Oregon Department of Justice

Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum

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Nation's Largest Seller Of Recreational Vehicles Pleads GuiltyTo Vehicle Registration Fraud: Ordered To Pay $3.3 Million

December 28, 1999

Kristine Olson, United States Attorney for the District of Oregon, Hardy Myers, Attorney General for the State of Oregon, David Szady, Special Agent-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Portland, Oregon, and Mari Miller, Manager, Program Services, Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division, today jointly announced that Guaranty RV, headquartered in Junction City, Oregon, has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Eugene, Oregon to mail fraud relating to the illegal registration of luxury motor homes in Oregon on behalf of out-of-state RV purchasers. The company also settled enforcement actions brought by the Oregon Attorney General's Office, and Oregon DMV.

Guaranty RV, which sells new and used recreational vehicles ("RVs"), promotes itself as the nation's largest retail seller of RVs in the United States. Guaranty RV sells RVs from its locations in Oregon and California, and at road shows throughout the country. According to court documents, several salespersons, while working at Guaranty RV from 1994 through 1996, participated in a scheme to assist out-of-state RV purchasers evade sales tax and registration fees they owed their home states after purchasing an RV from Guaranty in Oregon. Guaranty helped to accomplish the scheme by assisting the out-of-state RV purchasers obtain Oregon addresses, which were used to improperly register the newly purchased RVs in the State of Oregon. Guaranty employees sold Oregon addresses to many non-resident RV purchasers and encouraged others to provide the company with an Oregon address to be used for registration purposes. Unlike most states, Oregon has no sales tax, and its vehicle registration fees are relatively low.

Guaranty RV, as an agent of Oregon DMV, listed the Oregon addresses as the residences of the out-of-state Guaranty RV customers in forms submitted by the company to DMV. Relying on this false information, Oregon DMV unwittingly issued the out-of-state RV purchasers Oregon titles, registrations, and permanent license plates. This allowed the out-of-state purchasers to evade sales taxes and registration fees owed to their actual state of residence. In 1998, five former salespersons pleaded guilty in federal court, admitting they participated in the scheme. Another two former Guaranty RV salespersons were indicted by a federal grand jury earlier this month.

Earlier today, Guaranty RV pleaded guilty to mail fraud, admitting that its employees wrongfully assisted 86 non-resident customers register their RVs in Oregon. These transactions deprived the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Texas, Utah and Washington, of tax revenue and vehicle registration fees. Under the terms of a plea agreement, Guaranty RV will pay the 21 victim states a total of $1,630,515 in restitution. Guaranty RV will forfeit another $1,430,515 to the federal government and be placed on probation.

Guaranty RV also settled enforcement actions brought by the Oregon Attorney General's Office and DMV. Guaranty RV signed an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance with the Oregon Attorney General's Office, and entered into a settlement agreement with Oregon DMV. In these documents, Guaranty RV admitted that it violated the Oregon Vehicle Code by registering RVs in Oregon on behalf of 86 non-resident purchasers. As a result, Guaranty RV will pay the State of Oregon $250,000 which, in part, will be used to educate non-residents on the illegality of registering vehicles in Oregon. In addition, Guaranty RV has agreed to hire a compliance officer and to implement a DMV approved training program to prevent vehicle registration abuses in the future. Guaranty RV will also be on administrative probation for three years.

United States District Judge Ann Aiken presided over the guilty plea, accepted the plea agreement, and ordered Guaranty RV to pay a total of $3,311,430.

The guilty plea and resolution of the state enforcement actions represent the culmination of a three year, multi-agency national investigation led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and has involved the joint efforts of the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspectors and Oregon DMV's Business Regulation Section.

Contact:

Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) jan.margosian@doj.state.or.us |
Chris Cardani, Assistant U.S. Attorney (541) 465-6771 |
Mari Miller, Oregon DMV (503) 947-4063 |
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