04/28/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/28/2021 13:18
Two Texas men pleaded guilty today to for their roles in an odometer tampering scheme.
According to court documents, Nepthali Luna, 61, of San Antonio, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to make false odometer statements and commit securities fraud, while his son, Devon Luna, 36, also of San Antonio, pleaded guilty to two counts of making false odometer statements and two counts of securities fraud.
As part of their plea agreements, the defendants admitted that between 2016 and 2018, they engaged in a scheme to sell high-mileage, used vehicles with false, low mileage readings entered on the vehicles' odometers, titles and odometer disclosure statements. According to court filings, Devon Luna purchased high-mileage vehicles through his company, Pioneer Auto Finance. The defendants then caused the vehicles' odometers and titles to reflect false, low mileages, and they sold the vehicles for inflated prices to unwitting consumers.
'The Department of Justice remains steadfast in its commitment to protect consumers against deceptive practices, including odometer fraud schemes,' said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton of the Justice Department's Civil Division. 'Consumers are entitled to truthful information about the vehicles they purchase, including the amount of miles that a used vehicle has been driven.'
In pleading guilty, the Lunas admitted that they caused at least 225 vehicles to be sold with 'rolled back' odometers. The defendants admitted that the scheme resulted in consumer losses of more than $550,000.
Both defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 3, 2021. Nepthali Luna faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison on the conspiracy charge. Devon Luna faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on the securities fraud charges and three years on the false odometer statement charges. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation (NHTSA), assisted by the San Antonio Police Department, investigated the case.
Trial Attorney Arturo DeCastro of the Civil Division's Consumer Protection Branch is prosecuting the case with assistance from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas.
NHTSA estimates that odometer fraud in the United States results in consumer losses of more than $1 billion annually. Individuals with information relating to odometer tampering should call NHTSA's odometer fraud hotline at (800) 424-9393 or (202) 366-4761. More information on odometer fraud is available on the NHTSA website at https://www.nhtsa.gov/odometer-fraud and tips on detecting and avoiding odometer fraud are available at www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/nvs/pdf/811284.pdf.
For more information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts, visit its website at http://www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch. For more information about the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas, visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdtx.