Five people, including a Union City man and a Jersey City man, have been indicted on charges that they conspired to steal, receive, and or fence at least a dozen mostly high-end vehicles worth approximately $600,000, according to Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin.
They were charged in a multi-county investigation by the New Jersey State Police Motor Vehicle Crimes North Unit, State Police Auto Theft Task Force, and Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) Specialized Crimes Bureau.
The DCJ Specialized Crimes Bureau obtained a 19-count grand jury indictment charging: Burdley Jean, 41, of Union City; Adrian Goolcharran, 37, of Jersey City; Zaquan T. Wright, 19, of Newark; Dion Wiggins, 21, of Newark; and Quamir Hodges, 24, of Montclair.
The five defendants are variously charged with second- or third-degree receiving stolen property in connection with 12 stolen vehicles, including Land Rovers, BMWs, Jeeps, and an Audi Q8, among other makes, according to the Attorney General’s Office. The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The charge of second-degree possession of a weapon by a convicted felon carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison without possibility of parole. Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000, while fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Hodges, Wiggins, and Jean were previously arrested and were ordered detained pending trial. Hodges and Wiggins are being held in the Monmouth County Jail, and Jean is being held in the Hudson County Jail. Wright and Goolcharran are being sought on arrest warrants.
The alleged conspiracy
Hodges, Wiggins, and Wright allegedly conspired from September through December 2021 to receive multiple stolen vehicles, with their alleged criminal activities spanning at least seven counties including Essex, Bergen, Hudson, Union, Middlesex, Monmouth, and Atlantic.
The investigation further revealed that Hodges and Wright allegedly provided Goolcharran with a stolen 2018 Range Rover to transport out of state on Jean’s behalf. Hodges, Wright, Jean, and Goolcharran are charged with conspiracy, trafficking in stolen property, and receiving stolen property in connection with that vehicle.
When detectives executed a search warrant in December at a purported auto body business in Newark owned by Hodges, they allegedly found a stolen Dodge Charger, a defaced semi-automatic handgun, an illegal large-capacity magazine loaded with 14 rounds, and a small amount of fentanyl. Hodges faces drug and weapons charges, including possession of a weapon as a convicted felon.
Further investigation of Jean revealed that he allegedly possessed three stolen vehicles with altered vehicle identification numbers. In addition, when the State Police executed a search warrant at his residence in January, they found materials and equipment allegedly used to operate a fraudulent document mill, including fictitious government documents, forged checks, and printing, embossing, and laminating machines. Jean faces second-degree charges of false government documents and trafficking in personal identifying information, and third-degree charges of forgery and identity theft.
Deputy Attorney General Gezim Bajrami is prosecuting the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Jacqueline Smith, Bureau Chief Erik Daab, and DCJ Deputy Director Annmarie Taggart.
Efforts to reduce auto theft
In early March, Platkin announced that the New Jersey State Police and Division of Criminal Justice are expanding the Auto Theft Task Force by adding more detectives and prosecutors and by partnering with additional police departments from around the state. Platkin is prioritizing efforts to reduce auto theft as part of a larger strategy to reduce violent crime and protect the people of New Jersey.
“We are working to reduce vehicle thefts by expanding the Auto Theft Task Force and urging drivers to follow common-sense tips, like always removing the key fob from your car to prevent thieves from easily driving it off and using it to commit more serious crimes,” said Acting Attorney General Platkin. “The biggest spike in car thefts involves luxury vehicles like the Land Rovers, BMWs, and other stolen cars allegedly trafficked by these defendants. We will continue to devote the resources necessary to investigate and prosecute car thieves and protect the public from this growing threat.”
“This indictment reflects our resolve to aggressively prosecute those responsible for the growing number of vehicle thefts in New Jersey,” said Director Lyndsay V. Ruotolo of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We are committed to collaborating with the New Jersey State Police and all of our task force partners to dismantle these auto theft rings and protect our communities.”
“These defendants allegedly sought out luxury car owners for their own financial gain, but as a result of the collaborative efforts by our detectives and task force partners, we were able to put an end to this high-end auto-theft ring,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “The take down of this criminal operation represents our commitment to targeting auto-theft, and these indictments deliver the message that anyone responsible for these criminal networks will be held accountable.”
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