Jason Kortbawi, of 1115 Gipson St., was ordered held on $50,000 bail after his arraignment in Queens Criminal Court in Kew Gardens.
Kortbawi is accused of stealing and selling eight vans and a short school bus for $500 each to A. Rossiello Auto & Truck Parts, 20 Industrial Place, Island Park.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said theft of the vans had impacted greatly upon the livelihood of their owners "who rely upon them to carry out their construction or private transportation businesses."
Phil Schaffer, manager of the Rossiello parts said the salvage company did nothing wrong.
"All the proper forms were filled out," Schaffer said. "There was no way for me to know if the cars that came in were stolen or not."
Schaffer said authorities conducted a raid at his salvage business with more than 100 law enforcement officers Wednesday, going through and taking away many of the company records and files.
"They thought they had the chop shop of the century," Schaffer said. "They went through everything and did not find one thing wrong."
Schaffer said his company alerted authorities about a month ago that there might be something amiss when Kortbawi, with whom Schaffer said he'd had business dealings for some time, acted suspiciously while trying to sell a 2006 van. Up until that time, "He looked liked a decent guy. I can't believe that he did all this," Schaffer said.
Authorities said Friday the investigation was continuing.
Kortbawi is charged with third- and fourth-degree grand larceny, third- and fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and fifth-degree conspiracy and is scheduled to appear next in Queens court on Oct. 21.