Prosecutors: York Twp. auto dealership scammed dozens of buyers

Ron Musselman
York Dispatch
D&M Auto Sales, at 2873 E. Prospect Road in York Township, remained open more than a month following a search warrant executed by York Area Regional Police Department in September.

Five people associated with the defunct D&M Auto Sales in York Township were arraigned on multiple felony charges Thursday related to what state prosecutors say were deceptive and fraudulent business practices.  

Dean Michael Lake, 27, of York Township; Dean Matthew Lake, 28, of Windsor Township; Michael L. Lake, 57, of  Lower Windsor Township; Michael Lawone Lake II, 34, of York Township; and Ruth Hutchinson, 57, of Chanceford Township, have all been charged by the state Attorney General's Office.

The business was located at 2873 E. Prospect St., near the intersection of Cape Horn Road.

All five are charged with corrupt organizations by an employee, conspiracy to defraud, conspiracy for deceptive business or fraudulent practices, deceptive or fraudulent business practices, conspiracy for theft by deception and theft by deception, all felonies.

More: York Township auto dealership closed amidst 'hundreds' of calls to police

More: State orders D&M Auto to refund consumers, pay fine

Hutchinson also faces an additional misdemeanor charge of tampering with public records and information.

D&M owner Dean Matthew Lake, his relatives and former employees are accused of altering vehicles' sales prices and double-charging for taxes, tags and fees in an effort to boost profit, the state prosecutors said.

They also are accused of falsifying records submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

The AG's complaint alleges Hutchinson, the business' office manager, conspired with her employer to alter PennDOT paperwork to stay within compliance.

In all, 64 customers had financing paperwork that was increased by D&M beyond the actual sale price, state prosecutors said. The complaint also accused D&M of adding fraudulent Guaranteed Auto Protection insurance coverage or service contracts to 38 customers' bills without their knowledge.

GAP insurance is an optional coverage that helps pay off your auto loan if your car is totaled or stolen and you owe more than the car is worth.

The AG's office said there were 14 occurrences of vehicle sales not being submitted to the PennDOT within the proper time frame.

Overall, D&M illicitly profited by $71,000 between April 2014 and November 2015, prosecutors allege. 

All five individuals were arraigned Thursday, Jan. 23, and released on $17,500 unsecured bail by Magisterial District Judge Scott Laird. Their preliminary hearings are set for 9 a.m. Feb. 13.

Representatives from the AG's office declined comment after the arraignment. Attorneys representing those charged could not be reached Thursday for comment. 

The charges come after nearly a five-year investigation by the York Area Regional Police Department, the York County District Attorney and the AG's office, York Area Police Detective Michael Zinn Jr. said Thursday. 

D&M Auto shut down late in 2015 after the state Department of Transportation revoked the business' right to issue temporary titles.

In May 2016, the state Department of Banking and Securities ordered the D&M dealership to refund 194 consumers for overcharges and pay a $430,000 fine.