Witnesses plead Fifth ahead of trial
Federal investigation into alleged Dusty Old Cars scheme looms
NASHUA – Witness after witness refused to answer whether they had even worked for Dusty Old Cars, with that basic question being enough for the former employees of the defunct classic car dealership to invoke their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
Stephan Condodemetraky, the owner of Dusty Old Cars, is headed for trial next month in the Hillsborough Superior Court-South in Nashua on seven felony charges of theft associated with the business. He’s also facing 20 criminal counts in Merrimack Superior Court in Concord, in addition to another four in Rockingham Superior Court in Brentwood. Monday’s hearing in Nashua was an opportunity for defense attorney Bruce Kenna to question potential witnesses about their own actions while working for Condodemetraky.
Instead, all five of the witnesses who took the stand refused to answer any questions about their ties to Condodemetraky’s business. Almost all, like former Dusty Old Cars office staffer Savannah Lockwood, want immunity from prosecutors before they agree to testify. Prosecutors have already granted immunity to Christopher Haes, Lockwood’s romantic partner and another former Dusty Old Cars employee.
“Ms. Lockwood would need immunity to testify,” her attorney David Tencza said. “Given her position in the company and the documents she had access to, she could be considered an accomplice.”
Some of the potential witnesses are also concerned about other investigations resulting from the original state investigation into Dusty Old Cars. Former employee Jason Cox’s attorney, Paul Garrity, said his client has already been questioned by representative of the U.S. Attorney’s Office about potential wire fraud and mail fraud issues related to the case. That could potentially mean a federal indictment is coming. However, neither Cox, nor Condodemetraky, has been indicted in the federal court.
Tencza said during a hearing earlier this year that an FBI agent was present when Lockwood was questioned by lawyers with the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office.
The trial is set for Sept. 17 in Nashua. The trial in Brentwood is slated for Dec. 3, while the Concord action is currently delayed with no set start date.
Condodemetraky has long been the subject of controversy going back two years. Numerous former consignment customers claim Condodemetraky regularly kept the proceeds from the consignment sales without paying the owner of the vehicle. He sometimes paid a fraction of the net sales price, after charging for what the customers said were bogus fees and phantom repairs. More than 130 people have filed complaints against Condodemetraky and Dusty Old Cars.
Condodemetraky filed for bankruptcy last year, seeking Chapter 11 protection for his business. Soon after he filed to reorganize his business, the court-appointed trustee, Nashua attorney Michael Askenaizer, successfully asked the court to change the bankruptcy to a Chapter 7 liquidation. Askenaizer testified that Condodemetraky has hidden and destroyed business records, making it impossible to operate the business. Askenaizer has since accused Condodemetraky of operating the business as a Ponzi scheme.
Damien Fisher can be reached at 594-1245 or firstname.lastname@example.org or @Telegraph_DF.