Ex-dealer sentenced to prison for role in defrauding Toyota out of $4.3 million

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A former dealership owner was sentenced to six years in federal prison on March 3 after being found guilty of defrauding Toyota out of more than $4.3 million.

James Pinson owned Big Blue Motor Sales, a used-vehicle dealership in Louisa, Ky. Pinson, 46, was convicted in December of three counts of wire fraud, six counts of mail fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft and two counts of conspiring to commit money laundering.

Court documents said Pinson took advantage of a Toyota customer support program that bought back trucks with excessive rust from customers for 150 percent of the Kelley Blue Book value. The program was only available to customers and not dealerships.

Court documents state that between 2013 and 2015, Pinson bought 350 trucks at wholesale price at auction. He obtained copies of random residents’ driver’s licenses and titled the vehicles in their names.

He took the trucks to Love Lexus Toyota in West Virginia and bribed the service manager and another employee in order to take advantage of the program, court documents said.

Love Lexus Toyota Service Manager Frank Russo, 69, was also sentenced the same day to two years in federal prison for wire fraud. Stanley Clark, who administered repurchases at Love Lexus Toyota, was sentenced to 15 months in prison last week, according to a press release from the Southern District of West Virginia U.S Attorney’s Office.

Both Russo and Pinson will be required to pay restitution of up to $4.3 million to Toyota, the press release said. Pinson used the money he made through the scheme to purchase a beach house in South Carolina, which he will also be required to give up.

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