Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Man indicted on charges alleging car sales scheme

FORT EDWARD — The former special finance manager of a Greenwich car dealership has been indicted on 23 felony charges in connection with an alleged scheme in which he defrauded numerous lenders by creating false documents to get financing for car buyers.

Raymond Marvelas Ray, 44, of Stillwater was charged in connection with 11 different car purchases made at Whalen Chevrolet Oldsmobile that prosecutors claim were made after Ray created fake financial documents to get loans for the buyers.

He faces 11 counts each of forgery and criminal possession of a forged instrument and a count of grand larceny in an indictment handed up Thursday in Washington County Court.

State Police arrested Ray in late November, after an investigation that began when the Social Security Administration was contacted by financing company Capital One about inconsistencies in documents used in car loan applications.

Investigators said Ray created false Social Security benefit letters, tax returns and employee W-2 forms to make it seem that prospective car buyers had higher incomes than they really had.

He benefited because finance managers are typically paid commission for each loan they bring to a lender, said Washington County Assistant District Attorney Christian Morris. Falsely inflating someone’s income would increase the likelihood they are approved for financing.

Ray told police he nearly tripled his salary annually through the scheme, which he had also used while working at at least two other car dealerships in the Albany area, officials said.

Morris said the financing companies lost money because the loans were not paid off, but the car buyers and dealership were also affected.

"Everyone all around lost money," he said. "The banks lost money. Whalen had to buy back some of the cars."

Those who purchased the cars also lost because they wound up paying for cars that were ultimately re-possessed, and their credit was also hurt, officials said.

The charges relate to car purchases dating back to June 2006.

Morris said 80 other car purchases that Ray was involved with are also being scrutinized by police and may result in additional charges. Police said charges were likely in Albany County as well.

Ray, who was fired by the Greenwich dealership the day of his arrest, was jailed without bail at the time of his arrest because he has at least two prior felony convictions. No arraignment date in Washington County Court has been set on the new charges.

He could face up to 4 years in state prison for each transaction, and as a prior felon, he faces a mandatory prison sentence if convicted of a felony.

Ray is being represented by Washington County Public Defender Patrick Barber, who could not be reached for comment Thursday.

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