U.S. Attorney's Office
District of South Carolina
(803) 929-3000
June 25, 2014

Top Two Officers of Joe Gibson Suzuki Guilty as Charged in Federal Court

COLUMBIA, SC—United States Attorney Bill Nettles announced today that Paul Michael Gibson, age 57, of Spartanburg, South Carolina, and Billy John Mills, Jr., age 45, of Huntersville, North Carolina, have pled guilty as charged to a three count Federal Wire Fraud Indictment. The pleas were accepted by District Judge Timothy M. Cain sitting in the G. Ross Anderson Federal Courthouse in Anderson, South Carolina. Gibson and Mills join seven others who have entered pleas of guilty for their roles in the operation of Suzuki dealerships operating in Spartanburg and Gaffney, South Carolina, under the name of Joe Gibson Suzuki. (Names, ages and addresses of these seven are at the end of this release.) All nine will be sentenced after the preparation of Presentence Reports. Assistant United States Attorney David C. Stephens of Greenville was in charge of the prosecution of the case and presented the guilty pleas to the Court.

USA Nettles advised that the copy of the indictment attached hereto sets forth in detail the facts of the case, but that in summary Joe Gibson Suzuki, at one point one of the most productive Suzuki dealerships in the country, was an organization riddled with illegal practices. These practices included false advertising, false statements to induce banks to finance uncreditworthy purchasers, and false reporting of sales to cause bonuses to be paid by Suzuki of North America. Mr. Gibson was the owner of the dealership and Mr. Mills ran the day to day operations of the business. At the guilty plea hearing, AUSA Stephens stated that there was a “culture of corruption” that permeated the entire business. Joe Gibson Suzuki is no longer in business.

Mr. Nettles commended agents of the United States Postal Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their years of work in investigating this case. Mr. Nettles stated that many aspects of this case were novel and that he was unaware of other criminal prosecutions of car dealers for misleading advertisements as in this case.

The following is a list of others convicted in this case:

  • Lewis Jones Harward, Jr., age 41, of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • Richard James Harward, age 40, of Belton, South Carolina
  • Joshua Manuel Maldonado, age 25, of Anderson, South Carolina
  • Lennie Wylie Sanders, age 32, of Danville, Virginia
  • Wanda Suzette Smith, age 59, of Fountain Inn, South Carolina
  • Kathy Valentine Stewart, age 60, of Easley, South Carolina
  • Brian J. Sullivan, age 56, of Lawrenceville, Georgia
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