DA: Elmont man convicted in stolen motorcycle crime ring
An Elmont man was convicted Thursday of distributing stolen motorcycles in a massive crime ring that dismantled the bikes and sold them here and abroad, Manhattan prosecutors said.
A state Supreme Court jury in Manhattan found Steve Dow, 31, guilty of enterprise corruption, which carries a maximum of 25 years, and two counts of third-degree criminal possession of stolen property, each of which carries a maximum of seven years, authorities said. Sentencing is set for Aug. 16.
One of Dow's attorneys, Joseph Heinzmann of White Plains, said he plans to appeal the enterprise corruption conviction.
Dow was one of three ring members convicted Thursday and one of 25 convicted since last July, when authorities broke up the ring after a 17-month investigation spearheaded by the NYPD, New York City officials said.
Under the scheme, each member played a specific role to satisfy customers on the black market, prosecutors said. Retail dealers would place "orders" for certain motorcycles to be stolen. Distributors would inform "steal teams," which scoured New York City for the desired motorcycles and also stole any attractive or popular ones.
Procurers in the steal team would send photos of the bikes to dealers, and once a sale was agreed on, distributors like Dow would dismantle, package and ship the motorcycles on cargo ships to international dealers, prosecutors said. If the buyer was domestic, the motorcycles would be sold whole, authorities said.
Undercover police officers posing as prospective buyers were charged about $2,000 for motorcycles valued at $7,000 and up, officials said.
"Each of the defendants played different, but critical roles in a highly organized operation that systematically stole expensive motorcycles off the streets of Manhattan in just a matter of minutes," said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. "The organization was designed to insulate itself from detection, but a 17-month investigation by my office and the NYPD led to its ultimate dismantling."
The jury also convicted Trumaine Francis, 28, of Brooklyn, on grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, and Damian Jones, 32, of enterprise corruption, Vance's office said.
Some ring members also trafficked in illegal guns brought from southern states and sold in New York City, prosecutors said.
Dow faces a trial in September on firearm-related charges, Heinzmann said.
The jury found his client guilty of possessing a stolen motorcycle and selling one to an undercover officer, Heinzmann said, but there is a "substantial question" regarding whether his client's actions amounted to enterprise corruption.
"The criminal enterprise law is designed to get at complicated organizations that insulate their owners and operators from liability," the attorney said. "It's to be able to get the Mafia kingpin who delegates his work to underlings, to get the guy who owns the brokerage firm that pumps and dumps stocks when all of his dirty deeds were done by brokers.
"This is not that kind of a situation. There was ample evidence in the case that the people charged with enterprise corruption were actually in competition with each other, as opposed to working together."