Manager of Fortville car dealership accused of corrupt business influence, forgery

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Daniel Trappe

FORTVILLE, Ind. – A Noblesville man faces multiple criminal charges after a yearlong investigation into his auto sales company.

Fortville police arrested Daniel Trappe, 38, after investigating the operations at Prestige Automotive LLC. The department was first notified of problems at the company in December 2015, when several customers who’d bought cars said the company didn’t send them titles to vehicles they’d purchased. Without titles, the customers couldn’t register their vehicles to legally drive them.

Detectives said the company wasn’t giving titles to customers in accordance with state law and forged other documents after selling vehicles.

Trappe faces 28 counts, including corrupt business influence, theft, forgery, failure to deliver a title and issuing an altered or false interim plate. He is serving time in the Indiana Department of Correction in Marion County for an unrelated crime, police said.

According to court documents, one customer agreed to buy a Volkswagen Passat TDI for $16,000 and got a check from his bank. He sent the check to Trappe, telling him not to cash until the car was delivered. The check was cashed the next day; the customer found another car and no longer wanted the one he’d sent the check for.

Trappe told the customer he’d already paid for the car. Over the next 30 days, the customer made several attempts to get the car, and Trappe said he would eventually get it. When the customer asked for information about the car, none of it checked out. The customer contacted authorities after Trappe said he no longer had his money.

In numerous cases, investigators said Trappe failed to provide customers with the proper paperwork and illegally sold vehicles. Customers said they bought cars but didn’t get the titles within 21 days as required by state law. In at least two cases, customers accused Trappe of forging their signatures on loan documents to pay for vehicles they planned to buy.

Police and the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office received dozens of complaints about Trappe and Prestige Automotive, which went out of business in 2015. The business was also part of a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General’s Office in March 2016.