A car salesman was charged Wednesday with allegedly stealing thousands of dollars from two Long Island dealerships after authorities said he pocketed deposits that customers made and then wouldn’t turn over the cars, according to court records.
Michael McGriff, 41, of Freeport, was arraigned Wednesday afternoon on six counts of third-degree grand larceny, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, first-degree falsifying business records, scheme to defraud and violation of probation.
Police allege McGriff worked as a sales agent at Port Motors in Roslyn and Auto Galleria in Westbury from 2012 until 2014 and wrote 27 separate contracts with customers to purchase cars. Detectives said he pocketed the cash deposits that customers left as down payments — and used the money “for his own personal gain” — and then would alter credit applications to say the customers had left a lower amount or change the applications to show the customers had a higher salary.
In one instance, a customer at Port Motors paid $10,000 in cash for a 2006 Toyota Highlander, and despite the car being paid for in full, McGriff allegedly wrote a contract anyway and stole $8,400, according to a felony complaint. Another time, he allegedly said a customer paid only $1,500 when they had really left $8,800 as a down payment, court papers said. A third time, at Auto Galleria, a customer paid $13,366 to only have their car repossessed later on, the records said.
McGriff was arraigned at Nassau University Medical Center after being hospitalized for an unrelated medical condition, police and prosecutors said. He was ordered held without bail and is due back in court on Friday. He was represented by an attorney with the Nassau Legal Aid Society, which maintains a policy of not commenting on individual cases.
In total, prosecutors allege McGriff scammed 23 customers at Port Motors and four more when he worked at Auto Galleria and Titanium Auto Group in Valley Stream. Investigators said Port Motors lost more than $170,000; Titanium suffered a nearly $13,000 loss; and Auto Galleria lost about $5,000. McGriff was arrested Tuesday morning in East Garden City.
Court documents allege that McGriff was “acting in concert with another,” but a spokesman for the Nassau County district attorney’s office did not respond to questions about whether that person was being sought.
Records show McGriff’s charge of allegedly violating probation stems from a case in which he pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of a forged instrument in 2012 and was sentenced to three years of probation. A Nassau judge issued a warrant in December 2013 for his arrest for an unspecified probation violation, according to court records.