Getting Answers: 2 suspects plead guilty in catalytic converter thefts ring operation

Two of the seven suspects from the catalytic converter thefts across Mass. and New Hampshire have now pleaded guilty in a federal courthouse in Boston.
Published: May. 25, 2023 at 4:17 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - We’re learning new information on the seven suspects busted in a widespread string of catalytic converter thefts across Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Two of the suspects have now pleaded guilty in a federal courthouse in Boston.

We’re getting answers on what charges these two men plead guilty to as this group of men had lengthy criminal histories in both Massachusetts and Connecticut.

It’s been over a month since seven suspects from western Mass were arrested in connection to a string of catalytic converter thefts from hundreds of vehicles in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Jose Torres of Springfield pleaded guilty last Wednesday in federal court in Boston. He is alleged to be the reseller of stolen catalytic converters that were stolen by the conspirators. He pleaded guilty to charges related to the theft and transportation of stolen catalytic converters and the sale of stolen catalytic converters to core buyers in other states.

He is now scheduled for sentencing later this year on September 6th.

Western Mass News spoke with a local criminal defense attorney, getting answers on how this case is moving forward.

“In the federal system, it works a little different than the state system and people will plead guilty and then be sentenced after sentencing put forward by defense and the prosecution,” said Jeremy Powers.

Court documents reveal a lengthy investigation into the thefts was conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s office, and also detail the criminal history of these seven individuals.

Torres was also on pretrial release for two cases in Connecticut where he faces charges of burglary and stealing a firearm. Attorney Jeremy Powers told Western Mass News entering this type of plea is common for those with a criminal history like Torres’.

“In this case it is not uncommon for defendants to plead guilty,” said Powers. “The evidence against them is likely overwhelming and defendants actually receive sentencing reductions if they plead guilty earlier so there’s an incentive to plead guilty sooner in cases like this.”

On Wednesday, another defendant in this case, Alex Oyola of Springfield pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport stolen property in interstate commerce, two counts of interstate transportation of stolen property, and conspiracy to steal from a federally insured bank and theft from a federally insured bank.

In 2010, he was convicted in relation to a series of jewelry store robberies in Connecticut.

Oyola is scheduled for a further hearing later this year in Boston on October 19th.

As for the other 5 defendants, the state’s U.S. Attorney’s office told us their prosecutions are still ongoing. Attorney Powers explained that he expects them to enter pleas sooner rather than later.

All of the 7 defendants remain in federal custody. The state’s U.S. Attorney’s office told us there are no other court dates set at this time for the remaining co-defendants.