Shady Atlanta Luxury Car Dealers and Russian Gangster Linked to Local Businesses
It's not clear how they met, but by the summer of 2011, Chulpayev had become acquainted with Lyle Livesay, a boyish-looking 23-year-old with a honey-smooth Southern drawl. The younger man also bought and sold used luxury vehicles like Hummers and Lamborghinis through a business variously called Global Assets Consolidation, GACMotorInc, and Exotics Today, based in the Atlanta suburb of Dunwoody. Mechanic Jeffrey Worstell began working on Livesay's fleet that same year.
Worstell claims he had limited knowledge about GAC's business and doesn't know exactly what Livesay and Chulpayev's roles were. "My workings with them strictly involved mechanics," he says. "I don't know what they were doing. It's weird because they come off as very well-spoken and nice."
Livesay, like Chulpayev, had some stains on his reputation. An Atlanta hip-hopper named Diamond had inked a deal with GAC for a yellow Camaro in early 2011. The lady rapper was shocked when the car was repossessed a week after she'd made a $15,000 payment. A video of the tow made it onto WorldStarHipHop.com, seriously denting Diamond's baller cred. When she confronted Livesay on video to clear her reputation, he said it was all a misunderstanding. The rapper signed a new deal with GAC for a red Camaro. But after Diamond made $5,800 in payments, the Camaro was also repossessed.
Diamond, now thoroughly pissed off, went to an Atlanta TV station with her story. The station investigated and found that Livesay's company claimed to get its inventory from car owners who couldn't shoulder their payments. GAC would theoretically act as a middleman, guaranteeing the car payments, then renting out the cars to third parties. But instead of giving its customers a standard lease, GAC had customers sign what it called "closed end use agreements." Apparently, payments never got to the institutions that held the notes on these cars, and they would move to repossess, leaving the third-party renter with no legal recourse. According to an Atlanta 11Alive television report, police had received 50 complaints about Livesay's business, and an investigation was opened by the Dunwoody Police Department. According to the department's Officer Tim Feck, that investigation was eventually handed over to the Secret Service, which is tasked with investigating certain financial crimes. The TV station reported that Livesay was also being investigated by the FBI regarding an online electronics company he'd run.
At some point, the men began delivering cars to customers in Florida. In June 2011, Worstell and Livesay headed south with a small fleet of luxury rides -- a Bentley Continental, a Lamborghini Murciélago, a Maserati Quattroporte.
Donovan Stephens, then a 21-year-old from Hollywood who worked for a shipping company, responded to a Craigslist ad for a black 2009 Dodge Challenger. After meeting with Livesay, Worstell, and a third GAC associate, Stephens put a $4,900 down payment on the car for a lease and worked out a payment plan, he would later claim in court. A few days later, Stephens walked out of Cheetah strip club in West Palm Beach to find that the Challenger was gone -- repossessed.
Feeling he'd been scammed, he devised a plan to lure Worstell and get his revenge. He called the mechanic and told him he had a friend who was interested in buying another car. Worstell met the friend in the parking lot of a Coconut Creek Walmart and rode shotgun as the potential customer test-drove a Chevy Silverado. The driver eventually steered to a quiet part of Boca Raton, where Stephens and another of his friends were waiting, .357 Smith & Wesson and aluminum bat in hand.