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Federal Charges Filed Against Suspected Participants In Tri-County Auto Theft Ring

Car thieves were arrested in Mentor; stolen steel was shipped to and from Twinsburg, according to indictment

Five men from Northeast Ohio were charged in a 15-count federal indictment that alleges they were involved in a conspiracy that trafficked in stolen vehicles, backhoes, steel, scrap metal, and other objects through a chop shop and a scrap-metal yard in Northeast Ohio.

Related charges were filed in state court against nine men.

All are suspected to be involved in a that involved crimes throughout the region, including Mentor and Twinsburg.

Those indicted in federal court are:

  • Nayyir Mahdi, aka “Willie Jones,” 42, of Shaker Heights, who operated Express Metals on East 152nd Street and, before that, at 14915 Woodworth Ave., both in Cleveland. Mahdi was in the business of selling scrapped metal, according to prosecutors.
  • Davies Pierce, aka “Duffy,” 52, of Cleveland, who owned and operated Duffy’s Towing at 7810 Colfax Road. Pierce salvaged autos for scrap metal, according to prosecutors.
  • Mark Brown, 46, of Cleveland, owned and operated Kram and Kram at 1396 East 55th Street. Brown scrapped vehicles for vehicle parts, according to prosecutors.
  • Lindsey Blackmon, 48, of Cleveland, and other co-conspirators obtained a location at 19210 Miles Road, Warrensville Heights, to be used as a chop shop, according to prosecutors.
  • Gilbert Evans, Jr., also known as “Grasshopper,” 47, of Cleveland.

"These defendants ended up with semi-trucks or pickups that were stolen from parking lots and other places" said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. "This indictment lays out a conspiracy that included thefts in Warrensville Heights, Willoughby, , Euclid, Elyria and a slew of other locations."

"These defendants collectively represent one of the largest vehicle and cargo-theft operations in Northern Ohio in the last five years," said Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Cleveland. "The FBI and our Organized Crime Task Force partners will continue our efforts to detect and dismantle these illegal enterprises, which negatively impact our economy and our citizens."

and -- who were and federal court after they were arrested by Mentor Police -- and others broke into and stole motor vehicles throughout Northeast Ohio.

Between June 2011 and March 2012, they brought the stolen vehicles to Brown, Pierce and Mahdi. The vehicle identification numbers were then removed from the vehicles, parts were stripped from the vehicle and sold, and the rest of the vehicles were crushed and sold for scrap, according to the indictment.

Some of the co-conspirators brought stolen vehicles to Brown, who stripped the autos of parts, including rims and catalytic converters, before towing the vehicles to Pierce’s shop on Colfax Road, where they were destroyed and scrapped, according to the indictment.

Blackmon and others would spot and steal loads of cargo after truck drivers parked their rigs. The tractor, trailer, and loads of cargo were then brought to Express Metals, operated by Mahdi, and to Pierce’s scrap yard, where the stolen cargo was broken down, according to the indictment.

On March 4, Blackmon, Evans, Brown and others possessed a shipment of steel coils worth about $120,000 that were stolen from a Ramada Inn in Elyria. The steel was being shipped to Michigan from Twinsburg, according to the indictment.

One month earlier, Blackmon, Pierce, Brown, and others possessed steel beams worth $18,700, a 2007 Kenworth semi-truck and a 2005 Eagle flatbed which had been stolen in the vicinity of Streetsboro, while being used in interstate commerce between Twinsburg and Virginia, according to the indictment.

The charges in federal court include conspiracy, operating a chop shop, altering VINs, theft and possession of stolen cargo, and other charges. Brown is also charged with obstruction and making false statements.

In related cases, the following charges were filed in state court by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason’s office:

  • Ben Javan McWilson, aka “Vanni,” 37, of Maple Heights: engaging in pattern of corrupt activity, conspiracy, grand theft motor vehicle, receiving stolen property, breaking and entering, insurance fraud, and fraudulent actions concerning a VIN.
  • Marcus M. McWilson, 34, of Maple Heights: engaging in pattern of corrupt activity, conspiracy, grand theft motor vehicle, receiving stolen property, breaking and entering, insurance fraud, and fraudulent actions concerning a VIN.
  • Michael L. Brantley, 39, of Cleveland: engaging in pattern of corrupt activity, conspiracy, receiving stolen property, breaking and entering, insurance fraud, and fraudulent actions concerning a VIN.
  • Lee Dickson, aka “Sho-Nuff,” 40, of Cleveland: engaging in pattern of corrupt activity, conspiracy, grand theft motor vehicle, receiving stolen property, and fraudulent actions concerning a VIN.
  • Ronal L. Brannon, aka “Hump,” 39, of Cleveland: conspiracy and fraudulent actions concerning a VIN.
  • Edmond C. “Cris” Bouldin, 42, of Cleveland: conspiracy, insurance fraud and fraudulent actions concerning a VIN.
  • Lavelle Heard, 37, of Cleveland: conspiracy and insurance fraud.
  • Charunz Williams, 48, of Maple Heights: receiving stolen property, grand theft motor vehicle, and insurance fraud.
  • Tyrone L. Dickerson, aka “T-Bone,” 50, of Maple Heights: receiving stolen property, fraudulent actions concerning a VIN, and insurance fraud.

This case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Gary D. Arbeznik following an investigation by the FBI’s Organized Crime Task Force, which includes the FBI, Ohio State Highway Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Cleveland Division of Police. The Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office assisted with making arrests this morning.

Police departments from Mentor, Solon, Twinsburg, Willoughby, Wickliffe and Bedford also investigated the auto theft ring.

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