Editor’s Note: The following is a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Connecticut:
MONROE, CT — A local woman pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud stemming from the sale of numerous used vehicles with altered odometers in proceedings before U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea Monday.
Susan L. Cunningham, 48, of Monroe, formerly of Blue Springs, Missouri, made her plea via videoconference pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
According to court documents and statements made in court, between approximately August 2014 and October 2015, Cunningham and Wilfredo J. Albanese, while residing in Missouri, sold more than 40 vehicles with altered odometers to unsuspecting purchasers.
As part of the scheme, Cunningham and Albanese purchased high-mileage used vehicles and then used a variety of means to alter or reduce the mileage shown on the vehicles’ odometers.
They also concealed mechanical issues with those vehicles by removing “check engine” lights from the instrument panels, providing buyers with phony maintenance receipts and vehicle history reports, and concealing rust and other damage to the vehicle through paint or other means.
Cunningham and Albanese obtained Certificates of Title for the used vehicles they purchased. Under the assumed identities of the persons listed on those Certificates of Title, they advertised and sold the vehicles to customers on Craigslist.org. Most of the victim purchasers resided in Missouri.
On May 22, 2019, a grand jury in the Western District of Missouri returned a 20-count indictment charging Cunningham and Albanese with offenses related to this scheme. The case was subsequently transferred from the Western District of Missouri to the District of Connecticut for further prosecution.
Wire fraud carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years. Judge Shea scheduled sentencing for April 30, 2021. Cunningham is released pending sentencing.
On July 15, 2020, Albanese pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. On October 9, 2020, he was sentenced to 42 months of imprisonment and ordered to pay $51,600 in restitution.
This matter has been investigated by the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol, with the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Natasha Freismuth of the District of Connecticut, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Casey of the Western District of Missouri.
NHTSA estimates that odometer fraud in the U.S. 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 (888) 327-4236 or (202) 366-4761. More information on odometer fraud is available on the NHTSA website at https://www.nhtsa.gov/odometer-fraud.