Former Oklahoma Dealership Owner Sentenced to Almost 11 Years for Fraud Scheme

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Bobby Chris Mayes and two co-defendants were accused of falsifying customers' loan applications and bribing at least one loan officer.

Bobby Chris Mayes, 51, of Norman, OK, former owner of Big Red Dealerships, was sentenced to 130 months in federal prison for a complex web of wire fraud, conspiracy, issuing forged securities, aggravated identity theft and obstruction of justice., U.S. Attorney Robert J. Troester announced. 

Co-defendants Charles Gooch and Courtney Wells, who both played key roles in the scheme, are awaiting their sentencing in the coming weeks. 

The case stems from an elaborate scheme that defrauded car buyers and lenders out of millions of dollars, impacting more than 20 financial institutions and hundreds of borrowers.

In September 2020, Mayes, Gooch and Wells were indicted on 25 counts for their involvement in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The trio exploited their positions as co-owners of the Big Red Dealerships, which included Big Red Sports/Imports, Big Red Kia, Norman Yamaha, Norman Mitsubishi and Mayes Kia, to obtain millions of dollars in loan proceeds through fraudulent means.

Mayes, the owner of the dealerships, Gooch, who served as the compliance officer, and Wells, the financial controller, were accused of making materially false statements and omissions to lenders regarding borrowers' down payments or vehicle trade-ins. They also allegedly bribed at least one loan officer to facilitate their fraudulent activities.

The jury trial, which took place in November 2021, revealed the extent of the deception. Testimony from customers, former employees and representatives of several lenders detailed how Big Red Dealerships targeted customers with poor credit, falsely documented cash down payments and engaged in various fraudulent practices. Mayes even resorted to sending threats to a lender CEO to hinder investigations into the scheme.

The trial showed Big Red Dealerships falsely documented vehicle trade-ins and inflated vehicle prices to secure questionable loans. The jury ultimately convicted all three defendants of conspiring to commit wire fraud, with Mayes and Gooch found guilty of 12 counts of wire fraud, and Wells convicted of six counts.

Following the trial, Wells and her boyfriend, Brandon Landers, fled to Mexico in an attempt to avoid incarceration. However, they were captured in Oaxaca, Mexico, in October 2022 and returned to the U.S.

In February 2023, Mayes faced new charges of tampering with official proceedings. He was accused of orchestrating Wells' flight to Mexico, fabricating evidence and sending an anonymous email to the court in an effort to obtain a new trial. In June, Mayes pleaded guilty to two counts of tampering with official proceedings, admitting his role in assisting Wells' escape to Mexico and providing financial support.

During the recent sentencing hearings, evidence was presented regarding Mayes' efforts to obstruct justice, including falsified evidence presented to the court and threats to kill a witness who testified at his trial. 

In addition to his 130-month prison sentence for fraud-related counts, Mayes was given an additional 65 months for obstruction-related charges, to run concurrently. He had already paid $1.2 million in restitution and was ordered to forfeit profits from the scheme amounting to another $1 million.

U.S. District Judge Stephen P. Friot, who presided over the case, emphasized the aggravating factors surrounding the extensive fraud scheme and Mayes' attempts to deceive the court and the government.

The investigation was led by the FBI's Oklahoma City Field Office, with Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas Snyder and Jacqueline Hutzell prosecuting the case.

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