PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The former owner of a used car dealership in Lawrence pleaded guilty to federal charges in a wide-ranging conspiracy to defraud banks of $2.4 million, authorities said.
Rolando E. Estrella, 32, of Dracut,, admitted he recruited, employed, advised and directed others to file fraudulent used car loan applications, open bank accounts, deposit fraudulently obtained used car loan checks, and execute cash withdrawals of the fraudulently obtained funds, according to a statement released by Acting U.S. Attorney Richard Myrus.
Estrella was the former operator of Estrella National Auto, LLC, a used car dealership on South Union Street in Lawrence.
He is among nine individuals named in an indictment returned in February 2020, and subsequently in a superseding indictment, that alleged Estrella, and others working at his direction, opened bank accounts with major banks and smaller credit unions using other individuals’ personal identifying information, said Myrus.
According to the statement, Estrella and “his confederates” then used that information, along with falsified automobile titles and other counterfeit documents, to apply for and receive used car and truck loans. The loan funds were deposited into bank accounts opened by members of the conspiracy in the supposed “sellers’” names. Members of the conspiracy quickly withdrew the funds from banks in the form of cash, according to authorities.
Estrella and his co-defendants intended to defraud financial institutions of $2,419,054, according to the statement.
Appearing Friday before U.S. District Court Chief Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., Estrella pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, seven counts of bank fraud, and fraudulent use of a Social Security number. He is scheduled to be sentenced on January 20, 2022, Myrus said.
In addition to Estrella, four others charged in this matter have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. The remaining four defendants are awaiting trial.
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William J. Ferland.
The investigation into this fraud ring which operated throughout the northeast was conducted by the Social Security Office of Inspector General and the United States Secret Service.