Kevin O’Connor, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that three employees of the now-defunct Shoreline Mitsubishi automobile dealership in Branford, Conn., have pleaded guilty in New Haven federal court to various charges resulting from their involvement in a scheme to submit false credit applications.
On March 30, 2005, Louis Pierro, 49, of East Haven, Conn., pleaded guilty to a one-count Information charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. From December 2000 to approximately July 2001, Pierro was employed as the General Sales Manager at Shoreline Mitsubishi.
On March 31, 2005, Richard Dominguez, 60, of Shelton, Conn., pleaded guilty to Counts One and Four of a Third Superseding Indictment charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud. From February 2000 to July 2002, Dominguez was employed as either a salesperson or floor manager at the dealership.
Finally, Michael Rivera, 35, of Hamden, Conn., pleaded guilty to Counts One and Three of a Third Superseding Indictment charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud. From February 2000 to June 2001, Rivera was employed as a salesperson at the dealership, and also worked on the dealership’s advertising program.
According to documents filed with the Court and statements made in court, the three individuals and others participated in a scheme whereby they submitted false customer credit information via the internet to Mitsubishi Motors Credit of America Inc. (“MMCA”).
Specifically, Shoreline Mitsubishi employees inflated customers’ income figures and falsified other material information before submitting customer credit applications to MMCA. The three have admitted that they and other Shoreline Mitsubishi employees submitted these false credit applications to MMCA in order to deceive MMCA concerning the customers’ income and other material information, and thereby to induce MMCA to approve the extension of credit to customers of Shoreline Mitsubishi who would not have qualified for automobile financing at all, or for the amounts approved by MMCA, had such fraudulent information not been provided to MMCA.
According to the Government, Shoreline Mitsubishi employees on occasion failed to disclose to customers the existence of large “balloon payments” at the conclusion of their financing contracts. In addition, in some instances, Shoreline Mitsubishi customers were being charged a substantially higher price for the automobiles than the customers had agreed to pay.
In other instances, customers were reportedly being charged for insurance contracts and extended service warranties that they had not requested or that they had been told were being included in their contract free of charge. In addition, in many instances, Shoreline Mitsubishi customers were charged for optional items such as CD changers that were not actually installed in their cars. Finally, some Shoreline Mitsubishi employees on occasion pocketed cash down payments that had been provided to the dealership by customers.
Pierro and Dominguez have reportedly agreed to cooperate with the ongoing investigation and to testify at an upcoming criminal trial relating to the Shoreline Mitsubishi dealership. The trial is scheduled to begin on April 13, 2005.
When they are sentenced, the three face a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count of conviction.
Shoreline Mitsubishi went out of business in 2003.
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