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2 more suspects arrested in connection with alleged car scams

Police nab men with $250,000 warrants in relation to suspected car consignment scams.

December 28, 2007|By Kelly Strodl

It took 10 visits to the Harbor Motors auto resale lot in Costa Mesa, but Larry Edwards eventually got his money from the sale of his Cadillac Escalade. According to authorities, Edwards was one of the lucky ones.

Costa Mesa police have arrested four of five suspects in connection with a suspected auto consignment scam run out of Harbor Motors that victimized at least 30 who collectively lost a total of about $1.1 million, police said.

Ricardo Fuentes, 41, of Fullerton, and Manh “Guy” Dac Hua, 35, of Westminster, surrendered to police Thursday. Both were wanted on $250,000 warrants, authorities said.

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Fuentes and Hua, the lot’s corporate officers and the two thought by investigators to be the masterminds behind the alleged scheme, have not returned to the business for months, police said.

Detectives arrested Jalal Din Jalali on suspicion of five counts of grand theft when the man surrendered to authorities Wednesday morning.

Jalali, 60, of Irvine, faces additional charges of conspiracy of grand theft auto, with enhancements for illegally taking in excess of $50,000, fraud or embezzlement exceeding $500,000 and commission of two or more related felonies involving fraud or embezzlement, according to County Superior Court records.

David Gordon Emmott, 67, also surrendered to police Wednesday. He has been charged with nine counts of grand theft auto with enhancements for taking in excess of $50,000, fraud or embezzlement exceeding $500,000 and commission of two or more related felonies involving fraud or embezzlement, records show.

Earlier reports from prosecutors had them charged with enhancements for use of a dangerous weapon, but that information was a mistake, police said.

The suspects were paid to sell customers’ vehicles but pocketed the money and never returned the profits from the sales, police said.

About 30 victims filed complaints with Costa Mesa over the last six months. Many said they had to keep making payments on cars they no longer had, Sgt. Frank Rudisill said.

Some victims received letters in the mail from the bank notifying them they still owed money on a car loan that the new owner was supposed to assume, Rudisill said.

Some were told their car was still on the lot when they called for a status report even though it had been sold weeks before, Rudisill said.

Other victims got checks that later bounced, according to police. One victim said his checks had bounced for a year, police said.

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