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Former South Carolina dealer Johnny Dangerfield has pleaded not guilty to federal bank fraud charges.
On May 11, Dangerfield, who previously owned Suzuki dealerships in Moncks Corner, Summerville, Myrtle Beach and Easley, a Pontiac-Buick-GMC dealership in Easley and a Subaru-Isuzu dealership in Charleston, was indicted for allegedly selling cars and then failing to pay the bank on his floor plan line of credit.
The indictment alleges that Dangerfield, and four co-defendants also charged, obtained a $3.8 million line of credit from Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank to purchase nearly 200 cars between July 2004 and February 2009.
Dangerfield shuttered his Suzuki and Subaru stores in 2009.
Also charged are Robert George Low, Daniel James, Cory Cadden, Lloyd Ray Hayes and Jeffrey Michael Belsky.
The federal indictment also alleges that Dangerfield and his co-defendants conspired to falsify bills of sale and sales dates to receive incentive cash from Suzuki.
According to court documents, one defendant allegedly represented the purchase of a vehicle by his dog.
Despite the allegations, which came following an investigation by the IRS Criminal Investigations Unit, Dangerfield proclaims his innocence.
The day after the indictment, the former dealer’s attorney, Charleston, S.C.-based Lionel S. Lofton, said that his client “vehemently denies” the bank fraud charges.
According to Lofton, it’s difficult to believe the alleged illegal activity outlined in the indictment could have occurred since Dangerfield was audited by the IRS in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
Also, Lofton said that at the conclusion of the IRS audit, the government refunded Dangerfield more than $400,000.
“Additionally, what makes this alleged illegal activity more difficult to understand is that during the indictment period, (Dangerfield) paid Fifth Third Bank interest on his floor plan in excess of $5 million,” Lofton said in a statement.
Also, he added that his client agreed to, and paid, a settlement of $1.8 million before the federal investigation began.
The conspiracy to commit bank fraud charge carries a maximum of 30 years in prison.
The conspiracy to commit money laundering charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison, and the criminal-structuring charges each carry a maximum of five years in prison.