Former Fla. Car Dealer to Pay Restitution

August 10, 2004

The former owner of a Milton, Florida automotive dealership has entered a plea of no contest to racketeering and organized fraud and has been ordered to begin making deposits of $5,000 a month into an escrow account that will be used to reimburse dozens of victims who lost nearly $200,000.

A joint investigation by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud and the Office of Financial Regulation reportedly revealed that Michael E. Bratton, the former owner of Michael Bratton Automotive Inc., committed fraud in connection with the financing of dozens of vehicles and failed to pay off prior liens. Bratton also charged consumers for insurance and extended warranties that were never purchased.

Bratton entered the no contest plea last Thursday in the First Judicial Circuit Court. Upon entering the plea, Bratton was ordered to deposit $25,000 into an escrow account within 30 days and make subsequent deposits of $5,000 each month. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 1.

These funds will be used toward paying approximately $200,000 in restitution to victims. If Bratton complies with this agreement, he will receive a suspended sentence and probation. If he fails to comply with the court order, he will face at least four years imprisonment.

The charges were prosecuted by the State Attorney’s Office in the First Judicial Circuit of Florida.

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