A former Fremont auto dealer was indicted in federal court Thursday on 13 counts of wire fraud after prosecutors say he lied to financial institutions, costing them more than $3 million.
Jason Siemer, who previously owned Siemer Auto Center in Fremont, operated his company by bidding on vehicles at auctions with funds from short-term lending. After reselling the used vehicles, he would pay off the loans with the proceeds.
At least that’s what the lenders assumed. Prosecutors say that instead, he used the credit lines for personal enrichment and to purchase cars for himself or significant others.
Calls to phone numbers listed in Siemer’s name were unsuccessful Friday night.
Siemer obtained his loans from Eide Wholesale, Automotive Capital Services, Westlake Flooring Co. and the United Republic Bank in Omaha. The indictment says that to obtain lines of credit from ACS, Westlake and URB, Siemer created false financial statements that failed to include his line of credit from Eide. If these companies had known about Siemer’s existing liabilities, they likely would not have provided him with the funds that they did.
According to the indictment, Siemer also frequently received loans from multiple lenders for the alleged purchase of the same vehicle. Often, the same vehicle was paid for by two or three lenders.
For example, in July 2016, Siemer borrowed $26,200 from URB to purchase a 2013 Cadillac XTS. Five days later, according to court documents, he borrowed the same amount from Eide to buy the same car.
The indictment covers Siemer’s activities from September 2014 to December 2016, when his company dissolved.
Along with the unknowing lenders, Siemer’s customers also said they were victims. Bennington couple Rachel and Shawn Woodring bought a Pontiac GTO from Siemer Auto Center in 2016 and were among many customers who never received a title for their vehicle after the business abruptly closed.
Without a title, the Woodrings couldn’t properly register their car.
Siemer told the couple that he was having trouble with the bank in Kansas that held the title and promised that he would provide it soon.
Instead, their car ended up sitting in their garage for a year and a half, “basically a paperweight,” Rachel Woodring said.
After contacting an attorney, their bank, the Kansas bank and a state agency and jumping numerous state and federal hurdles, the Woodrings finally got a title for their car in March.
“You have no idea how much of a hassle this was,” Woodring said.
After all the headaches, they did learn a valuable lesson, she said: “Don’t drive off the lot without a title in your hand.”
Siemer’s 13 counts of wire fraud each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years. Siemer also faces two counts of making false statements on loan applications, which carry a maximum sentence of 30 years. And there is one count of money laundering in connection with a Corvette that prosecutors say he purchased with money that belonged to lenders. That charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.
An initial hearing in the case is scheduled for early December.
In total, Siemer obtained $9.7 million in lines of credit from the four lenders through submissions of false statements, prosecutors say.
Since his business closed, Siemer has also been sued in Nebraska court by ACS and URB. Siemer was found liable for $1.1 million in the URB case. ACS’s is still pending.