New Haven man admits stealing and selling catalytic converters


Date: March 27, 2024


Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that Michael Almodovar, also known as “Eme ElColorado,” of New Haven, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Sarala V. Nagala in Hartford to offenses related to his participation in a stolen catalytic converter trafficking ring.

According to court documents and statements made in court, law enforcement has been investigating the theft of catalytic converters from motor vehicles across Connecticut. A catalytic converter contains precious metals, can easily be removed from its vehicle, and is difficult to trace, making it a desirable target for thieves. The average scrap price for catalytic converters currently varies between $300 and $1,500, depending on the model and type of precious metal component.

The investigation revealed that Downpipe Depot & Recycling LLC (“Downpipe Depot”), which had a warehouse on Park Avenue in East Hartford, purchased stolen catalytic converters from a network of thieves, including Almodovar, and then transported and sold the catalytic converters to recycling businesses in New York and New Jersey.

Business records seized during the investigation revealed that, between March 2022 and May 2022, Downpipe Depot paid Almodovar $34,445 for catalytic converters. In one incident, while Almodovar was in the process of stealing a catalytic converter from a car parked in a parking lot, he was interrupted by a witness who used his cellphone take pictures of Almodovar. Almodovar attacked the witness, smashed his car window, cut him with the saw he used to steal the converter, and then fled. The next day, Almodovar sold six converters to Downpipe Depot in exchange for $2,180.

Almodovar pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years, and one count of interstate transportation of stolen property, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years. Judge Nagala scheduled sentencing for June 18.

Almodovar was arrested on November 28, 2023. He is detained pending sentencing.

This investigation is being led by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (CI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the East Hartford Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lauren C. Clark and A. Reed Durham.

CI is the criminal investigative arm of the IRS, responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, identity theft and more. CI special agents are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code, obtaining a more than a 90 percent federal conviction rate. The agency has 20 field offices located across the U.S. and 12 attaché posts abroad.