R. Brooke Boyle, a former Bel Air car dealer, pleaded guilty today to two criminal counts in what prosecutors have called one of the biggest white-collar fraud cases in Harford County.
Boyle, 29, whose family has been well-known in the car business in the county since the 1930s, pleaded guilty before Harford County Circuit Court Judge William O. Carr to one count of fraud and one count of writing a bad check.
Last fall, Boyle was charged in a 76-count indictment, including more than 40 counts of theft, alleging that he stole nearly $300,000 from 26 customers, suppliers and other businesses between August 1988 and October 1989, when he was forced out of business.
Prosecutors say many of the charges stemmed from a scheme in which a customer would buy a car and Boyle would agree to satisfy a lien on a traded-in car in return. But Boyle, according to prosecutors, would never satisfy the lien on the trade-in, leaving the customer with two car loans to pay.
Boyle, whose dealership specialized in used luxury and sports cars, is to be sentenced July 2. Prosecutors are recommending that he receive a five-year prison sentence on the fraud count, with all but one year suspended, and a 10-year sentence on the bad-check count, with all but one year suspended. The prison terms would be concurrent, so Boyle would serve a year in jail.
Prosecutors added that they would not object to Boyle serving the prison term in a work-release program.
As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors also are recommending that Boyle make restitution of about $208,000. Boyle, whose Brooke Boyle Motorcars Ltd. was in the 1600 block of Belair Road, will remain free on his own recognizance until sentencing.
H. Scott Lewis, an assistant state's attorney in Harford, said prosecutors accepted the agreement after concluding that there was no guarantee of guilty verdicts on all counts.
"The whole point of this was to get restitution for the victims" and have Boyle serve some time in prison, said Christopher J. Romano, an assistant state attorney general who helped prosecute the case.
William H. Murphy, Boyle's attorney, said his client was not guilty of crimes as much as bad business decisions and relying on an "honest" belief that his bank would cover for overdrafts on his account. He said Boyle chose to accept the plea agreement so his business dealings "wouldn't be characterized as criminal acts" during a trial.