A former dealership owner and past president of the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association was sentenced Thursday for his role in a four-year fraud scheme.
Andrew Gabler, 52, of Erie County, Pa., was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison for defrauding several institutions. Prosecutors said that beginning in January 2015, Gabler faked vehicle sales and falsified loan applications to pocket millions of dollars.
Gabler is former owner of the now-closed Lakeside Chevrolet-Buick in Erie County and Lakeside Auto Sales, which operated as two used-vehicle stores.
In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Susan Paradise Baxter ordered Gabler to pay a $5,000 fine and make restitution of nearly $1.7 million. He also will undergo two years of supervised release once his sentence is up. Gabler is currently free on an unsecured bond, the Erie Times-News reported.
Gabler's attorney, Elliot Segel, said he and his client will decide next week whether to appeal and seek a reduced sentence. Segel asked for probation or home confinement for Gabler.
"We were disappointed with the term of the sentence," Segel told Automotive News in an email.
Segel argued the evidence warranted a shorter term under the sentencing guidelines.
"We did disagree with the Court's ruling on a legal matter, which resulted in increasing that guideline range, and we are now considering an appeal on that issue," he said.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania said Gabler:
- Falsely indicated that customers made down payments and inflated the income of customers when submitting auto loan applications to financial institutions on their behalf.
- Caused extended warranties to be sold to vehicle buyers and deliberately failed to remit the paperwork and payments to the extended warranty company.
- Falsely reported vehicle sales to General Motors for vehicles that had not been sold in order to obtain rebates.
Prosecutors also found Gabler "deliberately" did not inform S&T Bank, of Indiana, Pa., when his dealerships sold vehicles they had purchased using the lender's floorplan financing. This allowed him to avoid or delay making payments.
His actions led to a financial loss of more than $1.6 million, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
S&T Bank sued Gabler in late 2018 and early 2019 over floorplan loan repayment.
Gabler resigned from his position as president of NIADA on Jan. 31, 2019, a day after the FBI searched his dealerships and a house believed to be his residence. Gabler pleaded guilty to one count of fraud conspiracy in September 2020.
Chad Bednarski, 49, Gabler's former finance manager, pleaded guilty to the same charge. Baxter on Friday sentenced Bednarski to 32 months in jail. She also ordered him to pay over $1.6 million in restitution and a $1,000 fine on his conviction of bank and wire fraud conspiracy, the Department of Justice said in a statement.