MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Crystal man was charged Friday with one felony count of aggravated theft by swindle after stealing nearly $128,000 for several people in a car refurbishing scheme first reported on by WCCO in 2011.
According to the Hennepin County Attorney’s office, 24-year-old Zachary Maxwell Moore stole $127,839 from 33 people over two years, several of whom originally paid his company, Civics Reborn, to refurbish old Honda Civics.
Defendants claim that Moore was initially attentive with customers until after they paid for the car and refurbishments in full, then he became almost impossible to contact. He also moved his company’s location six times, failing to pay full rent to each landlord before relocating.
Moore only delivered two refurbished cars to customers, both of which were deemed too dangerous to drive after his modifications. A former employee of Moore’s claimed that the number of parts that he would replace on a particular car depended on how much money Moore had at the time.
The majority of the money Moore is accused of stealing came from Barbara Jo Curry, a schoolteacher who invested $79,000 of her retirement money in Civics Reborn. Curry says Moore claimed her financial backing helped fill all of his outstanding orders, and was unaware that almost three dozen police complaints had been filed against him.
Moore also collected a $99 fee from customers for sales tax and registration; fees that licensed automobile dealers are exempt from paying. Moore acted as a dealer, but didn’t have a dealers’ license. His failure to remit funds from his customers to the state constitutes 33 felony offenses – one for each customer. He also under reported the purchase price of the Honda Civics, causing a loss of thousands of tax dollars to the state.
If convicted, Moore could face up to 20 years in prison.