A former Betten Baker Chevrolet-Buick of Cadillac employee was arrested after prosecutors alleged he embezzled more than $68,000 from the northern Michigan dealership.
Steven Michael Garrod, 35, of Cadillac, Mich., who had been a title clerk at the Betten Baker dealership, awaits a court date Tuesday after being charged last month by the Wexford County prosecutor with embezzlement between $50,000 and $100,000.
Wexford County Prosecutor Corey Wiggins told Automotive News that Garrod, who worked at the dealership for about eight years, is accused of embezzling $68,070.66 between Sept. 24, 2020, and Oct. 14, 2022.
“The charges are merely allegations, and he’s innocent till proven guilty,” Wiggins said.
Attempts to reach Garrod for comment were unsuccessful. His defense attorney, Brian Hoffman, declined to comment.
Betten Baker in October 2022 asked the Cadillac post of the Michigan State Police to investigate an embezzlement at the dealership. While reviewing records, Betten Baker identified a $1,125.68 check made payable to Garrod, according to a Michigan State Police news release. Dealership officials suspected that one of the signatures on the check was forged and then found more checks written to Garrod, plus several other suspected fraudulent checks, police said.
A certified criminal analyst examined bank records and found more than $68,000 in unauthorized checks, according to the Michigan State Police. A report was then given to the Wexford County prosecutor’s office.
Betten Baker Auto Group CFO Marc Brink declined to comment on the case other than to say in an email to Automotive News that Betten Baker is “not interested in any more publicity from this unfortunate event.”
Garrod was fired by the dealership group, according to the Michigan State Police release.
The next step in the case against Garrod is preliminary examination, in which the prosecutor must show probable cause in district court that the crime occurred and that Garrod was responsible.
“Our area is pretty small,” said Wiggins, who became prosecutor in November 2020. “Cadillac has a population of 10,000. We’ve got very few dealerships. …We’ve had incidences where people will test-drive vehicles and forget to return them and write bad checks to cover the down payment, and then the vehicles are gone. To my knowledge, this is the first embezzlement case from a dealership that I can recall.”
Embezzlement cases at dealerships, however, are not uncommon in the industry.
In the southeast Michigan town of Dundee this month, a 43-year-old woman was arrested for allegedly embezzling more than $200,000 from Williams Brothers Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram, according to the Dundee Police Department.
Betten Baker Auto Group, of Muskegon, Mich., ranked No. 129 on Automotive News‘ list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., with retail sales of 6,263 new vehicles in 2022.