Four Conn. Mitsubishi Employees Parked in Auto Scam; Misleading Insurance Contracts Reported

September 8, 2005

Kevin O’Connor, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that a federal jury sitting in New Haven found the former general manager and three former salespersons of the now-defunct Shoreline Mitsubishi automobile dealership in Branford, Conn., guilty of various charges resulting from their involvement in a scheme to submit false credit applications.

Angel Hernandez, 41, of Bridgeport, Conn., who was the general manager and 25 percent owner of Shoreline Mitsubishi, was found guilty of all 22 counts of the Indictment in which he was charged. Specifically, the jury found Hernandez guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, three counts of mail fraud and 18 counts of wire fraud.

Former salesperson David Brown, 42, formerly of Bridgeport, Conn., and currently a resident of Memphis, Tenn., was found guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, one count of mail fraud and five counts of wire fraud.

Former salesperson Richard Brown, 40, of Hartford, Conn. (no relation to David Brown), was found guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, one count of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud. The jury found Richard Brown not guilty of three counts of wire fraud.

Former salesperson Nelson Datil, 28, of Waterbury, Conn., was found guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, one count of mail fraud and four counts of wire fraud.

“We’re pleased with the jury’s verdict,” O’Connor stated. “The fraud committed by this dealership and its employees was extensive and left hundreds of victims in its wake. Hopefully, today’s verdict will send a message that car dealers and salespersons who victimize buyers in order to inflate profits and commissions will be vigorously prosecuted.”

The presiding judge did not set sentencing dates for the four. When they are sentenced, each defendant will face a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count of conviction.

Shoreline Motors Corporation, which owned the assets of Shoreline Mitsubishi, as well as eight other former employees of Shoreline Mitsubishi, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy and fraud charges. Five of the former employees were called as witnesses for the United States at the trial. Shoreline Motors Corporation and the other defendants who pleaded guilty also await sentencing.

The evidence introduced by the Government at trial revealed that the four, and others participated in a scheme whereby they reportedly submitted false customer credit information via fax, the internet, and the mails to Mitsubishi Motors Credit of America Inc.

Specifically, Shoreline Mitsubishi employees reportedly inflated customers’ income figures and falsified other material information before submitting customer credit applications to MMCA. The evidence showed that the defendants 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.

The evidence also reportedly showed that, on occasion, the defendants and other Shoreline Mitsubishi employees 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 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, the evidence showed some Shoreline Mitsubishi employees, including Hernandez, David Brown, and Richard Brown, on occasion pocketed cash down payments that had been provided to the dealership by customers.

Shoreline Mitsubishi went out of business in 2003.

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