PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro on Wednesday announced criminal charges against 19 people and 13 separate businesses for car “title washing.”

The people are charged for coordinating to purchase totaled vehicles, falsifying inspection information, and submitting fraudulent title applications to PennDOT. The participants include used car dealers in and outside of Pennsylvania and an authorized tag and title agency, according to a release from Shapiro’s office.

“This fraud was designed to bypass rigid requirements for reconstructed titles in states such as New Jersey and Massachusetts, or to make stolen vehicles look legitimate for resale or export,” a release from Shapiro’s office 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 Shapiro in the release.

Shapiro continued, “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.”

The defendants, according to the release, are:

  • George Frietto
  • John Mulea
  • Kara Cosgrove
  • Angel Rios
  • Peter Tayoun
  • Sandra Klassner
  • Alivia Auriemma
  • Armando De La Paz
  • Jorge Santos-Hernandez
  • Pawel Bryla
  • Eva Contrares
  • Alvaro Rodriguez
  • Luis Leyva
  • Anibelkis Garcia
  • Sherif Helmy
  • Luis Salazar
  • Cynthia Salazar
  • Jose Rivea-Rivera
  • Reyna Bonilla

Four businesses in the Midstate were charged, including Newroad Motors in Lebanon, Salazar Auto Sales in York, N & G Towing in Dover, and Beltin Auto Sales in York.

The businesses charged are:

  • George’s Garage in Scranton
  • PA Tag & Title in Scranton
  • Luci’s Auto Sales, LLC in Old Forge
  • Newroad Motors in Lebanon
  • Best Value Auto Outlet/Oli’s Auto Sales in Scranton
  • PBJ Motors in Taylor
  • ALZ Auto Sales in Mount Pocono
  • Aquino Auto Mall in Lehighton
  • EOS Auto Sales in Taylor
  • Alliance Auto/Alliance Auto Sport, Inc. in Exeter
  • Salazar Auto Sales in York
  • N & G Towing, Body Shop and Sales, LLC in Dover
  • Beltin Auto Sales, LLC in York

The release says that George Frietto of George’s Garage and Luis Salazar of Salazar Auto Sales and N & G Towing did not complete vehicle safety inspections that are necessary for totaled vehicles and instead only completed the required paperwork.

Shapiro’s office also alleges that Frietto, Salazar, and other participants completed this paperwork for vehicles that had been stolen, as well. “When a stolen vehicle goes through this title washing process, the original Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is often replaced and this along with the new title allows for the vehicle to appear legitimate in the eyes of law enforcement and prevents the original owner from reclaiming their vehicle,” the release explained.

“They did that by getting junk vehicles not having them inspected with s titles and converting those to stolen vehicles and that avoids detection from law enforcement and those vehicles are used in drug trafficking, gun trafficking, and other gang-related activity,” Lackawanna County District Attorney’ Mark Powell said.

According to the attorney general’s office, the charges against the 19 individual defendants include, in varying degrees: corrupt organizations, forgery, washing vehicle titles, deceptive business practices, tampering with public records, false application for a certificate of title, altered, forged, or counterfeit documents, insurance fraud, and commercial bribery.

Charges against the 13 businesses include, in varying degrees: washing vehicle titles, deceptive business practices, tampering with public records, altered, forged, or counterfeit documents, and false application for certificate of title.