Two men sentenced for operating chop shop

Two men have been sentenced in federal court for operating a chop shop in Eastern Kentucky.

The U.S. Attorney's office says 51-year-old Marty Keith Hamilton received an 80 month prison sentence, while 53-year-old Gary Dean Keathley received a 50 month-sentence.

The judge also sentenced both men for possessing vehicles with altered vehicle identification number (VIN) plates, with the intent to sell or get rid of those vehicles.

The U.S. Attorney's office says Hamilton admitted, during his guilty plea, that while he worked detailing vehicles for a dealership, he stole around 60 vehicles.

They say he admitted to either keeping duplicate keys from the cars brought to his garage to be detailed, or used a key-cutting machine to create an extra key for himself.

The U.S. Attorney's office says Hamilton then placed a sticker with the dealership's logo on the back of the cars, so he could identify the vehicles at several business locations in Pike and Floyd Counties.

When he later found one of those vehicles, he allegedly used the duplicate keys to get inside, and drive off with the cars.

The U.S. Attorney's office says Keathley admitted he and Hamilton bought donor vehicles from local dealerships and salvage yards, then took legitimate VIN plates from the donor vehicles and placed them on the stolen vehicles.

Both men are accused of later selling the stolen vehicles in several states, including Kentucky.

The U.S. Attorney's office says under federal law, both men must serve at least 85 percent of their sentences. They must also pay restitution to the victims.

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