A federal bankruptcy judge has ordered former Nogales car dealer Pat Beck and his wife Priscilla to pay $6,458 after intentionally misappropriating a customer’s auto financing in 2009 to pay the operating costs of their failing dealership.
James M. Marlar, chief judge at U.S. bankruptcy court for the District of Arizona, announced the ruling in a June 11 memorandum decision that also ordered the Becks to pay unspecified attorney fees and $711 in court costs for plaintiff Javier G. Campos.
According to the judge’s memorandum, Campos bought a 2009 Dodge Ram truck from Beck’s Nogales dealership on March 7, 2009 for a little more than $29,000. As part of the deal, which included a trade-in of Campos’ 2006 Lincoln Zephyr and rebates, Campos obtained a new bank loan for just under $21,000, which he gave to Beck to pay off the balance of his previous loan for the Zephyr.
However, the judge wrote, “The dealership received the monies from the new loan for the pay-off, but kept the money and never paid off the original loan to the bank.”
Instead, Beck sent a check to the bank on April 28, 2009 that bounced. When Campos complained, Beck signed a new $20,000 check to the bank and Campos was given a copy of it “in order to placate him into thinking that his loan to the bank was being appropriately paid off,” Marlar wrote. But the check was never sent.
“To add to the ever-
increasing tangle of lies,” he wrote, “Mr. Beck signed and sent, to the bank, a dealership check for only $1,000, which did clear.” Then on July 22, 2009, Beck’s dealership went out of business.
By Dec. 3, 2009, the bank had repossessed and sold the Lincoln Zephyr, leaving Campos with a deficiency obligation to the bank of $9,946 with an interest rate of $1.57 per day.
In June 2010, Beck began making periodic payments to Campos’ lawyer, but the payments, totaling $5,200, ended Nov. 22, 2010.
The Becks filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on March 15, 2012 and the bank continued to pursue Campos for his debt on the car loan.
“Beck’s actions are both deliberate and malicious. Such conduct has ruined Campos’ credit rating,” attorney Charles Slack-Mendez wrote in a complaint filed on April 9, 2011.
In his ruling, Marlar wrote that Beck’s treatment of Campos was not an isolated incident.
“Mr. Beck testified that 3-4 other people had ‘similar problems’ as Mr. Campos, meaning that the dealership had converted funds intended for customer payoffs for the use of the dealership,” he wrote.
In a story published Nov. 2, 2009 in the NI, Santa Cruz County Attorney George Silva said his office had forwarded at least nine such cases to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. The status of those cases was not immediately clear.