When someone buys a used car from a dealership, they are issued a title. When spending money on something as expensive and important to one's safety as a car, a wise buyer likely purchases a vehicle that comes with a clean title. But what happens when a clean title is misrepresented? A recent Colorado felony case shows us what can happen when buyers' trust in a car dealer is violated.
Colorado Grand Junction car dealer Camden P. Fortney III was convicted in April by a Mesa County court of 21 felony counts. The 2009 indictment included charges of theft, commercial bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery.
The charges against, then conviction and sentencing of Fortney followed a fraudulent scheme he carried out from 2005 to 2008. Fortney would purchase vehicles that needed repair, fix them and then sell them at the dealership. The fraud comes into play when Fortney bribed insurance adjusters into issuing the cars titles that did not represent the cars' true conditions.
By selling the used cars with false clean titles, Fortney, in effect, stole from his clients by getting paid more than what the vehicles were actually worth. According to reports, Fortney sold 52 vehicles using this scam.
The Colorado court took Fortney's offenses seriously and sentenced the 68-year-old car dealer to 53 years in prison. He has also been ordered to pay his victims back. The insurance adjusters involved with Fortney's scheme were also convicted in court. One was convicted of a lesser, misdemeanor crime and ordered to pay restitution and serve a year of probation. The other was convicted of commercial bribery (a felony), sentenced to four years in prison and required to pay the victims back as well.