A former Harford County used car dealer pleaded guilty yesterday to charges he paid for two cars with bad checks, leaving one Bel Air family owing nearly $15,000 for a car they no longer owned.
Robert Brooke Boyle agreed to a plea bargain to settle what had been 76 charges ranging from fraud, bad check-writing and theft resulting from the failure of his lot in Bel Air, according to his attorney.
William H. Murphy Jr., who represents Mr. Boyle, said his client agreed to pay $207,000 in restitution to customers who had been stuck with car loans, state tax payments and other costs.
The 29-year-old former auto dealer is scheduled to be sentenced July 2. Prosecutors are recommending a 10-year term, with all but one year suspended.
As a part of the agreement, Boyle will get his auto dealer's license back from the state in two years, Mr. Murphy said.
The charges stemmed from Boyle's closure of his car lot, Brooke Boyle Cars Limited, in the fall of 1989. In the indictment filed last year, prosecutors said Boyle had accepted dozens of cars for trade-in, agreeing to pay off the customers' bank loans, but then failed to do so.
Boyle pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of fraud for having taken in trade a 1989 Ford Mustang from Jeremy and Amy Andrews of Bel Air, selling the car, and then reneging on his agreement to pay off the $14,423 lien the couple had on the car. Ford sued them for the money.
According to court documents,Boyle tried to pay off the lien, but his check bounced.
In addition, Boyle failed to pay the taxes on the car the Andrewses had bought from him, preventing the family from getting license plates and being able to drive it legally.
Boyle also pleaded guilty to one bad check charge for having bought a 1985 Chevrolet Corvette from Team Chevrolet with a $11,800 bad check.
Boyle's attorney, Mr. Murphy, said the charges show what can happen to a businessman "with the sudden financial collapse of his business." Mr. Murphy said his client knew he was overdrawn, but thought his checks would be honored by his bank because his overdrafts had been honored in the past.
"Had the bank not pulled the plug on Mr. Boyle" the dealership would be in business today, Mr. Murphy asserted. Mr. Murphy said the charges and conviction have devastated his client. "He has suffered mightily," he said.
But Donald W. Houck, who traded in a Camaro to Boyle in the fall of 1989 and spent the next year fighting a legal battle to get the Camaro's lien paid off, said yesterday that he thought Boyle "ought to get 20 or 30 years."
Mr. Houck said his bank eventually forgave the loan for the Camaro after realizing that the car had disappeared and that it wasn't Mr. Houck's fault that the lien had gone unpaid. But the settlement took nearly a year and cost him $1,500 in lawyer's fees, Mr. Houck said.
And for most of last year, there was a blot on his credit rating, Mr. Houck said.