2 Mids charged with buying stolen cars


Two Naval Academy midshipmen have been arrested on charges they used forged motor vehicle titles and bought stolen cars, state police reported.

Kenneth Elliott Leak, 21, and his roommate, Joe Lee Smith, 21, surrendered at the Annapolis barracks Thursday after investigators notified academy officials, said Mike McKelvin, a state police spokesman. They have been charged with felony theft and conspiracy.

Midshipman Leak of Westbury, N.Y., also is charged with falsifying public records, according to charging documents. The men, both seniors, were released on personal recognizance and are back at the academy, officials said.

Mr. McKelvin said Midshipman Smith, of Jackson, Miss., tried to register a 1995 Nissan Pathfinder at the Mondawmin Mall Motor Vehicle Administration office March 24.

The clerk noticed something odd about the Pennsylvania title papers Midshipmen Smith gave him, checked the computer and found that it had been reported stolen to New York City police March 16, the charging documents said.

The clerk refused to register the Pathfinder in Maryland and notified state police, Mr. McKelvin said. Police investigated and followed a paper trail that led to other stolen cars.

According to the charging documents and Mr. McKelvin, fraudulent titles were mailed from a Queens, N.Y., man known only as "Francis." The midshipmen bought cars from him at reduced prices, registered them in Maryland, then sold them, Mr. McKelvin said.

In one instance, Midshipmen Leak is accused of buying a 1994 Toyota 4-Runner from "Francis," for $15,000, registering it in Maryland, then selling it to Honda of Annapolis for $21,000, the charging documents said. It had been reported stolen to New York City police Dec. 22.

Police have found the Toyota but are stilling looking for the Pathfinder and a 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

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