NY Attorney General James Takes Down Car Theft Ring In The Bronx

Published on December 28, 2023, 6:49 pm
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New York Attorney General Letitia James announced today the indictment (PDF) of brothers Ricky Paulino, 25, and Rahinier Paulino, 30, who have been charged with 16 crimes related to theft and possession of vehicles between January and October 2023. The indictment, unsealed in Bronx Supreme Court, came as a result of a joint investigation by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) and the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) Auto Crime Division.

“For many New Yorkers, their car is their most valuable possession, and having it stolen can be devastating,” said Attorney General James. “These individuals used sophisticated methods to steal cars throughout New York City, but today we are bringing them to justice. I want to thank the NYPD and our partners in law enforcement for their assistance in this investigation to help protect New Yorkers.”

“These men were involved in a complex, high-tech undertaking that victimized innocent New Yorkers,” said NYPD Commissioner Edward A. Caban. “I commend the dedicated NYPD detectives from our Auto Crime Division who brought these vehicle thieves’ operation to a screeching halt, and I thank our many law enforcement colleagues – especially the investigators and prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force – for recognizing the seriousness and intricacy of this case and helping to build a solid prosecution.”

As alleged in the indictment, from January to October 2023, Ricky Paulino stole at least four Honda vehicles throughout New York City. The investigation revealed that the stolen cars were identified and selected, and on the date of the theft, Paulino and others drove in a “follow car” to the parked location of the desired vehicle. Once they arrived, Paulino would break into the desired vehicle and reprogram the vehicle’s computer system to gain control of it. In a matter of minutes, Paulino was able to steal a vehicle without sounding alarms or drawing any attention, even in a dense urban setting. Paulino was also able to reprogram the vehicle to stop recognizing the true owners’ electronic keys, so that their keys stopped working. The stolen vehicles were then transported into the Bronx. Paulino’s crimes did not stop at New York’s borders. During one of the thefts, the follow car was tracked to a location in Massachusetts where the stolen vehicle was later observed and identified.

The investigation further revealed that Ricky Paulino and Rahinier Paulino acted together to sell a stolen vehicle in the Bronx. The investigation included covert cameras, as well as analysis of data from cellular telephones, license plate readers, vehicle infotainment, and tracking systems.

In a 16-count indictment, Ricky Paulino is charged with Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Second and Third Degrees, Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, and Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree. Rahinier Paulino is charged with Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle in the First Degree, and Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree. If convicted, Ricky Paulino faces a maximum of 15 years in prison, and Rahinier Paulino faces a maximum of 7 years in prison.

The charges against the defendants are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Attorney General James would also like to thank the Massachusetts State Police, the Randolph Township Police Department in New Jersey, the Clinton Township Police Department in New Jersey, the Yonkers Police Department, and the Bronx District Attorney’s Office for their valuable participation and assistance in this investigation.

The investigation was jointly led by NYPD Auto Crime Division’s Detective Scott Berger and OCTF Detective Luis Flores. Detective Berger is under the supervision of Sergeant Dominick Pazmino and Lieutenant Daniel Gallagher, and the overall supervision of Inspector Robert LaPollo. Detective Flores is under the supervision of Supervising Detective Bradford Miller, OCTF Assistant Chief Ismael Hernandez and OCTF Deputy Chief Andrew Boss. The Office of the Attorney General’s Investigations Division is led by Chief Oliver Pu-Folkes.

The case is being prosecuted by OCTF Assistant Deputy Attorney General Ann Lee, with the assistance of Legal Support Analyst Christine Cintron, under the supervision of Downstate OCTF Deputy Chief Lauren Abinanti. Nicole Keary is the Deputy Attorney General in Charge of OCTF. The Division for Criminal Justice is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General José Maldonado. Both the Investigations Division and the Criminal Justice Division are overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.