Task force makes arrests in connection with vehicle title fraud, forgery

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - An auto theft prevention task force said a father and son are the two main suspects in a scheme to forge and fabricate vehicle titling documents to avoid paying state taxes. 

The PATROL Task Force -- for Preventing Auto Theft Through Regional Operational Links -- was formed by agencies in south King County and north Pierce County and is led by Lt. Tracy Grossnickle of the Federal Way Police Department. 

The task force shares information to fight auto theft crime. 

Police said an investigation uncovered a significant number of forgeries and the fabrication of falsified motor vehicle titling documents. 

On Wednesday night, the White Center License Agency, a private licensing business not run by the state, was searched and shut down. Investigators found boxes of evidence they believe proves three licensing employees were working with two car deals to commit tax fraud. 

Neal Lockett owns the licensing business and insisted that he and all of his employees are innocent. 

“I didn’t know anything that was going on,” said Lockett. “I don’t believe we’re implicated. I believed we’re going to be exonerated because that’s the way I’ve always ran my business.” 

Investigators said the two principal suspects, a father-and-son team, own and operate T & C Premier Auto Sales, in SeaTac, and T & C Auto Wrecking, in Seattle. 

 Authorities said the men, Antonio Lopez Miranda Sr. and Antonio Lopez, worked with several employees of the White Center Licensing Agency to forge and fabricate titling documents to avoid paying excise taxes. Investigators said they suspect hundreds, or possibly thousands, of vehicles have been illegally titled for the purpose of making money and defrauding the state excise tax. 

Police said the operation may have been in place for several years. 

The two men and Lou Ann Myers, an employee of the White Center licensing subagent, were arrested.

A fourth suspect, Karen Simmons, who is also an employee of the subagent, is not yet in custody.