Jury considers fate of GJ salesman accused of bribery over vehicle titles
Jurors are deliberating this morning in the trial of a Grand Junction used-car salesman accused of selling 52 salvaged vehicles with clean titles between 2005 and 2008.
Testimony during the two-week trial included 17 people who purchased vehicles from Camden Fortney of Camden Motors. Fortney, 65, is fighting 23 felony charges of commercial bribery, conspiracy and theft in the case that is being prosecuted by the Office of the Colorado Attorney General.
According to prosecuting attorney Terrence Gillespie, Fortney paid multiple bribes, ranging from $100 to $500, to an insurance adjuster so he could purchase salvaged vehicles, which were later repaired, and receive titles for those vehicles that did not reflect they had been salvaged.
Gillespie said Fortney persuaded officials to give him the power of attorney to label the titles, thereby making more money reselling the repaired cars with a clean title, rather than a salvaged title.
“(Victims) thought they were buying a diamond, and he was selling cubic zirconium,” Gillespie said. “None of those people would have bought a salvaged vehicle. They were shocked and angry about purchasing a salvaged vehicle without being told.”
Fortney’s attorney, Gregory Mueller, disagreed, pointing to testimony that vehicle owners loved their vehicles and had few problems. He said money given by Fortney was not given as bribes, but out of generosity, and Fortney was known to give restaurant gift certificates to mechanics and others whom he paid to repair the vehicles.
Mueller, in closing statements, called on testimony that salvaged cars did not mean they were so damaged that they couldn’t be fixed to operate like new again. He said it was the fault of the insurance company, Colorado Casualty Insurance, for not checking to see how Fortney was labeling the titles.
“No one told him to get a salvaged title,” Mueller said. “If they wanted him to get a salvaged title, he would have done it.”
Once the titles came into question, Colorado Casualty paid more than $630,000 to take back the vehicles, Gillespie said.
Another defendant in the case, insurance adjustor Mary Cross of Arapahoe County, was sentenced in July to a four-year deferred judgment after pleading guilty to a felony charge of commercial bribery.