Car sellers scam customers, dealership - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Car sellers scam customers, dealership

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

September 4, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The former General Manager at an Albany car dealership is in jail on charges he stole from customers.

He and another former salesman at the Carl Gregory Chrysler dealership in Albany are accused of stealing up to $9,000 from six customers and from the dealership.

Thursday, one of them is in jail and the other on the run. Joseph Martin and Bo Kennedy face a total of 18 counts of theft for a month and a half long scam that started in June. They got caught when customers showed up complaining that their down payments weren't applied to their new cars.

Carl Gregory Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Hyundai of Albany believes customer service is number one. When a customer complained that her monthly payments on her new car were too high, they became concerned.

"She went up to an employee who is a financial officer and handed him the receipt and he saw that it wasn't a Carl Gregory receipt, he then blew the whistle on them when he found out what they were doing," said Captain Craig Dodd with the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators say, General Manager Joseph Cliff Martin and top salesman Kenneth "Bo" Kennedy were taking customer's cash payments and pocketing the money, then hiding their crime in the paperwork. Vehicles that were traded in were parked on the back of the lot and never paid off.

"People may come in and they have cash and the people involved in this scheme were scooping the cash and putting it in their pockets, and substituting a rebate in lieu of the cash, and the customer basically isn't any the wiser," said Carl Gregory, the dealership's owner.

Other managers at Carl Gregory were, and they called the Dougherty County Sheriff's office. Former sales manager Joseph Martin was arrested at his apartment at Marsh Landing where they also found one of Carl Gregory's missing vehicles. Another vehicle is linked to a drug bust.

"One of these vehicles ended up as I understand being involved in some sort of traffic stop in Florida with the DEA," said Dodd.

Investigators have talked with Bo Kennedy about turning himself in, but he hasn't. Carl Gregory has reimbursed the six customers who were victimized and taken measures to ensure nothing like this happens again.

"It's our customer, that's the life blood of my business and again we've spent so much time and effort over 20 years that we don't want a couple of folks to tear that relationship up. I mean we're going to be proactive any time we see anything at any one of our stores," said Gregory.

We did our own investigation and found that Bo Kennedy is no stranger to law enforcement. Since 1998 he's been charged with multiple accounts of Deposit Account Fraud, Aggravated assault, terroristic threats, criminal trespass, and three counts of battery.

This case remains and open investigation, which means additional charges and arrests are a strong possibility.

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