St. Francois County Scheme
By: CJ Cassidy
St. Francois County, MO -- Investigators in St. Francois County call a Doe Run man quite the businessman.
First, they arrested him for his involvement in an unusual scheme.
Now they say he could be in hot water for a lot more.
Police say an unusual car borrowing scheme was just the tip of the iceberg, they say their suspect was involved in a lot more, from forgery to child pornography.
What could someone in so much trouble have to say for themselves?
"Obviously none of it's true. They acted like they had a big sting, a big bust for all these vehicles, the vehicles were borrowed from George Weber," Timothy Johnson says.
Johnson claims he had no idea the associate at the Columbia, Illinois dealership was doing anything wrong, by lending him and his friends vehicles.
Johnson's friend, Ralph Napoli, drove one of those vehicles.
"I was trying to finance my vehicle. That was the assumption I was under," Napoli claims.
St. Francois County Sheriff Dan Bullock paints a different picture of what was going on.
"They'd steal vehicles rent them out or lease them out to friends for months at a time go around put vehicle back on the lot and get another one. They would actually take orders for vehicles; different kinds of vehicles for people to drive," the Sheriff says.
Investigators estimate the scheme went on for at least six months, with about 19 vehicles *loaned* out from time to time.
"If he'd put that energy towards making a real living instead of scamming off of other people he'd probably do pretty well for himself," Bullock says.
Police also say they found evidence of a check cashing scam on Johnson's computer, and even more disturbing, child pornography.
Johnson keeps up his denials.
"Of course I haven't looked at child porn. I let two people stay at my house down on their luck they used my computer what they did with it is up to them," Johnson says.
Johnson is out on bond, the FBI is also investigating.
I did speak with representatives at the dealership in Illinois.