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Tarzana Man Sentenced To Prison In Odometer-Rollback Scheme

LOS ANGELES ( — A Tarzana man was sentenced to prison Monday for his involvement in an odometer-rollback scheme.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Shamai Salpeter, 66, was ordered to spend two years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.

He was also instructed to pay $421,666 in restitution to victims who purchased vehicles without knowing the odometer readings were incorrect.

Salpeter is free on bail. He had asked the judge to stay out of prison until at least early October, when his son is getting married, but District Judge George King ordered him to surrender by May 18.

As he came out of the courthouse, Salpeter hid behind relatives, who then had to lead him away as he got visibly irritated with the CBS2 camera crew.

His attorney refused to comment on the case.

In November 2014, Salpeter pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of tampering with an odometer, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

His co-defendant, Jeffrey Levy, 62, previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year in federal prison.

Levy 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.

While working at a Galpin Ford dealership in North Hills, Levy referred customers to Salpeter, who then charged $100 to $400 to roll back the odometer readings in the driveway of his home.

(credit: CBS)

A six-month CBS2 News investigation into odometer fraud revealed several cars that had their miles turned back before being sold at car dealerships in Los Angeles, including Galpin Ford.

Hidden cameras planted outside Salpeter's home caught him illegally lowering mileage on a car, which potentially increased the value for the owner.

Officials say lower miles raise the resale value of a used car and deceive buyers into thinking the vehicle is in better condition.

Midway through the investigation, DMV investigators received a call from executives at Galpin Ford regarding a salesperson who had a connection with Salpeter on vehicles that were traded in.

Two cars were provided for undercover officers to attempt to get miles rolled back on each vehicle.

Salpeter rolled back more than 31,000 miles for the price of $150.

"You're going to help me out with the mileage, right?" a CBS2 team member asked.

"Whatever you need, that's what I'll put," Salpeter replied.

He was subsequently arrested a few weeks later. Officer located $3,500 in cash on his person, six computers and a handheld device in his garage.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates odometer fraud in the U.S. results in consumer losses of more than $1 billion annually.

Hon. George King said Salpeter's scheme was "not just another white collar crime," and that it had the "realistic potential for risking the safety of others."

Anyone who has information relating to odometer tampering should call (800) 424-9393 or (202) 366-4761.

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