A dozen current and former dealership employees at Nissan of Shelby face more than 400 criminal charges following a monthslong investigation by the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles License and Theft Bureau.
The misdemeanor charges primarily involve rebuilt salvage vehicles that were offered for sale at the dealership and the documentation used to transfer their titles, Marty Homan, a spokesperson for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, told Automotive News.
The allegations include 137 charges of failure to deliver vehicle titles and 33 charges of failure to disclose vehicle damage. The alleged criminal behavior began in December, Homan said. It was not immediately clear what penalties the people charged may face if convicted.
Homan said the investigation has led to at least two title cancelation requests and 31 vehicles were identified as having damage improperly disclosed.
An investigation from television station WBTV in Charlotte, N.C., alleged that totaled and flooded used vehicles were found listed for sale on Nissan of Shelby's website. Homan said the investigation partially stemmed from the TV station's reporting.
The store learned of the investigation in February and has been cooperating with the state since, George Ewing, general manager of Nissan of Shelby, said. Ewing said he became general manager of the store three weeks ago. Shelby is west of Charlotte, near the South Carolina border.
"We are aware of charges," a Nissan spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Automotive News. "This is a matter for the authorities and we do not comment on pending litigation."
Nissan of Shelby notified any impacted customers after the store learned of the investigation and is committed to answering to any ongoing concerns from the community, Ewing said.
"I have talked to literally hundreds of customers, and I have started a top-to-bottom review of policies and procedures," he told Automotive News.
The store has not offered salvage or flooded vehicles since April 1, Ewing said.
Only four of those charged are listed on the dealership website's staff page. Four members of the dealership's current accounting team were charged with failure to disclose damage and failure to deliver vehicle titles.
The dealership is reviewing the employment status of those four individuals, but Ewing said he could not comment further.
The current and former employees face a range of charges, from less than 10 to more than 100 each.
Each individual is being charged relative to their "expected duty and specific responsibility," Homan said. The evidence gathered did "not necessarily point toward a coordinated effort," Homan said.
Nissan of Shelby's former general manager Sam Kazran alone is facing 110 charges of failing to inspect vehicles for sale. He is no longer employed at the store, Ewing said.
Attempts to reach Kazran were unsuccessful.
The current ownership of the store is unclear. The Nissan spokesperson referred Automotive News to Nissan of Shelby.
Others among those charged allegedly used temporary tags improperly and made false statements about the sale date of cars.
Jack Walsworth contributed to this report.