YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A Bloomfield man who bought a 2009 Mercedes SUV off Craigslist from a Saddle Brook resident using $36,000 in bogus checks and a fake ID was caught after the vehicle was impounded in Paterson and he used his real license to try and retrieve it, police said tonight.
Quinton B. Lewis, 33, gave the seller two separate checks on Sept. 16 for the Mercedes Benz GL550 with AMG Wheels after spotting it on Craigslist, Saddle Brook Police Chief Robert Kugler said tonight.
The victim tried depositing the checks, which his bank deemed worthless, the chief said.
Having no other information or identity other than the fictitious name James Fred Moss, Saddle Brook police entered the vehicle into a national database as stolen.
On Oct. 17, the Paterson Parking Authority impounded it for improper parking, Kugler said.
Lewis showed up to retrieve it, providing his New Jersey driver’s license, but was turned away, the chief said.
As it turned out, he said, Lewis had placed a stolen temporary registration plate on the SUV.
Later that day, Lewis returned and drove the vehicle off the lot using a spare key, Kugler said.
Paterson police ran the vehicle identification number, got a hit from the database and called their Saddle Brook colleagues, he said.
After identifying Lewis, Saddle Brook Detective Capt. Vincent Laurentino and Detective Sgt. Thomas Johnson found him working for a private ambulance company in Elizabeth.
The missing SUV was at ambulance headquarters, Kugler said. It was returned to the victim.
Lewis, meanwhile, was being held on $75,000 bail in the Bergen County Jail, charged with forgery, theft and passing bad checks.
“One would think that as clever as Lewis was in manfacturing and issuing fraudulent checks, he wouldn’t have made such a amateur mistake in providing his own driver’s license to retrieve the car back from impound — and even going back to get it,” Kugler said.
“I’m sure the victim now understands the importance of getting proper identification from people before making deals, and making sure you have cash in hand before you willingly give your property away,” the chief added.
MUGSHOT: Courtesy SADDLE BROOK PD (SUV: Courtesy MERCEDES-BENZ)