders was released on his own recognizance after a recent arrest, but he will be back in court Aug. 19.

Shackleford, Bowman and Long have not been arrested, but they all have warrants out for their arrest.

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