Prosecutors announce federal charges for four suspects following 2015 raid at Elite Imports

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Noshi Mahmoud (left) and Mahdi Kehlifi (right) (Photos from previous arrests)

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Four people face federal charges in connection with a 2015 raid at a used car dealership in Indianapolis.

Mohamed Noshi Mahmoud, aka Noshi, 39, of Fishers, Mahdi Kahifi, 23, of Indianapolis, Issa Kayyali, 28, of Indianapolis and Hamza Dridi, aka Alex, 26, of Indianapolis face charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) statute including conspiracy to commit mail fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and interstate transportation of stolen property.

FBI agents raided two Elite Imports locations in September 2015, one at 46th Street and Keystone Keystone Avenue and another at Pendleton Pike. Other names used for the company include Elite Motors and Elite Enterprise.

Prosecutors say they sold faulty cars for more than they’re worth.

Mahoud was the leader and manager of Elite Enterprise, which operated two used car dealerships and several “shell” companies in Indianapolis, according to prosecutors.

He allegedly directed other members and associates of the enterprise assist him in unlawful acts. Kehlifi was a managing sales associate involved in the day-to-day operations of the dealership, Kayyali was a sales associate and Dridi was the service manager and mechanic in charge of the chop shop the dealership used to disassemble vehicles that were later alleged to be stolen.

Prosecutors say there were three schemes.

The first was creating false documents and submitting them to underwrite the purchase of vehicles on behalf of customers. The second scheme was to submit false claims of stolen vehicles, which would cause insurance companies to release claim money.

The third scheme involved alleged theft from financing companies who gave the company short-term financing and lines of credit. Prosecutors say these companies were then defrauded through false representations.

“As is so often the case in these fraud cases, the ultimate victims are the ones least that can least afford it,” said U.S. attorney Josh Minkler. “Elite Motors abused processes in place that would allow citizens with subprime credit to get back on their feet through legitimate vehicle sales.”

CBS4 spoke with several people after those raids who claimed the dealership had ripped them off.

Glenn Gay bought a car from the dealership last year, but he says they never gave him money for his trade-in. “I bought a car and they were supposed to take money off the new car for the trade-in and they didn’t give me no trade-in value on the other car,” said Gay.

Chontae Lester says the business failed to properly repair a BMW she bought on their lot.

“They said they fixed my car and charged me $400 and it’s still messed up,” said Lester.

Another customer told us she couldn’t get the proper paperwork for her purchase, including the title from the dealership, leaving her mother furious.

“She’s on a fixed income and you took her money. Now you got the feds here cause you did some illegal stuff. That’s wrong. That’s wrong,” said Regina Jones.

Last year, Tim Maniscalo, President of the Central Indiana Better Business Bureau, said the business had an F rating. “We’ve had a number of complaints over the last several years and what we found with a number of those complaints is, they have just not responded to the complaints,” said Maniscalo.

All four suspects face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

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