Norman Car Dealership Executives Charged With Wire Fraud Conspiracy, Forgery, and Identity Theft in Subprime Auto Loans
OKLAHOMA CITY – A federal indictment charges BOBBY CHRIS MAYES, 48, CHARLES GOOCH, 61, and COURTNEY WELLS, 35, all residents of Norman, with 25 counts of wire fraud, conspiracy, issuing forged securities, and aggravated identity theft, announced Timothy J. Downing, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.
On September 16, 2020, a federal grand jury returned an indictment alleging that from January 2014 to March 2019, Mayes, Gooch, and Wells utilized their positions as co-owners of the Big Red Dealerships (Big Red Sports/Imports, Big Red Kia, Norman Yamaha, Norman Mitsubishi, and Mayes Kia) to engage in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud in which they sought to obtain millions of dollars of loan proceeds. The indictment further alleges the defendants made materially false statements and omissions to the lenders about the type, source, and amount of borrowers’ down payments or vehicle trade-ins, and bribed at least one loan officer.
According to the indictment, the Big Red Dealerships used advertisements to target potential customers with poor credit. Mayes, Gooch, and Wells fraudulently induced lenders to approve loans for such customers by documenting that the customers provided cash down payments or trade-in vehicles, even when neither transaction took place. The indictment alleges at least one lender approved questionable loans after being provided with cash bribes from a Big Red Dealership manager. It is alleged that, on the defendants’ instruction, Big Red Dealership employees concealed the ongoing criminal conduct, even forging the signatures of customers who supposedly provided cash down payments.
The indictment alleges approximately 476 loans were approved based on false cash down payments, and roughly 636 loans were approved based on false vehicle trade-ins.
Count 1 charges all three defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Counts 2-13 charge all three defendants with wire fraud based on 12 loan packages sent to lenders for specific customers. If convicted of any of Counts 1-13, each defendant faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000.00 fine.
Counts 14-19 charge all three defendants with uttering forged securities based on checks forged by Big Red Dealership employees. If convicted of any of Counts 14-19, each defendant faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Counts 20-25 charge all three defendants with aggravated identity theft against the customers whose signatures were forged. If convicted of any of Counts 20-25, each defendant faces a mandatory term of imprisonment of 2 years to run consecutive to any other term of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
The public is reminded these charges are merely accusations and that the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Reference is made to court filings for further information. Attached is the indictment the federal grand jury returned in this matter. To download a photo of U.S. Attorney Downing, click here.
This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys K. McKenzie Anderson and Tom Snyder.