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Old 03-12-09, 03:07 AM
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Updated** Police make 3 arrests in Neb. missing-car case

3 execs, 81 cars missing from Nebraska dealership
By ERIC OLSON, Associated Press Writer Eric Olson, Associated Press Writer – Wed Mar 11, 7:13 pm ET


Automobiles from Legacy Ford Lincoln Mercury Toyota in Scottsbluff, Neb., are loaded onto a truck Monday night, March 9, 2009. Some of the dozens of new cars that vanished from the western Nebraska car dealership have turned up in other states and warrants have been issued for three missing executives, a prosecutor said Wednesday. Chief deputy county attorney John Childress of Scotts Bluff County said seven of the cars were found Wednesday at an auto auction in Utah. Others were found in Arizona, but he didn't know the number.
(AP Photo/The Star-Herald, Roger Holsinger)


OMAHA, Neb. – Scores of new cars vanished from a western Nebraska car dealership and a prosecutor said Wednesday that some had turned up in other states and warrants had been issued for three missing executives.

The 81 Fords and Toyotas taken from Legacy Auto Sales in Scottsbluff were valued at about $2.5 million.

The Fords were put on transporter trucks and taken away Saturday and the Toyotas were shipped out late Monday, John Childress, Scotts Bluff County's chief deputy county attorney, said Wednesday.

Childress said arrest warrants had been issued for owner Allen Patch, controller Rachel Fait and general manager Rick Covello, who are wanted on suspicion of theft.

"Employees were expecting these people to be in Tuesday morning, and they were surprised no one was there," Childress said. "It is not an expected departure."

Covello called Scottsbluff police on Wednesday afternoon and said he would meet with investigators on Thursday, Capt. Kevin Spencer said. The whereabouts of Patch and Fait remained unknown, Spencer said.

Miranda Cervantes, the dealership's title manager, told the Scottsbluff Star-Herald she returned to work Tuesday after a day off and found the lot was virtually empty. She said the desks of Patch, Fait and Covello had been cleaned out.

The FBI traced two dozen vehicles to Salt Lake City, including 16 that had been sold at one auto auction, Spencer said. He said police also found six at the Scottsbluff airport, and the FBI located other vehicles in Las Vegas, but he didn't know how many.

Spencer refuted an earlier report from Childress that some of the vehicles had been found in Arizona.

Justin Leach, a spokesman for Toyota Financing in Torrance, Calif., said Patch financed the Toyotas and Fords through his company.

Legacy has had financial problems, Childress said, and authorities suspect Patch and his associates were looking to sell the vehicles to auction houses and keep the proceeds rather than pay Toyota Financing. He said the three have no criminal records in Nebraska.

All three previously lived in Utah, and the FBI and law enforcement agencies in several western states were searching for them, Childress said.

Leach said there are some provisions that would allow a dealer to move vehicles.

"But if the dealer and the cars go missing, there's an issue," he said.

Most of the missing cars were Toyotas, but Childress didn't have an exact number.

All 81 cars had valid temporary titles, as required by state law, Childress said.

Despite the missing new cars and executives, Legacy Auto Sales remained open Wednesday. Cervantes did not respond to calls seeking additional comment.

Scottsbluff is 470 miles west of Omaha.

___

On the Net:

Legacy: http://www.legacyfordscottsbluff.com

3 execs, 81 cars missing from Nebraska dealership
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Old 03-14-09, 11:29 AM
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Police make 3 arrests in Neb. missing-car case
Police arrest 3 executives in case of 81 cars missing from troubled Neb. dealership
Josh Funk, Associated Press Writer
Thursday March 12, 2009, 3:33 pm EDT

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Police have arrested three executives from a troubled Nebraska car dealership where 81 vehicles worth roughly $2.5 million -- as well as the executives themselves -- vanished in recent days.

Legacy's owner Allen Patch, 52, and controller Rachel Fait, 37 were arrested separately in Tooele County, Utah. The dealership's 53-year-old general manager, Rick Covello, turned himself in to Scottsbluff police Thursday morning, Capt. Kevin Spencer said.

An arrest warrant affidavit said that Fait may have embezzled more than $46,000 from the dealership in Scottsbluff, a western Nebraska town. The three were wanted on suspicion of theft.

About two dozen vehicles missing from the Scottsbluff dealership were traced to Salt Lake City, and at least 16 of those had been sold at an auto auction. Six others were found at the Scottsbluff airport, and the FBI found some of the other vehicles in Las Vegas.

Legacy has had financial problems, said John Childress, Scotts Bluff County's chief deputy county attorney. Authorities suspect Patch and his associates were looking to sell the vehicles to auction houses and keep the proceeds rather than pay Toyota Financing. He said the three have no criminal records in Nebraska.

The missing vehicles were all Fords and Toyotas. The Fords were put on transporter trucks and taken away Saturday and the Toyotas were shipped out late Monday, Childress said.

On Tuesday a representative for Toyota Financing contacted police to report the vehicles stolen, and two employees of the dealership contacted police that day with concerns, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

One of the employees showed police documents that indicated Fait had taken more than $46,000 from the company over the past several months. One of the employees also told police that Fait used to keep a backpack with a large amount of cash at the dealership.

Miranda Cervantes, the dealership's title manager, told the Scottsbluff Star-Herald she returned to work Tuesday after a day off and found the lot was virtually empty. She said the desks of Patch, Fait and Covello had been cleaned out.

Cervantes has not responded to calls seeking additional comment.

Legacy Auto Sales remained open Thursday despite the missing cars.

Police make 3 arrests in Neb. missing-car case - Yahoo! Finance
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