Body shop owner testifies at police kickback trial

Repair shop owner Alex Moreno said he was approached in 2008 by a Baltimore police officer with an idea to help boost sales at his fledgling Rosedale business: In exchange for a cut, officers would funnel cars to the shop.

Soon, Majestic Auto Repair was getting customers almost exclusively from city police — he testified Tuesday in federal court that more than 60 officers would ultimately get in on the scheme, receiving $300 for each referral. Business grew so fast that he had to expand to new lots to store all the cars; the backlog was so deep that they paid for rental cars to keep customers from becoming frustrated by the wait.

"The officers are the first ones to go to the [accident] scenes, and instead of the car going to the city [yard] or other shops, they'd come to our shop," Moreno testified.

Moreno, 31, has pleaded guilty to his role in the kickback scheme, which led to federal indictments against 15 officers. He testified Tuesday against two officers, Samuel Ocasio and Kelvin Manrich.

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