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Former Car Dealership Owner Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Joseph E. Stasney, a/k/a Buddy Stasney, 59, of Denver, N.C., appeared before U.S. District Judge Kenneth D. Bell today and pleaded guilty to wire fraud, for executing a fraudulent auto loan scheme to obtain in excess of $250,000 from a financial institution, announced William T. Stetzer, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. 

Robert R. Wells, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Charlotte Office and Tommy D. Coke, Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which oversees Charlotte, join Acting U.S. Attorney Stetzer in making today’s announcement.

According to filed plea documents and today’s court hearing, Stasney was the owner of Buddy Stasney Buick GMC, Inc., (later named Buddy Stasney Automotive, Inc.), a used car dealership located in Lincolnton, N.C. Between February and December 2015, Stasney engaged in an auto loan scheme in which he fraudulently obtained money from a financial institution by submitting falsified loan applications on behalf of his victim-customers. As he admitted in court today, Stasney executed the loan scheme in a number of ways. After negotiating the sale of vehicles with prospective customers, Stasney fraudulently submitted loan applications on behalf of the customers that contained misrepresentations regarding the current status and terms of the transactions and loans, or submitted loan applications on behalf of customers who were not aware a loan application had been submitted in their name. In some instances, customers were falsely told their loan had not been processed when in fact it had. In other instances, Stasney defrauded customers who were refinancing loans by falsely telling them that the proceeds of their new loans had been used to pay off their existing loans, when, in fact, Stasney never paid off the customers’ prior auto loans and the victims remained obligated for those loans.

According to court documents, once the fraudulent loan proceeds were deposited into the car dealership’s bank account, Stasney diverted the funds and used a portion to pay for expenses unrelated to his business. Stasney admitted to defrauding the financial institution of more than $250,000, as a result of the fraudulent scheme.

Stasney was released on bond following his guilty plea. The maximum statutory penalty for the wire fraud charge is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

In making today’s announcement, Acting U.S. Attorney Stetzer commended the FBI and USPIS for leading the investigation, and thanked the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles for their invaluable assistance.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Caryn Finley and Graham Billings, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, is prosecuting the case.