Orange resident accused of stealing, selling, then re-stealing car

An Orange resident was one of four people charged for their roles in a conspiracy to receive, retitle, and “re-VIN” stolen vehicles, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced last week.

Johnathan Tanksley, 30, was charged with one count of conspiracy to receive stolen vehicles along with Nathaniel Bell, aka “David Jones,” 26, of Linden; L’Hubermane Felix, 24, of Miami, Fla; and Dayanna Sarango-Hidalgo, 28, of Newark.

Bell is additionally charged with five counts of altering or removing motor vehicle identification numbers (VIN) and one count of transportation of stolen vehicles.

Felix made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jessica S. Allen in Newark federal court last week. Bell, Tanksley and Sarango-Hidalgo made their initial appearances earlier this month before U.S. Magistrate Judge Edward S. Kiel in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

The defendants conspired to obtain stolen vehicles from New Jersey, New York, Florida, and other states, obtained fraudulent titles for the stolen vehicles, and altered vehicle identification numbers to conceal the fact that the vehicles were stolen.

The stolen cars were then sold to dealerships or individual purchasers so the defendants could make a profit. In at least one instance, the defendants sold a stolen car to an individual purchaser and then stole it back so they could sell it again.

They accomplished this by placing Apple AirTags in the stolen vehicles to track the location of the vehicle after its sale.

Each defendant faces up to five years in prison on the conspiracy charge. The maximum penalty that Bell faces for each count of altering or removing a motor vehicle identification number is five years in prison, and the maximum penalty for transporting a stolen vehicle is 10 years.