General manager of car lot faces felonies

Defendant accused of selling vehicles illegally from Fortville dealership

FORTVILLE — The general manager of a Fortville dealership illegally sold vehicles, failing to provide his customers with the legal paperwork they needed to drive — and in at least one case, the car a customer paid for — and forging buyers’ names on loan paperwork, police said.

Daniel Trappe — who is currently being held in an Indiana Department of Correction facility on an unrelated case — faces 28 criminal charges, including felony counts of theft, forgery and corrupt business influence.

Charging documents state Trappe, 38, 15580 Follow Drive, Noblesville, committed a number of offenses while managing Prestige Automotive in Fortville, 917 E. Broadway St., which went out of business in 2015 after having its dealer’s license revoked. In March 2016, the Indiana Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against Prestige Automotive and three other auto dealerships, accusing them of failing to provide vehicle titles to buyers.

Trappe faces one Level 5 felony count of corrupt business influence; six Level 6 felony counts of theft and six Level 6 felony counts of fraud.

Additionally, he faces 11 Class B misdemeanor charges of failure to deliver a certificate or title and four Class A infractions of issuing an altered or false license plate.

Police and the Indiana Secretary of State Office’s auto dealer services division received dozens of complaints from customers of Prestige Automotive over the last two years, court records state.

At least 10 customers filed complaints with the division stating they purchased vehicles from Trappe and did not receive the titles for the car within 21 days, as required by state law, charging documents state. Without the titles, the purchasers can’t register a vehicle to legally drive it, police said.

At least two victims told police Trappe forged their signatures to take out loans in their names to pay for the cars they agreed to purchase, court records state. One of the loans was for $24,000, and the other was for about $14,000.

Another woman told police she wrote a roughly $34,000 check to Prestige Motors for a vehicle Trappe had agreed to purchase on her behalf, according to court documents. Trappe cashed the check, and the woman never received the vehicle, court records state.

The Level 6 felony counts Trappe faces carry a penalty of six months to 2.5 years and up to $10,000 in fines. The Level 5 felony count he faces carries a penalty of one to six years and up to $10,000 in fines.

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.