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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Virginia

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tennessee Man Pleads To Mail Fraud

Benjamin Stiltner Admitted To Lying About Wrecker Sales

ROANOKE, VIRGINIA -- The owner of a truck dealership in Kingsport, Tennessee, pleaded guilty this afternoon in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Roanoke to a mail fraud charge associated with a floor plan loan he received from the Shelor Chevrolet Corporation.

Benjamin Black Stiltner, 55, of Piney Flats, Tenn., pled guilty today in U.S. District Court to one count of mail fraud.

“Mr. Stiltner repeatedly lied about the sales of vehicles by his dealership, causing substantial financial loss to his victims,” United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said today. “The United States Attorney’s Office will pursue all manner of financial fraud and attempt to bring those responsible to justice.”

According to evidence presented at today’s guilty plea hearing by Assistant United States Attorney C. Patrick Hogeboom III, Stiltner owned and operated Cherokee Wrecker Sales, a truck dealership in Kingsport, Tenn. In March 2006, the defendant entered into a floor-plan financial agreement with Shelor Chevrolet Corporation located in Christiansburg, Va.

Under the terms of the agreement, Shelor financed the purchase of wreckers for Cherokee, but maintained custody of the vehicles’ original titles until each vehicle was sold. Upon the sale of a vehicle, Cherokee was required to pay Shelor’s purchase cost, all accrued interest and one half of the gross profits of the sale. In September 2006, Shelor required Cherokee to make interest only payments to Shelor for all unsold vehicles.

Stiltner admitted today that between September 26, 2006 and October 2008, he failed to notify Shelor that he had sold nine vehicles. The defendant obtained replacement titles for the vehicles he sold by contacting the previous owners of the vehicles and requesting duplicate titles.

The defendant concealed the sales from Shelor by continuing to make interest only payments for the vehicles sold outside the agreement. Stiltner also called Shelor several times to make assurances that wreckers he surreptitiously sold were still in his possession on the Cherokee lot. The defendant also emailed old photos of the wreckers on the Cherokee lot to Shelor as proof that the vehicles were still for sale.

In October 2008, Shelor referred a customer to Cherokee to look at a wrecker. The customer reported back to Shelor that the wrecker in question was not on the Cherokee lot. When the owner of Shelor contacted Stiltner, the defendant admitted to selling the nine vehicles outside of the agreement.

In all, Shelor suffered losses in excess of $250,000. Shelor was also unable to recover most of the sold vehicles because the purchasers were innocent buyers and not part of the scheme.

At sentencing, Stiltner faces a maximum possible penalty of up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service with the assistance of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. Assistant United States Attorney C. Patrick Hogeboom III will prosecute the case for the United States.

Updated April 14, 2015