Missouri car dealer sentenced for $1.7 million bank fraud

JEFFERSON CITY, MO—Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that the former owner of a car dealership in Columbia, Mo., was sentenced in federal court today for a $1.7 million bank fraud scheme.

Gregg Dean Woods, 49, of Columbia, was sentenced in federal court today to two years and three months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Woods to pay $1,340,631 in restitution.

On Oct. 22, 2009, Woods pleaded guilty to bank fraud. Woods was the owner of Woods Auto Gallery, Inc., a business in Columbia that primarily sold pre-owned, luxury vehicles and provided service for the vehicles.

Woods admitted that he was engaged in a scheme to defraud Bank Star One, a financial institution with headquarters in Festus, Mo., from September 2006 to May 2007. Woods had a floor plan agreement, a related security agreement and a commercial security agreement with Bank Star One, along with a $1.9 million line of credit. Under the terms of those agreements, Woods was required to use the line of credit to purchase vehicles as inventory for resale, then provide Bank Star One with payment for any amounts financed once the vehicles were sold.

On several occasions, Woods sold vehicles on consignment. Contrary to his agreements with Bank Star One, Woods was advanced money against his existing line of credit for those vehicles. In each instance, Woods purposefully made false representations to Bank Star One in order to inappropriately have funds advanced.

For example, Woods was advanced $254,500 against his line of credit for a Bentley, a Mercedes, a BMW, and a Hummer, each of which he was selling on consignment. Since these transactions were on consignment and Woods did not incur any costs for the vehicles, there was no need for an advance. If Woods had revealed this information to Bank Star One, the bank would not have advanced him any money. When Woods sold the BMW and Hummer, he failed to notify Bank Star One of the transactions and failed to pay proceeds from the sales to the bank. The Bentley and Mercedes were repossessed by Bank Star One.

Woods misrepresented to Bank Star One his inventory and the status and quality of Woods Auto Gallery’s collateral by falsely stating the quantity of vehicles in inventory, and falsely representing the status of vehicles, their outstanding liens, and other existing financing. Woods sold vehicles but failed to report the sales and transfer the proceeds of those sales to Bank Star One. Woods sold some consignment vehicles to new customers without having paid off outstanding liens or obtained clear titles to the vehicles. In certain instances, Woods sold the vehicles and then failed to pay the original owners the agreed upon sales proceeds.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony P. Gonzalez. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.