By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- After a four-month investigation, a Vero Beach car salesman has been arrested for fraud and theft and is being held on $7,500 bail.
Rick John Roberts, 53, 419 Easy St., Sebastian, was arrested on Nov. 27 and charged with organized scheme to defraud and two counts of grand theft. Mr. Roberts is employed with Vero Beach Chrysler.
According to the arrest report, Mr. Roberts asked a customer to write two checks to pay for gap insurance and other add-on services, but instead cashed the checks into his own bank account.
Gap insurance is the difference between the value of a vehicle and the amount still owed on the vehicle.
In a press release, Indian River County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Thomas Raulen said the owner of Vero Beach Chrysler, Jay Campana, contacted law enforcement when he suspected Mr. Roberts of fraud and cooperated with detectives during the investigation.
Investigators are asking anyone who believes they may have been an additional victim of Mr. Roberts to contact Detective Ron Garrison.
The press release said two checks from a customer were written and deposited into Mr. Roberts' bank account. The investigation also uncovered that Mr. Roberts used dealership funds without supervisor approval to pay off a customer's trade-in vehicle to make a sale.
Detectives said Mr. Roberts convinced a customer to leave the "pay to the order of" line on the check blank, under the pretense that he would use a stamp to complete the check information.
Mr. Roberts admitted to stealing the funds and said he had also convinced other customers to make out their checks to him directly, and he cashed those into his personal account, as well.
To contact Detective Garrison, call (772) 978-6144.