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New Dealers Assume Operation of Costa Mesa Honda Franchise

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Three South Bay auto dealers who have bought several Orange County new-car franchises in recent months took over operation of Costa Mesa Honda on Monday after American Honda Motor Co. officials revoked the franchise held by the former operators.

The dealership was one of three that had been owned by former American Honda executives Mark L. Benson and Edward A. Temple. Both men were indicted and have pleaded guilty to felony charges in an ongoing federal probe of a kickback scheme in which former officials of the Torrance-based car importer allegedly took $10 million from dealers in return for favorable allotments of Honda franchises and hard-to-get Honda cars during the 1980s.

Honda cited its morals clause in canceling the Benson-Temple franchise, and industry insiders said the company did so to prevent the two men from profiting from the sale of the business.

Cypress-based Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America Inc. also canceled its franchise with Benson and Temple after they pleaded guilty to the federal charges.

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The Costa Mesa Honda franchise is now held by Torrance-area dealers William Adkins, Jerry Heuer and Craig Shearer. The three men also took over Benson’s and Temple’s Costa Mesa Infiniti and Costa Mesa Mitsubishi franchises.

In September, the three purchased Rolls-Royce dealer Newport Auto Center in Newport Beach.


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