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Whitestone Bravest admits role in bike theft ring: DA

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Firefighter Eric Kohler, 32, pleaded guilty to corruption, criminal possession of stolen property, insurance fraud and criminal possession of forgery devices as part of a deal that will land him a sentence of between one and 4 1/2 years behind bars, the DA said. He will be sentenced on March 30 in State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens before Judge Richard Buchter.Kohler was one of eight men who operated a ring that was broken up in January on charges that its members stole motorcycles from homes in Flushing, Suffolk County and Virginia Beach and sold engines and parts on e-Bay and other Web sites for up to $5,000 apiece, the DA said.He was suspended from the Fire Department without pay for one month when the ring was dismantled in January, a department spokesman said. He has since returned to the department in an administrative capacity, the spokesman said. Along with Kohler, leader Christos Demetroules, 34, of 35-17 168th St. in Flushing, admitted to being a linchpin in the ring and was sentenced to between three and nine years behind bars, the DA said. He pleaded guilty to charges of corruption and possession of stolen property.Michael Kontos, 35, of 12-15 121st St. in College Point, another self-proclaimed ring leader, entered a guilty plea to corruption charges and will be sentenced to between three and nine years on May 5, the DA said.Kohler, Demetroules and Kontos all said they had at least three bikes or engines in their possession, according to Brown.The ring was broken up earlier this year after a motorcycle owner in Ridgewood recognized parts of his stolen bike for sale on e-Bay, the DA said.From there police pieced together the thefts of 81 motorcycles, valued at $1 million, that included a $9,000 Suzuki, a $10,000 GSXR 1000 bike and a $25,000 Harley Davidson "Fat Boy," according to the DA."Steal men" were responsible for taking the bikes from their owner's driveways and bringing them to garages at 70-17 Main St., 43-16 194th St. in Flushing and 7-15 154th St. in Whitestone, law enforcement officials said. At those sites, workers dissembled the bikes, rubbed off their VINs and photographed them for future sale on the Internet, the DA said.Five "steal men" from Brooklyn, Elmont and the Rockaways have also pleaded guilty to being involved in the scheme.Most of the engines were sold to miniature car enthusiasts in Ohio, California, Italy, Spain and Australia, the DA said. Dwarf cars, which are not government regulated, commonly employ motorcycle engines and are used for oval track racing, the DA said.Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.

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