Brooklyn Woman Sentenced to More than 21 Years in Prison for Shipment of More than $2.5 Million Worth of Stolen Luxury Vehicles to Africa
March 14, 2014
CAMDEN, N.J. – A Brooklyn, N.Y., woman was sentenced today to 262 months in prison for her role as the leader of a ring responsible for shipping dozens of stolen and carjacked luxury cars and SUVs worth more than $2.5 million from New Jersey to Africa, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Hope K. Kantete, 44, was convicted on June 28, 2013, of 10 counts of transportation of stolen vehicles in interstate or foreign commerce and a single count of conspiracy to transport stolen vehicles in interstate or foreign commerce. Kantete was convicted after a three-week trial before U.S. District Judge Robert J. Kugler, who imposed the sentence today in Camden federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and the evidence presented at trial:
The stolen car exportation ring was investigated by a multi-agency task force led by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The investigation revealed that Kantete employed other individuals who were responsible for purchasing stolen and carjacked vehicles from thieves operating in northern New Jersey and New York. Kantete then had individuals “re-tag,” or place new vehicle identification numbers, on the stolen cars and create fraudulent title documents so that the cars could be shipped out of the country. After the documents were created, Kantete arranged to have the cars loaded onto shipping containers and sent to ports in West Africa. The cars could be re-sold in West Africa for at least twice their retail value in the United States.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Kugler sentenced Kantete to three years of supervised release and ordered her to pay restitution of $346,937, based on a loss estimated at $2.5 million to $7 million.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of HSI, under the leadership of Executive Associate Director James Dinkins and Special Agent in Charge Andrew M. McLees; and the N.J. State Police, under the direction of Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes, for the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. He also thanked U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor; Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey, Acting Hudson County Prosecutor Gaetano T. Gregory, and Acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park, the Essex and Hudson County Sheriff’s Departments, the Newark Police Department, the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for their roles.
The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney José R. Almonte and James M. Donnelly of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.