Four Charged in Multi-State Stolen Vehicle Conspiracy

Defendants accused of altering VINs and fraudulently selling stolen vehicles across several states.

In a significant crackdown on vehicle theft and fraud, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced charges against four individuals implicated in a sophisticated conspiracy involving stolen vehicles. Nathaniel Bell, aka "David Jones," from Linden, New Jersey; Johnathan Tanksley from Orange, New Jersey; L’Hubermane Felix from Miami, Florida; and Dayanna Sarango-Hidalgo from Newark, New Jersey, face allegations of conspiring to receive, retitle, and fraudulently sell vehicles with tampered vehicle identification numbers (VINs) across multiple states.

Bell faces additional charges for altering or removing motor vehicle identification numbers (VIN) on five counts and one count of transporting stolen vehicles, highlighting the extent of the alleged criminal activities. The accused made their initial court appearances this month before U.S. Magistrate Judges Jessica S. Allen and Edward S. Kiel in Newark federal court, setting the stage for legal proceedings.

The conspiracy, as outlined in court documents and statements, involved acquiring stolen vehicles from New Jersey, New York, Florida, and beyond, obtaining fraudulent titles for these vehicles, and altering VINs to mask their stolen status. The defendants then purportedly sold these vehicles to unsuspecting dealerships and individual buyers, profiting from their illicit operations. In a particularly audacious move, it is alleged that the group even went as far as to sell a stolen vehicle to a buyer, only to steal it back using Apple AirTags to locate and repossess the car for resale.

Each defendant faces a potential five-year prison term if convicted on the conspiracy charge. Bell, in particular, could face up to five years for each VIN alteration count and a maximum of ten years for transporting a stolen vehicle, underscoring the serious legal repercussions awaiting the accused.

The investigation leading to these charges was a collaborative effort involving the FBI, under Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark, and supported by a broad coalition of law enforcement and regulatory agencies across multiple states. This comprehensive network underscores the commitment of federal and state authorities to tackling auto theft and related fraud, emphasizing the importance of inter-agency cooperation in addressing complex criminal enterprises.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Thompson of the General Crimes Unit in Newark represents the government in this case, which remains ongoing. As the legal process unfolds, it is crucial to remember that the charges and allegations against the defendants are merely accusations at this stage, and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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