DMV Announces Arrests of San Diego Auto Dealer

California Department of Motor Vehicles
Media Relations Office
2415 First Avenue, MS F-122, Sacramento, CA 95818
Contact: Mike Marando, Steve Haskins, Armando Botello, Mike Miller
September 15, 2006




San Diego – Investigators from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) today arrested Carmine Malanga and Rex Garwick, owners of Southern California Auto Sales in San Diego, on seven counts of grand theft, 18 counts of check fraud and one count of failure to pay state sales taxes, all totaling more than $834,000 in loses to the victims in this investigation.

Malanga and Garwick were arrested Friday and booked into the downtown San Diego County Jail on an arrest warrant issued by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office. Bail was set at $50,000. The pair face maximum sentences of three years for each of seven grand theft charges, three years for each of 18 counts for writing bad checks and four years for one count of misappropriation of government funds/sales taxes.

The arrest is a result of a wide-ranging four-month DMV investigation conducted in connection with the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.

“Every Californian is a customer, and any false and fraudulent activity that compromises their trust won’t be tolerated,” said DMV Director George Valverde. “We’re cracking down on those who “game the system” because they undermine the integrity of law-abiding dealerships.”

San Diego County District Attorney’s Office filed 26 criminal felony counts against the dealership and owners Malanga and Garwick for the following:

  • 7 counts of Grand Theft (Penal Code section 487), totaling $174,383
  • 18 counts of checks written on a closed account (Penal Code section 476-A, totaling $473,591
  • 1 count of misappropriation of government funds (sales tax collected from customers but not paid to the State), totaling $186,241

The California Department of Motor Vehicles tests and licenses drivers; maintains driving records; registers and issues titles to vehicles and vessels; and investigates auto and identity-related fraud. It serves more than 25 million customers annually through telephone, Internet and personal visits to 169 statewide field offices.

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