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Woodbury murder suspect arrested in scam

A suspect in the March 2009 Woodbury killing of two reputed con artists from Nigeria was arrested again this week in a car theft scam that bilked high-end car dealerships and banks in New York City, officials said Thursday.

Andre Dickenson, 31, who is in custody awaiting trial in the homicides, was accused by the NYPD and Queens district attorney's office of being a ringleader of the scheme, which used straw buyers to purchase more than 50 luxury cars, such as BMWs, Porsches and Mercedes-Benzes, between July 2008 and March 2010, said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

At a news conference Thursday at police headquarters in Manhattan, Kelly and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said that two groups of scam artists ripped off banks and auto dealerships for about $2 million in high-priced vehicles.

Dickenson and 17 other defendants and three corporations were arrested and arraigned Tuesday and Wednesday as part of a three-year probe by the NYPD, which police said ultimately led them to link Dickenson to the Nassau homicide case.

NYPD spokesman Paul Brown said wiretaps also led police to suspect Dickenson, a resident of Brooklyn, of gun trafficking in Manhattan, for which he was charged about a year ago. A Queens judge ordered Dickenson, who is already in jail, to be held on $100,000 bail for the auto scam. An attorney for Dickenson didn't return a telephone call for comment.

As described by Kelly, the scheme used straw car purchasers who were given up to $2,000 for the use of their names on car-financing applications, with the further promise that their credit histories would be helped because of the high-end car purchases. The cars were turned over to the ring, which then either sold or rented the vehicles to other criminals in Brooklyn and Queens, he said.

"In fact the suspects would stop making payments after three installments," said Kelly, leaving the banks to resort to repossession of the vehicles.

One of the 23 vehicles recovered was a 2008 Porsche used in the killing of the reputed con men, Nigerians who were shot inside the Woodbury condo of former New York Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma, according to Kelly. One victim, Ansu Keita, 32, was killed in the apartment, police said.

"In a scene reminiscent of [the film] 'Goodfellas,' " one of the victims was still alive when they opened the hatch of the Porsche and was shot again and finally killed, Kelly said, referring to victim Sekou Sackor, 31.

"Skull and bullet fragments from the Porsche recovered last year are being used as evidence in the prosecution of Dickenson in Nassau County," Kelly noted. He added that Vilma had been traded to the New Orleans Saints, was living there when the killings took place, and wasn't accused of any wrongdoing.

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