DAVENPORT, Iowa — General Motors filed a lawsuit against Iowa dealership Leep Chevrolet, which does business under the fictitious name of Lujack Chevrolet. The domestic automaker charged the operation with “widespread fraudulent and unlawful conduct.”
According to court filings, GM alleges that Leep implemented a scheme — known as the “Daisy Chain” plot among the Leep franchise — to defraud the automaker in reporting “dozens, if not hundreds” of false retail sales of new Chevrolet cars to customers.
GM alleged that the dealer then transferred those falsely reported vehicles to affiliated dealerships controlled by Michael R. Leep, Sr., who then offered them for sale at his Indiana-based group. The vehicles, GM reported, were marketed to the public as “used vehicles that were just like new.” In the complaint, GM said the alleged scheme violates the GM Dealer Sales and Service Agreement and applicable law.
In an e-mailed statement, Gurley Leep’s COO, Don Reese, denied the charges. “In reviewing the notice, we disagree strongly with the allegations and consider them entirely unfounded and without merit,” he wrote. “This action is unprecedented and will be vigorously defended. We have prided ourselves on having exceptionally strong relationships with the 30 manufacturer partners we have represented over the past 35 years. While dealers and manufacturers have disagreements from time to time, we are confident that when the facts are presented, the courts will find [them] in our favor.”
A spokesperson for General Motors declined to comment on the ongoing litigation.
According to GM’s claims, various employees of the Leep Group were involved in multiple car purchases, with some transactions even occurring in the same day, while more elaborate paperwork involved sales of as many as 27 vehicles to one employee in a matter of about two months. The reason for the misleading reporting, GM claimed, is that Leep Chevrolet was subject to closing its doors in a “wind down agreement” during the period of GM’s corporate bankruptcy.
Included in the court filing were monthly sales transactions from 2011 and 2012. They showed that the operation sold 38 new vehicles in February 2011, but then reported 282 vehicles sold in November 2012 — the dealership’s best monthly total that year. With the favorable sales and fake customer surveys, the dealership reportedly received thousands of dollars in payments from GM under the GM Standards for Excellence program.
“After performing at substandard levels for an extended period of time, Leep’s reported retail sales in November 2012 were among the highest volumes reported that month by any Chevrolet dealer in the country,” the complaint read.