Lake County deputy faces bribery, perjury counts in auto salvage scheme

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A Lake County sheriff deputy is facing bribery and perjury charges after a three-month investigation revealed he illegally accepted cash for completing salvage vehicle inspection forms in order to make “fast and easy money,” according to authorities.  

Deputy Louis Vasquez, a 14-year veteran, was charged Tuesday with felony charges of bribery, official misconduct, perjury and theft.

Between September 2017 and November 2018, Vasquez illegally accepted cash payments for completing 42 salvage vehicle inspection forms for Fast Import Cars, LLC in Knox, according to an Indiana State Police statement.

A probable cause affidavit stated that while on and off duty, Vasquez would use the sheriff’s department computer system to run vehicle identification information checks. He would also pick up paperwork from car dealerships and private residences in order to complete VIN checks, receiving $20 per check he performed.  

Affidavits of restoration for salvage motor vehicle forms must be personally examined by an Indiana police officer, state police said, who then must certify that they personally examined the vehicle, major components, parts and ownership documents.

Vasquez had no authority or permission to conduct those inspections, according to the affidavit, and was not assigned to the Lake County Sheriff’s Department auto theft division, which has sole authority to conduct VIN checks. None of the money Vasquez received during the interactions was given to the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, the affidavit stated. 

Fast Import Car owners Pavel Rohatinovici and Andrii Lakymenko have also been charged with perjury, but were not in custody Tuesday.

Vasquez was placed on administrative leave for the duration of the investigation requested by Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez. He turned himself in at the Lake County Jail as a result of the charges. No attorney or court date had been listed for Vasquez at Indiana Lawyer deadline Wednesday.

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