Members of Charlotte-Based Auto Theft Ring Charged in Federal Court
Published Sept. 12, 2023
A criminal indictment unsealed in federal court Aug. 23 charged five people with stealing dozens of high-end vehicles worth millions of dollars from dealerships located across the U.S.
The indictment charged Dewanne Lamar White, 43, of Sumter, SC; Garyka Vaughn Bost, 24, of Denver, NC; Kevin Ja’Coryen James Fields, 27, of Charlotte, NC; Hosea Fernandez Hampton Jr., 25, of Charlotte; and Reginald Eugene Hill, 23, of Charlotte; with conspiracy to transport, possess and sell stolen vehicles in interstate commerce, and interstate transportation of a stolen motor vehicle. White, Fields and Hampton are also charged with possession of a stolen motor vehicle.
According to allegations in the indictment, from 2021 to 2023, the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to steal luxury vehicles worth millions of dollars from dealerships in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Arizona. The co-conspirators allegedly transported the stolen vehicles back to Charlotte and sold them locally at prices well below market value.
The indictment further alleges that, to maximize profits, the co-conspirators stole luxury vehicles made by Bentley, BMW, Cadillac, Land Rover, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz, and other expensive models from Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford and other manufacturers.
The defendants allegedly executed the thefts in a number of ways. In some instances, the co-conspirators visited dealerships posing as customers interested in purchasing the vehicles. After pretending to test drive or inspect the vehicles, the co-conspirators would allegedly swap the vehicles’ key fobs with similar ones, and later use the stolen key fobs to steal the vehicles. Other times, the co-conspirators allegedly employed methods like “smash and grab” thefts, where they would break into dealerships and locate keys to the high-end models, or break open lockboxes containing keys to luxury vehicles, and then drive the vehicles off the lot.
The indictment alleges Bost, Fields and Hill often served as drivers in the conspiracy, and White and Hampton frequently paid them and other drivers for their work in the scheme. The indictment further alleges on several occasions the defendants and their co-conspirators stole multiple vehicles simultaneously, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses.
Once the stolen vehicles were taken off the dealership lots, the defendants allegedly avoided law enforcement detection by removing the GPS navigation and tracking systems from the stolen vehicles, attaching fictitious dealer tags or stolen license plates on the vehicles, and replacing the vehicles’ authentic VINs, among other things.
The announcement of the indictment was made by Dena J. King, U.S. attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, who was joined by Ronnie Martinez, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in North Carolina and South Carolina, Robert M. DeWitt, special agent in charge of the FBI in North Carolina, and Chief Johnny Jennings of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD).
“We will not tolerate brazen theft schemes that cost businesses and consumers millions of dollars," King said. "I want to thank our federal and local law enforcement partners for their incredible work with this ongoing investigation that has led to today’s charges.”
The charge of conspiracy to transport, possess and sell stolen vehicles in interstate commerce carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The charge of interstate transportation of a stolen motor vehicle and possession of a stolen vehicle each carry a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The charges in the indictment are allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law.
King thanked HSI, FBI and CMPD for their investigation of the case and recognized the contributions of the York County (SC) Sheriff’s Office and many other state and local law enforcement partners that contributed to the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys William Bozin and Daniel Ryan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte are prosecuting the case.
Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of North Carolina