HARRISBURG (KDKA) – Thirteen Pennsylvania businesses and 19 people are facing charges in what officials called a “car title washing ring.”
Those charged are accused of coordinating to purchase totaled vehicles, falsifying inspection information and submitting fraudulent title applications to PennDOT to bypass rigid requirements for reconstructed titles in states like New Jersey and Massachusetts or to make stolen vehicles look legitimate for resale or export, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General said.
“These defendants used their positions and knowledge of PennDOT requirements to defraud state and federal authorities, hide stolen vehicles, and put unsuspecting drivers at risk,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro in a press release.
“Vehicles that have been totaled must not only be repaired but also undergo an enhanced safety inspection to make sure they are safe. These defendants instead allowed hundreds of heavily-damaged vehicles onto roadways in Pennsylvania, and around the country without even looking at them.”
Prosecutors said two people involved, George Frietto of George’s Garage and Luis Salazar of Salazar Auto Sales, didn’t complete the enhanced vehicle safety inspections required to make a totaled car road-worthy but instead just filled out the paperwork.
Frietto claimed to have completed over 240 inspections during a ten-day period in December 2020, but investigators said he completed paperwork using stock photographs and his employees even admitted to never completing a single enhanced vehicle safety inspection.