A man who called himself the “Used Car King of New York” pleaded guilty to conspiring to sell fraudulent tags in Texas and other states.
Octavian Ocasio, 51, entered the guilty plea on October 18, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.
He also admitted to conspiring to commit wire fraud with others from the Southern District of Texas.
“Ocasio and co-conspirators used the internet to buy and sell the fraudulent state-issued buyer tags and exchange proceeds from the illegal tag sales,” the press release stated.
“As part of his plea, Ocasio acknowledged he and his co-conspirators communicated through accounts on Gmail, Instagram and Facebook to receive and deliver fraudulent buyer tags to purchasers all over the United States, including New York, Florida and Washington, D.C.,” the press release continued. “He also admitted he and his co-conspirators advertised the state-issued buyer tags on social media platforms and received and shared fraud proceeds via electronic payment services such as Cash App and Zelle.”
Ocasio is currently being held in custody and will stay there until his sentencing hearing, scheduled for February 6, 2023, where he will face a possible fine of up to $250,000 and up to 20 years in federal prison.
Emmanuel Padilla Reyes, also known as Christian Hernandez Bonilla or Noel Rivera, is reportedly still a fugitive in the case. The FBI has offered $5,000 to anyone who can provide information that leads to his location.
The Houston Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, Travis County Precinct 3 Constable’s Office, New York City Police Department, New York State Police, Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, and Harris County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the investigation.
Over the summer, the Dallas Police Department and other Texas agencies investigated operations involving fraudulent paper tags in the state, The Dallas Express previously reported. In May, Dallas police made the first arrest in the case of Wayland Wayne Wright.
The 43-year-old was arrested for running a “paper tag mill.”
Dallas Police Lieutenant Julio Gonzalez spoke to NBC 5 at the time to share that these fraudulent paper tags are often used on cars involved in crimes.
“We have seen these fake and fraudulent paper tags … used in street racing, robberies, burglaries, stolen vehicles. So, it’s very important that we go after those individuals that are defrauding the State of Texas,” Lt. Gonzalez said.
In April, a hearing of the House Transportation Committee was held to discuss an increase in the number of fake tags being seen, NBC 5 reported.
State Senator Paul Bettencourt claimed at the time paper tags should be gotten rid of completely. He added the DMV took too long to try and address the issue. Bettencourt recommended a more secure system.