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Ten people charged in auto lease scams vs. CUs
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (9/11/12)--Ten people, including a Miami Beach, Fla., police officer, have been charged in an auto lease theft ring that defrauded credit unions in the area out of $500,000. Nine of the suspects have been arrested.

According to court records, members of the scam ring recruited straw buyers to either lease cars that were then illegally subleased, or to secure financing from credit unions for cars that had already been purchased and moved out of the country (Miami Herald and NBCMiami.com Sept. 7).

Charged with the scam are: 

  • Tomas Manrique, 51, owner of Wachovia Auto Sales;
  • Todd Javon Smith Jr.,  29, owner of Parelelas Motors;
  • Alexandra Olivera, a clerk at a private tag agency;
  • Miami Beach police officer George Robert Navarro;
  • Shanovia Maria Smith, 26, Pembroke Pines;
  • Nicholi O'Neil Smith, 37, Miramar;
  • Francis Elizabeth Hannan, 49, Lauderhill;
  • James M. Paul, 35, Sunrise;
  • Dennis Esther Matos Torres, 42, Miami;
  • Shannon A. Reid, 56, Boca Raton. Reid is still at large.
Law enforcement authorities alleged that Manrique and Todd Smith were the ringleaders and that the straw buyers would turn over the leased vehicles to them, and they would lease them to a third party.

The police officer, Navarro, entered a not guilty plea to charges of racketeering, organized fraud, making false statements and illegal subleasing. The affidavit alleged he went with Marion Mayoli into a Lexus dealership and was told by Mayoli to submit a misleading credit application. Navarro never took possession of the car, but allegedly handed it over to Todd Smith, who sold it. The lender lost more than $31,000, but the car was recovered, said NBCMiami.com.
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