Two former salesmen at Parkway Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in Michigan have pleaded not guilty to defrauding Stellantis (which operated as FCA at the time of the crime) shortly after being indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Attorneys for Apollon Nimo and Farrah Bottris Bahoo, the two salespeople indicted, claimed their clients did nothing wrong. The lawyer representing Nimo alleged that Stellantis was well aware of what the salesmen were doing, reports Automotive News.
The men are facing charges after being accused of using discount codes meant to be used by members of Stellantis employees’ families in sales and leases. Nimo, in particular, was accused of defrauding Stellantis of $8.7 million through the use of employee discounts between 2014 and 2021, in a complaint filed last year by federal prosecutors.
Read More: A Salesman Cost FCA $8.7 Million After He Offered Employee Discounts To Just About Everybody
In May, the men were officially accused of conspiring with each other and “others known and unknown to the grand jury” to sell the codes to customers and apply them to deals. Prosecutors say Nimo sold 250 vehicles in a single month in 2020 – more than most FCA dealerships sold in a month – and was using this scheme until his arrest in 2021. Bahoo, meanwhile, worked on his team.
Patrick Hurford, Nimo’s attorney argues, though, that his client didn’t steal employee discount numbers and sell them, as is alleged. He says that Nimo used legitimate discount codes generated by employees at a time when Stellantis was accused of paying dealerships to lie about sales numbers.
“It is well known in the industry that some automaker employees, including Stellantis employees, sell their discount numbers,” Hurford said. “Some of these employees even count on this source of income. FCA knew this. Stellantis knows it. No one has stopped it because it increases sales.”
Stellantis settled a federal antitrust lawsuit in 2019 in which it was accused of pressuring dealers to submit fraudulent sales numbers. As part of the agreement, it paid a $40 million fine and had to restate five years of U.S. sales results.
The investigation into Nimo and Bahoo, though, was kicked off when Stellantis employees began complaining that their personal discount codes were being used without their consent. In 2019, FCA gave investigators a list of 268 employees whose discount numbers had been reported as being used without authorization. All of them were linked by prosecutors to sales made by Nimo.