Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jury finds Florida car dealer guilty in “out-of-trust” case

Former Pontiac-Buick-GMC dealer faces up to five years as a guest of federal taxpayers.

The former owner of Big Oaks Buick Pontiac GMC Inc. in Bartow, Florida, was found guilty by a federal jury in Tampa on 11 counts of wire fraud, 11 counts of bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit both, reports the Lakeland Ledger.

John Giovanetti, was charged with the theft of $2.5 million by having employees file fake documents to receive financing from SunTrust bank.

Mr. Giovanetti now faces up to five years in prison for conspiracy and up to 30 years for each count of the wire and bank fraud counts. He also faces a fine of $2.25 million.

The former dealer was convicted of conspiring with two former employees, the dealership controller and the general manager, to obtain funding from SunTrust to purchase vehicle inventory in 2004, according to the indictment.

During several months in 2004, at least 12 fraudulent documents were submitted by the dealership to SunTrust, listing at least 44 vehicles for purchase that had already been sold.

The money obtained from the bank was used in "the day-to-day operations of the dealership and to support the owner's lifestyle," the indictment read.

Before the trial, the dealership controller and the general manager both agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and testified against their boss.

Their plea agreements stipulated that the controller would forfeit $56,500 and the general manager $85,000, their respective total salaries for 2004 which represent "the minimum amount of proceeds obtained by the defendant as a result of the offense."

The Pontiac-Buick-GMC store was eventually bought at auction by Michael Holley.

Mr. Holley paid $3.6 million for the GM franchise and its assets.

No comments: