OMAHA, Neb. – Police have arrested three executives from a troubled Nebraska car dealership where 81 vehicles worth roughly $2.5 million — as well as the executives themselves — vanished in recent days.
Legacy's owner Allen Patch, 52, and controller Rachel Fait, 37 were arrested separately in Tooele County, Utah. The dealership's 53-year-old general manager, Rick Covello, turned himself in to Scottsbluff police Thursday morning, Capt. Kevin Spencer said.
An arrest warrant affidavit said that Fait may have embezzled more than $46,000 from the dealership in Scottsbluff, a western Nebraska town. The three were wanted on suspicion of theft.
About two dozen vehicles missing from the Scottsbluff dealership were traced to Salt Lake City, and at least 16 of those had been sold at an auto auction. Six others were found at the Scottsbluff airport, and the FBI found some of the other vehicles in Las Vegas.
Legacy has had financial problems, said John Childress, Scotts Bluff County's chief deputy county attorney. Authorities suspect Patch and his associates were looking to sell the vehicles to auction houses and keep the proceeds rather than pay Toyota Financing. He said the three have no criminal records in Nebraska.
The missing vehicles were all Fords and Toyotas. The Fords were put on transporter trucks and taken away Saturday and the Toyotas were shipped out late Monday, Childress said.
On Tuesday a representative for Toyota Financing contacted police to report the vehicles stolen, and two employees of the dealership contacted police that day with concerns, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
One of the employees showed police documents that indicated Fait had taken more than $46,000 from the company over the past several months. One of the employees also told police that Fait used to keep a backpack with a large amount of cash at the dealership.
Miranda Cervantes, the dealership's title manager, told the Scottsbluff Star-Herald she returned to work Tuesday after a day off and found the lot was virtually empty. She said the desks of Patch, Fait and Covello had been cleaned out.
Cervantes has not responded to calls seeking additional comment.
Legacy Auto Sales remained open Thursday despite the missing cars.