Jury convicts Norman car dealership executives of wire fraud, conspiracy

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A typo in the original version has been corrected.

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A federal jury has convicted three Oklahomans on multiple charges related to a car dealership.

On Sept. 16, 2020, a federal grand jury returned an indictment alleging that Bobby Mayes, Charles Gooch, and Courtney Wells used their positions as co-owners of the Big Red Dealerships to engage in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud from January 2014 to March 2019.

The indictment alleges that the defendants made false statements and omissions to lenders about the type, source, and amount of borrowers’ down payments or vehicle trade-ins, and bribed at least one loan officer.

During the trial, the jury heard testimony that the Big Red Dealerships used advertisements to target potential customers with poor credit. It also heard that Mayes, Gooch, and Wells then fraudulently induced lenders to approve loans for those customers by documenting that the customers provided cash down payments and traded in vehicles when that was untrue.

The jury heard testimony that in late 2014, one lender discovered those fake cash down payments and Mayes emailed threats to the CEO in an effort to stop the lender from further investigating.

From 2015, to 2017, federal prosecutors say at least 519 customers had their down payment based on a pawned item provided to Norman Pawn & Gun, a pawn shop owned by Gooch. However, it was never open for business and never had any employees.

After loan proceeds were received from lenders, Big Red Dealership employees generated checks to the customers, forged the customers’ signatures on the backs, deposited the checks in Big Red Dealership accounts, and fully reimbursed Norman Pawn & Gun for the purported down payments. 

On at least 542 occasions, a vehicle was never provided to the Big Red Dealerships, but a trade-in was listed on loan documents.

Also, officials say at least one lender approved loans for up to two to three times the value of vehicles being purchased after a manager gave cash bribes to a loan officer and the dealership provided fake invoices to justify the inflated prices.

The jury convicted Mayes, Gooch, and Wells of multiple counts of wire fraud, conspiracy, issuing forged securities, and aggravated identity theft.

Sentencing will take place in approximately 90 days.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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