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Former Owner of Galesburg Custom Motorcycle Shop Charged with Defrauding Customers of $900,000

August 20, 2008

Peoria, Ill. - A federal grand jury today charged the former owner of a Galesburg, Illinois custom motorcycle shop, Chip S. Miyler, 40, with defrauding customers of approximately $900,000. According to the indictment, Miyler served as president of Mid-West Choppers, Incorporated, which operated from about February 2001 to October 2005, when the company filed bankruptcy. The indictment alleges that from April 2003 to October 2005, Miyler’s scheme defrauded approximately 25 customers who ordered custom-built motorcycles from the shop.

Miyler allegedly took money from customers as down payment and accepted motorcycles and other vehicles for trade-in value toward the manufacture and purchase of custom-made motorcycles; however, Miyler did not deliver the motorcycles and did not provide customers with a refund. Rather, the indictment alleges Miyler diverted customer funds to his personal use and benefit.

The indictment alleges that when customers contacted Miyler and Mid-West Choppers regarding the status of their motorcycle, they were given false information about when it would be completed. The indictment further alleges that when Miyler applied for a bank loan in October 2005, he falsely represented that the business possessed certain motorcycles which he pledged as collateral for the loan, when in fact, the motorcycles were sold and were not in Mid-West Choppers’ possession.

The indictment charges Miyler with five counts of mail fraud related to payments received from customers by mail; three counts of wire fraud related to wire transfer of funds from customers to Mid-West Choppers’ account; and one count of bank fraud. If convicted, each offense of mail, wire, and bank fraud carries a statutory penalty of up to 30 years in prison.

The charges are the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Darilynn J. Knauss.

A summons will be issued for Miyler to appear in federal court in Peoria at a date to be determined by the U.S. Clerk of the Court.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

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