(UPDATE) NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A federal bankruptcy judge has granted a restraining order that stays criminal proceedings in Michigan against former auctioneer John Vincent Trotter of Tennessee.
Judge Marian Harrison ruled Aug. 23 that Trotter may be able to show the Michigan prosecutions were undertaken solely to collect a debt, which bankruptcy law forbids. She set a hearing for Aug. 29 on an injunction that would bar the Michigan dealers from participating in the prosecution until his protest is resolved.
No one appeared in court to oppose the request for the restraining orders. Part of Trotter’s argument was that he was offered a plea deal in Michigan in which he could plead guilty but avoid jail time if he agreed to pay restitution to the dealers.
Trotter was due in Michigan for arraignment on two felony charges Aug. 26, but Harrison’s order postpones further action on the charges at least until after the Aug. 29 hearing.
The order also releases Holiday Powersports from the adversarial action in the bankruptcy court. Trotter’s attorney, Paul Jennings, also asked to drop Holiday from the case on a promise that it would not pursue further action against Trotter. He presented the court with a letter from the chief appellate attorney at the Michigan prosecutor’s office saying he could not prove fraud regarding Holiday.
“The office decided not to file charges because we do not believe we have sufficient evidence showing an intent to defraud,” the letter states. “Unless new evidence shows up, this office stands by that decision.”
ST. JOHNS, Mich. – A former auctioneer from Tennessee is facing criminal charges in Michigan after two dealers there said they were paid far less than their consigned vehicles were worth during auctions in 2010.
John Vincent Trotter, former owner of National Public Auction, My Auction Connection (MAC) and The Auction Connection, is due in court Aug. 26 to be arraigned on two felony charges in connection with vehicles he sold at auction for Woody’s Cycle Sales of Tawas and US 27 Motorsports of St. Johns.
Trotter is charged with on one count each of larceny over $20,000 and obtaining, by false pretenses, money or property valued over $100,000. The penalty for the larceny charge is up to 10 years in prison and/or $15,000 or three times the value of the property stolen. For the false pretenses charge, the penalty is up to 20 years in prison and/or $35,000 or three times the value of the property or money stolen.
Trotter appeared in 65th District Court Aug. 1 with his attorney for a preliminary hearing; the charges were bound over to Clinton County Circuit Court for further action. Trotter is free on a $10,000 bond.
Trotter said he plans to plead not guilty to the charges. His attorney in the Michigan case, Nicholas Leydorf, declined further comment. Trotter’s bankruptcy attorney, Paul Jennings, filed a request with the bankruptcy court seeking to have the Michigan charges dismissed. Jennings claims that the Michigan case is an effort to use criminal courts to collect a debt.
Information in the Michigan felony complaint against Trotter is sparse and prosecutors declined to elaborate. However, the larceny charge accuses Trotter of "converting to his own use” motorcycles and ATVs consigned by Fred Grove, owner of US 27 Motorsports. Grove said he sent about a dozen units with a total value of $106,000 to Trotter’s auction, and was offered just $53,000 after the sale. He didn’t take the money, kept the MSOs for the vehicles, and reported them stolen.
“I took $110,000 out of my kids’ college fund to pay for it,” Grove said.
Three Michigan dealerships were listed as creditors in Trotter’s bankruptcy case, which was terminated by the court July 9 with most of his debts discharged.
- US 27’s claim was for $59,430.
- Woody’s said it was owed $19,000.
- Holiday Powersports of Michigan Center claimed it was owed $140,724, but it is not part of the criminal case.
Some dealers said they were never notified that they were listed as creditors in the bankruptcy and had no notice to file creditor claims. (continued)