A Belleville man told a federal judge on Thursday that he advertised vehicles for sale on Craigslist and Offerup, then went out and stole them.
Eric Morgan, 34, said he photographed particular vehicles and attached a GPS tracker to develop the owner’s “pattern-of-life,” Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig said.
“The target vehicle was then listed for sale on an internet-based marketplace,” Honig said. “Potential purchasers of the target vehicles responded to listings and scheduled in-person meetings to purchase the vehicles.
“Shortly before the scheduled meeting times, the targeted vehicles were stolen with specially made car keys and fraudulently sold to unwittingly purchasers,” the U.S. attorney said.
On three specific occasions, Morgan posed as the owner, sold the vehicle and gave the buyer a bogus registration and a specially-made car key, she said.
The FBI uncovered the scheme, which involved more than 30 stolen vehicles -- 29 of which were sold to unwitting buyers, Honig said.
Rather than go to trial, Morgan took a deal from the government, pleading guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Newark to the sale of:
- a 2010 Acura TSX through Craigslist on July 19, 2017;
- a 2015 Honda Accord through OfferUp on Nov. 23, 2018;
- a 2016 Honda Accord through Craigslist on March 22, 2019.
U.S. District Judge William J. Martini scheduled sentencing for Jan. 13, 2022.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kendall Randolph of Honig’s Organized Crime and Gangs Unit in Newark secured the plea.
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