A federal judge will decide whether to ask the Justice Department to investigate allegations that American Honda Motor Co. Inc. concealed a courtroom document related to a 6-year-old kickback scandal.
U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz of Baltimore is weighing claims that three Honda attorneys failed to provide an internal document to lawyers representing dealers who are suing the company.
Honda's legal troubles began in 1993 when the Justice Department investigated charges that dealers bribed Honda executives to get more cars.
More than two dozen Honda managers, dealers and vendors were convicted. Later, Honda dealers sued the company for damages relating to the kickbacks.
Last October, Motz approved a $329.8 million settlement of the class-action lawsuit by 1,400 Honda dealers. A handful of dealers refused to accept the settlement. Now, Motz must decide whether to call in the Justice Department.
Last month, Motz indicated that he may ask the U.S. Attorney to investigate Honda's lead counsel, Mark Brooks; two outside criminal attorneys for the company, Steve Gordon and Richard Gargiulo of Boston; and the company itself.
On Friday, Sept. 10, Motz deferred his decision.
The company has admitted that its attorneys erroneously told the court that a 6-year-old subpoenaed document did not exist. Copies of the document later turned up in various places, including the home of one of the attorneys.
In 1997, the Justice Department investigated other claims that Honda managers had lied to the court.
Earlier this year, a New Jersey district sales manager was convicted.