The plea for Douglas Grooms is scheduled for October, a day before the trial in the Rick Weaver dealership case is set to begin.
A co-defendant in the federal fraud case against an Erie auto dealership is set to enter a plea in October.
Douglas A. Grooms, the former general manager of Rick Weaver Buick GMC Inc., intends to plead, rather than proceed to trial, according to a document filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Erie.
His plea hearing before U.S. District Judge David S. Cercone is scheduled for Oct. 23. The filing does not indicate whether Grooms plans to plead guilty or no contest.
Notice of Grooms’ plea comes as the parties in the case are preparing for a trial scheduled to begin Oct. 24 in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, where Cercone is seated. It was not immediately clear Thursday whether Grooms’ plea will affect the trial date.
Also charged are the Rick Weaver dealership, at 714 W. 12th St.; dealership owner Adam J. Weaver, of Fairview; and Adam B. Coover, of Erie, a friend of Adam Weaver who owned his own car lot.
All are charged with felony counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. A superseding indictment in August added a count of wire fraud to the 13-count indictment that was originally filed in September 2016 in U.S. District Court in Erie.
The defendants are accused of involvement in a loan scheme from May 2015 to March 2016 that used “straw buyers” to inflate the price of cars the Rick Weaver dealership was selling, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. The office said straw buyers defaulted on the loans, leaving banks and other lenders unable to recoup the cost of the loans.
Grooms, 46, waived his appearance in court at his arraignment on the superseding indictment earlier this month, and entered a not-guilty plea.
He is serving a two-year sentence in federal prison for embezzling $485,000 from Community Chevrolet in Meadville between June 2008 and September 2013, before he started working for the Weaver dealership.
Adam Weaver and Coover are both free on $10,000 unsecured bonds.
Coover and another local auto salesman, Brian A. Vergotz, are also charged in a similar loan scheme separate from the one in which the Weaver dealership is accused. Both Coover and Vergotz have entered not-guilty pleas in that case and are awaiting prosecution.
Madeleine O’Neill can be reached at 870-1728 or by email. Follow her on Twitter at Media
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