After more than a year on the run, a former Wisconsin auto broker has been arrested in Miami, in part because of his earlier involvement in bogus dealings with a Wisconsin auto dealer.
Albert Golant, 37, made headlines in March when Ally Bank and Ally Financial Inc., one of the nation's largest auto finance companies, sued auto dealer Russ Darrow, claiming Darrow and one of his dealerships had "sold it bogus loans on Range Rovers and Mercedes SUVs that later disappeared without payments," according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The vehicles were likely illegally exported to China, according to the lawsuit.
The Darrow civil case was quickly dismissed, though a search warrant and lawsuits indicated Golant was accused of using millions of dollars to buy Mercedes-Benz, Range Rover and Maserati vehicles for exporters, "then failing to deliver the vehicles, or selling the same ones twice or using straw buyers to obtain financing from dealerships based on falsified applications," according to the newspaper.
Investigators suspected the money sent from export companies was used for gambling instead of buying the requested vehicles, the report said.
Golant, a native of Belarus and a past FBI informant, was also convicted of fraud in similar auto-brokering schemes in 2013 in New York, and had gone to Wisconsin in January 2016 to serve his three-year probation sentence, according to the newspaper. His sentence was delayed until after he helped federal prosecutors convict two Russian men also involved in fraud.
The FBI and IRS have been investigating Golant since late 2016 for tax evasion, bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering, the newspaper reported. Golant disappeared from his rental home in Wales, Wis., last year.
Golant now faces federal charges of wire fraud and bank fraud. A grand jury indicted him on 12 total charges on Tuesday.
The indictment states: “Since at least 2005, Golant has been involved in the business of purchasing luxury vehicles in the United States and shipping them overseas to individual foreign buyers both directly and through vehicle brokers.”
It also states: “Through his scheme, Golant fraudulently obtained at least $30 million from at least 40 different victims.”
He pleaded not guilty to the charges at his arraignment on Thursday. Golant will appear in court next on July 3 for a scheduling conference.
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