Charges dropped against Windsor man in car dealership fraud case
A Windsor man is now free and clear after dozens of fraud charges have been dropped against him.
He was at the centre of a car dealership fraud investigation stemming back to 2011. Three men were originally facing a total of 146 charges of fraud.
All have now been dropped.
He says he always knew he was innocent.
“Winning your life back is always feeling good,” he says.
Hazime is truly a free man. All 80 charges of fraud and forgery laid against him have been dropped.
“Trust in the court system is how I proved my innocence,” he says.
He was charged after police investigated his car dealership, Big 3 Auto. Police alleged he altered loan documents and sold warranties that didn't exist.
“I was really stressed and had a little nervous breakdown, which is normal to lose everything and be away and not know what was going on,” he says.
In the midst of the case, Hazime was given clearance by the Crown attorney to return to Lebanon to care for his ailing mother. He missed one of his scheduled court dates and must now pay a $300 fine. He also lost $15,000 bail.
“The fact he didn't come back has nothing to do with innocence or guilt,” says his lawyer Bob Dipietro.
Diepietro says his client was always in contact and has known for eight months these charges would likely be dropped.
“There was no reasonable prospect of conviction so they dropped the charges,” says Dipietro.
The Ministry of the Attorney General would not specify why, other than to say "there have been a number of developments since the accused last appeared in court, including the receipt of additional material."
Diepetro believes the new developments are changes in the alleged victims’ testimony.
“These persons were not overly truthful about things that happen,” says Dipietro.
Some of the alleged victims are still testifying at a hearing for Alex Bakir, originally charged in this case as well.
“All the consumers? They were misled,” says Bakir.
Bakir is fighting to keep his dealers' licence with the Ontario Motor Vehicles Industry Council.
“I think we have to wait for the tribunal to rule before we judge the credibility of the victims who testified,” says Terry O’Keefe, spokesman for OMVIC.
O’Keefe maintains despite the failure of criminal charges, something was amiss at Big 3 Auto.
“Thirteen people filed claims they did not get warranties they paid for. We paid out more than $19,000 to these people,” says O’Keefe.
CTV News reached out to the alleged victims interviewed over the last 18 months in connection with this case, but none of them were available to comment and did not return phone calls.
Windsor police would also not comment on this latest development.