MT auto dealer accused of fraud
BY JENNIFER TODD, Staff Writer
The owner of a Manheim Township auto dealership is facing charges stemming from recent fraudulent transactions, state police said Wednesday.
Joshua B. Berney, 34, of Lancaster, used cash down payments for personal use, sold vehicles without first paying off existing loans and performed notary services while not authorized to do so, according to investigators.
Berney is the owner and operator of Auto Exchange USA, 1201 Harrisburg Pike.
Charges filed against Berney Feb. 4 by Trooper Josh Whiteside include deceptive or fraudulent business practices, theft by deception, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds and impersonating a notary.
Berney turned himself in to authorities and was arraigned Friday by District Judge Nancy Hamill. He was released on $30,000 unsecured bail.
Investigators said the illegal actions began in November 2012 and continued into January. The acts were uncovered during a routine inspection by the state police Vehicle Fraud Investigation Unit.
Because of Berney's alleged crimes, titles weren't released to customers or financing companies, which prevented customers from registering vehicles.
According to authorities, Berney also illegally issued dealer registration plates to customers, collected inflated fees for fraudulent notary services and illegally issued state "pink slips."
A preliminary hearing is scheduled Friday before District Judge David Miller.