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Jan 26, 2011

Former WSMC Racer Jeffrey Whitmer Convicted Of Multiple Vehicle Thefts

Former Willow Springs Motorcycle Club racer and motorcycle dealership manager Jeffrey Whitmer was convicted in January on charges involving dozens of fraudulent purchases of motorcycles, which were resold in the Middle East, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office said.

Whitmer was convicted in January of 40 counts of grand theft vehicle and fraud stemming from a three-month string of transactions worth approximately $500,000, Deputy District Attorney Alexander Karkanen said.

Whitmer, 40, of Rancho Cucamonga, was being held without bail in the Men's Central Jail, awaiting a February 14 sentencing date, Karkanen said.

Whitmer, who was serving as manager at Temple City Power Sports in Southern California in 2009, participated in a series of approximately 40 fraudulent vehicle purchases, Karkanen said. The exact number of fraudulent purchases is not known, since other illegal transactions may have gone undetected, Karkanen added.

Karkanen, who prosecutes cases on behalf of the county's Taskforce for Regional Auto-theft Prevention (TRAP), said the fraudulent purchases were made in collaboration with Mordechai Mor, who now is a fugitive.

Karkanen said that Mor would file false applications for credit for new vehicle purchases Hondas, Polaris ATVs and even an Aprilia through the dealership, and Whitmer would approve the applications. Or, Mor would use a false name and false credit card to purchase a vehicle, and Whitmer would unplug the credit card reader (the device a card is "swiped" through) for the transaction, Karkanen said. On the receipt for each of these purchases, the words "off-line transaction" appears in small print at the bottom, he added.

After the fraudulent purchase was completed, Whitmer would provide internal dealership documents to Mor to allow the vehicles to be shipped overseas, where they were sold, Karkanen said. At that point, Mor would split the money from the sales with Whitmer, Karkanen said Whitmer told police.

The transactions took place between August and December 2009, Karkanen said. In November, 40 percent of the dealership's vehicle sales were to Mor, he added.

"It was pretty nasty," Karkanen said. "He told the police he was splitting the money with Mordechai. When the price you are paying for the motorcycle is zero, the profit margin when you sell it is very high."

The fraudulent transactions came to light when several of the affected parties began to complain, Karkanen said. American Honda's vehicle credit arm started to object, as did Bank of America. Each claimed fraud within the dealership, Karkanen said.

In addition, vehicles sold to Mor began appearing overseas, in Tel Aviv and in Abu Dhabi, upsetting the dealers there Temple City was not supposed to sell vehicles to overseas customers, Karkanen said.

After a jury trial, Whitmer was convicted on January 10th on all 40 counts, Karkanen said. Whitmer faces a maximum sentence of 17 years and 8 months when he is sentenced.

Police attempted to arrest Mor, but when they went to his house, they found the home deserted. On that day, Karkanen said, Mor purchased tickets for a flight from Los Angeles to New York, and from there to Tel Aviv. He is considered a fugitive, and there is a $250,000 warrant for his arrest.

Whitmer has worked at other motorcycle dealerships in Southern California, most recently at Pasadena Yamaha.

Whitmer was last licensed as a racer with WSMC in 2007.