Used Car Dealership Owner to Serve 27 Months in Prison for Directing Witnesses to Destroy Records
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 23, 2009|
NORFOLK, VA—Reza Azizkhani, 61, of Virginia Beach, Va., was sentenced today in Norfolk federal court to 27 months in prison for corruptly persuading and directing two employees and another person to shred and to destroy records in order to obstruct a criminal investigation. Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, made the announcement after Azizkhani was sentenced by United States District Judge Mark S. Davis. Azizkhani previously pled guilty on August 25, 2009, to the charge of witness tampering.
According to court documents, Azizkhani owned and operated the Car Store, a now-defunct used car dealership located on Lynnhaven Parkway in Virginia Beach. From late 2006 through May 2008, managers and employees at the Car Store sought to maximize the dealership’s business by regularly obtaining car loans for prospective car buyers by fraudulent means.
To assist buyers with poor credit in obtaining financing, Car Store employees repeatedly prepared false loan applications and provided Navy Federal Credit Union with false information concerning a buyer’s income, expenses, employment, and living arrangements. With Azizkhani’s knowledge, Car Store employees also manufactured and submitted to Navy Federal bogus documents, such as paystubs and wage and earning statements that overstated buyers’ income. From August 2007 through May 2008, Navy Federal made 61 car loans totaling $1,140,525 that were fraudulently obtained on behalf of persons buying vehicles from the Car Store. The losses incurred upon these loans by Navy Federal and several insurance companies total $696,824.70.
In March 2008, the Virginia Beach Police Department (VBPD) began investigating fraudulent activities at the Car Store. After VBPD officials visited and spoke with the defendant at the business, Azizkhani directed the finance manager and a salesman to stay after hours to remove fraudulent records (fake paystubs, W-2s, and the like) from the company’s deal folders. In Azizkhani’s presence, the two men purged the fraudulent records from hundreds of deal folders and shredded them late into the night. That same evening, a computer expert called by Azizkhani also came to the Car Store and replaced the hard drive from the company’s computer server, as part of the effort to prevent discovery of the Car Store’s fraudulent activities. Following the execution of search warrants by the VBPD in May 2008, the Car Store ceased business operations.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Virginia Beach Police Department investigated the case. To date, 12 persons have been convicted in federal court during this investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Robert J. Krask and James A. Metcalfe prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on https://pcl.uscourts.gov.