A Freeport man was sentenced Monday to 1 1⁄3 to 4 years in prison for stealing more than $350,000 from customers and dealers in his role as a used car salesman, according to the Nassau County district attorney’s office.
Michael McGriff, 43, who pleaded guilty on July 7, was also ordered by Acting Supreme Court Justice Jerald Carter to pay back $365,546 to the victims.
For pocketing cash from customers’ down payments and forging loan documents, he was charged with second-degree grand larceny, seven counts of third-degree grand larceny, first-degree identity theft and first-degree scheming to defraud, prosecutors said.
“Buying a car can be a stressful experience, and this defendant took advantage of his customers’ trust when he stole more than $350,000 from car buyers and dealerships,” said Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas in a statement.
McGriff became the target of an investigation after customers reported him to dealership staff, who notified police, prosecutors said.
While working at Lexus of Rockville Centre and Port Motors Lincoln Mercury in Roslyn, McGriff received down payments which he did not apply to the loan amount, prosecutors said. He created documents that did not reflect those payments, leading to “higher-than-expected monthly payments” for purchasers, whose vehicles would be repossessed if they didn’t pay, prosecutors said.
In other instances he accepted cash payments in full amounts for used cars and forged finance contracts which he filed with banks for car loans that buyers didn’t authorize and learned of months later, prosecutors said. In some cases vehicles were repossessed when the buyers “refused to pay for the fraudulently obtained loans,” prosecutors said.
While at Port Motors, he collected payments “but never produced a car,” prosecutors said.
McGriff, who sometimes went by the name Michael Glenn, also falsely claimed he was affiliated with Titanium Auto Group, of Uniondale, “and collected $12,900 cash from a victim to purchase a vehicle at auction, but never bought the car,” prosecutors said.