Auto Dealers Charged With Scamming Customers

EAST BRUNSWICK—Two Colts Neck men were arrested on charges of stealing $229,000 from a real estate investor and about $500,000 from 32 individuals and companies that gave vehicles to sell on consignment at the defendants’ two used car centers in East Brunswick, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan announced Wednesday.

Brett Golkin, 47, and Peter Schladebeck, 46, were charged with facilitation, theft by deception, and theft by failure to make the required disposition of cash received for the vehicles, according to authorities. Facilitation is the possession of proceeds derived from criminal activity.


In addition, they were charged with a count of issuing $59,289 in bad checks between May 8, 2009, and August 5, 2009, after three vehicle owners demanded payment, authorities said.

An investigation by Lt. Daniel DelBagno and Investigator Donald Heck, both of the Special Prosecutions Section of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, determined that Golkin and Schladebeck sold 32 vehicles, valued at about $500,000, but failed to reimburse the original owners, authorities said.

The defendants, owners of Freedom Auto Center, a used car dealership with two locations on Route 18 in East Brunswick, sold the vehicles between January 2008, and September 2009, according to authorities.

The investigation began after the individuals who purchased the vehicles began calling authorities after they paid Freedom Auto Center, but never received titles for the property and could not register the vehicles.

Original owners held onto the titles while they waited for payment from Golkin and Schladebeck, who were keeping the money they received from the sale of each vehicle, authorities said. Initially, the car dealers had agreed to pay the owners for the vehicles and keep a commission for themselves. Instead, they allegedly used the proceeds to pay personal expenses.

The investigation also showed that on October 15, 2008, the defendants accepted $229,000 from an investor to assist in the purchase of real estate. Golkin and Schladebeck kept the investor’s money and never told him they already owned the property, authorities said.

Golkin surrendered to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office on Feb. 1 and Schladebeck surrendered on Feb. 2010.

They are currently being held at the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center on $1 million bail each and must post the full amount, rather than the customary 10 percent, authorities said. Bail was set by Superior Court Judge Frederick P. DeVesa.

Authorities are asking anyone with information regarding this on-going investigation, or who believes they have been defrauded by Freedom Auto Center, to call Lt. DelBagno at 1-732-745-4504, or Investigator Heck at 1-732-745-8848.

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