The state attorney general says a car theft ring based in the Bronx stole hundreds of cars from streets, dealerships and parking garages and shipped them off to Senegal.
Attorney General Andrew Cuomo says 17 people have been indicted in connection to the ring. He said on Wednesday that 16 had been taken into custody.
Authorities spent more than a year investigating the ring. Cuomo said members had specific jobs to carry out, like making keys or shipping the cars. He said some of the those arrested worked in car dealerships in Connecticut and New Jersey.
The ring took a variety of vehicles, from Mercedes and BMWs to Toyotas. Cuomo said the vehicles would be packed into big shipping containers and sent to Africa.
Cuomo filed suit earlier this month to close down Feed the Hungry, a charity that offers a tax deduction and a free $500 gas card to donors who give their cars to benefit others. Cuomo said the charity owner, Nicholas Cascone Jr., didn’t give much to the needy.
“Of the more than $430,000 that Feed the Hungry received in donations less than $7,900 – that’s 1.8 percent — was used for charitable purposes,” Special Deputy Chief of Staff Mitra Hormozi said.
During the attorney general’s investigation the owner of Feed the Hungry took the fifth over 150 times and reportedly refused to give any information about whether money from the charity went for his personal use.
The irony here is that CBS 2 HD first exposed Cascone in 2004. We showed his heart-tugging ads asking people to donate their old cars.
“All people do the same, take donations, sell off the cars and then the money goes to charity,” Cascone said on March 27, 2004.
To which the attorney general would reply “yeah right.”
Because of Cascone and an increase in complaints about these “donate your car” charities, Cuomo has subpoenaed the records of 15 other groups to see how they operate.
“It’s been probably over the past year or so become quite popular and the number of complaints over the past year has risen exponentially,” Cuomo said.
Sources told CBS 2 HD that next week the attorney general plans to file criminal charges against the operator of a car charity who took in $2 million but gave only a couple thousand to a charity for disabled kids.
Cascone’s attorney did not return calls seeking comment.
Before making vehicle donations New Yorkers are encouraged to check the attorney general’s Web site for tips on giving.
(Source: CBS2 HD)