Police Officer Shantell McKinnies, based out of the Richmond Hill precinct, allegedly reported that her 2006 Dodge Charger was stolen in Brooklyn Aug. 23 but she actually gave the car to defendant Malcolm Young, who delivered it to a garage owner who turned out to be an undercover cop, Brown said.McKinnies, who lives in Brooklyn, received $26,255 from her insurance company after reporting the supposed theft, according to the DA.Brown said McKinnies and 40 other defendants, including more than a dozen from Queens, gave their cars to so-called middlemen knowing that the middlemen would get rid of the vehicles.The 12 middlemen would deliver the cars to a Queens garage that was known to take insurance job vehicles, "discreetly dispose of them" and pay for the cars based on their condition, he said. "The defendants believed that they could beat the system, but they could not have been more mistaken," the DA said in a statement. "Instead of pocketing 'easy money,' they now face serious felony charges and prison sentences."It was unclear how much prison time McKinnies faces if convicted, but the DA said most of the defendants could get up to seven years in prison if they were found guilty.An investigation into the scheme, dubbed Operation Disappearing Act, began in July 2006, when the Police Department's Auto Crime Division looked into a group that allegedly participated in a similar insurance fraud plot, Brown said. Following that probe, a secret garage was set up in Queens and manned with undercover detectives, Brown said.Out of the 12 middlemen charged in the fraud, six were from Queens, including four from Flushing and two others from Cambria Heights and Rosedale.There were 35 people, including 14 from Queens, who were charged with either conspiring or assisting in delivering the cars to the middlemen so the vehicle owners could file a false report that their car was stolen, according to Brown.Those borough residents were from all over Queens, including Jamaica, Bellerose, Flushing, Corona, Astoria, Far Rockaway, Little Neck, St. Albans and Jackson Heights, the DA said.Luxury and late-model cars were among the 70 vehicles confiscated as part of Operation Disappearing Act, Brown said. They were worth $1.7 million combined, he said. He said undercover detectives posing as garage workers were paid a collective $70,000 to "dispose" of the cars. Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz
©2008 Community News Group
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