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Belpre man pleads guilty to wire fraud scheme

CHARLESTON — United States Attorney Mike Stuart announced Thursday that Ricky V. McLaughlin, 63, of Belpre, pleaded guilty to wire fraud.

McLaughlin faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced on March 17.

“For more than four years, McLaughlin defrauded multiple customers of a significant amount of money. If not for the efforts of the Parkersburg Police Department, McLaughlin probably still would be ripping off classic car lovers.”

McLaughlin operated the McLaughlin Motor Car Museum located in Parkersburg. McLaughlin sold collector cars, including various Pontiac Trans Am classic cars to individuals, and customers would send their collector cars to McLaughlin for restoration.

Sometimes customers would buy collector cars from McLaughlin and the Motor Car Museum and then ask him to resell these collector cars at a later date on consignment. McLaughlin admitted that for more than four years, he stole money and defrauded multiple customers through a wire fraud scheme. As part of his fraud activities, McLaughlin admitted he would sometimes sell individuals various Pontiac Trans Am classic cars, but refused to provide the customers with either the titles to the vehicles or the vehicles themselves. At other times, McLaughlin would sell the same Pontiac Trans Am to multiple customers or sell Pontiac Trans Am cars on consignment, but refused to remit the sale proceeds of the collector cars to the car owners.

Throughout his scheme, McLaughlin defrauded multiple individuals of hundreds of thousands of dollars. As part of his plea agreement, he agreed to pay at least $150,000 in restitution.

The Parkersburg Police Department conducted the investigation. United States District Court Irene Berger presided over the plea hearing. Assistant United States Attorney Kathleen Robeson is handling the prosecution.

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