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Man indicted on charges of stealing 5 Teslas changes plea to guilty

A Chittenden County resident who was indicted on charges of stealing five high-end cars last year recently changed his plea.

Michael A. Gonzalez, 34, is charged with five counts of illegal possession and sale of stolen Teslas — electric vehicles made in California.

Gonzalez pleaded not guilty last August but pleaded guilty on April 11 to all counts and withdrew the 15-page plea agreement that had been submitted last September, according to documents filed in federal court.

His lawyer, Chandler W. Matson, did not respond to a call and an email.

A sentencing hearing is set for Aug. 4 at 11 a.m. in U.S. District Court in Burlington before Chief Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford.

The 15-page indictment outlines a complex series of scams allegedly undertaken by Gonzalez to fraudulently buy five Teslas valued at more than $600,000 from dealerships in various states, smuggle them into Vermont between 2018 and 2019, and then try to resell them.

One of the cars — a Model X — ended up mysteriously burned on a frozen Shelburne Bay in February 2019.

Last August, a grand jury returned the five-count indictment against Gonzalez, charging him with illegal possession and sale of the stolen vehicles.

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