BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — DANVERS — The now-former used-car manager at a Danvers auto dealership yesterday admitted in court to charges that he pocketed nearly $50,000 from the sale of trade-in vehicles to other dealerships.
Joseph Tegan, 35, of Belmont was charged earlier this year after his former employers at Honda North went to police with evidence that Tegan had sold cars to a Dracut used-car dealer but never reported the transactions.
During a hearing yesterday in Salem District Court, Tegan admitted to sufficient facts for a guilty finding on a charge of felony larceny, but a judge agreed to continue the case without a finding for the next two years. That will allow Tegan to continue to pay restitution to the dealership, the judge said.
Tegan now works at a Nissan dealership in Fitchburg, his attorney said.
Prosecutor Alex Grimes had urged a guilty finding and probation, calling the case “a significant embezzlement” of funds from the business.
Grimes cited a Danvers police report — and Tegan’s own emails to his former bosses, essentially acknowledging what he’d done.
In March, the dealership’s general manager notified police that he had recently fired Tegan following an internal investigation into financial discrepancies.
Tegan’s job involved assessing and disposing of trade-in vehicles; when the trade-ins are older or higher-mileage vehicles, this is typically done either by selling them at auto auctions or to wholesalers.
The scheme had apparently been going on for several months, the manager told police.
Confronted by police, Tegan admitted that he had sold nine used vehicles, most of them older model Hondas and Toyotas, to used-car dealers, including the one in Dracut.
The total amount he received for the cars was $48,468. He told police he hid the transactions by mis-reporting the amounts of money he’d received for cars sold at the auto auction.
The dealership recouped some of its money immediately by docking Tegan’s final paychecks.
Tegan’s attorney, William Franzese, said in court that Tegan later reached a civil settlement under which he’s repaying the money at a rate of $2,000 a month.
The hearing nearly broke down when Franzese tried to suggest that Tegan had taken the money because he thought that’s how his bonus would be paid.
And Grimes, the prosecutor, said Tegan had told police, “This happens more than people think.”
“It’s a larceny,” the judge told Tegan and his lawyer. “It’s a very different thing than what you’re describing. I can’t accept a plea on that basis.”
But after Franzese said Tegan would admit that he had stolen at least $250, the threshold for a felony larceny charge, the judge agreed to accept the plea.
There is still disagreement over how much restitution Tegan will have to pay the dealership in the criminal case; a hearing on that issue is set for Dec. 13.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.