Trucking Sales Company Owner Sentenced to 26 Months in Prison for Wire Fraud
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 28, 2011|
DAYTON—Phillip Bell, 49, of Miamisburg, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 26 months in prison and ordered to pay $375,000 in restitution for selling semi-trailers he did not own to customers across the country.
Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and Edward J. Hanko, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, (FBI) announced the sentence imposed today by U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Rose.
Bell pleaded guilty on September 8, 2011 to one count of wire fraud. According to court documents, Bell operated a series of businesses—including Pre-Owned Semi-Trailers, Inc., and Hydraulic Trailer Sales, Inc. in Springboro and Miamisburg. He offered to sell used semi-trailers to the general public. In particular, through these entities, Mr. Bell offered for sale to individuals around the country semi-trailers to which Mr. Bell claimed title. Once a customer agreed to purchase a semi-trailer, Mr. Bell typically e-mailed or sent them by facsimile, among other things, a purchase agreement for the purported semi-trailer as well as wire transfer instructions for their payment. Upon receipt of a customer’s payment, Mr. Bell promised to deliver promptly the semi-trailer as well as its title.
“In reality, however, Mr. Bell generally did not have title to, or actual ownership of, the semi-trailers that he offered to sell his customers,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Tabacchi told the court in a statement read during the plea hearing.
At the time of certain sales, Bell was attempting to acquire the semi-trailers and their titles from third-parties. Bell never disclosed this fact to certain buyers. Upon receiving his customers’ payments for the semi-trailers, Bell improperly diverted the money for his benefit or for other business purposes rather than using it to secure the title to the semi-trailers that they believed that they had purchased. Rather than disclosing these circumstances to his customers, Bell falsely continued to tell them that he had title to their semi-trailers and would provide it to them shortly.
Stewart commended the investigation by FBI agents, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tabacchi, who prosecuted the case.