A man who ran a large Glendora car dealership before fleeing the country in the late 1980s pleaded guilty to federal charges on the eve of trial and faces sentencing in February, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday.
Eminiano “Jun” Reodica Jr., 71, unexpectedly entered his plea late Monday — a day before he was to go on trial in Los Angeles — to charges of bank fraud and lying to banks, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Reodica’s “rags to riches” story, as outlined in press reports in the 1980s, described how he went from working as a busboy in Los Angeles restaurants to owning one of the largest car dealerships in the country.
But when investigators began probing the business as it was collapsing in 1988, the Filipino-born Reodica vanished before reappearing in Queensland, Australia, in the early 1990s under the name Roberto Coscolluela.
Before fleeing Los Angeles, Reodica was president of the Grand Wilshire Group of Cos., which operated dozens of dealerships including Grand Chevrolet, then the third-largest car dealership in the country.
According to his plea, Reodica admitted engaging in fraud schemes and making false statements to at least five banks, including Union Bank, Imperial Savings, First Los Angeles Bank, ManilaBank and First Central Bank, from 1984 to 1988.
Specifically, Reodica admitted to promising the same car contract as collateral to two different banks at the same time.
The scheme involved directing employees to forge customer signatures on car contracts and then promising the forged contract to a second bank, and repossessing and reselling vehicles without informing the banks, prosecutors said.
Reodica also admitted to hiding from the banks that customers were delinquent on their car loans, and making his employees sign for car loans for vehicles that they were not really buying so that Reodica could put more money into his businesses.
Prosecutors contend the scheme caused nearly $50 million in losses to the banks in the 1980s.
As a result of Reodica’s fraud and false statements, the Grand Wilshire Group and Grand Chevrolet collapsed into bankruptcy in August 1988 when Reodica fled to his native Philippines, prosecutors said.
He was missing for more than two-dozen years until FBI agents arrested him at Los Angeles International Airport in November 2012, when Reodica was traveling under an Australian passport in the name of Coscolluela, according to federal prosecutors.
“The guilty pleas by this defendant should be a warning to all fugitives facing charges in federal court that the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office have a very long memory,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker in Los Angeles.
Reodica faces up to 79 years in federal prison and hefty fines when he is sentenced Feb. 1 by U.S. District Judge S. James Otero.
— City News Service
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