By David Brand
A crew of seven New Yorkers were indicted in Queens Criminal Supreme Court Wednesday on several charges of conspiracy, enterprise corruption and money laundering for allegedly counterfeiting auto documents worth more than $400,000.
Queens resident Christopher Pandiani was indicted alongside Andrew Pandiani, James Napolitano and Joseph Algerio of Staten Island; Solomon Zaheer of Brooklyn; and Maurice Brown and Jay Thomas of Suffolk County.
The defendants, led by Andrew Pandiani, allegedly installed payroll and forgery-machines inside their vehicles to quickly deliver and print phony documents, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said.
“These fraudulent documents are commonly used to disguise stolen autos and this black market business allows buyers to cheat the system,” Brown said. “My office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to break up crews that set up illegal enterprises in our community.”
The NYPD Auto Crime Unit began following the crew after it a spotted ad for New Jersey State temporary license plates and vehicle registrations on Craiglist . Undercover detectives contacted the seller and purchased counterfeit vehicle identification documents, prosecutors said..
The detectives tapped Andrew Pandiani’s phone and allegedly overheard him discussing a shell company that printed forged documents, including temporary paper license plates and insurance documents for customers in New York City and Long Island.
Andrew Pandiani’s brother Christopher, the lone Queens resident indicted, allegedly served as a driver for the operation. His car allegedly contained a printer and special printing paper and he made daily deliveries.
Justice Ushir Pandit-Durant presided over the 42-count indictment.
If convicted, the Pandiani brothers face 4 1/2 to 25 years in prison.
The indictment occurred on the same day that Brown announced he would not seek re-election for the office he has held since 1991 and gave him an opportunity to reflect on his tenure fighting car crimes.
“Here in Queens County, auto theft has long been a benchmark in measuring our effectiveness in combating crime,” he said. “I have devoted significant resources to ferreting out criminal enterprises that seek to profit from the illicit trafficking in stolen autos, auto parts, auto documents and insurance fraud.”