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Thread: 3 execs, 81 cars missing from Nebraska dealership

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    Default 3 execs, 81 cars missing from Nebraska dealership

    3 execs, 81 cars missing from Nebraska dealership

    OMAHA, Neb. – Scores of new cars vanished from a western Nebraska car dealership and a prosecutor said Wednesday that some had turned up in other states and warrants had been issued for three missing executives.
    The 81 Fords and Toyotas taken from Legacy Auto Sales in Scottsbluff were valued at about $2.5 million.
    The Fords were put on transporter trucks and taken away Saturday and the Toyotas were shipped out late Monday, John Childress, Scotts Bluff County's chief deputy county attorney, said Wednesday.
    Childress said arrest warrants had been issued for owner Allen Patch, controller Rachel Fait and general manager Rick Covello, who are wanted on suspicion of theft.
    "Employees were expecting these people to be in Tuesday morning, and they were surprised no one was there," Childress said. "It is not an expected departure."
    Covello called Scottsbluff police on Wednesday afternoon and said he would meet with investigators on Thursday, Capt. Kevin Spencer said. The whereabouts of Patch and Fait remained unknown, Spencer said.
    Miranda Cervantes, the dealership's title manager, told the Scottsbluff Star-Herald she returned to work Tuesday after a day off and found the lot was virtually empty. She said the desks of Patch, Fait and Covello had been cleaned out.
    The FBI traced two dozen vehicles to Salt Lake City, including 16 that had been sold at one auto auction, Spencer said. He said police also found six at the Scottsbluff airport, and the FBI located other vehicles in Las Vegas, but he didn't know how many.
    Spencer refuted an earlier report from Childress that some of the vehicles had been found in Arizona.
    Justin Leach, a spokesman for Toyota Financing in Torrance, Calif., said Patch financed the Toyotas and Fords through his company.
    Legacy has had financial problems, Childress said, and authorities suspect Patch and his associates were looking to sell the vehicles to auction houses and keep the proceeds rather than pay Toyota Financing. He said the three have no criminal records in Nebraska.
    All three previously lived in Utah, and the FBI and law enforcement agencies in several western states were searching for them, Childress said.
    Leach said there are some provisions that would allow a dealer to move vehicles.
    "But if the dealer and the cars go missing, there's an issue," he said.
    Most of the missing cars were Toyotas, but Childress didn't have an exact number.
    All 81 cars had valid temporary titles, as required by state law, Childress said.
    Despite the missing new cars and executives, Legacy Auto Sales remained open Wednesday. Cervantes did not respond to calls seeking additional comment.
    Scottsbluff is 470 miles west of Omaha.

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    MSNBC.com


    Dealers arrested after 81 cars vanished
    Some of the cars from Nebraska dealership turned up in Utah, Las Vegas
    The Associated Press
    updated 11:37 a.m. PT, Thurs., March. 12, 2009


    Automobiles from Legacy Auto Sales in Scottsbluff, Neb., are loaded onto a truck Monday night. Some of the dozens of new cars that vanished from the dealership have turned up in other states.

    SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. - Police have arrested three executives from a troubled Nebraska car dealership where 81 vehicles worth roughly $2.5 million — as well as the executives themselves — vanished in recent days.

    Legacy's owner Allen Patch, 52, and controller Rachel Fait, 37 were arrested separately in Tooele County, Utah. The dealership's 53-year-old general manager, Rick Covello, turned himself in to Scottsbluff police Thursday morning, Capt. Kevin Spencer said.

    An arrest warrant affidavit said that Fait may have embezzled more than $46,000 from the dealership in Scottsbluff, a western Nebraska town. The three were wanted on suspicion of theft.

    About two dozen vehicles missing from the Scottsbluff dealership were traced to Salt Lake City, and at least 16 of those had been sold at an auto auction. Six others were found at the Scottsbluff airport, and the FBI found some of the other vehicles in Las Vegas.

    Legacy has had financial problems, said John Childress, Scottsbluff County's chief deputy county attorney.

    Bid to avoid creditors?
    Authorities suspect Patch and his associates were looking to sell the vehicles to auction houses and keep the proceeds rather than pay Toyota Financing. He said the three have no criminal records in Nebraska.

    The missing vehicles were all Fords and Toyotas. The Fords were put on transporter trucks and taken away Saturday and the Toyotas were shipped out late Monday, Childress said.

    On Tuesday a representative for Toyota Financing contacted police to report the vehicles stolen, and two employees of the dealership contacted police that day with concerns, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

    One of the employees showed police documents that indicated Fait had taken more than $46,000 from the company over the past several months. One of the employees also told police that Fait used to keep a backpack with a large amount of cash at the dealership.

    Miranda Cervantes, the dealership's title manager, told the Scottsbluff Star-Herald she returned to work Tuesday after a day off and found the lot was virtually empty. She said the desks of Patch, Fait and Covello had been cleaned out.

    "It’s been a very surprising day,” Cervantes said. “As soon as I came in, I knew something was wrong.”

    Dealership still open
    Legacy Auto Sales remained open Thursday despite the missing cars.

    Justin Leach, a spokesman for Toyota Financing in Torrance, Calif., said Patch financed the Toyotas and Fords through his company.

    Leach said there are some provisions that would allow a dealer to move vehicles, but when the dealer and the cars go missing there's reason to be concerned.

    "Employees were expecting these people to be in Tuesday morning, and they were surprised no one was there," Childress said. "It is not an expected departure."

    Scottsbluff is 470 miles west of Omaha.


    Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
    URL: Dealers arrested after 81 cars vanished - Crime & courts- msnbc.com



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