(WTNH) – Five Connecticut men were indicted in a scheme to steal and sell catalytic converters.

The indictment charges:

  • Alexander Kolitsas, 28, of Wolcott
  • Bryant Bermudez, 31, of East Hartford
  • Roberto Alicea, 30, of New Britain
  • Francisco Ayala, 22 of Ansonia
  • Theodore Roosevelt Owens, 21, of Hartford

According to court documents, law enforcement has been investigating stolen catalytic converters from cars across Connecticut. The indictment alleges that Kolitsas owned and operated Downpipe Depot & Recycling LLC in East Hartford and that Bermudez worked there in November 2021.

Court documents allege that Kolitsas and Bermudez purchased stolen catalytic converters from thieves, including Alicea, Ayala, and Owens. The catalytic converters were then allegedly sold to recycling businesses in New York and New Jersey.

The indictment alleges that as part of the scheme, Downpipe Depot received $237,329 via wire transfer shortly after Kolitsas brought a load of catalytic converters to New Jersey in October 2021. It also alleges that on two occasions in March 2022, Kolitsas brought the catalytic converters to Island Park, New York, and sold them for approximately $300,000.

“Catalytic converter thefts are more than just an annoying property crime for victims, they increase insurance rates for all car owners and increase pollution in the air we breathe,”  said U.S. Attorney Avery.  “We have also seen a rise in violence connected to catalytic converter theft incidents.  This criminal activity would not exist but for the salvagers and metal processors who orchestrate these thefts and purchase the stolen converters.  I thank the ATF and IRS-Criminal Investigation agents, and all members of our partner state and local law enforcement agencies, for diligently investigating this matter and exposing the alleged participants in this scheme.”

Kolitsas is charged with conspiracy to transport stolen property, interstate transportation of stolen property, promotional money laundering, engaging in monetary transactions, and possession of firearms. He was surrendered to law enforcement on Wednesday and is scheduled to appear in court in New Haven.

Bermudez, Alicea, Ayala, and Owens were charged with conspiracy to transport stolen property and interstate transportation of stolen property.

Bermudez and Alicea were arrested on Tuesday. Bermudez was released on a $150,000 bond and Alicea was detained pending a hearing scheduled for Aug. 26.

Ayala is currently in state custody and Owens is currently in federal custody for an unrelated offense.