Shelby car dealership employees hit with 400+ criminal charges

NC DMV agents filed charges after months-long investigation into Nissan of Shelby
NC DMV agents filed charges after months-long investigation into Nissan of Shelby
Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 3:53 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 15, 2023 at 6:15 PM EDT
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SHELBY, N.C. (WBTV) – A dozen current and former employees of a local car dealership are facing a total of more than 400 criminal charges.

The charges stem from an investigation by the N.C. DMV’s License and Theft Bureau into Nissan of Shelby. The dealership itself was not charged.

A press release from the DMV announcing the charges said the investigation started as one centered into the process the dealership used to rebuild the titles of salvage cars but expanded after investigators began gathering evidence.

The charges filed on Tuesday allege employees at Nissan of Shelby failed to disclose damage to customers, didn’t inspect vehicles being sold and neglected to transfer titles to car buyers.

The charges come five months after a WBTV Investigation found totaled cars and flooded vehicles listed for sale by Nissan of Shelby and sold to unsuspecting customers.

In February, WBTV started digging on the website autoAstat, searching thousands of past vehicle auctions. We found nearly a dozen cars Nissan of Shelby either bought or sold at insurance salvage auctions with several of them ending up for sale on their website.

More charges were brought for improper use of temporary tags and false statements about the sale date of cars.

The NCDMV says Nissan of Shelby customers can contact the DMV License and Theft Bureau by sending info through License & Theft’s online portal.

Since WBTV’s original investigation, Nissan of Shelby General Manager Sam Kazran has left the dealership and is no longer employed there. However, Kazran told WBTV that he is still working for the parent company Auto Gallery, which owns a dozen dealerships across Georgia and the Carolinas.

Kazran is charged with 110 counts of failure to inspect vehicle prior to being offered for sale.

In a text message Kazran told WBTV “At this moment I do not have enough information to adequately respond to your inquiry. I can point out however that NCGS 20-183(.4)(c) does not apply to me, for I am not a technician or license(d) to inspect motor vehicles.”

WBTV spoke with Auto Gallery Chief Operating Officer Martin Del Castillo over the phone on Tuesday. Castillo claimed Kazran is no longer with Nissan of Shelby and also said the charges will be dismissed.

“I can tell you that we’ve gone through all of the records along with DMV and we have signatures in every one of the documents where it has been disclosed, when it was a flood vehicle or any type of vehicle, it was signed by the customer,” Castillo said.

Castillo said that Nissan of Shelby didn’t do anything wrong. When asked whether customers with outstanding issues should visit the dealership to get those problems resolved, Castillo said “no.”

Our research uncovered a history of problems Kazran faced working at dealerships in other states.

Kazran used to own car dealerships across Florida, including Hyundai of North Jacksonville. In 2012, the Federal Election Commission received an order from a judge against Kazran finding that his business illegally reimbursed nearly $68,000 to dealership employees who donated to the political campaign of his business partner, Florida Congressman Vern Buchanan.

Court records show he also has financial troubles.

In 2015, he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy claiming he owed $43 million to creditors. In a civil lawsuit filed in Florida in 2017, a lender claims Kazran failed to pay back a $1.5 million loan. The lender repossessed cars from one of Kazran’s dealerships as collateral, but they claim he then stole two of them back and listed them for sale on another dealership website.

Kazran was arrested after he was found in contempt of court in another civil lawsuit filed against him but he has never been convicted of any crime related to running a dealership.

Records obtained by WBTV show Kazran was granted a sales representative license in North Carolina in 2020. The only thing that would disqualify him is being convicted of a crime related to vehicle sales. A spokesperson for NCDMV said it would be up to the review board whether Kazran can maintain that license.

Tuesday, Nissan of Shelby posted a video to their Facebook page about the newly announced charges.

The case is being prosecuted by Cleveland County District Attorney Mike Miller.