BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A Fort Madison businessman and sitting city councilman has been charged with a misdemeanor aggravated fraud charge in connection with a title issue on a vehicle at his dealership in June.
According to the Iowa Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division, a complaint was filed in district court on Jan. 20 against Chris Greenwald, owner of River City Motors Plus Inc. in Fort Madison and first ward councilman.
According to the complaint, on June 21, 2016, Greenwald, “did commit a fraudulent practice in the third degree by knowingly conceal a material fact concerning the ownership and transferability of a vehicle while obtaining a Iowa certificate of title representing a 2004 Chevrolet truck. The defendant having a financial exposure of $7,000 but the truck having a security lien of $11,500. Actual value of the truck to the dealership being $7,000.”
The affidavit on file at the North Lee County Courthouse also alleges the Greenwald was aware of an attempt to obtain an Iowa title via an employee making application for the title. An application for the title of the Chevy Silverado was filed at the Lee County Treasurer’s office. The document also alleges that, “Greenwald had knowingly and willingly accepted the truck as a trade in vehicle and was aware that the Chevrolet truck title had been “skipped” and the person trading the truck was not the title owner and the truck title was not negotiable for transfer.”
According to the investigation notes on the affidavit signed by Officer Chad White, an investigator with the Iowa Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Investigation and Identification Protection, it was discovered that the vehicle had an active 1st security lien notation on the vehicle and the dealership wished to obtain a title for the truck to allow resale. “The defendant’s business knowingly concealed the material facts of the title skip fraud and existing 1st security interest when Iowa title was issued and immediately transferred to another party,” White indicated in his notes on the affidavit.
Attempts to reach Greenwald for comment on Wednesday and Thursday at his home, his business and his City Council line were unreturned.
He is being represented by Elaine Fehseke Gray out of Fort Madison. Attempts to reach Gray for comment were also unreturned.
An initial court hearing was set for Thursday at the North Lee County Courthouse but was moved on a motion filed by Gray.
Greenwald was originally charged with three counts, the first being the aggravated misdemeanor fraud, which has been consolidated by the court with one count of failure to maintain motor vehicle records and one count of failure to obtain a manufacturer’s or importer’s certificate.
White said as part of the investigation, the department reviewed the records for the vehicles on the lot at River City Motors and found another vehicle with a title issue but only one complaint was filed.
White also said his department has jurisdiction over vehicle dealerships and title issues and they perform inspections on dealerships throughout the year, but this was an issue that was flagged by the Lee County Treasurer’s office and brought to their attention.