Edgerton auto dealer faces new chargesWORTHINGTON — With a charge of selling used motor vehicles without a license already pending in court, Charles Top of Top Motor Sales, Edgerton, is now facing a variety of new criminal charges — seven felonies that include falsifying information on applications, submitting false certificates and failing to remit taxes that have been collected from the purchaser.
WORTHINGTON — With a charge of selling used motor vehicles without a license already pending in court, Charles Top of Top Motor Sales, Edgerton, is now facing a variety of new criminal charges — seven felonies that include falsifying information on applications, submitting false certificates and failing to remit taxes that have been collected from the purchaser.
Earlier this week, one count of insurance fraud was charged against Top, alleging that he presented false information to an insurance company to make a claim for payment.
According to the criminal complaint, Top reported a vehicle stolen in March 2010, allegedly telling the investigating officer a 1999 Ford Expedition was taken between March 6 and March 8.
He stated the keys were in his possession and he could not guess how the vehicle had been taken.
Later, when an investigator spoke to an adjustor from Top’s insurance company, he learned Top had reported finding broken glass where the vehicle had been parked, and told the adjustor the vehicle was in “excellent condition” and had new tires.
Shortly after Top reported the vehicle stolen, a man contacted authorities and said the vehicle had been sold by Top to a Latino man who had left Worthington.
The contract for the sale, the informant said, was in a file separate from other sale files at the Top Motors office.
He had gone with Top to Mexico and Texas to try to find the vehicle because the purchaser was not making payments, he claimed.
A search warrant was executed at Top Motor Sales, and authorities seized files and records including titles, registration, applications and temporary registration permits.
A sale file located in a desk drawer displayed information for a 1999 Ford Expedition and included a sales contract from when the vehicle was traded in to Top Motors in 2008.
There was a title regarding the vehicle that cancelled a security interest Top Motors had, but the signature on the Iowa title did not appear to match the signature on the contract.
The file also contained a receipt from a Worthington tire store.
The investigator contacted the tire store and was told that the tires shown on the receipt would not have fit a 1999 Ford Expedition.
In a sale receipt book, authorities found an entry about a payment received for the Expedition.
The insurance adjustor told authorities Top said he himself had been driving the vehicle for several months, no one else had access to the vehicle and no one had been looking at buying the vehicle.
By May 2010, Top had cashed the $5,700 check received by the insurance company.
A few days later, a woman came to the law enforcement center and reported she and her fiancé had purchased the vehicle in 2008.
Her father also spoke to authorities and said he was present when the vehicle purchase was made.
Thursday, six more felonies were filed against Top in Nobles County District Court.
The charges allege Top sold at least two vehicles, then claimed he had sold them for significantly less when filing sales tax information.
By Minnesota statute, a vehicle 10 years old or more with a purchase price of under $3,000 can be registered in lieu of tax with a sales tax of $10.
According to the complaint, Top changed documentation regarding two vehicles to show he had paid less than $3,000, when in reality, the customers paid more.
An employee provided documents he claimed Top had instructed him to destroy.
The documents showed sale contracts that included the amount collected in sales tax.
The corresponding titles showed the vehicles had been sold at a significantly less value with a $10 tax fee.
The title applications showing the lesser amounts, according to both buyers, were signed with signatures that were not theirs.
One customer examined the title provided by authorities and said he was not aware that the vehicle he had purchased from Top was a salvage vehicle — something that was omitted from the title application Top submitted to the state. The signature on that title, the customer said, was not his.
Top, 69, has numerous legal shenanigans under his belt, and has been charged in the past dozen years with engaging in business without a license roughly 30 times.
He’s also been charged with failing to remit taxes, falsifying information on applications, misusing dealer plates and failure to deliver titles.
He is scheduled to make an appearance on the latest charges May 24.