Newark Man Sentenced for His Role in Ring That Stole, Fenced Luxury Cars in Northern, Central Jersey

Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a Newark man was sentenced to prison today for his role in a ring that stole luxury cars in northern and central New Jersey and loaded them onto cargo containers for shipping or fenced them in other states. Four men were indicted in an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice, Woodbridge Police Department and other members of the New Jersey State Police Auto Theft Task Force.

Authorities said Kelvin Vega, 25, of Newark, was sentenced today to six years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Catherine I. Enright in Morris County after pleaded guilty on Dec. 4 to second-degree receiving stolen property.

Two other ring members who pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property late last year were sentenced to prison on Jan. 26.

According to officials, Carlos Sanchez Jr., 19, of Newark, was sentenced to four years in prison, and Vega’s brother, Jonathan Vega, 24, of Newark, was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

The fourth defendant, Bilal Cureton, 28, of Newark, faces pending charges, including second-degree charges of conspiracy, theft, receiving stolen property, fencing, and financial facilitation of criminal activity.

The ring members stole numerous high-end vehicles, including various models of Mercedes, BMW and Bentley. The investigation revealed they used certain spots to “cool off” vehicles, parking them at a hotel in Elizabeth, for example, until they were sure they were not equipped with tracking devices that would lead law enforcement to them. After a vehicle was sufficiently “cooled,” it was moved to a loading location, usually in Irvington, to be shipped, or was fenced domestically.

Several of the vehicles stolen by the ring members were recovered from shipping containers prior to being placed on cargo vessels.

The ring members were directly linked to thefts of at least 14 vehicles with a combined estimated value of more than $800,000. Vehicles were stolen in New Jersey from Morristown, Long Hill, Jamesburg, Holmdel, Livingston, Closter, Princeton and Mahwah. One stolen Mercedes S550 was traced to Louisiana, where Kelvin Vega was found in possession of that car and a second stolen Mercedes S550. Other stolen cars were recovered in Maryland and Ohio.

“These defendants prowled residential neighborhoods and stole cars from their owners’ driveways, creating a high potential for dangerous confrontations,” said Attorney General Grewal. “By dismantling this high-end car fencing ring and putting these thieves in prison, we’ve made our communities safer and protected valuable property.”

Photo Caption: (L to R)Jonathan Vega, Bilal Cureton, Carlos Sanchez Jr., and Kelvin Vega