Marcella Gilliland, a Sarasota, Florida car dealership owner, was arrested Tuesday after detectives accused her of acquiring titles for vehicles that were not legally hers, news sources indicate. Gilliland, 61, was booked into the Sarasota County Jail on multiple charges, including two counts of title fraud and four counts of uttering forged instruments. Her bail bond was set a $7,000. It is unclear whether Gilliland has retained a private criminal defense lawyer.
Reports indicate that Gilliland is the owner and operator of Specialty Cars, a Sarasota-based dealership located along South Tamiami Trail. The business specializes in the buying, trading, and selling of used vehicles. According to the company’s website, it offers a wide variety of vehicles, including coupes, vans, and SUVs.
According to reports, the owner of another car dealership contacted police and claimed that Gilliland had taken two titles to two different cars from his dealership. The vehicles in question were a 1955 Chevy Nomad and a 1965 Ford Thunderbird, sources say. The accuser alleged that Gilliland entered his place of business and picked up a set of documents from behind a desk, then left. The owner asked that Gilliland return the documents as she was leaving, he said; however, Gilliland purportedly refused to do so.
Police launched an investigation and found that the owner of the other dealership was in fact the true owner of the two vehicles, reports say. The detectives analyzed a number of document and online conversations, which reportedly showed that the other dealership had in fact purchased the cars from legitimate sources, news sources indicate.
Even though Gilliland did not hold evidence that she was the owner of the two vehicles, sources claim that she allegedly filed to transfer the titles of the vehicles to her dealership on September 6. She also allegedly failed to confirm the vehicle’s VINs when she signed the vehicle’s I.D. numbers during the title transfer procedure, reports say. Gilliland has yet to comment publicly on the allegations.
In response to the exorbitant number of fraud cases active across the nation, the Department of Justice announced recently that it plans to host a number of investment fraud conferences throughout the United States. The conferences are a way of raising awareness about the danger of investment fraud and teaching attendees how to avoid becoming victims.
Sources say the meetings will play host of a variety of experts throughout the nation, as well as state and federal law enforcement, community frontrunners, and past victims of investment fraud. The Florida conference is scheduled for October 12, 2012, and will be held at the Chapman Conference Center on Wolfson Campus, located at the Miami-Dade College, from 9:30 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. Among those expected to attend are Wifredo A. Ferrer, the U.S. Attorney for the South District of Florida. Also expected is the Regional Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission, White Collar Crime Coordinator for the FBI’s Miami Field Office and the Vice President of Communications for the Better Business Bureau.
A large part of the preparation for the conference can be attributed to the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which President Obama drafted in 2009 to combat fraud and assist in the investigation and prosecution of individuals and businesses suspected of committing financial crimes.