More than 400 charges dismissed against dealership employees

Prosecutor claims ”no criminal intent” and “no victims.”
Prosecutor claims ”no criminal intent” and “no victims.”
Published: Nov. 6, 2023 at 5:40 PM EST
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SHELBY, N.C. (WBTV) – More than 400 criminal charges filed against employees of a local car dealership have been dismissed after prosecutors and investigators determined “there was no criminal intent” and “no victims.”

The dismissal from Cleveland County District Attorney Mike Miller comes after a months-long WBTV Investigation revealing the dealership was selling salvaged flooded cars, and a Department of Motor Vehicles investigation determined that damage was not always disclosed.

In August, 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.

According to court dismissal paperwork filed for all 12 of the defendants, prosecutor Katherine Sawyer wrote, “Per the investigating agency, there was no criminal intent on the on the defendant’s part with regard to these charges.” She went on to write, “There are no victims, and no restitution is owed to any parties.”

Nissan of Shelby customer David Lyons says he is disappointed with the prosecutor’s decision.

“I feel like I’m a victim. I feel like I’ve got ripped off,” Lyons said.

Lyons bought a 2021 Rogue from Nissan of Shelby earlier this year but says he immediately started receiving calls from the banks financing the deal.

“First thing to ask me was how do you like your panoramic sunroof in your heated seats and your steering wheel,” Lyons said they asked. “Well I don’t have none of that.”

Lyons says he returned to the dealership and worked out another financing deal with the former General Manager, Sam Kazran. The same day, he says he received another call from the financing company.

“Well, do you like your big panoramic sunroof?” he says they asked. “I don’t have one,” Lyons says he responded.

Lyons says he was sold a car with only the basic features but the banks were calling with paperwork showing the vehicle was fully loaded with all the bells and whistles.

“And then the general manager (Kazran), he told me, well, you should years went along,” Lyons said.

Lyons told WBTV his credit was run 27 times, and his credit reported he missed payments on cars that he had traded in or didn’t even posses yet. He says it cratered his credit from a 760 to a 560.

Kazran did not respond to WBTV’s request for comment via email.

Statement from Cleveland County DA Michael Miller

“During meetings with the investigating agency, we were told that they did not believe that any of the individuals charged had any criminal intent with regard to the charges. Additionally, Shelby Nissan and their employees have since come into compliance with DMV’s requirements and corrected all errors that lead to these charges. Agents advised that no one was deceived in what type of title they were acquiring and that no one was owed restitution. Apparently no one is claiming that they did not get the benefit of their bargain. Therefore, dismissals were filed today in open court in each of the related matters, which is how we typically handle these types of cases, when the dealer cooperates and comes into compliance with DMV.”

Statement from NC License and Theft Bureau Capt. James Walston

“Following an inquiry from WBTV earlier this year, the License & Theft Bureau began investigating transactions at Nissan of Shelby. This investigation uncovered numerous and significant errors that were made to title work associated with used vehicle purchases at this franchise dealer. The Cleveland County District Attorney’s Office was consulted and supported the charges that were filed in August. Since the charges were filed, the dealer has taken action to correct the volume of errors that were made, and the Bureau is aware of efforts to make the customers whole. It is ultimately within the DA’s discretion whether to proceed to trial. The Division of Motor Vehicles retains the ability to pursue civil and/or administrative action against this franchise dealer and/or its employees.”