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Federal indictment includes jailed former auto dealership general manager Grooms

ERIE — A new federal indictment has been filed against an Erie auto dealership and three Erie County men on charges they conspired to commit wire fraud and wire fraud for allegedly defrauding auto loan companies.

Named as defendants in the 13-count indictment were Rick Weaver Buick GMC Inc., 714 W. 12th St., Erie; Adam J. Weaver, 41, 6924 Sheffield Drive, Fairview; Adam B. Coover, 35, 3709 Harbor Ridge Trail, Erie; and Douglas A. Grooms, 46, 2003 Creekside Drive, Edinboro.

Grooms, the former general manager of Community Chevrolet Inc. of Meadville, currently is serving a federal prison term on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for taking $485,800 during a more than five-year period as general manager of the Meadville car dealership. Grooms pleaded guilty to taking $485,800 from Community Chevrolet between June 2008 through September 2013 while employed as the car dealership’s general manager and using the money for his own benefit. Grooms was terminated in January 2014.

In 2016, Grooms was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Erie to a two-year prison term followed by two years of probation. He is scheduled to be released from prison June 3, 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons online records.

According to the new superseding indictment announced Thursday by the U.S. attorney for western Pennsylvania, Coover, Grooms and Adam Weaver defrauded the auto loan firms by using two straw purchasers between May 2015 and March 2016. The new indictment supersedes a 12-count indictment against the three men and the business from last September, according to the U.S. attorney.

A straw purchase of a vehicle is when the individual who buys the vehicle is not the person who is going to use it. Straw purchasers are given the money to pay for the vehicles and turn them over to the real buyers after the transactions.

The straw purchasers would buy vehicles in their own names from Rick Weaver Buick GMC, but the vehicles purchased would then actually remain in Coover’s possession, according to Christian Trabold, the assistant U.S. attorney who is prosecuting the case.

Coover, Grooms and Adam Weaver falsified the loan applications to make the straw purchasers appear more credit worthy and by not revealing that the straw purchasers were buying multiple vehicles at the same time, according to the indictment. The value of many of the vehicles also was inflated to increase the funds received by Coover, Grooms and Adam Weaver, according to the indictment.

If convicted of all charges, Grooms, Coover and Rick Weaver Buick GMC Inc. each face a maximum total sentence of 340 years in prison and a $8.5 million fine.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pennsylvania State Police and the Erie Police Department conducted investigations leading both indictments. 

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

Article source: http://www.meadvilletribune.com/news/local_news/federal-indictment-includes-jailed-former-auto-dealership-general-manager-grooms/article_f1f726e1-c536-5982-93bd-f15e1b42f313.html

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