The self-proclaimed “Used Car King of New York” that police believe is responsible for the scourge of fake paper license plates in the Big Apple is now facing federal charges in Texas in the prolific scam, The Post has learned.
Octavian Ocasio, 49, sold as many as 3,000 phony paper tags in the past year alone, pocketing more than $250,000 from customers that include gangbangers and car thieves, police sources told The Post.
“He is a real shyster,” one source said, adding that Ocasio refers to himself as the “Used Car King of New York” on social media. “The quintessential used car salesman. The used car king has been dethroned.”
Ocasio, whose criminal record dates to 1996, was arrested Tuesday at Long Island Buffalo Wild Wings by the FBI/NYPD Joint Major Theft Task Force on multiple conspiracy and wire fraud charges.
In late May, he and two others were indicted by federal prosecutors in Texas for their alleged roles in the two-state operation that sold more than 600,000 fake tags, the US Attorney’s Office in Houston said.
One suspect, Leidy Areli Hernandez Lopez, 39, was taken into custody in Texas, but Ocasio and another man, Emmanuel Padilla Reyes, 31, were on the run — until now.
Ocasio appeared at a bail hearing Wednesday in Brooklyn federal court and was ordered held on $100,000 bond by Magistrate Judge Ramon Reyes, according to court papers.
Prosecutors in both states want Ocasio held without bail until he can be extradited to Texas, arguing he “was a fugitive for more than two months, repeatedly failed to turn himself in, and continues to engage in the crime,” the documents say.
Ocasio continued to peddle fake tags while avoiding arrest, the prosecutors said. The judge’s ruling on extradition is pending.
The sale of illegal paper license plates has increasingly plagued the Big Apple, turning vehicles into “ghost cars” that are often used by gang members in shootings and robberies.
The fake plates make vehicles virtually untraceable — allowing drivers to bypass tolls and red light cameras and making stolen cars seem legitimate.
The source called Ocasio “a monster fish” in the New York market.
He allegedly worked with the co-conspirators in Texas to create the paper tags, obtaining the plates from the Department of Motor Vehicles there with phony information — and shipping them online to New York, where they are illegal, according to the source.
The plates are legal in Texas but have to go through a licensed dealer.
Ocasio would allegedly give his partners fake registration information and would receive the plates in a PDF that could then be printed out and sold, the source said.
Police said he’s been arrested eight times since 1996, including on charges of possession of a forged instrument and possession of stolen property in 2007.
His most recent arrest was in 2018 when he was charged with weapons possession.
The outcome of the arrests was not immediately known.
The NYPD began to crack down on the paper plates in May, and have since made 243 arrests of drivers with the phony tags and seized 207 vehicles — including 23 that were linked to street gang members, according to the source.
Since July 1, 3,892 cars with paper plates have been towed by the NYPD. Nearly 800 of the cars were never picked up by the vehicle owner, the source said.
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