A Garden Grove man arrested in June for allegedly operating an illegal automobile subleasing firm was jailed this week on a related 22-count felony warrant, a state Department of Motor Vehicles agent said Wednesday.
William Tieman, 45, was arrested during a raid Tuesday on a Torrance firm, Western Car and Truck Finance, said Senior DMV investigator Rande King. Several autos were impounded and records were seized at Western, which Tieman reportedly operated and which is suspected of participating in illegal subleasing activities, King said.
Tieman, who was being held in Orange County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail Wednesday, was arrested on 11 counts of grand theft and 11 counts of illegal subleasing. The charges were filed in connection with his activities at Greater California Acceptance in Santa Ana and Consumer Consultant Network in Garden Grove. Both firms closed down after the June raids.
King, who works out of the DMV's special investigations office in Irvine, has been probing the auto subleasing business since 1986. In 1988, a state law made some subleasing activities criminal offenses.
Most auto purchase and lease agreements prohibit subleasing without the consent of the lender, and state law makes it illegal for a third party to assist in the subleasing and transfer of a vehicle without the lender's consent.
Subleasing businesses operate by matching people with low incomes or poor credit records with people trying to sell vehicles. They generally promise to find credit for a would-be buyer if the purchaser is able to sublet the seller's car for six months to prove credit-worthiness. The prospective buyer is charged for the company's services and the seller provides a car that is subleased to the buyer.
DMV officials say that scores of people have lost tens of thousands of dollars to unscrupulous subleasing firms, which generally close down after collecting fees from dozens of clients, leaving the sellers without their cars and the would-be buyers without financing.