Fired BMV worker pleads guilty in title-stealing scam

Lee Ann Rinehart, 56, avoids prison with plea

INDIANAPOLIS - A former Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles worker has pleaded guilty to a federal crime in a title scam that was first reported by the Call 6 Investigators last year.

Lee Ann Rinehart, 56, pleaded guilty in United States District Court, with a plea bargain that allows her to avoid spending any time in prison.

The Call 6 Investigators reported last year that Rinehart was one of three people charged in a title scheme that resulted in banks and other owners losing their ownership interest in cars throughout the Indianapolis area.

Rinehart has now admitted that she provided confidential BMV information to the couple accused of running a business called Mechanic's Liens Plus on the west side of Indianapolis.

Court records indicate that the state agency fired her after the scam was discovered.

Federal prosecutors accuse the owners of Mechanic's Liens Plus of helping people to seize the titles of cars through a mechanic's lien process. That allowed people to stop making payments on at least 272 vehicles, while obtaining seemingly legitimate paperwork that gave them full ownership rights to the cars.

In February, the Call 6 Investigators reported that federal agents had begun the legal process of seizing many of the cars that were involved in the scam.

Mechanics Liens Plus owner Joseph Woodruff and his daughter, Nisha Woodruff, 28, are awaiting trial on federal fraud and conspiracy charges.

Mechanic's liens allow auto repair shops to seize cars for which repair bills remain outstanding.

Rinehart admits she provided title information that helped the company to use that mechanic's liens process for vehicles that had no actual repairs done to them.
 

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