Today’s news:

Authorities dismantle $1M auto-theft ring

At a news conference Nov. 22 announcing the indictment, Queens DA Richard Brown, New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and New York State Superintendent of Insurance Neil Levin, said 17 members of the ring were arrested after investigators using wire taps listened to them making deals.

Brown said Robert Flack, 29, of 97-38 95th Rd. in Ozone Park was the alleged ring leader of the crew, which stole more than 80 cars, vans and motorcycles over the past eight months valued at over $1 million. He said Flack allegedly received orders for specific car parts from auto parts stores in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx.

Six alleged ring members from Queens were charged with enterprise corruption, which carries a maximum penalty of up to 25 years in jail, the DA's office said.

The six defendants and 11 others were also charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. They face up to seven years in prison if convicted of grand larceny.

"These indictments strike another blow in law enforcement's continuing offensive against auto crime in Queens," Brown said. "Today's case removes a highly active auto theft ring from the streets of southern Queens and northern Brooklyn."

Brown said it is alleged that Flack provided specific parts for Harold Ramprasad, 35, of 95-02 Lefferts Blvd. in Ozone Park of the Centerville Auto Specialists at 98-31 Linden Blvd., also in Ozone Park; Anthony Pavone of Class A Cars in Brooklyn; and Arnold Rosario of 4 Aces Motor Sports in the Bronx. Flack would allegedly send "steal men" and dismantlers known as "cutters" to rip off specific cars for the necessary parts, the DA said.

The six defendants charged with enterprise corruption are Flack, Ramprasad, Joseph Lampisona, 28, of 83-13 149th Place in Lindenwood; Mark Bryzgiel, 22, of 79-04 91st Ave. in Ozone Park; Jose Roblez, 23, of 127-07 Sutter Ave. in Ozone Park; and Ray Verdecchia, 36, of 81-14 95th Ave. in Ozone Park.

According to the DA's office, once the cars were stolen the thieves would drop off the car to be dismantled at a place called "The Weeds" in the area of 78th and Forbell Street on the Brooklyn/Queens border, "The Bahas" on the Belt Parkway and Fountain Avenue or at the Centerville Auto Specialists. The parts were then shipped to the auto parts stores that had requested them.

"In addition to stealing cars, dismantling them and trafficking in stolen parts, the defendant Flock is charged with criminal possession of a loaded firearm," Brown said. "The charge stems from an alleged shooting incident last July 13 at the headquarters of the Latin Kings in Brooklyn."

The charges claim Flock and some associates -intent on seeking revenge for the theft of one of their motorcycles by the Latin Kings gang - fired on the building, which serves as the Kings' home. Brown said the incident coupled with the arson of three cars and part of a building in Brooklyn "indicate very clearly that the stolen auto parts business is not just lucrative, but also violent and dangerous as well."

According to the district attorney's office, auto theft in Queens has dropped sharply over the past decade from 50,000 in 1991 to 14,109 in 1999. Brown said the number of auto thefts for 2000 is expected to be around 10,000 in Queens.

"With these indictments, the NYPD and our partners in the law enforcement community drive yet another major auto theft ring to its knees," Kerik said. "Today, with the help of the Queens district attorney, we complete the cycle, wiping out of a million-dollar "steal to order" enterprise that preyed on the car owners of Queen and Brooklyn."

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