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June 4, 2013
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Fraudulent vehicle salesman must make bigger restitution payments

A 58-year-old former Johnson Lane man was ordered Monday to increase restitution to $150 a month in an effort to pay off $50,000 to victims of fraudulent automobile sales.

Court documents indicate William Wilkins, who now lives in Philadelphia, has paid $3,395 toward $50,048 he owes his victims.

District Judge Michael Gibbons chastised Wilkins for failing to file a court-ordered financial disclosure statements within 30 days, and seeming to ignore conditions set for him following a review hearing in December.

Wilkins said he moved to Pennsylvania and didn’t receive a copy of the order, but, as the judge pointed out, he was at the hearing.

Wilkins told Gibbons on Monday that he has his own lawn care business, and business was increasing.

Originally, Wilkins was ordered to pay a minimum of $50 per month, but the judge has regularly increased the amount,

He reminded the defendant Monday that the amount was just the minimum, and that he should feel free to pay more.

Wilkins, who represented himself, said he would be unable to work for two months during the summer because he was having leg surgery. He told Gibbons that in the fall and winter, he plans to switch the business to yard cleanup and snow removal.

Gibbons told the defendant that his $10,000 cash bail was “still sitting there” in the county system, and would be forfeited to pay the victims if not released by July 6, 2014.

“It would go a long way toward restitution,” Gibbons said. “It would be in your best interest to have the victims paid by whatever source, or you’re going to be answering to this court for the rest of your life,” Gibbons said.

In addition to his sentence for obtaining money by false pretenses, Wilkins was indicted by the federal government for ex-felon in possession of a firearm. He served five months in federal prison on that charge.

According to court documents, between 2006-09, Wilkins, who lived in Johnson Lane, allegedly rolled back the odometer on four vehicles and misrepresented that two vehicles were in good condition, when they were actually salvaged.

The Department of Motor Vehicles opened an investigation into Wilkins’ activities after receiving a complaint in July 2009.

A check of the DMV database revealed that Wilkins sold seven vehicles in a year, according to the information provided in support of a search warrant of his home. According to the state, a dealer’s license is required if more than three vehicles are sold during the course of a year.

The investigator contacted several of the people to whom Wilkins sold vehicles. In one case the original vehicle had nearly 250,000 miles on it, but the odometer said it had fewer than 80,000 miles.

He had a prior conviction for a similar offense in 1987.

In September 2011, Wilkins was sentenced to five years in prison, with parole eligibility after 12 months. He was paroled in September 2012.

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The Record Courier Updated Jun 4, 2013 05:34PM Published Jun 4, 2013 01:06PM Copyright 2013 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.