Columbia Car Dealer Owner Pleads Guilty in $139,788 Fraud Scheme

Re-Deposited Checks from Car Buyers

May 7, 2012

Greenbelt, Maryland - Taurus F. Dean, Sr., age 44, of Centreville, Virginia, pleaded guilty today to wire fraud in connection with a fraudulent check deposit scheme.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge David Beach of the United States Secret Service – Washington Field Office.

According to his plea, Dean owned and operated Leggs Automotive Group, which bought and sold used cars in Columbia, Maryland. Dean opened two bank accounts under his business’s name which provided him with the ability to deposit business checks remotely by way of digitized images sent to the banks over an internet connection. Dean used the banks’ remote deposit system to deposit legitimate checks he had received from other car dealers and a car auction company in payment for cars he sold to them. On several occasions, beginning in November 2010, however, Dean later re-deposited the same checks, sometimes multiple times, knowing that the checks had already cleared at least once. To fool the banks’ processing systems, Dean would alter the check numbers on the re-deposited checks so the systems would fail to detect that the checks were the same as those that had already cleared.

In addition to using the fraudulently received funds for business expenses, Dean used the scheme’s proceeds to pay for vacations, clothing, dining and entertainment. As a result of the scheme, the total loss suffered by the banks and an insurer of one defrauded car dealer whose checks Dean re-deposited was $139,788.

Dean faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of $1 million. As part of his plea agreement, Dean has agreed to pay restitution of $139,788. U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. scheduled his sentencing for August 29, 2012 at 9:30 a.m.

This law enforcement action is part of President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein praised Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam K. Ake, who is prosecuting the case.

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