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Restitution made to car dealer’s victims

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By Sharon Graves

By SHARON GRAVES

The News-Democrat

The case against Todd Nelson is officially closed, and the former owner of the Carrollton Chrysler dealership will not be prosecuted for any crimes.

The dealership closed earlier this year after Nelson defaulted on loans from Chrysler Financial and breeched contracts to the tune of $2 million.

“There will be no criminal charges filed with regard to the investigation,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Crawford.

All 63 victims to whom Nelson owed money have been reimbursed, said victims’ advocate Leigh Ann Roberts. “Their issues have been satisfied. We have recovered $98,093.91 for the victims.”

The investigation into dealings at the Todd Nelson Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep dealership started in August, when Chrysler Corporation sued Nelson for default and breech of contract, seeking more than $2 million in missing funds.

Victims fell into three basic categories: those who had traded-in vehicles to buy new ones; those who had bought vehicles there; and business that provided services to the dealership.

In addition to money owed to Chrysler, Nelson did not pay off the trade-ins and did not pay the taxes and title fees for cars sold that the dealership had financed, as is required.

“All the money recovered has come directly from Mr. Nelson,” Roberts said. “He has met with me on a weekly basis since August, and he has fully cooperated and taken care of any issue that has been outstanding.”

The situation has caused problems for eight people who had traded-in cars and thought their old loans had been paid off. But, though they no longer had the old vehicles, they weren’t paid off and they still owed taxes and license fees for the new vehicles they’d purchased and had been paid to Todd Nelson, Roberts said.

Others found problems with insurance, warrantees and other paperwork that wasn’t completed and filed by Nelson. Many of those issues didn’t surface until months later, Roberts said.

Nelson reimbursed all victims and also has paid all money owed to about five local businesses, Roberts said. Those businesses include The News-Democrat.

Other businesses with outstanding payments may still file civil charges against Nelson to get their money back.

Roberts said that even though Nelson won’t face criminal charges, he didn’t get off easy.

“The business is gone, and we got 63 victims their money back. He did make good on it,” she said. “It would be a far different conversation ... if restitution had not been paid. If 63 victims were owed $100,000, we could have gone through an entire criminal process and restitution would have been ordered, and we might not have gotten it.”