Alan and Andrew Pawelsky allegedly trafficked stolen converters from several states
Alan’s company, Ace Auto Recycling, allegedly received $170 million from refinery that processed the precious metals inside the converters
MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly announced that two brothers from Long Beach and a co-conspirator were charged in an 81-count indictment for their involvement in a black-market trafficking operation in which the brothers allegedly purchased catalytic converters stolen from states as far away as California and opened them to obtain precious metals that could be sent to refineries for profit. It is alleged that during 2021 and 2022, one defendant’s company, Ace Auto Recycling, received $170 million from a single refinery.
Alan Pawelsky, 28, and Andrew Pawelsky, 25, were arraigned today before Judge Helene Gugerty on charges of Money Laundering in the First Degree (a B felony); Money Laundering in the Second Degree (a C felony); Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Second Degree (a C felony); Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree (a D felony); Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree (an E felony); and Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree (an E felony). The defendants pleaded not guilty, and bail was set at $50,000 cash, $100,000 bond, and $500,000 partially secured bond. They are due back in court on June 1, 2023. If convicted of the top charge, the defendants face up to 25 years in prison.
“These defendants allegedly purchased truckloads of catalytic converters, many of them stolen from across the country, and siphoned them of precious metals that have seen skyrocketing value in recent years. The metals were allegedly sent to refineries and weighed, netting the defendants more than $170 million,” said DA Donnelly. “Catalytic converter theft remains one of the fastest growing crimes across the Country and here in Nassau County. Working together with our partners on the local and federal levels, we will continue to pursue organized criminal networks dealing in stolen catalytic converters and protect our residents from these schemes.”
“The arrest of Andrew and Alan Pawelsky based on an 81-count indictment, including Money Laundering charges and numerous counts of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, shows the enormity of this case,” said Nassau County Police Department Commissioner Patrick J. Ryder. “With these arrests, the two defendants will proceed through the criminal justice system. Millions of dollars hidden in homes at the expense of our residents as hundreds of Catalytic Converters were being stolen to promote their profit. I would like to thank all of the dedicated law enforcement professionals and their agencies for a job well done.”
“Not only are catalytic converter thefts extremely costly to victims, but oftentimes, these types of crimes fund larger criminal enterprises that put the community and country at a greater risk,” said Homeland Security Investigations New York Special Agent in Charge Ivan J. Arvelo. “Today’s arrests of brothers Alan Pawelsky and Andrew Pawelsky, as well as their alleged co-conspirator, demonstrates that HSI remains committed to leveraging our capabilities with our local law enforcement partners to bring these criminals, as delineated in the grand jury indictment, to justice. I want to thank the Nassau County Police Department and Nassau County District Attorney for their exceptional collaboration to bring the Pawelsky’s criminal endeavor to a close.”
Postal Inspector in Charge of the New York Division Daniel B. Brubaker said: “This case demonstrates the power of law enforcement partnerships in taking down criminal organizations. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is proud to have been a partner in this investigation which targeted the significant rise of catalytic converter thefts that have not only impacted the U.S. Postal Service, but so many of our customers in the communities we serve. Today’s arrests demonstrate our unwavering commitment to bringing to justice anyone who preys upon the American public for illegal financial gain.”
Co-defendant Jovanie Clarke, 29, of Flushing, Queens, was arraigned on charges of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a D felony); Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree; Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree; Auto Stripping in the Second Degree (an E felony); Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree (a D felony); and Possession of Burglar Tools (an A misdemeanor). The defendant pleaded not guilty and was released on his own recognizance. He is due back in court on June 1, 2023. If convicted, the defendant faces up to 7 years in prison.
DA Donnelly said that, according to the charges, between June 2021 and December 2022, Alan and Andrew Pawelsky were allegedly involved in the black-market trafficking of stolen catalytic converters. The catalytic converters were allegedly stolen from jurisdictions including California, Connecticut, Minnesota, and New York.
Andrew and Alan allegedly paid cash to middlemen to obtain large volumes of whole catalytic converters, which they knew to be stolen.
Using highly specialized equipment, Alan’s Island Park company, Ace Auto Recycling, allegedly opened the catalytic converters to obtain three precious metals contained inside: platinum, palladium, and rhodium. Rhodium is one of the most valuable metals in the world. Currently, the estimated value of rhodium is approximately $7500 per ounce; gold, for comparison, is approximately $2000 per ounce.
Once extracted, the defendants allegedly sent the metals off to refineries, where they were separated out, weighed, and valued. After determining the market rate value of the metals, the refineries wired money to Ace Auto Recycling.
It is alleged that Ace received $170 million from a single refinery during this time period and that the company withdrew more than $120 million in cash. Some of that money was allegedly then used to purchase additional stolen catalytic converters.
Co-defendant Jovanie Clarke allegedly sold stolen catalytic converters directly to Andrew on several occasions.
Alan and Andrew Pawelsky were arrested today by members of the Nassau County Police Department in Mineola.
Clarke was arrested today by members of the NCPD at his residence in Flushing, Queens.
The investigation was conducted by NCDA, the Nassau County Police Department, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Homeland Security Investigations.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Investigative Counsel Abigail Margulies and Senior Assistant District Attorney Kelsey Lorer of the Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau. Alan Pawelsky is represented by Dennis Lemke, Esq. Andrew Pawelsky is represented by Lawrence Carra, Esq. Clarke is represented by Mitchell Barnett, Esq.
The charges are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.