3 members of a Newark-based fencing ring sentenced for trafficking stolen high-end vehicles worth more than $1M
NEW JERSEY – Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin Friday announced prison sentences for the last three people convicted in a Newark-based stolen auto trafficking ring that fenced stolen luxury vehicles worth more than $1 million.
The trio, who all pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property in connection with the high-end auto thefts, appeared before Superior Court Judge Harold W. Fullilove, Jr. in Essex County at various times in recent weeks and were sentenced as follows:
- Tytaneisha Wilder, 33, of East Orange, was sentenced Friday to three years in state prison. Wilder pleaded guilty to third-degree receiving stolen property on May 23.
- Kian Barber, 37, of Newark, a leader of the ring, was sentenced on July 15 to nine years in state prison. Barber pleaded guilty to second-degree receiving stolen property on May 23.
- David Manning, 30, of East Orange, also a leader of the ring, was sentenced on July 15 to seven years in state prison. Manning pleaded guilty to second-degree receiving stolen property on May 23.
The sentences announced conclude the prosecution of a criminal ring charged with conspiring to possess and fence (traffic)18 high-end stolen vehicles valued at more than $1 million, including Audis, Land Rovers, BMWs, Mercedes, and Maseratis.
Three other defendants in the case pleaded guilty and were sentenced in earlier hearings before Judge Fullilove:
- Najai Diggs, 37, of Newark, N.J. Diggs pleaded guilty to second-degree conspiracy to commit receiving stolen property, and was sentenced to five years in state prison on January 28, 2021.
- Tyshad Hawkins, 20, of Newark, N.J. Hawkins pleaded guilty to third-degree receiving stolen property, and was sentenced to three years in state prison on April 1.
- Kasim Williams, 29, of Newark, N.J. Williams pleaded guilty to second-degree receiving stolen property and was sentenced to six years in state prison on February 4.
Another lower-level ring member, Najai Diggs, 37, of Newark, pleaded guilty to second-degree conspiracy in December 2021 and was sentenced the following month to five years in state prison.
The defendants were initially arrested on warrants issued in September 2020 and were indicted on June 16, 2021.
The investigation revealed that the defendants conspired to possess and fence (traffic) 18 high-end stolen vehicles valued at more than $1 million, Audis, Land Rovers, BMWs, Mercedes, and Maseratis. Most of the vehicles were stolen in New York State and driven to New Jersey, where they most often were parked in the driveway of Barber’s residence in Newark.
The ring allegedly used the driveway to “cool off” the vehicles and make sure they were not equipped with tracking devices that would lead law enforcement to them.
The investigation further revealed that Barber and Manning led the ring, with Williams, Hawkins, Diggs, and others working under them. Wilder assisted ring members by driving them to New York State to commit thefts or driving the “follow car” to bring ring members home after they drove stolen vehicles out of state to be fenced.
“Stolen autos are often used in the commission of more serious crimes, like the one used to carry out a mass shooting that injured nine people in Newark recently,” Platkin said. “That is why we have made prosecuting auto thefts, and especially enterprises like the ring here, a vital component of our larger strategy to reduce violent crime in New Jersey.”
In response to the recent rise in auto theft, Acting Attorney General Platkin announced in March that the State Police and Division of Criminal Justice would expand the multi-agency Auto Theft Task Force by adding more detectives and prosecutors and by partnering with additional police departments from around the state. In April, he joined Governor Phil Murphy in announcing a ten-million-dollar investment in automated license plate recognition technology across the state that will help police quickly identify suspects and patterns in auto thefts and implement targeted prevention strategies and operations to enhance the safety of communities throughout the state.
“Our success in securing prison terms for everyone involved in this fencing ring demonstrates our resolve to investigate and aggressively prosecute those responsible for New Jersey’s alarming spike in auto theft,” said Director Pearl Minato of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will continue to work with the New Jersey State Police and other partners in the Auto Theft Task Force to put a stop to this crime and protect our communities from the ripple of violence it creates.”
“These sentences validate all the countless hours of hard work that the New Jersey State Police Motor Vehicle Crimes North Unit and our law enforcement partners dedicated to this investigation in order to apprehend these criminals.” Said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “I would also like to recognize the efforts of the Office of the Attorney General and Division of Criminal Justice to prosecute and obtain the lengthy sentences that reflect the serious nature of these crimes. Anyone who decides to steal a vehicle, our troopers will be ready to investigate, and ensure they face the fullest extent of the law.”