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File this under: terrible idea. This Virginia man thought it would be a good idea to cook up a plan involving some government SUVs, including a GMC Hummer and 14 Chevrolet Suburbans. The two men did not get away with it, as you can imagine.

Stealing some government SUVs from the U.S. Department of State isn’t adviseable

These men stole 15 government SUVs like the Chevrolet Suburbans photographed here and a single GMC Hummer
These men stole 15 government SUVs like the Chevrolet Suburban SUVs photographed here | Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

According to the Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Columbia, what started as a regular business deal turned into a federal indictment. James Ratcliffe of Virginia (“Person A”) and Ricky J. Motley (“Person B”) of Maryland worked together on an innocent deal at first. Ratcliffe managed and owned a Car Collision Center in Virginia. This establishment initially performed legitimate and regular maintenance on vehicles from government agencies such as the U.S. Department of State.

The government SUVs like the GMC Hummer and Chevrolet Suburbans would get dropped off at the Car Collision Center. The owner would put together an estimate and send it back to the State Department. If the estimate was approved, the shop would perform work on the government SUVs and bill the State Department. This went on for a while until Ratcliffe and Motley decided there was more to life than legitimate car maintenance.

Motley worked for the State Department in the Defensive Equipment and Armored Vehicle Division, making this idea even more effortless. The government SUVs were not armored and somehow slipped through the cracks of bureaucracy.

One GMC Hummer and a bunch of Chevrolet Suburbans government SUVs were sold

Mr. Motley has the authorization to sell vehicles and other various property of the state, within reason.

“This employee was responsible for the acquisition, repair, and maintenance of armored vehicles. “Person B” also was involved in record-keeping with respect to the State Department’s armored vehicles.”

Department of Justice | U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Columbia

According to documents from the case, there were two occasions that Motley had tires and wheels from the State Department delivered to the Car Collision Center. He informed Mr. Ratcliffe that he could sell the goods and keep the proceeds from the sale. This was around $7,500.

Once that worked, the pair decided to try a bigger scheme. Over two years, Motley dropped off a GMC Hummer and 12 Chevrolet Suburbans to Ratcliffe’s service center. These government SUVs were from the State Department motor pool but were not armored vehicles.

Motley and Ratcliffe decided that the vehicles would get dropped off, sold off, and then the pair would split the proceeds like with the wheels and tires. Ratcliffe sold the cars for the going rate on the market.

Spoiler alert: this Motley Crew did not get away with the crime

After selling 13 vehicles over time, the proceeds were around $408,520. The two kept the money and used it on personal expenses. The remainder of it went back to Motley. At one point, he also provided Ratcliffe with two more Chevrolet Suburbans that he kept in storage. These government SUVs priced around $96,400 for both. In total, that was about $512,420 in stolen property from the Department of State.

As a result of this, Motley pled guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to commit theft of government property and wire fraud. That is a maximum of five years in prison and anywhere from $4,000 to $40,000 in fines. A plea agreement would call for him to repay $416,020 in restitution and an additional $53,000. Ratcliffe pled guilty to the same charge. He would owe $416,020 and an additional undisclosed amount.

All in all, the case was essentially a slam dunk. The government SUVs were not recovered by the time the court case rolled around, but it was too late for Person A and Person B anyway. This plan to steal from the U.S. Department of State did not pan out.


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