Car Dealer Selling Total Loss Vehicles as Clean Sentenced to 53 Years

High end car scheme involving 52 vehicles nets perpetrator 53 years behind bars and an order of restitution for $584,000.

Creative would be a mild word when applied to this recent court case that involved a local Colorado car dealer. “Seems he was selling total loss vehicles to customers without telling them. His scam was in operation for four years, from 2005 to 2008 and covered 52 vehicles. Evidently, the man made it a habit to buy wrecks, repair them and sell them – but did not tell the customer the true extent of the previous damage,” remarked Miller Leonard, a Denver federal criminal defense lawyer and Denver state criminal defense attorney.

Over the four years the dealer told buyers the vehicles had a full factory warranty. Investigators indicated warranties on total losses were voided. In plain English, the cars this man sold should have had salvage branded titles but instead, the dealer was alleging the titles were clean. At the end of the investigation, the car dealer was charged and indicted with conspiracy to commit bribery, commercial bribery and theft.

“It seems the man paid two insurance adjusters to help him along with his scheme and in the process they also wound up being charged. No one had a good day when the case wrapped up. Adjuster number one was charged with a second-degree misdemeanor and handed one year probation and ordered to pay $3,200 in restitution. Adjuster number two pled to commercial bribery (Class 6 felony) and was handed a four year deferred jail term and must pay $12,300 in restitution,” outlined Leonard.

The two adjusters would refer salvage or total loss vehicles to the car dealer who would in turn hand them money and gifts. They would then send him clean titles, not salvage titles. This means the dealer could raise the prices on the resale of the vehicles. What’s the lesson to be learned here? “A couple of things come to mind,” indicated Leonard, “and the first one would be that he needed a compliance program to avoid the very situation he ultimately found himself in. Now, supposing that he was not interested in or didn’t think he needed a compliance program, then he would be entitled to a well thought out criminal defense on his behalf,” he added.

Just because someone is charged and indicted with an offense, does not always mean they are indeed guilty of that offense. While things may look one way on the surface, we rarely know the complete story until the whole case unfolds. “If you do criminal defense for a living, you rarely jump to conclusions about anything until you have spoken to the accused and found out all of the circumstances. In any event, those charged have a right to a criminal defense just as the plaintiff has a right to file a case against them,” Leonard observed.

To learn more, visit or call 303.623.2721.