Ex-car dealer denies charges: Dangerfield's attorney speaks out on fraud case

Johnny Dangerfield

The attorney for a once highly visible car dealer indicted this week on fraud charges issued a statement Thursday denying the allegations against his client.

Charleston attorney Lionel S. Lofton said former car dealer Johnny Dangerfield "vehemently" denies allegations in a federal indictment that he defrauded the bank that gave him his line of credit.

Lofton called it "hard to believe" the alleged illegal activity could occur when Dangerfield had been audited by the IRS for tax years 2006-2008, and that at the conclusion of the audit, the government had refunded Dangerfield in excess of $400,000.

Additionally, Lofton said Dangerfield paid the bank -- identified as Fifth Third Bank in court documents -- in excess of $5 million in interest, and had made other settlements as well, "long before any investigation by the government."

Dangerfield, 48, of Moncks Corner, was one of five men indicted in an auto dealer bank-fraud case this week. He had been a regular fixture on weekend TV in Charleston, saturating the airwaves with infomercials about car deals, including Suzukis. But he closed operations in 2009, citing the failing economy.

The government indictment contends that between July 2004 and February 2009, Dangerfield and his co-defendants at dealerships around the state conspired to defraud the Cincinnati-based bank by making misrepresentations to auditors about the status of vehicles being sold. The defendants are alleged to have "sold the cars and then failed to pay to the bank," the indictment says.

In another part of the indictment, prosecutors contend the dealerships also misrepresented that cars were being sold in connection to obtaining incentive sales money from Suzuki, "when the cars were not, in fact, sold."

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.