Conviction Upheld in Auto Rental Windshield Replacement Scheme

An appeals court has upheld the conviction of a man who was found guilty in a scheme to overcharge rental customers for windshield replacements.

A federal jury in December 2006 convicted former Thrifty Car Rental operator Michael W. Ryan for 17 fraud counts in a scheme to overcharge rental customers for windshield replacements, according to the Associated Press. Ryan was later sentenced to 71 months in prison and fined $100,000, and ordered to pay $55,128 in restitution to insurance companies and defrauded individuals.

In early 2003, FBI agents seized records during a search of Thrifty and Fas-Break Windshield Repair and Replacements on a tip from State Farm Insurance Co. Ryan was accused of conspiring with his fleet manager, Jeffrey Loney, and Fas-Break owner Kevin Massick to charge high prices for windshield replacements, deduct a wholesale price and split the profits. Often, windshields were not replaced. Government witnesses in the case included rental customers who had complained after receiving bills as high as $1,700 for windshield replacements.

Prosecutors said the conspiracy started in 1999 and continued for about 3 1/2 years.

Among the challenges in Ryan’s appeal were that the number of victims he was charged with overcharging was too high, that the trial court erred in permitting two government witnesses to testify and that the government failed to establish that he participated in an illegal conspiracy. But the appeals court ruled that there is sufficient evidence in the record to support Ryan's conviction.

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