Reodica fraud trial rescheduled for Nov.

LOS ANGELES  –  The fraud trial against embattled car dealer Eminiano “Jun” Reodica, Jr., scheduled on Tuesday, August 19, has been moved again by the court to a later date on Nov. 4, 2014.

According to court documents, Judge S. James Otero filed a Scheduling Notice on Aug. 8, 2014 to reschedule the trial three months later.

Reodica, former president of the Grand Chevrolet and Grand Wilshire Group, supposedly defrauded about $100 million from banks and around 1,000 investors by running a dubious car dealership operation in Glendora, Calif.

At one point in the late 1980s, Reodica even purportedly proclaimed in a videotaped message that his Grand Chevrolet dealership would soon rise to become the top-selling dealership in the United States, “and most likely, the world.”

Now 69 years old, Reodica faces 51 counts of fraud and could stand to face a maximum of 250 years in prison, if proven guilty.

Syndicated fraud

According to a 1994 indictment filed against the suspect, lenders who approved large lines of credit to Reodica’s dealership were supposedly impressed by how his high-risk customers were able to pay their auto loan monthly dues on time. However, it was later found that Reodica and his staffers allegedly fronted payments for delinquent customers, filed fraudulent transactions, repossessed and resold cars without informing the lenders, and deleted negative information on car buyers’ credit reports.

The indictment also claimed that Reodica asked employees to take out loans for cars that would in turn be sold to the dealership’s customers. The dealership would then make the payments on the employees’ loans, and count the real and fake sales toward their sales reports in efforts to convince investors and financiers to continue funding their operation, court documents said.

In 1987, Grand Chevrolet’s reported revenue was around $146 million (around $296 million in present day), and had sold 12, 618 new and pre-owned cars, the Los Angeles Times reported. According to the LA Times article on the scam operation, the sales numbers in 1987 effectively pushed Reodica’s car shop to elite status, becoming the number one Chevrolet dealership across the United States.

A few months after his videotaped message of victory, Reodica vanished.

In Aug. 4, 1988, Grand Chevrolet filed for bankruptcy. On the same day, Reodica was reportedly spotted at a hotel in the Philippines.

In an Automotive News report, a lawyer for Grand Chevrolet’s biggest creditor, Imperial Savings & Loan, said that they had suspected wrongdoing only a short time before Reodica’s disappearance.

Imperial Savings, along with thousands of other investors in Reodica’s scam, eventually faced financial adversity after the downfall of Grand Chevrolet. Many Filipinos, mostly doctors and other professionals, also fell prey to Reodica, pitching him over millions of dollars in investments. Some families even had to file for bankruptcy.

Victor Vilaplana, Imperial Savings’ lawyer, called Reodica’s operation as “one of the most elaborate and well-conceived scams imaginable” in an interview with Times in September 1988.

Disappearance and capture

After escaping US authorities in 1988, Reodica later resurfaced in Brisbane, Australia, where he had been living for the past two decades, under the name Roberto Coscolluela, Jr.

In Australia, Reodica, posing as Coscolluela, continued his old ways and again defrauded customers while fronting as an accountant, real estate and insurance agent. Court records and several sources in Australia claimed that Reodica defrauded several members of the Filipino-Australian community.

According to court documents, Reodica became an Australian citizen in 1992, as Roberto Abrian Coscolluela, Jr.

In November 2012, Reodica was apprehended by US federal agents during a Los Angeles stopover for an international flight, while he was en route to a wedding in Canada. Carrying an Australian passport as Coscolluela, he was asked by airport security to undergo a fingerprint scan. His fingerprint scans revealed to authorities that he was indeed the fugitive Reodica that they had been looking for, for nearly a quarter of a century.

In a previous Asian Journal report, Reodica’s court-appointed public defendant Moria Radin said that the arrest occurred without incident and that her client is being cooperative with authorities.

“He is aware of the alleged losses by investors and creditors,” Radin said to Asian Journal. “He is eager to resolve this case.”

(With reports from Joseph Pimentel of Asian Journal, Automotive News, and The Australian)

(LA Midweek August 20-22, 2014 Sec. A pg.1)

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