Several auto salvage businesses in our state purchase wrecked automobiles, make certain repairs, obtain a salvage title for the cars and sell them to the public. Obtaining a salvage title though, requires the signature of an Indianapolis police officer on a form that certifies that the officer has inspected the major components of the vehicle, confirmed that necessary repairs were made and verified ownership of these parts. But, an Indianapolis police officer has recently been charged with a white collar crime for attempting to subvert this process for his own financial advantage.
The sergeant who allegedly committed this crime has been accused of working with an auto salvage dealer on the south side of Indianapolis. The dealer purchased wrecked automobiles and applied for salvage titles for them without performing the necessary repairs. Court documents filed in connection with the officer’s arrest said that the dealer arranged to have the officer sign the certificates without inspecting the vehicles. The officer was paid $100 to $150 per vehicle for abetting the scheme.
The arrest was the culmination of a lengthy investigation that began in October of 2016, after police received a tip from an informant. The officer is also accused of signing off on inspections of stolen vehicles bearing altered vehicle identification numbers. Investigators examined the dealership’s books and records and found a number of clusters of VINs that were signed by the defendant in a short span of time. The sergeant’s attorney has conceded that his client was negligent in signing some of the salvage title inspections, but that he did not do so with any criminal intent.
This case demonstrates how a criminal defense attorney can present the facts of a case in a way that aids the defense of his client. While the evidence gathered by police appears convincing, the lawyer is taking advantage of the presumption that the defendant is innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Anyone who is accused of a serious crime may wish to seek advice from a knowledgeable defense lawyer on how the law and the facts of the case may affect the outcome.