Man pleads guilty in federal auto fraud case
By Tara Gray
Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 6:25 PM EDT
DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) – One of six men charged in an auto fraud scheme involving a now-closed Moline used vehicle business has pleaded guilty in federal court.
Court records show Kendric Vendrell McCray pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in U.S. District Court, Davenport. The charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, according to the written plea agreement.
He will be sentenced Jan. 14.
McCray and co-defendants Bradley Shane McCorkle, Isaac Bell, Derek Martinez, Keithen Deone McCorkle, and Nicholas T. McFarlin were indicted in November.
According to the plea agreement in McCray’s case:
4th Avenue Auto Sales, a used motor vehicle business at 4130 4th Avenue, Moline, was owned and operated by Bradly McCorkle and Bell.
The two men, through the business, bought cars from local auto dealers and auto auctions and accepted vehicle trade-ins.
McCray was acquainted with Bradley McCorkle for many years and, at times between 2012 and 2018, he worked for the business and performed odd jobs, such as mowing and driving cars for the business.
Generally, he was paid in cash by Bradley McCorkle.
Sometime between 2013 and 2018 or earlier, McCray, Bradley McCorkle, Bell, and others conspired to defraud the state of Iowa and purchasers of used motor vehicles by materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises, and by the intentional concealment of material facts.
McCray helped to conceal the price paid for used motor vehicles, the identity of the true owner and seller of used motor vehicles, and concealed the vehicle history of the used motor vehicles.
He also helped to conceal the actual mileage on more than 150 used motor vehicles, as well as the vehicles’ operating conditions and sale price.
McCray acted as a straw buyer of used vehicle for 4th Avenue and assisted in having his name used on sale documents, applications for vehicle titles, and titles of dozens of used motor vehicles.
He as strictly as “nominee buyer” for 4th Avenue, Bradley McCorkle, Bell, and sometimes Keithen McCorkle and McFarlin.
McCray was paid around $30 in cash by Bradley McCorkle for each vehicle McCray fraudulently titled in his name.
By having vehicles put in his name and applying for vehicle titles in Davenport, McCray facilitated the “washing” of the title histories, which included removing the mileage figure that appeared on the titles.
He did not reset or alter the odometers of the motor vehicles but made false and fraudulent representations when he applied for titles and engaged in “phantom, false, and illusory” transactions to that it appeared he bought the vehicles when he had not.
McCray further concealed the amount of money involved in the vehicle transactions including the prices paid for the vehicles.
McCray is not a mechanic and had no tools or other means to repair a motor vehicle. “Bills of Sale” produced by 4th Avenue in connection with motor vehicle transactions purportedly between 4th Avenue and McCray contained notations that some or all of these sales were “mechanics specials.”
These were false representations by McCorkle that allowed the vehicles to appear to have a lower value when applying for the title, thus reducing taxes and fees.
McCray was aware that the vehicles placed in his name were changing hands through 4th Avenue and being sold by third parties, including McFarlin, Keithen McCorkle, and others.
He also was aware of the vehicle he purportedly purchased as a straw buyer was being advertised for sale online, including through postings on Craigslist.
Around Dec. 5, 2014, 4th Avenue purchased a 2008 Dodge Caliber from Central Petroleum Company in Blue Grass. The vehicle at the time of purchase had an odometer reading of 177,700 miles.
Ten days later, 4th Avenue assigned the title, which listed an odometer reading of 45,584 miles, to McCray. He then reassigned it back to 4th Avenue with 45,584 miles.
Around Dec. 23, 2014, the vehicle was reassigned from 4th Avenue to an unwitting buyer showing that it had 45,708 miles on it.
McCray executed the false title application, claiming to own the vehicle, but he did not pay 4th Avenue and never took possession of it, according to the plea agreement.
Bradley McCorkle and Bell are each charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, six counts of wire fraud, 10 counts of tampering with a motor vehicle odometer, and securities fraud involving a motor vehicle.
Keithen McCorkle, McFarlin, and Martinez are each charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and six counts of wire fraud.
A trial is scheduled Sept. 29.
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