July 31, 2002
Three Moving Company Owners Banned from Moving Industry for Defrauding Customers; Moving Company Owner Admits Guilt
The owners of five unlicensed household goods moving companies in the New York City metropolitan area, pleaded guilty in New York City Criminal Court, in Queens, to state charges of defrauding more than 100 customers. As a condition of the plea agreement, they were banned from the moving industry, and will have to pay $119,500 in civil penalties assessed by FMCSA. The defendants who owned All State Moving, On Budget Van Lines, Eilid Moving and Storage, Online Moving and Storage, and In & Out Moving and Storage, gave customers artificially low estimates for household goods moving services, which they did not intend to honor, and then threatened to withhold customers’ possessions unless they paid bills 300 to 500 percent higher than the estimates.
Ronit Mantoza, of Queens, NYC, was sentenced to 3 months in jail; her husband Daniel Mantoza, received a two month sentence. The third defendant, Morad Alfar, received 3 months in jail. They were ordered to return all customers’ property still in their possession, forfeit seized assets for restitution, and dissolve their businesses. The case was investigated by a task force composed of NYPD, OIG, New York State DOT, and the Queens County DA’s Office, assisted by FMCSA.
In an unrelated case, Barry Minsky, New York City, owner of four household goods moving companies pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court, in Brooklyn, to conspiracy charges for repeatedly luring customers with low ball estimates only to later threaten to hold their goods hostage unless large additional payments were made. Minsky’s companies included Official Moving and Storage, based in Brooklyn. The charges arose from an investigation by OIG and FBI, assisted by FMCSA. Sentencing is scheduled for November 2002.