A Nanuet man was arrested driving away from a court appearance for unlicensed driving and DWI — in a stolen car. Now he will serve time in the Westchester County jail for crimes involving identity theft and auto theft — the former to commit the latter.
Andre Mendez created a synthetic, false identity using his actual name and date of birth along with the Social Security number of a 10-year-old, unbeknownst to the child or parents.
He then opened two Bank of America bank accounts to establish credit with that identity. Investigators believe that Mendez was able to use the child’s Social Security number because banks and credit agencies had no record of that number, and therefore, were not aware the number identified a child.
Once these bank accounts were established, Mendez leased or financed two cars.
On Feb. 1, 2017, he financed a 2017 Toyota Camry SE from Westchester Toyota in Yonkers giving the victim child’s Social Security number as his own. The following day, he leased a 2017 Honda Accord Sport from White Plains Honda in White Plains using the same synthetic identity. In support of both of these purchases, Mendez provided the dealerships with forged earning statements purported to be issued by a hospital for which he did not work.
Mendez made no payments toward either of these vehicles. He had been driving both cars although his license was revoked and insurance lapsed.
This investigation began in May 2017 and culminated in his arrest Sept. 8, 2017, as he left the Town of Greenburgh Court driving the fraudulently purchased Toyota.
He was in court that day on charges of Aggravated Unlicensed Operation in the First Degree, and Driving While Intoxicated. (He was arrested March 3, 2017.) In addition, he was charged with Driving While Intoxicated stemming from a March 26, 2017, incident on the Bronx River Parkway.
After Mendez’s arrest, District Attorney’s Office investigators recovered the stolen and fraudulently purchased Honda Accord at an auto body shop in the Bronx. Mendez was indicted in April by a Westchester County Grand Jury.
Mendez pleaded guilty Sept. 5 to Identity Theft in the First Degree, a class D felony, and Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a class E felony, and three vehicular charges including Aggravated Unlicensed Operation in the First Degree, a felony, and two counts of Driving While Intoxicated, misdemeanors.
Mendez, of Nanuet, was sentenced by Westchester County Court Judge Larry J. Schwartz as follows: on the charge of identity theft, he will serve one year in county jail and must repay $14,551.73 restitution to Honda and $16,781.18 to Toyota for the theft of vehicles. On the second count, he will serve one year in county jail to run concurrently, Westchester County District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr. announced Thursday.
In addition, on the three vehicular charges, he will serve one year each in county jail to run concurrently with each other but consecutively to the other sentence. Mendez will also face fines for each count, will lose his license for a total of six months, and will have to install an ignition interlock device in his vehicle.
This investigation was carried out by investigators from the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office and the case was prosecuted by ADA Stefanie DeNise of the Investigations Division Identity Theft Unit, and ADA Jonathan Strongin of the Superior Court Trial Division.