Former SEMO coach accused in car theft ring

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 30, 2013 at 1:43 pm •  Published: April 30, 2013
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — A former Southeast Missouri State University women's basketball coach who is now coaching at a northeast Kansas community college was arraigned Tuesday in a multi-state car theft conspiracy.

William J. Smith, 48, of Highland, Kan., is charged with one count of conspiracy and three counts each of mail fraud and receipt of a stolen motor vehicle. Not guilty pleas were entered on his behalf during his arraignment in federal court in St. Louis.

Smith is among 21 people charged in a conspiracy that prosecutors allege involved more than 100 vehicles. The U.S. attorney's office said in a release that the defendants stole or fraudulently obtained vehicles from individuals and automobile dealerships in Missouri, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, and used different schemes to obtain insurance proceeds by staging accidents and filing false theft reports.

Some vehicles were obtained when "straw" purchasers made false statements on loan applications and submitted fraudulent earnings statements to obtain loans for typically high-end vehicles. The defendants used and then sold or disposed of the vehicles while the loan defaulted. The indictment said tracking systems such as OnStar were disabled so the stolen vehicles could not be traced by law enforcement.

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