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Used Car Dealer, Wife Held in Ownership Scam

Times Staff Writer

A Mission Viejo couple that operated a used car business specializing in Mercedes-Benzes, BMWs, Nissans and Jaguars have been arrested on suspicion of selling cars the dealership did not own.

Department of Motor Vehicles investigator Rande King said Thursday that Assadollah Shjary was arrested at his home on 14 counts of grand theft, six counts of failure to transfer vehicle titles to the retail purchasers and one count of embezzlement of a mortgaged property. His wife, Fatemeh Shjary, was arrested on a single count of embezzlement of mortgaged property, King said.

Each remained in custody in Orange County Jail on Thursday in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Shjary had operated the Mission Viejo used car dealership, Grand Auto Imports, since 1983, selling top-of-the line imports, King said.

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But beginning late in 1987, the investigator said, Shjary apparently ran into financial problems.

On June 13, said King, Shjary filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation of the business, citing a $257,643 debt. King said that the bankruptcy filing showed an apartment complex in Tehran as his only significant asset but listed the building as “unsaleable because of war.”

According to King’s investigation report, Shjary in October, 1987, began purchasing used vehicles from other dealers, selling them from his own lot and then stopping payment on the checks he issued to the original dealer.

A total of 14 cars valued at $158,000 were involved, King said.

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In one case, the Shjarys purchased a used BMW from a dealer in south Orange County, obtained a bank loan against the car in Fatemeh Shjary’s name and then sold the car to a retail customer at Grand Auto Imports without paying off the bank loan and without informing the new buyer of the loan.

That resulted in the embezzlement charges, said King, who began investigating the case in June after complaints had been received by police in Bakersfield and Anaheim and by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

King said that the retail purchasers of all 14 vehicles involved in the case will be able to keep the vehicles as long as they continue making payments to their lenders.

The auto dealers who sold the vehicles to Shjary, he said, have no legal standing to repossess the cars from third-party purchasers.


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