A federal grand jury returned an indictment last week against three individuals who allegedly established a scheme to defraud a used automobile auction business in Tennessee. The defendants defrauded the Dealers Auto Auction Group of more than $2 million, the Department of Justice said.
The individuals charged were Stephanie Louise Baker, 53, and Brian Baker, 52. They are husband and wife and both from Mount Juliet, Tennessee. Jerry W. Hutchins, 48, of Dowelltown, Tennessee was also charged. All three surrendered to federal agents last Friday. They appeared in front of a U.S. Magistrate Judge the same day.
According to the indictment, the scheme took place between February 2017 and November 2018. At that time, Stephanie Baker was the General Manager of the Dealers Auto Auction Group’s Murfreesboro auction location. Brian Baker owned a used car lot called The Rite Car LLC and he purchased and sold cars for another used car lot called Cunningham Motors. Jerry Hutchins owned two used car dealerships, Hutchins Auto and L&J Auto Sales. Both men did business with the Murfreesboro auction house.
The scheme they allegedly devised was to create fake transactions to make it look like the defendants’ businesses had sold cars at the auction and were therefore entitled to funds from the Dealers Auto Auction Group. In reality, the defendants had not sold vehicles at the auction, the DOJ said. Stephanie Baker would allegedly issue checks to Brian Baker’s and Hutchins’ businesses based on the fake transactions. Each month they would create new fake transactions with the same vehicles in order to cover up the original fraud, the DOJ said. A 2007 Ford F-150 and a 2003 Saturn Vue were two of the vehicles used to conceal the unlawful activity, according to the indictment.
In total, the defendants allegedly defrauded the Dealers Auto Auction Group of more than $2 million. The defendants face up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and the concealment money laundering offenses. They face an additional 10 years for money laundering. In addition, the government is seeking the forfeiture of any property derived from the proceeds of the crimes. This includes a money judgment in the amount of at least $2,041,170 from Stephanie Baker, $1,357,310 from Brian Baker, and $683,830 from Hutchins.
The lawyers of the defendants and the Murfreesboro auction house did not immediately respond to Road & Track's request for comment.
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