States Attorney's Office District of Connecticut
|April 29, 2010||
FORMER MAJORITY OWNER OF SHORELINE MITSUBISHI SENTENCED TO FEDERAL PRISON
Nora R. Dannehy, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that ANTHONY HERNANDEZ, 60, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, formerly of Easton, Connecticut, was sentenced today by Senior United States District Judge Ellen Bree Burns in New Haven to 12 months and one day of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release. Judge Burns also ordered HERNANDEZ to pay a fine in the amount of $10,000. On December 21, 2005, HERNANDEZ, who was the majority owner of the now-defunct Shoreline Mitsubishi automobile dealership, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud stemming from his involvement in a scheme to submit false credit applications to a New Jersey-based lender.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in 1997, HERNANDEZ, who is also a certified public accountant and an attorney, established Shoreline Motors Corporation, which owned the assets of Shoreline Mitsubishi in Branford, Connecticut. In 2000-2001, HERNANDEZ was the sole owner of Shoreline Motors Corporation. In early 2002, HERNANDEZ transferred 25 percent of Shoreline Motors Corporation’s stock to Shoreline Mitsubishi’s General Manager, Angel Hernandez, who is not related to ANTHONY HERNANDEZ.
Fairlane Credit, a now-defunct lender based in New Jersey, provided financing to some customers who purchased cars at Shoreline Mitsubishi. In some instances, Fairlane Credit required customers to provide a down payment as part of the purchase to provide an incentive to the customers to make their monthly payments. Between approximately December 2000 and August 2001, Shoreline Mitsubishi on occasion submitted false credit applications and other documents through interstate wires to Fairlane Credit indicating that customers had provided cash down payments to Shoreline Mitsubishi when, in fact, Shoreline Mitsubishi had not collected such down payments from the customers. HERNANDEZ has admitted that he knew of and condoned this practice. Also, in Shoreline Mitsubishi’s books and records, HERNANDEZ indicated that the dealership had received down payments from these customers when, in reality, the dealership had not done so. At Shoreline Mitsubishi, these bogus down payments were called “Fugazys.”
In September 2005, a federal jury convicted Angel Hernandez and three former Shoreline Mitsubishi salespersons of conspiracy, mail fraud, and wire fraud charges involving a scheme at Shoreline Mitsubishi to defraud Mitsubishi Motors Credit of America, Inc. (“MMCA”) and Shoreline Mitsubishi’s customers. Eight other employees of the dealership, as well as Shoreline Motors Corporation, pleaded guilty to related charges prior to the trial.
The evidence at trial revealed that, in addition to defrauding MMCA and Shoreline Mitsubishi’s customers, Angel Hernandez and several other defendants on occasion took for themselves actual cash down payments provided by customers in connection with MMCA-financed purchases, and indicated to ANTHONY HERNANDEZ that the cash down payments shown on the transaction documents were, similar to some of the Fairlane Credit purchases, “Fugazys,” or nonexistent down payments.
ANTHONY HERNANDEZ is the last Shoreline Mitsubishi-related defendant to be sentenced.
On August 4, 2009, Angel Hernandez was sentenced to 60-months of imprisonment.
Shoreline Mitsubishi went out of business in 2003.
This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Secret Service, and the Branford Police Department. The Connecticut State Police, the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Guilford Police Department also provided assistance in this case.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael S. McGarry and Jonathan Biran, with the assistance of paralegal specialist Amy Konarski.
U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
Department of Justice
Project Safe Neighborhoods