Two individuals from Queens have been indicted for their alleged role in a citywide automobile and motorcycle theft ring that netted $500,000 worth of stolen cars, motorcycles, auto parts, and forged inspection stickers, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced.
In all, 11 people — including one man from Woodside and another from Jackson Heights — are in cuffs and still in custody after a 16-month investigation led cops to arrest the crew. The other suspects hail from Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island.
“The indictments are the result of a 16-month-long joint investigation by the New York City Police Department’s Auto Crime Division and my Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau,” Brown said in a statement. “The defendants charged in this case are alleged to have worked together and separately dealing in stolen automobiles, motorcycles and car parts. One particular defendant also allegedly used social media to sell bogus 2017 New York State motor vehicle inspection stickers.”
The alleged ring members are:
- Samar “Sammy” Preet, 26, of Jackson Heights;
- Pierce O’Connor, 22, of Woodside;
- Eric “Ebay” Villanueva, 30, of East Third Street in Manhattan;
- Joshua “J-Roz” Paulicelli, 30, of 25th Avenue in Brooklyn;
- Kuldeep “Cody” Sethi, 20, of Bodine Street in Staten Island;
- Jobdaniel “J-Spec” Nunez, 31, of Bath Avenue in Brooklyn;
- Abad “Tito” Rios, 25, of 23rd Street in Brooklyn;
- Sean “Twin” Ramos, 25, of Franklin Street in Staten Island;
- Luis “Sergio” Rosa, 28, of Grove Avenue in Staten Island;
- Wilvin “Maria” Espinal, 26, of Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn; and
- Felix “Southside Felix” Dejesus, 22, of South Third Street in Brooklyn.
The defendants were arraigned on Wednesday, April 5, before Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard L. Buchter on seven indictments variously charging them with grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, conspiracy and a host of other charges.
According to the indictment, the investigation began in Queens as a detective in the NYPD Auto Crime Division started investigating an Instagram page selling car rims and inspection stickers.
A court-authorized wiretap helped reveal the ring’s inner workings which stole vehicles from Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island and New Jersey.
After reaching out to the account owner, Abad Rios, an undercover operation began in which Rios and co-defendant Kuldeep Sethi allegedly sold 14 stolen cars and six motorcycles, as well as an estimated 13 forged New York State inspection stickers to undercover detectives, the indictment continued.
The alleged culprits stole approximately 45 cars and 16 motorcycles in total worth a combined estimated sum of $500,000.
“In Queens County auto theft has long been a benchmark in measuring my office’s effectiveness in combating crime,” Brown said. “I have devoted significant resources to ferreting out criminal organizations that profit from the illicit trafficking of stolen autos, auto parts and insurance fraud — and with great success. As a result, we have seen a dramatic drop in auto thefts from a high of more than 50,000 cars being stolen annually in 1991 to less than 2,000 last year. As such, we remain committed to aggressively investigating and prosecuting such conduct. Those who make the mistake of setting up shop in Queens County face serious felony charges and prison sentences.”
The defendants are ordered to return to court on April 28, and May 31, and face between one and seven years in prison if convicted.