Man accused of having stolen car, extortion

Rule number one about car theft: Don’t try to sell a stolen car back to its owner.

Lawrence, Mass., police say they caught a Nashua man who is accused of doing just that. Jesse Masa offered to return a stolen Pontiac Grand Am to the owner for a discount price of $250, police said.

Police set up a sting Friday afternoon at a Lawrence convenience store to catch the 37-year-old Masa making the transaction, Police Chief John Romero said Monday.

Masa is charged with receiving a stolen motor vehicle, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, and extortion by threat of property damage.

Masa, of 1 Clinton St. in Nashua, had come into possession of the 2000 model sports car and threatened to damage it if a sale didn’t take place, Romero said. Masa several times called the car’s owner and spoke with the owner’s father, the chief said.

“We don’t know who actually took it,” Romero said. “He was in possession of it.”

Romero said he didn’t know how Masa allegedly found the owner’s phone number but assumes the information was in the car.

The owner’s father ultimately called police, and he was advised to arrange a meeting with Masa at a White Hen Pantry, Romero said. Masa arrived in the stolen car, started to make a cell phone call and officers approached, police said.

It wasn’t the first time Masa got into trouble with an automobile.

In August, he smashed a Jeep Cherokee into a Rent-A-Center in Lowell, Mass., so he could steal a television, police said.

During a police pursuit, Masa drove the SUV through a fence and into a back yard, police said. The Jeep missed a tree but landed in a swimming pool, police said.

A wet and unharmed Masa was placed in cuffs. A large crane had to remove the SUV from the pool.