BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — On June 5, federal prosecutors charged the general manager of Serra Nissan with conspiracy to defraud Nissan North America through its dealership incentive programs. Eight former managers and salespeople have already pleaded guilty to fraudulent activity, and another dealership employee was arrested on June 2.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a one-count information in U.S. District Court charging that Randy D. Visser, 45, directed officers of the Birmingham dealership to falsify sales reports submitted by wire to the manufacturer so Serra Nissan could receive incentive payments it did not earn. Prosecutors also filed a plea agreement with Visser, in which he acknowledges the conspiracy charge and states his intention to plead guilty.
The charge against Visser follows last month’s grand jury indictment of Serra Nissan’s controller, Kimberly H. Branch. The 16-count indictment of Branch includes conspiracy and wire fraud charges based on the same scheme to defraud Nissan North America by falsely reporting to the manufacturer that certain cars were sold at Serra Nissan when they were sold at another Serra dealership.
The conspiracy charge against Visser charges that, between March 2013 and April 2013, Visser directed other employees at Serra Nissan to create false documents reporting vehicles sold at Serra Visser Nissan in Cullman as sold at Serra Nissan in Birmingham. The process, known as “pooling sales,” occurs when a dealer owns or is associated with more than one dealership and attributes sales from one dealership to another in order to meet sales incentive levels that each dealership would not reach on its own.
At all times relevant to the charged offense, Visser owned 49% of Serra Visser Nissan. His wife owned 2% and her father, Anthony Serra, owned 49%, according to Visser’s information and plea agreement. Serra owns 50% of Serra Nissan and his daughter owns the other 50%, according to the documents.
Visser and others in the conspiracy fraudulently claimed 15 vehicle sales for Serra Nissan, causing Nissan North America to overpay the dealership $64,800 in incentives, according to the charges.
The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.