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September 17, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

Former fugitive Albert Golant ordered to pay Westchester Export Capital $7.2M for car thefts

Former fugitive Albert “Alex” Golant – mob informant, convicted fraudster and compulsive gambler – has been assessed nearly $7.2 million for absconding with cars financed by a Westchester company.

U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel awarded the judgment Feb. 4 to Westchester Export Capital LLC of Katonah, including interest and attorney fees and the $4.8 million that Golant received to finance the purchase of luxury cars for export.

The judgment was also assessed against Golant’s Wisconsin company, Timeless Auto Group, and its president, Tedmund Wayne Blankschein.

Golant was arrested in Miami in June, after more than a year on the run. He was transferred to Milwaukee to face criminal charges in an alleged $30 million export scheme.

The auto export business can be quite lucrative, according to an IRS agent’s affidavit in the Wisconsin case. A BMW X5 SUV that sells for $103,000 in the U.S., for instance, can fetch $330,000 in China.

In the local case, Westchester Export advanced Golant $4,775,466 in 2016 to finance the purchase of 51 luxury cars for export. The vehicles had to be titled under Timeless’ name and stored in approved warehouses.

But in May 2017, Golant defaulted on a $85,250 payment. Westchester Export discovered that the cars were titled under other corporations, the cars were missing and Golant was nowhere to be found.

Westchester Export sued Golant in federal court in White Plains.

The finance company had located only 29 of the 51 vehicles, CEO Charles S. Brofman said in a court filing last year. Most of the cars could not be sold because of liens and claims. Ten were sold for $165,468, but the company had to pay $173,680 to pay off the liens.

Golant, who was born in Belarus and came to the U.S. when he was 9 years old, pleaded guilty to wire fraud in New York in 2013. He had taken $3 million that was supposed to be used to buy luxury cars for clients. Instead, according to the IRS affidavit, he gambled away the money in Illinois and Nevada.

His sentencing was postponed while he helped the government convict Russian mobsters Michael “Fat Mike” Danilovich and Mikhail “Russian Mike” Zemlyansky in a racketeering case.

Golant won a lenient penalty. He was sentenced in 2016 to time served for wire fraud and operating an illegal gambling business. He was put on three years of supervised release and was allowed to move back to his home in Wales, Wisconsin.

A few months later he struck the deal with Westchester Export. The feds were already investigating his car brokering activities.

Auto manufactures discourage dealerships from selling luxury cars that they know or suspect will be exported and dealers, according to the IRS affidavit, can lose their business.

Golant, according to the criminal complaint, used straw buyers to circumvent dealer restrictions. He gave cashier’s checks to the buyers to purchase cars, or he got them to finance the purchases with phony information.

The buyers signed over the titles to Golant or an associate, and the cars would be sold and shipped to China.

The feds believe Golant diverted funds to support his gambling habit. From 2014 to 2018, he allegedly spent $14.6 million gambling at casinos or paying professionals to gamble on his behalf.

Sometimes, he resold vehicles that had already been exported to China, the feds allege, and he would finance buy-backs using false information.

“Through his scheme,” the U.S. Department of Justice said in a June 2018 press release, “Golant fraudulently obtained at least $30 million from at least 40 different victims.”

Golant pleaded not guilty and was placed in custody pending trial. On Feb. 1, the office of U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin notified the court that it was negotiating a plea deal with Golant’s attorney.