A used car salesman has been sentenced to 24 months in federal prison for rolling back the odometers of vehicles sold at a Lancaster County auto auction.

Edward Capicchioni, 54, of Massapequa, N.Y., was also ordered to pay $412,880 in restitution to victims who unwittingly purchased the tampered vehicles.

Doing business under the company name The General's Auto Sales, Capicchioni bought high-mileage cars, SUVs and trucks from individual sellers in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, according to filings in Pennsylvania federal court.

He worked with an unidentified co-conspirator to roll back the odometers, then resold the vehicles, unloading most of them at a wholesale auction in Manheim, Pa., prosecutors said.

Capicchioni sold more than 50 tampered vehicles between December 2006 and March 2013, according to investigators.

To cover his tracks, he would check each vehicle's Carfax report to see if it included a mileage that was higher than the false, altered mileage.

If it did, he would submit fraudulent documentation in the name of the vehicle's prior owner to have the higher mileage reading removed from the public database, prosecutors said.

Carfax alerted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Office of Odometer Fraud Investigations after discovering the scheme during an internal review.

Capicchioni was charged in February with conspiracy to commit odometer tampering and pleaded guilty to the offense a month later.

In a sentencing memorandum, trial attorney John W. Burke, of the U.S. Department of Justice's Consumer Protection Branch, pointed out Capicchioni didn't commit an isolated crime, but engaged in "a course of criminal conduct stretching over more than six years."

Capicchioni's defense attorney, Adrian L. DiLuzio, responded that his client sold an estimated 2,000 vehicles during those six-plus years but only tampered with about 50 of them.

"This was not a frenzy of greedy illegality," DiLuzio, wrote in a court filing. "It was wrong, to be sure. But it was a wrongfulness that was not greedily indulged."

Capicchioni is slated to self-surrender to federal authorities Feb. 2 to begin serving the prison term.

Contact Alex Wigglesworth at 215-854-2305 or awigglesworth@philly.com. Follow @phila_lex on Twitter.
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