Owner of Civics Reborn pleads guilty to swindle of customers
Zachary Moore pleaded guilty to swindling numerous customers of his Civics Reborn business, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Thursday.
Moore pleaded guilty to a single felony count of theft by swindle over $35,000 Wednesday and sentencing was set for 8:45 a.m. Jan. 9 before Hennepin County District Court Judge Pamela Alexander.
Under the plea agreement, Moore is expected to be placed on probation for 10 years. He agreed to serve 100 days in jail, with 10 days to be served each year of his probation. He also must pay approximately $200,000 in restitution to his victims. To encourage Moore to more quickly make full restitution, he can be released from his probation as soon as all the victims are completely paid back. As part of the agreement, prosecutors will dismiss eight counts of failure to remit sales tax and an Anoka County case of theft by swindle against Moore will be dismissed.
“Everyday citizens were ripped off by Mr. Moore, often taking the only money they had for transportation,” Freeman said. “In 2011 alone, more than 30 customers paid Civics Reborn between $3,500 and $6,000 and never received a car. The few cars that Moore actually delivered were dangerous to drive. This creative sentence should help the victims of this fraud obtain restitution from Moore. And he will carry the burden for his wrongdoing for at least 10 years.”
According to the criminal complaint, customers would go to Civics Reborn looking to purchase a 1992 to 1995 Honda Civic and order a package of repairs to refurbish the car. Moore would require the full payment for the car and work in advance. Then, the completion date would come and go and no car would be delivered. It would become increasingly difficult for the customers to reach anyone at the business.
When the customer had complained enough, Moore would tell them he would sell the car to someone else and pay them back with those proceeds. Some cars were sold two or three times but the customer never saw the money, according to the complaint.
Civics Reborn operated out of offices in Brooklyn Park, Lexington, three addresses in Minneapolis and one in Isanti County. When customers would show up at the place they had done business, they would often find it gone. Usually, it was because Moore had not paid his rent, the complaint stated.
Yet, a review of the company’s bank records indicated a positive cash flow from January to July 2011. At that point, there were a number of withdrawals from the Civics Reborn business and deposits into other accounts controlled by Moore, according to the complaint.
Moore also swindled a school teacher who invested $79,000 of her retirement savings, according to the complaint.