A jury has found two Indianapolis men guilty on charges related to a corrupt business organization case. U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler’s office says the defendants swindled financial institutions and insurance companies out of more than $1.5 million.
Mahdi Khelifi and Hamza Dridi were convicted of conspiracy to commit racketeer influenced and corrupt organization and interstate transportation of stolen property. Khelifi was also charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Minkler’s office says the defendants worked at and managed car dealerships Elite Imports LLC and Elite Car Imports LLC in Indianapolis. The company would help customers secure loans to purchase vehicles and have the lenders provide money for the purchases by customers who could not pay in cash.
Khelifi, Dridi and others at Elite would submit fraudulent documents to the lenders to make them believe the customers were credit-worthy. The defendants would also make false claims to insurance companies by reporting stolen vehicles that were in fact not stolen. A third fraud scheme involved floor plan financing and money laundering, though Minkler’s office did not go into detail.
"We are pleased that the jury was able to see this scheme for what is was," Minkler said in a news release. "Elite Enterprise profited because of a continuous and pervasive culture of corruption. With the conviction of the final members of this criminal group, we have sent a strong message: if your business model includes stealing from others, we stand ready to enforce federal law to close your doors and to move criminals from their offices to the Bureau of Prisons."
The defendants could each face up to 20 years in prison.