A federal grand jury has handed down a perjury indictment against a former Honda district sales manager accused of lying in a dealer lawsuit against the company.
A 30-year-old New Jersey zone employee, Greg Savoy, was fired last year over the flap. He now faces federal prosecution on two counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice.
The case centers around the large, nationwide class-action lawsuit against American Honda Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. Ltd. More than 80 current and former Honda dealers are suing the automaker. They allege that years of well-documented management corruption cost them vehicle sales and profits.
Last year, one of the litigating dealers secretly tape-recorded Savoy over lunch in a New Jersey delicatessen, making comments that suggested Honda intended to discriminate against dealers who participated in the lawsuit.
Savoy and other Honda employees later filed sworn statements with the U.S. District Court in Baltimore, saying that they knew of no such plan to discriminate.
When the tape-recording surfaced, Honda's lawyers withdrew the sworn statements and a federal judge ordered the perjury investigation.
Stephen Schenning, an assistant U.S. attorney on the case, declined last week to say whether the grand jury is still hearing evidence involving the other sworn statements.
One of the statements was filed by Savoy's boss at the time, former Northeast Zone Manager John Seybold.
Schenning also declined to discuss any implications the charges against the low-level sales manager might have for the Baltimore-based civil case.
According to the indictment, the Justice Department believes Savoy was lying in his 1997 affidavit when he stated, 'I am aware of no policy, rule, statement or suggestion that dealers who are suing Honda should be treated differently in any respect than any other dealer.'
Lawyers representing the dealers suing Honda have alleged that the automaker was trying to discourage dealers from participating in the lawsuit, in violation of instructions from U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz of Baltimore.
Honda has denied that allegation.
Efforts last week to reach Savoy's attorney and Savoy, at his home in Cherry Hill, N.J., were unsuccessful.