Two Long Beach Men Sentenced for Roles in Automotive Fraud Scheme

From:  News Release   1/22/2020   GCN

WASHINGTON – Two Long Beach, Mississippi men were sentenced today for their roles in a long-running odometer tampering scheme, the Department of Justice announced.

U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. sentenced Oscar M. Baine, 42, to 36 months’ incarceration and ordered him to pay $619,200 in restitution. Jeffrey Lyn Savarese II, 36, was sentenced to 15 months’ incarceration and ordered to pay $320,000 in restitution. Both men pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to alter odometers. Baine also pleaded guilty to odometer tampering.

As part of his guilty plea, Baine admitted that he purchased high-mileage vehicles from wholesale automobile auctions, dealerships, and individuals, and arranged to alter the vehicles’ odometers to reflect false, lower-mileage readings. Baine admitted that he paid Savarese and others to change or alter odometers at his used car lot in Gulfport. Baine then sold the rolled-back vehicles to unsuspecting consumers for inflated prices. He also admitted that he and a co-conspirator caused at least 387 vehicles to be rolled back between 2011 and 2014, which resulted in consumer losses of more than $600,000. Savarese admitted that he began altering odometers for Mississippi and Louisiana used-car dealers in 2011 and reset the odometers on at least 200 used vehicles for Baine.

"The Department of Justice has long been committed to prosecuting automobile dealers, wholesalers, and mechanics who defraud consumers by selling vehicles with unlawfully altered odometers," said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. "Vehicle mileage is critical to consumers who rely on that information to evaluate the value and safety of a used vehicle."

"These criminals not only defrauded hundreds of people but they directly put families and the general public at risk," said U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst of the Southern District of Mississippi. "We will continue to do all that we can to protect our citizens from fraudsters who endanger others just to make a quick buck."

Senior Litigation Counsel Linda I. Marks of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Jones of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi prosecuted the case. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation (NHTSA), assisted by the State of Mississippi Office of the Attorney General, investigated the case.

NHTSA estimates that odometer fraud in the United States results in consumer losses of more than $1 billion annually. Individuals with information relating to odometer tampering should call NHTSA’s odometer fraud hotline at (800) 424-9393 or (202) 366-4761. More information on odometer fraud is available on the NHTSA website at https://www.nhtsa.gov/odometer-fraud and tips on detecting and avoiding odometer fraud are available at www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/nvs/pdf/811284.pdf .

For more information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts, visit its website at http://www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch. For more information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi, visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdms.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.