Former Car Dealer Pleads Guilty to 5 Fraud Charges, Agrees to Pay $142,626
A former Waynesboro car dealer facing a slew of charges alleging fraudulent business practices pleaded guilty Monday to five misdemeanor counts and agreed to pay $142,626 in restitution to past customers in a deal with prosecutors to avoid jail time.
Rodney Price, 42, owner of RSD Motors – located on Apple Tree Lane until it was shut down in March – was originally charged with 33 misdemeanor counts of selling a vehicle without a title, two misdemeanor counts of improper registration material, four felony charges of disposing of mortgaged property, three felony counts of obtaining money under false pretenses and one felony count of embezzlement, according to court documents.
Prosecutors later streamlined the case to focus on five RSD customers who never received titles to vehicles they purchased – the same complaint voiced by dozens of the dealership’s other customers, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Camblos said. In most of those cases, Price neglected to pay off old loans on used vehicles before selling them to new owners – this meant the previous owners still had the outstanding loan under their names, and the new owners were unable to obtain car insurance or legal titles.
In some cases, Price also neglected to pay state taxes, Camblos said.
“He wasn’t minding the store ... ,” Camblos said. “He wasn’t taking care of business with Richmond, he was not paying off loans and he was causing a lot of havoc for a lot of customers.”
Under the terms of the deal with prosecutors, Price pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor counts of fraudulently selling a motor vehicle, with six-month jail sentences for each charge suspended on the condition that he pay the $142,626 in restitution within a two-year period.
Several former customers were on hand Monday to witness Price’s day in court. While most felt the agreement was in their best interest and would expedite financial compensation, some said it was also difficult to accept.
“I felt sorry for him until he got to walk through that door,” said Waynesboro resident Pat Templeton as she gestured toward the courthouse parking lot. Templeton said she payed Price cash several months ago for a 1996 Jeep, but still lacks the vehicle’s title.
Sonya Mays, of Waynesboro, said she had to let the 2001 Ford Windstar she purchased at RSD Motors sit unused for months because she didn’t have its title. “We’ve been making payments for five months on a vehicle we just started driving 30 days ago,” Mays said.
Camblos said the plea deal was reached in part because Price had no prior criminal record.
Story by Cleve Wiese, NewsVirginian.com