KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) - Two men -- a Kalamazoo car dealer and a Decatur police officer -- were charged in Kalamazoo District Court Monday after an investigation revealed unsafe cars were being sold to the public.
For several years, a police task force alleges, Kourush "James" Jamshidi bought junk cars in Wisconsin, brought them over state lines and sold them as if they were safe for the road.
According to testimony given to get an arrest warrant, the Southwest Commercial Auto Recovery Unit (SCAR) started looking into Jamshidi after getting a complaint from someone in Wisconsin who had bought a car on the Internet from Jamshidi's Import Cars. That person tried to get it titled in Wisconsin, only to find out it was junk.
"He tried to contact Mr. Jamshidi to return the vehicle," Charles Porn of SCAR told a Kalamazoo County District Court judge. "Mr. Jamshidi refused to return the vehicle, told him it was as-is."
And, SCAR alleges, it wasn't the first time Jamshidi had sold a junked vehicle.
"They had purchased numerous junk vehicles from the state of Wisconsin, brought them to the state of Michigan," Porn told the court. "After doing title histories, I found out that the titles were a junk brand before going to the state of Michigan. They were cleaned in the state of Michigan."
Jamshidi has been charged with five counts of common law fraud -- each a 10-year felony.
On Tuesday, it was revealed that Decatur Police Officer James Richardson -- formerly a Michigan State Police trooper -- may have been involved in the scam.
SCAR's investigation alleges Richardson may have been helping Jamshidi and pocketing the money.
"He was also doing salvage inspections," said Porn. "He also was doing TR-54 inspections for the junk vehicles trying to clean the titles."
Richardson knew the vehicles were junk, said Porn, but took the money from Jamshidi anyway and processed them as if they were not junk. Porn confirmed these statements to District Court Judge Richard Santoni Tuesday afternoon.
Richardson is being charged with embezzlement -- a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
The Secretary of State and police encourage consumers to check a vehicle's CarFax or title before purchase. If a title is green, the vehicle is good to go. If orange, it is a salvage vehicle; and if red, it is a junked vehicle.
If you think you have purchased a junked car, officials from the Secretary of State encourage you to file a complaint with their office.
Jamshidi and Richardson are supposed to be back in court in October.
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