Chicago Taxicab Operator Indicted and Arrested for Allegedly Conspiring to Falsify Titles of Salvaged and Rebuilt Taxis
CHICAGO―A Chicago used car broker and taxicab operator was arrested today after being indicted on federal charges for allegedly causing at least 180 vehicles that were salvaged or rebuilt to illegally obtain clean titles from Indiana and Illinois and, as a result, to illegally operate as licensed and registered taxicabs in the City of Chicago.
The defendant, ALEXANDER IGOLNIKOV, 67, of Northbrook, was charged with one count of conspiracy and two counts each of interstate transportation of false automobile titles and possession of false auto titles in a five-count indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury on Aug. 27 and unsealed today following his arrest.
Ignolikov was scheduled to appear at 3 p.m. today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey T. Gilbert in Courtroom 1386 in U.S. District Court.
Igolnikov, also known as “Alexandr Igolnikov” and “Alex,” was the owner of Seven Amigos Used Cars and vice president of Chicago Elite Cab Corp., which operated taxis under city taxi medallions managed by Chicago Elite Cab and related entities affiliated with Chicago Carriage Taxi Company. City taxi medallion rules prohibit any vehicle that was ever issued a “salvage” or “rebuilt” title in any state from being used as a taxicab in Chicago.
The indictment alleges that between 2007 and April 2010 Ignolikov conspired with three unnamed auto brokers, two in Indiana and one in Illinois, to purchase vehicles with salvage titles from online auction sites; fraudulently obtain either clean or rebuilt Indiana titles for those vehicles by submitting false paperwork to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles; and then using those re-issued Indiana titles to obtain clean Illinois titles, concealing that the vehicles were previously issued salvage or rebuilt titles.
According to the indictment, in many instances, Ignolikov agreed with three auto brokers to have the damaged vehicles towed from the online auctions sites’ yards in out-of-state locations to the premises of Seven Amigos and Chicago Carriage near 26th Street and South Wabash Avenue in Chicago, where the vehicles would be repaired.
In addition to submitting false paperwork concealing the vehicles’ history and damage to Indiana authorities, Ignolikov and the brokers also submitted a false affidavit certifying that an Indiana law enforcement officer had personally examined the vehicles and verified certain identifying information, the charges allege. In reality, no officer had examined the vehicle and the affidavit of a police officer was signed by unnamed Officer A for a fee, or unnamed Officer B, or other individuals without any physical inspection, according to the indictment.
In some instances, based on the allegedly false towing paperwork and false police affidavits, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles issued clean titles to various auto brokers for vehicles that were previously issued salvage titles. In other instances, other individuals obtained Indiana rebuilt titles through fraud and then placed stickers on those titles concealing that the titles identified the vehicles as being rebuilt. After obtaining either a clean or rebuilt Indiana title for the vehicles, Ignolikov purchased the vehicles in the name of Seven Amigos, Chicago Elite Cab, or other businesses and paid a premium above the purchase price in exchange for the brokers’ work in securing the clean or rebuilt Indiana titles, the indictment alleges.
Finally, Ignolikov and his business associates allegedly used the clean and rebuilt Indiana titles to obtain clean Illinois titles for the vehicles, and later concealed from the City of Chicago the fact that the vehicles were previously issued salvage or rebuilt titles, which prohibited them from being used as taxis.
The arrests and indictment were announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Robert J. Holley, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Joseph Ferguson, Inspector General for the City of Chicago. The investigation is continuing, they said.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Margaret Schneider and Steven Dollear.
Conspiracy carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, while each count of interstate transportation and possession of false auto titles carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and all five counts carry a $250,000 maximum fine. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.