NASHVILLE – Kenneth Carter, 45, of Corona, Calif., Wendell Young, 34, of Inglewood, Calif., and Bruce Young, 50, of Compton, Calif., pleaded guilty Friday to participating in a scheme to defraud Nissan North America, according to U.S. attorney David Rivera.
Judge William J. Haynes Jr. is expected to sentence them May 30.
Carter pleaded guilty to all counts in the indictment, including conspiracy to commit mail fraud, three counts of mail fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Carter faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000 on the conspiracy to commit money laundering count, up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on each of the mail fraud counts and up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on the conspiracy to commit mail fraud count.
Wendell Young and Bruce Young entered into plea agreements with the government whereby each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
According to the indictment, from March 2007 through April 2008 Carter was employed at Nissan’s Franklin headquarters as an “arbitration specialist.” In that role, his duties were to negotiate with attorneys who brought claims on behalf of Nissan owners, alleging Nissan had violated “lemon laws” or the Federal Warranty Act.
The indictment alleged the defendants engaged in a scheme to defraud Nissan. Bruce Young and Wendell Young, among others, would approach individuals who owned Nissan vehicles to get information, such as the owner’s name, address and vehicle identification numbers. Carter then used this information to file false and fraudulent claims at Nissan, requesting settlement checks. Once the checks were issued, Bruce Young, Wendell Young, and others directed the Nissan owners to deposit the checks into their bank accounts or to cash the checks.
Bruce Young and Wendell Young then told the Nissan owners to pay them a portion of the funds the owners received from Nissan. A portion of those funds were then paid to Carter, and Bruce Young and Wendell Young kept a portion of those proceeds for themselves. During the course of the scheme, Carter filed about 80 false claims, totaling about $571,500.
Six defendants were charged in the indictment and the guilty pleas represent the final three defendants. The three other defendants previously entered guilty pleas, including Adrian Franklin, 40, of Chandler, Ariz., who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering Nov. 18, and Francisco DeLaRosa, 40, of West Covina, Calif., and Tracey Young, 45, of Los Angeles, Calif., who each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering Feb. 21.
The IRS Criminal Investigation and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation investigated the case. Assistant U.S. attorney Kathryn Ward Booth served as prosecutor.