Clarence businessman James Martin pleaded guilty Monday to bilking 10 former customers of his Suburban RV and Marine out of almost $58,000 on the sale of their used recreational vehicles for over five years.
Martin, also known as James Martin Rzyrkowski, 57, of Susan Drive, Williamsville, pleaded guilty to a felony fraud charge and attempted grand larceny. He also committed to repaying his victims.
State Supreme Court Justice Penny M. Wolfgang told him she will put him on probation when she sentences him June 9. She allowed him to remain free on $10,000 property bail posted last year.
Martin, who closed Surburban RV and Marine last summer, was indicted in December on 11 counts of fraud, forgery and grand larceny at operations at his former concern at 6705 Transit Road, Clarence.
The forgery charge was linked to a seller's signature that was forged on a sales document and the stolen property charge is linked to the vehicle seized on Dec. 8.
Martin declined to comment Monday. Martin told the judge that he illegally kept customer money because he needed it to keep his business going.
Court officials said Martin, who could have faced an eight-year prison term on his plea, bilked several customers out of about $13,000 each.
Prosecutor John C. Doscher said Martin made fraudulent vehicle deals from July 1989 until early last December. A stolen recreational vehicle was also found in a vacant lot next to Martin's home last Dec. 8 and seized by authorities, Doscher said.
Martin used to take used recreational vehicles on consignment. He was supposed to sell them and split the proceeds with the owners, but at least eight times he either failed to pay the original owner once a sale was made, or didn't give the new owner the title to the vehicle.
Without having the title to the vehicle, a number of Martin's customers would find the original owners or insurance concerns seizing the vehicles from them with no legal way of stopping the seizures.