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Lundy pleads guilty to 51 charges in dealer fraud

SoVaNow.com / April 24, 2019
Former South Hill auto dealer Russell Ashby Lundy III faces the possibility of life in prison after pleading guilty Monday to 51 charges stemming from a car loan and financing scheme that lasted three years and defrauded unsuspecting victims of more than $1 million.

Lundy was initially charged with 101 counts of obtaining money through false pretenses and forgery. He agreed to plead guilty in accordance with a plea agreement that included the dismissal of 50 additional charges but did not include any promises of a specific prison sentence.

Instead, Prince Edward Commonwealth’s Attorney Megan Clark, prosecuting the case, asked Mecklenburg Circuit Judge S. Anderson Nelson to order a presentence investigation of Lundy and set a sentencing hearing for a later date.

Nelson stressed that the court is not required to follow any recommendations laid out by the presentence report, and the plea agreement dictates that Lundy may not withdraw his guilty plea for any reason — including if he disagrees with the court’s ultimate punishment.

Clark was appointed special prosecutor after Mecklenburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Allen Nash recused himself and his office, citing conflicts of interest.

According to the evidence presented in court Monday by Clark, from November 2015 through May 2018 the 32-year-old Lundy, as owner and operator of Lundy Motors on Danville Street in South Hill, engaged in a scheme in which he:

» Failed to transmit to insurers payments received for gap insurance and service contracts from customers who bought vehicles through Lundy Motors;

» Took out loans in the name of his wife and mother without their knowledge or permission on the pretext of purchasing vehicles to be sold at the Lundy Motors car lot;

» Sold what he said were unencumbered vehicles despite knowing the titles for these vehicles were not “clean”;

» failed to pay off loan balances on vehicles that were traded for alternate vehicles bought through Lundy Motors;

» and sold vehicles to third parties that were previously given as collateral for a loan, and then failed to pay off the underlying loan.

While Lundy pleaded guilty to the charges, his defense lawyer, W. Edward Riley, said his client would not concede the accuracy of the prosecution case, although sufficient to convict his client. Riley said Lundy would withhold any challenge of the facts of the case until the sentencing hearing.

At least one victim, who did not give her name, left the courtroom Monday upset by the plea deal. She said she and her husband took out a $25,000 loan and gave Lundy a $5,000 deposit for a vehicle they cannot legally drive. Theirs was one of the cases that Clark, the special prosecutor, agreed not to prosecute under the plea deal — a fact the victim claimed was never shared with them.

Under Virginia law, Lundy could serve 1,010 years in prison for his crimes. For now, he remains free on a $10,000 bond. The only limit placed on his liberty was a curfew.

Nelson ordered Lundy to return to his current place of residence by 7 p.m. each night “unless he is working.” Clark had asked for house arrest, citing information her office received indicating that Lundy would not make himself available for sentencing.

Riley denied the premise, telling Nelson that Clark’s belief that his client would abscond was without merit, adding that his client is currently working as a real estate agent in Virginia.

Lundy’s sentencing is set for June 26 at 9:30 a.m. Victims who wish to submit an impact statement should contact Clark to find out when they are due. Clark can be reached at her office at 111 South Street H, Farmville, VA 23901 or by calling (434) 392-1902.

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