TRENTON – Two New Jersey men and a resident of Ghana have been indicted for their alleged roles in a multi-county automobile theft ring, Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced Tuesday.
According to Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Riza Dagli, the following defendants were charged Friday, Aug. 27, in a Union County grand jury indictment:
- Richard Atuahene, 48, of Hillside, and Michael Nana Prempeh, age unknown, whose last known address is Accra, Ghana, were charged with conspiracy, receiving stolen property and fencing, all in the second degree, as well as third-degree hindering apprehension or prosecution of self.
- Tyja Evans, 34, of Watchung, was charged with second-degree conspiracy and third-degree receiving stolen property.
The Union County indictment alleges that between March 10 and April 28, Atuahene, Prempeh, and Evans engaged in a conspiracy to ship two stolen automobiles to the Republic of Ghana: a 2010 BMW 650 convertible valued at approximately $96,620, stolen from Bavarian Motor Works in Jersey City; and a 2009 Toyota Venza, valued at approximately $23,000, stolen from a resident of Brooklyn, New York.
As part of the conspiracy, it is alleged that Atuahene and Prempeh attempted to ship the two stolen automobiles using fraudulent titles for each and provided false statements to law enforcement. It is also alleged that Evans participated in the conspiracy by moving one of the stolen vehicles in anticipation of it being placed in a container for shipment overseas.
The indictment alleges that both Prempeh and Atuahene provided false statements to a New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice detective. It is further alleged that Prempeh mailed the fraudulent original motor vehicle title to the 2010 BMW 650 convertible to the detective and promised but did not mail the second original fraudulent motor vehicle title to the 2009 Toyota Venza. These acts are alleged to have been committed to hinder both Atuahene’s and Prempeh’s apprehension and prosecution.
The indictment also alleges that Evans knowingly brought into New Jersey the stolen 2009 Toyota Venza, and drove it in Hillside, New Jersey in preparation for the vehicle being put in a container for shipment to the Republic of Ghana, knowing that the vehicle had been stolen.
It is further alleged that Atuahene and Prempeh knowingly organized and trafficked in stolen property, specifically, the BMW and Toyota, which were being shipped overseas to be sold in Ghana, while they knew both vehicles had been stolen.
The investigation began when the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department uncovered the alleged fraud and notified the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor.
The case will be venued in Union County where the defendants will be ordered to appear in court to answer the charges on a date to be determined.
The indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Second-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of $150,000, while crimes of the third degree carry a maximum sentence of five years in state prison and a criminal fine of $15,000.
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