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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Captured Fugitive Pleads Guilty in Odometer Tampering Scheme That Defrauded Hundreds of Car Buyers



A woman originally from Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, entered guilty pleas today in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia to all 23 counts of an indictment related to an odometer tampering conspiracy, the Department of Justice announced.

Judith Ann Aloe, 55, previously residing in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida, was scheduled to stand trial in May 2014, in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.  When she failed to appear for trial on May 14, 2014, a bench warrant was issued for her arrest by Chief Judge Petrese B. Tucker.  Aloe remained at large for 21 months.  In February 2016, she was located in Baja California, Mexico, and turned over to the U.S. Marshals Service at the Mexico/California border.  Today, she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to tamper with odometers, make false odometer certifications, and commit securities fraud and to 11 counts each of securities fraud and making false odometer certifications. Her sentencing is on Sept. 29 at 10 a.m. before Chief Judge Tucker. 

In April 2014, Aloe’s co-defendant, Kyle Novitsky, then 46, of Scott Township, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to several counts in the indictment. In October 2014, Novitsky was sentenced to 60 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,482,000 to victims.  From at least as early as 2004 through 2010, Aloe and Novitsky purchased high mileage cars and trucks, and then rolled back the odometers on the vehicles to make them appear more valuable.  Doing business under various company names, Aloe and Novitsky sold close to 250 vehicles with rolled back odometers.

“The purchase of an automobile is one of the biggest purchases consumers make, and consumers rely on accurate mileage information to assess the value and safety of a vehicle,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “Not only do purchasers pay more for used cars, but odometer fraud could ultimately affect a car’s safety and the costs of future repairs to the consumer.  The Department of Justice will continue to vigorously enforce consumer protection laws by bringing those who commit this crime to justice.”

Aloe admitted to participating in the purchase of high-mileage cars, sport-utility vehicles and trucks from various locations of a national car rental company.  She then worked with Novitsky to roll back and alter the odometers and resold the vehicles at wholesale automobile auctions in Pennsylvania.  Aloe also caused to be altered the high mileages shown on the titles received from the car rental company to reflect false, low mileages and retitled the vehicles in Pennsylvania with false mileages.  These titles were then given to the buyers so that the mileage on the titles matched the mileage shown on a vehicle’s odometer.

This case was prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Linda I. Marks of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and former Consumer Protection Branch Trial Attorney Jessica Gunder, now an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Idaho, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  The case was investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation.

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