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Saturday, April 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Car Dealers Say Russian Mob Snuck In

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CN) - An auto dealer claims its sales manager stole money from customers and shipped their cars to the Russian mob. The Auto Collection says seven clients have sued it for $2 million for cars for which Christopher Pinkow took payment, but sold at cut rate to Russian gangsters.

The Auto Collection sued Pinkow and 29 others on RICO charges in Nassau County Court.

Plaintiffs Stephen and Joshua Lever say their company "would identify high-end luxury vehicles for sale (the 'target vehicle'); would identify customers who wanted to purchase that same high-end luxury vehicle to export to Russia and other Eastern European countries; would purchase the target vehicle; and would sell the target vehicle to its customers at a profit."

The Levers say they hired Pinkow to run the company "on a day-to-day basis."

"Unbeknownst to plaintiffs," the complaint states, "Pinkow was actually working as an agent of a convicted Russian mobster, [defendant] Boris [Kotlyarsky], as well as working with other co-defendants named herein, to effectuate a scheme to defraud the plaintiffs. The scheme to defraud was successful, resulting in plaintiff's collective loss of more than three million of dollars (including contingent liabilities)."

The Levers claim Pinkow took the money, cooked the books, and shipped the cars to Russia, where he sold them for less than The Auto Collection paid for them.

After they discovered his scam and fired him, the Levers say, "seven distinct claimants surfaced, universally claiming that each had paid The Auto Collection for vehicles that were never delivered. The seven claimants claimed more than $2 million in damages for the failure of The Auto Collection to deliver allegedly paid-for vehicles. This scam was perpetrated by Pinkow as well, with the assistance and at the behest of his co-defendants."

In a ruthlessly efficient money grab, the Levers say, "Pinkow, Boris and others were able to divert delivery of a target vehicle, and simultaneously export the same to Russia and beyond, all the while Pinkow was asserting to The Auto Collection that his commission was due because The Auto Collection was being paid in full for the purchased vehicles."

To top it off, the Levers say, the "scamming claimants" sued them, alleging criminal and civil violations, "to further exacerbate the scheme, and to lend an air of credibility to the same. ... At this time, the above plaintiffs are defendants in seven civil actions pending in Kings and Richmond Counties.

"Essentially," the complaint states, "the Russian mob infiltrated The Auto Collection, causing millions of dollars in damages."

Here are the defendants: Christopher Pinkow, Mzia Gazneli, Boris Kotlyarsky, L&L Auto Distributors & Suppliers Inc., Empire Leasing Inc., Nikolay Bergunker, A1A Auto Leasing Inc., Viktor Shulman, Boomerang Auto Inc., Konstantin Radchenko, Royal Auto Collection Inc., Anatoly Zlatokrasov, Epelbaum Teodor, Alex Brioukhov, Azte Inc., ABR Consulting Group Corp., Budge Autos LLC, Vladimir Lysogorsky, FT&T Consulting Inc., Gleb Sakhontchik, US Autoland LLC, Oleg Sakhontchik, Lov Motors Inc., Jose Cardona, Long Beach Auto Sales Corp., No Limit Towing & Recovery Inc., No Limit Towing and Transport Inc., No Limit Towing Inc., and PRA Shipping Corp.

Plaintiffs are represented by Karl Seman with Grunwald & Seman of Garden City, N.Y.

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