WASHINGTON — A used car dealer and a state employee were charged in a 25-count indictment with securities fraud, making false odometer statements, and conspiracy to commit these offenses, according to a release by the Department of Justice.
Rojen Burnett, the owner and operator of Lifestyle Auto Broker LLC, and Amber McLaughlin, a customer service specialist for the Motor Vehicle Department of the Georgia Department of Revenue, were arrested last week. They now face up to 10 years in prison if convicted on the most serious of charges, according to the indictment.
“Individuals who buy and sell used vehicles cannot alter odometers and the associated paperwork to increase their value,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin J. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Consumers who purchased used vehicles need accurate mileage information to assess the value and safety of a potential vehicle purchase. We take seriously our obligation to prosecute those who violate these statues and prey upon unsuspecting consumers.”
Burnett and McLaughlin devised a scheme where they would purchase high-mileage, used motor vehicles from auctions in Maryland and Virginia and then alter the odometers in the vehicles to reflect lower mileage numbers, according to the indictment. Burnett was charged with tampering with the odometers, while McLaughlin allegedly provided newly issued, clean Georgia titles that matched the tampered odometer numbers.
With new, clean titles in tow, Burnett would sell the vehicles to other dealers at auction, according to the indictment. This went on from as early as February 2012 through at least May 2013, the indictment alleges.
The case was investigated by the Auto Crimes Title Fraud Unit of the Georgia Department of Revenue and the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Safety Administration. Trial Attorneys Kerala Thie Cowart and David Sullivan of the Civil Division’s consumer Protection Branch are prosecuting.