Michael A. Gonzalez, 32, of Colchester appeared August 27 in federal court after being charged with five counts of possessing and selling stolen motor vehicles, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
According to the indictment filed in the case, between September 2018 and January 2021, Gonzalez obtained five Tesla vehicles worth a total of approximately $607,000 from dealerships in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Florida.
For each vehicle, Gonzalez made an initial payment of approximately $2,500, and then arranged for electronic funds transfers to cover the balance of the vehicle’s price from accounts with insufficient funds or from fictitious accounts.
Gonzalez took delivery of the vehicles from Tesla before Tesla discovered his failure to complete the final payments. Gonzalez resold or attempted to resell four of the five vehicles. Gonzalez was never issued the necessary paperwork to resell the fifth vehicle, which subsequently burned on a frozen portion of Shelburne Bay on February 24, 2019. Gonzalez attempted to claim insurance funds for the value of this burned Tesla, but the insurance claim was denied.
On August 26, 2021, a federal Grand Jury sitting in Burlington, Vermont returned a five-count indictment against Gonzalez for the sale and possession of stolen motor vehicles. If convicted, Gonzalez faces up to ten years in custody on each count.