A federal appeals court has upheld the conviction and prison sentence of a man who used a bogus credit application from a Michigan bank to finance a $58,815 Lexus he ordered from a Texas dealership.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati said Detrick Conerly fraudulently used the name and Social Security number of a dead man as an alias on a loan application in 1996.
The complicated story began in November 1996, when Conerly faxed a credit application in the name of 'Richard Hemingway' from a bank in Flint, Mich., to Sewell Lexus in Dallas.
Conerly, who lived in Michigan at the time, apparently saw the dealership's ad in an automotive magazine and ordered the car, a Lexus LS400, which he wanted to pick up at a Michigan dealership, according to his lawyer, Steven Nolder of Columbus, Ohio.
While processing the credit application, Sewell discovered Hemingway had died 13 months earlier and that the driver's license number provided in the application belonged to an alias.
In a court brief, the prosecution said, 'When Sewell Lexus began its credit-approval process, it discovered the person it knew as 'Richard Hemingway' had many credit inquiries and had attempted to purchase a new Porsche 911 valued at $102,000 from another dealership.'
The appeals court said, 'These discrepancies caused the dealership to contact the FBI, which quickly determined that (Conerly) was involved in the attempted purchase of the vehicle.'
The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dale Williams Jr. of Columbus, Ohio, said, 'The FBI was waiting when he went to get the car, and popped him.'
When the FBI arrested him at Harvey Lexus of Grand Rapids, Mich., Conerly was carrying false identification documents in the names of Hemingway and two other men.
Conerly, who had a 1995 conviction involving a nearly identical incident, pleaded guilty to using a false Social Security number on the loan application and received a 27-month prison sentence.
Although Conerly was indicted in Texas, the guilty plea proceeding and sentencing were handled in Ohio, where he was in custody.
'Conerly is a thief who has a history of obtaining new automobiles by using false identities,' said Williams. 'Once in possession of the new automobiles, Conerly was in a position to frustrate efforts by creditors to repossess the vehicles.'
His appeal challenged only the length of the sentence. He unsuccessfully contended that in calculating the cost of the fraud, the judge should have subtracted the value of the Lexus, since he never took possession of the car, Nolder said.