South Carolina car dealer pleads guilty in fraud case

  • Posted: Sunday, January 26, 2014 1:15 p.m.

ANDERSON, S.C. - A South Carolina car dealer has pleaded guilty as part of a federal corruption case.

The Herald-Journal of Spartanburg reports that Joe Gibson of Spartanburg pleaded guilty Thursday to wire fraud charges. An employee, Billy John Mills Jr., of Huntersville, N.C., pleaded guilty Wednesday. They will be sentenced later.

Prosecutors say Gibson and others falsified loan and credit applications and inflated the number of vehicles sold each month to get incentives from American Suzuki Motor Corp.

Authorities say the business promised customers they could exchange vehicles after a promotional period but wouldn't let them do so and locked them into high payments.

The dealership filed for bankruptcy in August 2008. Hundreds of former customers sued, and a federal court allowed them to divvy up $2.7 million in funds.

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