A man who was once a top salesman at a San Fernando Valley car dealership was sentenced Monday to a year in federal prison for conspiring to roll back vehicle odometers in a scheme in which people paid up to $400 to avoid penalties for exceeding mileage limits on leases or to increase auto trade-in values.
Jeffrey Levy, a former salesman at Galpin Ford in North Hills, was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release upon getting out of prison and to pay restitution of about $115,800 to the owners of 21 cars with altered odometers.
U.S. District Judge George H. King ordered that $35,000 of the amount be paid immediately.
The judge also prohibited the 62-year-old Woodland Hills resident from employment related to the purchase, sale, leasing, or financing of new or used motor vehicles during the period of supervised release and ordered him to undergo treatment for mental health issues and a gambling addiction.
Levy “defrauded his dealership and multiple customers,” undermining “the trust that people have” when they purchase or lease a car, King said.
The defendant told the court prior to sentencing that he would “probably deserve” whatever penalty came his way, adding that there were “so many things I could do for the federal government rather than be incarcerated.”
King ordered Levy to surrender to federal authorities on April 20 to begin his sentence.
A co-defendant, Shamai Salpeter, 65, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit odometer tampering and is expected to be sentenced April 13.
While working at the dealership, Levy referred customers, including friends, to Salpeter, who charged $100 to $400 to roll back the odometer readings, which he did using electronic tools in the driveway of his Woodland Hills home, federal prosecutors said.
Levy then accepted the vehicles for lease returns or trade-ins without alerting the dealership, “thus defrauding future owners of the vehicles,” according to court papers.
Defense attorney Robert Shapiro told the court that his client, once “the best salesman at Galpin Ford,” got into trouble out of a desire to “make himself feel a little more important than he actually was.”
Galpin Ford cooperated in the investigation, prosecutors said.
“Victims of odometer fraud lose thousands of dollars on what can turn out to be unreliable and potentially dangerous vehicles,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart F. Delery for the Justice Department’s civil division.
Salpeter was the subject of a 2012 hidden-camera investigation of odometer fraud by CBS2.