Evansville – United States Attorney Josh Minkler, announced on Tuesday that Andrew R. Elpers, 38, of Evansville, Indiana, was sentenced to 51 months in prison by U.S. District Chief Judge Richard L. Young for five counts of interstate transportation of stolen motor vehicles and one count of money laundering. The case was the result of an investigation by the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Evansville Police Department and the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Department.
“Mr. Elpers thought he could escape justice by transporting vehicles across state lines,” said Minkler. “Nothing could be further from the truth. In this district federal and local law enforcement officials work closely to help keep our communities safe from criminals.”
On May 23, 2016, during his guilty plea, Elpers admitted to the Court that he unlawfully transported in interstate commerce approximately 32 stolen motor vehicles many of which were large pieces of excavating equipment. Elpers also admitted to committing money laundering by trading in a stolen motor vehicle and using the proceeds to purchase a new vehicle, knowing that the proceeds were derived from unlawful activity.
Elpers admitted stealing excavating equipment from three different states, Illinois, Missouri and Indiana. Elpers was found to have moved some of the stolen equipment to North Carolina where he used the equipment to make improvements to property he owned there. He admitted he had special skills in using excavating equipment that enabled him to override security measures and drive the equipment away from victim dealerships. In total, the stolen motor vehicles had a value of over 1.5 million dollars.
IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge James Robnett stated, “IRS Criminal Investigation is united with our federal partners and local law enforcement to do what we do best and that is to follow the money. IRS Criminal Investigation was able to follow the proceeds and financially disrupt Mr. Elpers interstate scheme.”
Two other defendants Jordan T. Wedel and Jason H. Habernel have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Tomas W. Elpers, (Andrew’s father) is awaiting trial.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd S. Shellenbarger, who prosecuted the case for the government, Judge Young also imposed 3 years of supervised release following Elper’s release from prison. Elpers was also ordered to pay $453,456.80 in restitution to the victim dealerships and insurance companies.