Former sales manager charged in loan fraud conspiracy - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Former sales manager charged in loan fraud conspiracy

(Source: MGN Online) (Source: MGN Online)
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

Officials announced that a second sales manager at Serra Nissan faces federal charges in connection with a conspiracy at the Birmingham car dealership to fraudulently boost loan approvals and car sales.

The Alabama Attorney General's Office says a federal grand jury indicted 56-year old Gerald R. Shepherd of Pinson on conspiracy and bank fraud charges.

Officials say a federal judge lifted the seal on the indictment this week after the government withdrew a warrant for Shepard's arrest.

State officials say the five-count indictment charges Shepard with conspiring with others at the dealership between August 2010 and October 2013 to defraud financial institutions, Nissan North America and Serra Nissan customers by fraudulently increasing vehicle sales in order to boost personal profits.

According to the indictment, he and other members of the conspiracy participated in various means to carry out their fraud and obtain auto loans that, otherwise, would not have been approved.

The indictment alleges Shepard and others also defrauded customers and financial institutions by quoting a customer an inflated monthly vehicle loan payment so that a finance manager could add a warranty and gap insurance without the customer realizing it.

The maximum penalty for the conspiracy count is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for bank fraud is 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

The FBI and the IRS investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Schlager Wick is prosecuting.

Serra Nissan-VS released the following statement about the indictment:

"Serra Nissan-VW has proudly served the Birmingham community for more than thirty years. We consider integrity a guiding principle of our business.

We have been notified of charges against a former employee who is accused of failing to live up to the values that are the foundation of our longtime success. When these allegations first surfaced last year in charges against another former employee, we launched our own investigation and cooperated fully with authorities. We also reviewed our procedures and implemented additional safeguards to ensure that we are operating fully in accordance with our guiding principles.

News of these allegations, while disappointing, should not be viewed as a reflection of our company or as a reflection of all of our employees who have always conducted themselves with honesty and honor.

We will continue to meet or exceed our customers' expectations and needs, and we will do so with complete integrity."

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