From staff reports
BIRMINGHAM — A federal judge, on Thursday, sentenced fomer Serra Nissan sales manager Gerald R. Shepard, of Pinson, to six months in prison and an additional one year of home detention. Shepard plead guilty to charges of conspiracy, bank fraud and filing a false federal income tax return.
Shepard was charged in Dec. 2014 by federal prosecutors, and plead guilty in March earlier this year.
Shepard was ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Madeline Haikala to pay $127,113 in restitution as well, although jointly with the other conspirators.
According to court records, the Serra Nissan employees involved in the conspiracy used various means to carry out their fraud and obtain auto loans that, otherwise, wouldn’t have been approved. Those means included:
- Creating or altering documents to submit to financial institutions to show inflated income for prospective buyers
- Directing finance managers and salesmen to submit fraudulent documents to financial institutions to misrepresent proof of a customer’s residency
- Listing accessories not actually included on a vehicle so a financial institution would increase its loan amount. The defendants and others had a financial incentive to increase a loan amount in order to increase commissions paid to certain employees.
- Presenting straw buyers, who could qualify for a loan, to financial institutions when the actual buyer couldn’t qualify
Earlier this year, jurors found Kimberly H. Branch, 34, of Trussville, guilty of conspiracy, and sentenced Abdul Islam Mughal, of Trussville, to 30 months in prison.
The Tribune reached out to Serra owner Tony Serra for a statement, but employees at Serra Nissan did not have contact information.