A Harford County car dealer who was forced out of business last fall has been charged with theft for allegedly failing to satisfy the liens on traded-in cars after receiving money to retire the debts.
The charges against R. Brooke Boyle, the former owner of Brooke Boyle Motor Cars Ltd., are contained in a 76-count indictment unsealed yesterday by Harford County State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly. The charges allege crimes between August 1988 and October 1989.
Cassilly said the indictment includes 45 counts of theft involving more than $300,000. The other counts allege the writing of bad checks and violations of car dealer licensing laws.
Each theft count and each count involving bad checks carries a prison term of up to 15 years.
The charges are the culmination of a year-long investigation. Cassilly said Boyle was expected to receive the indictment Monday.
Boyle, 28, is a scion of a family that has been a fixture in the car business in Harford County since the 1930s, according to his lawyer, William H. Murphy Jr. Boyle's father is the owner of a successful Buick dealership where Boyle built a reputation as a big-time salesman before setting out on his own in 1988.
Boyle's dealership dealt with used "prestige" automobiles: powerful Corvettes, Porches, Jaguars and other pricey automobiles. And they sold well. "Business was good," Murphy said.
In fact, Murphy said, business was too good. He said Boyle got into trouble because his sales volume was not matched by increases in credit from his bank, Forest Hill State Bank.
The result, Murphy claims, were cash flow problems that led to the collapse of the business and plunged Boyle into bankruptcy.
"It was just one of those unfortunate kinds of business collapses," Murphy said. "The business went bad because it was undercapitalized by the bank."
Murphy said that although liens went unsatisfied after Boyle received money to pay them, "he did not profit from what happened at all. The money went back into the business. The prosecutor characterizes that as theft. We think it was bad business."
Although Cassilly was reserved in his comments on the charges, he responded, "I guess that's his version of the facts. I would disagree with that statement."
Cassilly said the alleged practices left some people who bought cars from Boyle with two car notes: one for their new car and another for the one they had traded in. Cassilly said today that he was not sure how many consumers might have been affected.
For his part Boyle, who is back to selling cars for his father, said he is happy to have the charges in the open.
"I've been living with this for one year," he said. "I have chosen to go to trial because I hope then that all the facts will come out."